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  1. Default Yellowstone + Mt. Rushmore vs. Colorado Mtns + Grand Canyon

    I'm planning to take my wife and her family (parents and brother+sister) on a cross country road trip from Southern California to Maine where my family lives, and then back to California. On the way there I plan to take a southern route, and I have a pretty good idea of the places where we're going to stop, but I'm not so sure about the way back.

    On the way back I want to take a northern route at least until Chicago, then I have a decision to make. I can stay north and take them through South Dakota and see Mt. Rushmore and then Yellowstone, which from what I've seen on tv is absolutely beautiful, and then drive south through Utah, Las Vegas, and then back home.....or I can go through Nebraska to Denver, then through the beautiful Colorado mountains and then down to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. We'd also be able to visit Moab, UT on the way to the Grand Canyon.

    Can anybody help me decide?
    Last edited by danny2271; 10-16-2009 at 02:58 AM.

  2. #2

    Default

    There are very few places on the planet like Yellowstone. I would take the northerly route. You will see the Grand Tetons as you drive south out of Yellowstone which in my opinion are more breathtaking than the Colorado Rockies.

  3. #3
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    Default seeing half the picture

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Its really hard to answer a question like this when we know so little about you and your trip. These are all good options, so there is no wrong answer here.

    It is even harder for us to guess, when we don't know what you'll have already seen. A "southern route" could mean a lot of things. For example, often times, the Grand Canyon would be a logical place to stop on a southern route, so it seams a bit odd that you'd consider that on your "northern" return trip.

    Letting us know what you've already planned will give us the full picture of what you are doing, and give us a taste for what you will have already seen and what things that you might find most interesting for your return trip. Additionally, letting us know what kind of time you've got available for this trip (total and just your return leg) could also be a key factor in providing the best possible response.

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by UK View Post
    There are very few places on the planet like Yellowstone. I would take the northerly route. You will see the Grand Tetons as you drive south out of Yellowstone which in my opinion are more breathtaking than the Colorado Rockies.
    I think you're right. I don't know when I'll have another opportunity to see Yellowstone, and my wife's family will probably never have another opportunity. I think I have to take them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Its really hard to answer a question like this when we know so little about you and your trip. These are all good options, so there is no wrong answer here.

    It is even harder for us to guess, when we don't know what you'll have already seen. A "southern route" could mean a lot of things. For example, often times, the Grand Canyon would be a logical place to stop on a southern route, so it seams a bit odd that you'd consider that on your "northern" return trip.

    Letting us know what you've already planned will give us the full picture of what you are doing, and give us a taste for what you will have already seen and what things that you might find most interesting for your return trip. Additionally, letting us know what kind of time you've got available for this trip (total and just your return leg) could also be a key factor in providing the best possible response.
    Thanks Michael. Ok, after I made the original post in this thread last night I stayed up for a couple more hours and created a preliminary itinerary. First a little background. My wife's family are immigrants from the Philippines. They moved here about 10 years ago and haven't really seen much of the United States outside of California and Las Vegas. Her parents are in their 50s now and I want them to be able to have an experience like this before they get older. My wife's brother and sister are both college age, and this is a good time for them since they should be able to have some time off in the summer. If we wait longer they'll be stuck in their careers/relationships/have kids.

    I grew up in Maine but spent my high school years in Tennessee when my Dad moved there for a job. He has since retired and moved back to Maine. I also had family in the South Carolina. When I was young I went on several rushed road trips from Maine-Tennessee and Maine-South Carolina.

    In 2004 my future wife and I had a long distance relationship and I decided I would move to California to be with her so that she wouldn't have to leave her family. In October of that year she flew to Maine so that she could keep me company as I drove on my cross country road trip. We drove from Maine to Southern California in 5 days. We stopped in a few places such as the arch in St. Louis, but we didn't have the time/budget to see too much. We did however drive through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and they were breathtaking.

    Ok, now back to the trip I'm planning for next summer. There will be 6 or 7 people. We will likely travel in a rented minivan, but an RV is an option.

    Important themes:
    -Amusement parks
    -The best regional food
    -At least a couple baseball games
    -National parks (Yellowstone, Grand Canyon)
    -American history (DC, Philly, Boston)
    -Weird/interesting/fun stuff
    -Part of Rt 66 (excluded from preliminary itinerary in favor of Yellowstone)
    -10 days in Maine

    Here is the preliminary itinerary. I know there are some long driving days but we will have 3 or 4 primary drivers (5 or 6 licensed) and we will rotate every couple hours. I also realize that actual driving time may take a little longer than estimated. Right now the whole trip is 37 days and I'd like to cut it down to 30, but it'll be very hard to do that as everything I have listed here is pretty important. Any help/suggestions will be very appreciated.

    Day 1: Perris, CA - Flagstaff, AZ: 454mi, 7.5 hours
    -Stop in Phoenix for lunch, brief sightseeing, Diamondbacks game if possible

    Day 2: Day at Grand Canyon, back to Flagstaff to sleep

    Day 3: Flagstaff, AZ - Amarillo, TX: 608mi, 9.5 hours
    -Stop in Albuquerque for lunch and brief sightseeing

    Day 4: Amarillo, TX - Little Rock, AR: 597mi, 9.25 hours

    Day 5: Little Rock, AR - Memphis, TN: 137mi, 2.25 hours
    -Get to Memphis by 10:30 AM, spend the day in Memphis. Eat bbq and see Graceland.

    Day 6: Memphis, TN - Chapel Hill, TN - Asheville, NC: 539mi, 9.25 hours
    -Stop in Chapel Hill (town I went to high school in) to see old school, house, have lunch with my uncle.

    Day 7: Asheville, NC - Williamsburg, VA: 416mi, 6.5 hours
    -Get to Williamsburg by 1PM, spend afternoon+evening at Colonial Williamsburg

    Day 8: Day in Williamsburg at either Water Country USA or Busch Gardens
    (would prefer 2 days and do both but will cut 1 to save time)

    Day 9: Williamsburg, VA - Washington, DC: 154mi, 2.5 hours
    -Get to DC by 10:30 AM, spend day in DC seeing sights

    Day 10: Washington DC - Baltimore, MD - Hershey, PA: 136mi, 2.25 hours
    -Stop in Baltimore for brief sight seeing, Orioles game if possible, eat crabs

    Day 11: Spend day at the amusement park in Hershey, PA

    Day 12: Hershey, PA - Philadelphia, PA - New York, NY: 191mi, 3.25 hours
    -Stop in Philadelphia for cheesestake and brief sightseeing.

    Day 13: Day in NYC - Yankee game if possible

    Day 14: New York, NY - Boston, MA: 241mi, 4 hours
    -Spend afternoon/evening in Boston, see Red Sox game if possible

    Day 15: Boston, MA - Farmington, ME: 180mi, 3.5 hours

    Day 16-24: With my family in Maine.

    Day 25: Farmington, ME - Buffalo, NY: 626mi, 10.25 hours

    Day 26: Day in Buffalo with my friend that lives there and see Niagra Falls

    Day 27: Buffalo, NY - Cedar Point, OH: 255mi, 4 hours
    -Get to Cedar Point by 11:00 AM, spend day at amusement park.

    Day 28: Cedar Point, OH - Chicago, IL: 293mi, 5 hours

    Day 29: Day in Chicago - Cubs game if possible

    Day 30: Chicago, IL - Sioux Falls, SD: 574mi, 9 hours

    Day 31: Sioux Falls, SD - Rapid City, SD: 349mi, 5.5 hours
    -Spend afternoon at Mt. Rushmore.

    Day 32: Rapid City, SD - Cody, WY: 391mi, 7.5 hours

    Day 33: Cody, WY - West Yellowstone, MT - 133mi, 3.5 hours
    -Spend day at Yellowstone

    Day 34: Day at Yellowstone

    Day 35: West Yellowstone, MT - Las Vegas, NV: 743mi, 12.5 hours

    Day 36: Day in Las Vegas

    Day 37: Las Vegas, NV - Perris, CA: 248mi, 4 hours

    *********HOME**********

    Total Miles (not counting while in Maine): 7253
    Driving Hours: 120-160

    Travel Expenses:

    Number of hotel nights: 23 (46 rooms)
    Expected cost for hotels: $4000 ($87 average)
    Minivan Rental: 5 weeks at $450 a week = $2250
    Gas: Appx 450 gallons at $3 a gallon = $1350
    Food: $4000
    Misc (Amusement Parks, shopping): $3000

    Maine Expenses:
    Vacation house rental in Maine - $1500
    Discretionary spending and gas while in Maine: $3000

    Total Estimated Cost: $19000

    ---------
    With RV instead:

    7 person RV + milage charge - $7500
    Gas: $2500
    Car Rental in Maine - $500 (including gas)
    Food: $3000 (money saved by storing food on RV)
    Misc Road Expenses (park entry fees, shopping): $3000
    Maine Discretionary Spending: 2500

    Total with RV: $18000

    Ways to cut days/expenses:
    -Drive from NY to Maine and skip Boston (visit Boston while in Maine): 1 day cut
    -When leaving Maine drive straight to Chicago (18 hours): 3 days cut
    -Drive straight from Yellowstone to home in California: 2 days cut
    -Spend 1/2 day at Grand Canyon then drive to Albuquerque, then drive to Memphis the next day - 1 day cut.
    -Cut 1 or 2 days from Maine :(
    -Cut 1 day from Yellowstone :(

    -----------------------------

    Other Option: Fly 7 people to Maine for 10 days
    Plane tix: $2800
    Car rental + Gas: $1200
    Food: $2000 (includes taking Maine family out a couple times)
    House rental: $1500
    Misc spending: $2500
    Total: $10000

    Michael, feel free to edit the title of this thread to something that explains the content better. I'd do it myself but I don't think its possible.
    Last edited by danny2271; 10-16-2009 at 05:07 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default missing math

    I think your basic trip outline looks good, and if you went through Colorado last time, I agree that Yosemite would be a great choice for this trip.

    There are a couple things that I'll say could be a little troublesome.

    First, pretty much all of your times are clearly computer estimates - which are almost always low. I'd expect you'll be spending more time on the road for nearly all of your leg. However, even including that, I think you'll be fine, except for one spot.

    I would really encourage you not to try and go from Yosemite to Vegas in one day. That's really too much, and especially at the end of your trip when you're likely to be a little weary.

    What I would do instead is stop at one of the magnificent parks of Southern Utah, like Bryce or Zion. In addition to great scenic stops, that require shorter drives, they're also some places that unlike Vegas, I'm guessing your family hasn't been before.

    As far as your budgets go, it looks like you've left a pretty glaring hole out of your RV budget. You haven't included any money for campgrounds! You can try to save money here and there by boondocking in truck stops and parking lots, but I really don't think you'll want to do that every day - and it certainly wouldn't be a comparable experience to a week in a rental house. For a place with full electric/water hookups, plan to budget $25 a night.

  6. Default

    Yeah you're right, I didn't even think about campground fees. Also it would be much better to stay in a rented vacation house than live exclusively in an RV for a month or longer. And that's a good point about spending a day in Utah instead of Vegas.

    I just had another idea. Since the northeast is the most important part of the road trip, I'm thinking it might be possible to fly into Washington D.C., rent a car to explore the northeast and Drive to Maine,and then back to D.C. I think it would look a little something like this:

    Day 1: Fly to Washington DC (rent a car to drive to Maine)

    Day 2: Spend the day in DC

    Day 3: Drive to and spend day in Williamsburg, VA, sleep in D.C.

    Day 4: Drive to Philadelpha
    Stop in Baltimore for Brunch - get to Philadelphia by 2:00 PM

    Day 5: Drive to NYC early in the morning, spend day in NYC, next day drive to Maine

    Day 6-14 in Maine

    Day 15: Drive to Hershey, PA

    Day 16: Day at amusement park in Hershey, PA

    Day 17: Drive back to Washington DC and fly home

    Expenses:
    Plane tix: $300x6 = $1800
    Car rental for 17 Days: $1400
    Hotels: 7 nights (14 rooms): $1200
    House Rental: $1500
    Gas: 2000 miles/18mpg/$3 gallon = $350
    Food: $200 day x 17 days = $3400
    Misc spending: $3000

    Total Estimated Cost: $12600

    I definitely don't know if we're going to do this version or not, but it seems a lot less stressful. We'd be missing out on a lot though.
    Last edited by danny2271; 10-16-2009 at 08:57 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default

    If you want to continue looking at your original itinerary, add 20% to the drive times from the computer to see reality.

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    If you want to continue looking at your original itinerary, add 20% to the drive times from the computer to see reality.
    Yeah, so I read. I have a heavy foot though. lol I can usually get there in 10-20% less time. Here to Vegas is supposed to be 4 hours and I usually get there in a little less than 3.5.

  9. #9
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    Default

    Not in a RV you won't. You will also have several people, whose bathroom stop needs won't always coincide.

    The point of a road trip is to enjoy it, not just rush from point to point as fast as you can drive.

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