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  1. Default First 3-week Road Trip--Chicago to Cali ADVICE

    Hi everyone, this is my first post here. A couple friends and I (19 yrs old) are planning a 3-week (max) road trip out west. Itinerary:

    Leave Chicago

    Denver
    Moab
    Bryce Canyon
    Big Sur (via LA--surprisingly the fastest route)
    Yosemite
    Jackson Hole

    Return to Chicago

    According to Mapquest, this is around 5,000 miles total. 2500 are just driving between Chicago and Denver and back. Is this route too ambitious? We will be tent camping every night we have the chance. We really don't want to spend more than 3 weeks on the road. We might want to hit the Great Sand Dunes of CO or San Fran. Any advice on revising this or somehow shortening it would be appreciated. Thanks!

    CG

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default reasonable

    3 weeks for this trip is pretty reasonable. It really should give you a nice amount of time to hit your high points without being too rushed. You should have no problems tent camping for most of your trip, especially out in Colorado and Utah where there is a ton of public land where cheap campsites are plentiful.

    Sand Dunes could be a nice stop, but there are at least a dozen national parks that you could fit into your trip between Denver and LA, so that is just one of many good options to chose from.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it's virtually impossible for anyone under 21 to rent a car here. If you do happen to find one, the surcharges will be exorbitant.

  4. Default

    We're not renting, we're driving straight from Chicago and back.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    My apologies - I don't know why I thought you were flying in from overseas.

    Please make the Chicago-Denver and Jackson Hole-Chicago runs 2 day drives.

    I beg to differ with your assessment that going through LA is the fastest way to get to Big Sur - take I-15 to Barstow, CA-58 to Bakersfield, then CA-46 to Cambria. Open road speed limits in CA are up to 65, CA-58 is a freeway for a good portion of the route, and it's all good road. Going through LA adds about 70 miles and over an hour - probably a lot more when you get caught in LA traffic. Only go to LA if you WANT to.

  6. Default Idea

    Would it be a better idea to go in the reverse direction and hit yellowstone first? What places on the list are the best to see?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    A positive to the reverse direction is you would be going down the CA coast from north to south - and all the scenic pulloffs would be on your side of the road.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Filling in the blanks.

    If you took a more Northerly route heading West and LA was you return point you could head for the Grand canyon, Bryce, Moab and Denver on your return leg. However there are many options so I would have a look at the map and see what's in between the "dots" you already have and start filling in some blanks and then your route will start coming together. The NPS site is a good way of finding what parks are on route.

  9. Default

    How much should we expect to spend on camping (permits, food, etc.)?? Gas is already going to be a pretty huge expense.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default ballparks

    $20 a night for camping fees is a good rough average. Sometimes it will be a little more, sometimes a little less, and there are some places like National Forest and BLM lands where you can camp for free with no services/pack-in/pack-out. You do need to do a little research to find out where these lands are, however.

    Food, $10-20 a day per person should cover you if you do most of your own cooking, with a few restaurants, and limit your gas station snacking.

    You'll also need a little more for extras, like firewood ($5 a night roughly), and there are other little things that can start to add up if you're not careful.

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