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  1. #1

    Default Summer 2011 AL to West Coast car camping

    I've spent several hours on here the past few nights since I've discovered this site! What a great resource.

    My husband and I plan to make a long (4-6 week) road trip from Alabama, our home state, to the West Coast and back next summer after he graduates in May. We plan to mostly camp, since this is something both of us are comfortable with and will make the trip cheaper too. I see there are tons of threads on here that have been/will be helpful to us, and any additional tips or pointers to helpful threads are welcome. We are most interested in seeing the national parks along the way, perhaps traveling the northern route one way and the southern route the other (like going through Grand Canyon on our way out to the coast and through Colorado coming back or vice versa). We love photography/videography and hope to capture as much of the trip as we can on film.

    Anybody who, like us, is most interested in the beauty of nature and seeing more natural beauty than big city attractions that has done something similar and can give us suggestions? I'd love to hear of the top national parks we should make sure to see, the most beautiful spots between AL and the West Coast we shouldn't miss, etc.

    Oh, and we plan to bring our tandem road bike for scenic rides (any road bikers out there with awesome route suggestions?).

    We have over a year to plan, but I want to start early so we can enjoy the planning and make it as memorable as possible. This will likely be the biggest trip we take for years to come, since we'll be doing it after my husband graduates and before he starts his first "real" job, before we have kids, etc.

    Thanks in advance for any help!
    Kristi
    Last edited by kdawnrn; 03-17-2010 at 08:06 PM. Reason: spelling

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Oh, so jealous !

    A wonderful adventure, Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    I've spent several hours on here the past few nights since I've discovered this site! What a great resource.
    Pleased you found us and are finding the resources of use to you !

    With 4-6 weeks you have a nice amount of time to explore the Four corner regions and Cali etc and they hold some of the best there is to offer with regards to scenery and National parks, so exciting times ahead !

    I too love camping, [albeit in an RV] nature and the Southwest and really enjoy being in the natural surroundings that the NP campgrounds offer and they are good value, bonus !

    I think at this point you need to continue planning away with a good map to hand [or use a mapping program for routing such as google maps] and keep asking questions as you go but what you have so far is a good start.

    You will find the National parks map to be a great tool to help with your planning with full info on every park there is. The annual pass for $80 is good value and will be a lot cheaper than paying individual fees, once you have visited 4 major parks it has already paid for itself.

    As for some of my favorites, if you have some time spare take a look here and here as you could pick and choose from all of them. Add the coastal highway and you will have the lot !

  3. #3

    Default The Loop

    Hello Nurse Dawn,

    Great sounding RoadTrip! I'm jealous. A few quick tidbits:

    A National Parks pass seems a wise investment.
    National Forest campgrounds abound and are your friends for ultra-cheap camping.
    A National campground guidebook is invaluable.
    Rig for at least some "primitive camping" for campgrounds with only toilets and water available.
    Think about your Loop keeping south first and north second. That should bring you somewhat cooler weather in the southwest and would enable more of the National Parks in the Rockies to have opened up after enough snowpack melts. Be advised, however, that parts of Glacier NP and Yellowstone, in particular, open in late May/early June.

    Enjoy planning your RoadTrip!

    Foy

  4. #4

    Default

    How annoying! I just realized I titled this thread "Summer 2010" when I meant "Summer 2011." Oh well. I'm really planning now over a year in advance hoping we can really get the details ironed out well in advance for a memorable and low-stress trip.

    Southwest Dave, I have really enjoyed your pictoral journal of your family's trip. Really inspiring. Can't wait to make our trip a reality!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Part of the fun !

    Southwest Dave, I have really enjoyed your pictoral journal
    Thank you, I am glad you enjoyed them.

    I'm really planning now over a year in advance hoping we can really get the details ironed out well in advance for a memorable and low-stress trip.
    The planning is all part of the fun, but so are the unexpected things that pop up on the adventure ! No road trip can be planned in every detail, if it could you might as well go on a pre organised tour, [ Lol ] but I know exactly what you mean, I like to be well informed when travelling but still enjoy a bit of spontaneity along the way, but there is enough baggage so no room for stress ! As a matter of fact it's quite often those unexpected moments that are the most enjoyable and memorable, whether they were funny at the time or not !

    Once you have got some dots on the map and outlined your plans be sure to place them in this thread with any questions you may have, I am sure we can offer help and advice once you have made the start.

    Enjoy the planning !

  6. #6

    Default

    Thank you to whoever fixed my thread title!

  7. #7

    Default

    Can you experienced travellers give me some tips for trip planning resources online? I'm looking at several programs (TripTik, etc.) and would like some feedback from you who've already used them.

    Thanks!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Reviews.

    The RTA trip planner is still under construction at the moment but here are some reviews on other programs, although as I mentioned earlier personally I use Google maps and Windows live to plan routes plus the RTA search engine [top right of page] to gain more info on places of interest along the way.

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kdawnrn View Post
    I've spent several hours on here the past few nights since I've discovered this site! What a great resource.

    My husband and I plan to make a long (4-6 week) road trip from Alabama, our home state, to the West Coast and back next summer after he graduates in May. We plan to mostly camp, since this is something both of us are comfortable with and will make the trip cheaper too. We are most interested in seeing the national parks along the way, perhaps traveling the northern route one way and the southern route the other (like going through Grand Canyon on our way out to the coast and through Colorado coming back or vice versa).

    We have over a year to plan, but I want to start early so we can enjoy the planning and make it as memorable as possible. This will likely be the biggest trip we take for years to come, since we'll be doing it after my husband graduates and before he starts his first "real" job, before we have kids, etc.

    Thanks in advance for any help!
    Kristi
    I'm new here too..

    and WOW! I read your post and it's almost IDENTICAL to what I was going to post (and still will soon). :)

    My husband and I are planning a trip from Oklahoma to KCMO starting in mid-May 2011 through the end of June or into July (6+ weeks) however long it takes...

    but we're going east to Nashville down to Florida before we head back up to OKC then to CA and up the coast to Montana and then down and across to Colorado and finally to KCMO.

    maybe we'll pass each other along the way :)

  10. #10

    Default

    I'd love to hear some feedback on what I've looked at thus far. I'm using the AAA Trip Tik Travel Planner for now, and having lots of fun mapping out a potential plan for our trip. So far it is looking like this:

    1. AL to MS (probably a one night stop to see family)
    2. MS to New Orleans, LA (a one night stop to eat some beignets and see some NOLA sights)
    3. Tyler, Austin, and San Antonio TX (friends/family in Tyler and Austin, would like to spend a day or two in San Antonio walking riverwalk and seeing a few things)
    4. ??Amistad National Recreation Area?? or other TX national park? Any good ones you can recommend we shouldn't miss? We don't get excited enough about seeing a pretty desert to spend an extra couple of days driving to/from it.
    5. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
    6. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
    7. Zion National Park, Utah
    8. Yuma, Arizona (we have friends there)
    9. San Diego, California
    10. Death Valley National Park, CA
    11. Sequoia National Park, CA
    12. Kings Canyon National Park, CA
    13. Yosemite National Park, CA

    These are the trip points I've mapped out so far. I really have just picked places without researching everything we will want to see/how long we want to stay at each one so far. Any feedback would be great! I'm continuing to map out destinations for us to stop at all the way up the West Coast (we hope to go to Washington).

    Thanks in advance for all your help. :)
    Kristi

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