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  1. Default Need advice for 2 weeks December road trip to Grand Canyon

    Hi all.
    My friends and I are planning a 2 weeks road trip in late December and we need your advice.

    We will depart from Nashville, Tennessee on December 20th. And we need to be in St. Louis, Missouri from the 24th to 28th.
    Since these two places are only a few hours away by driving, can you suggest any interesting place(s) around there, for us to spend a few days before heading to St. Louis.
    We also aim to go to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado before we continue to the Grand Canyon.

    On our way back to Nashville, we are still debating on either:
    1- Going through Oklahama and Arkansas.
    2- Going through Texas and Mississippi.

    The first route seems to be shorter than the second one. It depends on how many days we spent to reach Grand Canyon.
    Either way, we still need your suggestion for places to go, things to see along the routes.

    Note: We are primarily interested in beautiful scenery, forest, and basically nature, away from urban areas.
    But we are also open to any other suggestion as long as it doesn't consume too much money.

    At some point in our trip, We plan to sleep in hostels. We heard that they are cheaper and suit travellers more than hotels are.
    To save some money, we also plan to sleep in our car at truck stops every other night.
    What do you think?

    Also, it is our first time doing this on our own. We've never drove during the winter. Is there anything that we should take note of? Or perhaps our routes will not be affected as much even though it's winter?

    We're really looking forward to this trip. Your advice and suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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

    Default thoughts

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Your schedule has me a little confused, if I'm reading it correctly, you'll have about 4 days to get from Nashville to St. Louis and then you'll have about a week to get back to Nashville?

    The problem I see is that its about a 3200 mile loop to go from St. Louis to Nashville via Rocky Mountain and the Grand Canyon - which is a full 6 days of driving if you see perfect weather conditions. Its going to be nearly impossible to complete this trip and have time to see anything if you see any bad weather, which is quite likely this time of year.

    With your couple days before St. Louis, you've got lots of options, you could spend some time exploring the Mississippi River Road, or you could got to places like the Ozarks, Mammoth Cave, Land Between the Lakes, or even the Smokey Mountains.

    As far as your sleeping plans, Hostels are an ok choice, but they have their limitations. First, there's really not that many of them, and you'll likely have difficulty finding one when you aren't in an urban area. Second, they charge per person, so with 2 of you, you'll likely be paying as much for each of you to be in a large dorm style room as you would if the two of you split a cheap motel. On the positive side, they do offer more opportunity to meet other travelers, and they typically have some kitchen options, so you can make some of your own meals.

    I'd think long and hard before sleeping in your car. First, a car typically makes a poor bed, and there are very few cars where two people can sleep comfortably. Also remember, you're going to be traveling in December, so its going to be very cold overnight. A car provides almost no insulation, and you can't safely sleep with the engine running, so basically you need to ask yourself, would you be comfortable and do you have the gear to sleep outside in those conditions? If you don't have some serious winter camping gear, you're going to be pretty miserable, and without sleep, its pretty hard to have fun on the road.

  3. Default

    Thank you for replying.

    We made a change of plan before, and I forgot to update the dates. Sorry for the confusion.
    We will depart from Nashville, Tennessee on December 23rd.

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    With your couple days before St. Louis, you've got lots of options, you could spend some time exploring the Mississippi River Road, or you could got to places like the Ozarks, Mammoth Cave, Land Between the Lakes, or even the Smokey Mountains.
    Thank you for your suggestions, they all sound great. After some planning, we'll decide on one place to stop at before St. Louis. We'll be in St. Louis, Missouri from the 24th to 28th. We will be continuing our journey to the Rocky Mountain National Park on the night of 28th. That leaves us about a week to reach Grand Canyon and to return to Nashville. Well, after you pointed that out, it may be impossible. We are thinking of 2 options:

    1- Extend our trip to a few more days (which will cost us on the car rental)
    2- Not making any stop for sightseeing on the return trip to Nashville (should take us 2 days at most)

    Our decision is pretty much depending on if we can find interesting places to go to on the return trip. Any suggestion?

    Also, I forgot to mention that there are 6 of us. We are most likely going to rent a minivan for this trip. Or maybe two cars if we get more people to join us.

    About the sleeping plan, we will be sleeping in hotels for most of the nights. But, we have no problem to take turns to sleep and drive. So, we won't spend too much time and money on hotels. We'll try to find hostels if there are any in our route. It would be nice to find at least one to experience what it's like. Sleeping in the car at the truck stop is probably not a good idea then.

    Again, we are looking for interesting places to go to along the routes on the return trip. This will be either:

    1- Going through Oklahama and Arkansas.
    2- Going through Texas and Mississippi.

    Thanks.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default please don't

    2- Not making any stop for sightseeing on the return trip to Nashville (should take us 2 days at most)
    Grand Canyon to Nashville is more than 1600 miles - under no circumstances is that a 2 day drive, even with a car full of drivers. Its really 3 full days, but you could probably squeeze it into 2.5, but doing less than that is going to frankly be unsafe.
    About the sleeping plan, we will be sleeping in hotels for most of the nights. But, we have no problem to take turns to sleep and drive. So, we won't spend too much time and money on hotels.
    While you've got a lot of drivers, it still doesn't mean you can keep going forever without sleep. With 6 people in one car/van you're going to be fairly cramped which is going to really make it impossible for people to get substantial rest while the car is in motion. You can rotate drivers to keep people fresh, but even there, after about 12 hours (600-650 miles) on the road you're going to reach the point where everyone will need to get some rest.

    Also consider even if you ignore the safety aspects, having 6 people in one group trying to have fun together when everyone is on a different sleep schedule isn't going to work very well. Just as you arrive at a destiation, you'll have people who will be overdue for sleep on one hand, with other people who are full of energy on the other. That sort of situation can make for a pretty miserable group very quickly.

    With a group your size, I'd only consider hostels if you really want the experience. With 6 people, you'll be looking at spending $150-200 a night total for your group (figure $30 per person), and you can get a pretty nice hotel suite for that kind of money in most locations.

    Certainly, look around here some more - especially in the roadtrip routes section - for more ideas about where to stop on your way back. However, Unless you are adding several extra days, I don't see how you fit in a detour to Texas/Mississippi, as that pushes your return trip up into 2000 miles range and then you're talking about 4 days minimum if you do any sightseeing at all.

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