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  1. Default PA to Cali and back in 17 days?

    Hi Everyone!

    So, here's my story...My husband and I want to travel across the country this summer, but we have a pretty limited time frame, approximately 17-18 days.

    Here is what we would like to do:
    Starting in Western Pennsylvania (Go Steelers!)
    Head west until we get to Denver. We have family who lives there, they are going to join us at this point.
    California (Yosemite and Death Valley), and on to Vegas where my dad lives. We would like to be able to stay with him for a couple days.
    On to the Grand Canyon, back to Denver to drop the family off and head home.

    As for stops on the way to and from Denver, the only place we definately want to go is the Badlands. Otherwise we are open to suggestions, but figure we will have to travel pretty quickly to spend as much time as we would like in western US.

    Do you all think this is do-able? And any suggestions would be appreciated!

    Thanks!
    Carrie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Yes, it's doable -- I Have some questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Carriebell View Post
    Hi Everyone!
    Howdy back and welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!

    What are you traveling in and how will your family "join" in when you reach Denver?
    California (Yosemite and Death Valley), and on to Vegas where my dad lives.
    Death Valley is a nice day trip from Las Vegas. From my office I can usually make it to Furnace Creek in a tad over two hours. Are you going to be moteling or camping or what's your lodging of choice?
    On to the Grand Canyon, back to Denver to drop the family off and head home.
    It's a doable trip I suggest you take a look at some of the attractions we have listed on that route -- by using the Map Center or even the Map Wizard. What sorts of things are the most interesting to you? Hiking or shopping? Bars or star walks. The members here have hugely divergent opinions about what we like to do. What sort of things do you prefer doing on your holidays?

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default time is your enemy

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The big problem is that you are really going to struggle to see everything you want with the limited amount of time you have.

    You've got at least 6000 miles for the loop you've laid out. That's 12 hard days of driving. Plus you want to spend a couple days in Vegas, plus a couple of stops in Denver, and presumably you want to see some of these other places that you've mentioned.

    I get the impression you are thinking you can just driving non-stop (or close to it) to get to the west, so you can "maximize your time." Even doing that, you really should not plan on driving more than 500-600 miles a day. Doing more than that is going to have you exhausted by the time you get to the west, and frankly, starting putting you into the danger zone where fatigue becomes every bit as dangerous as drunk driving.

    Ultimately, you can probably get to everything you've listed, and cross each of them off your list, however, I think you're also going to be very much in danger of having a trip where all you can do is cross things off a list, and won't have time to appreciate much anything. You really will have to budget your time carefully, and I'd look at crossing off things that are a bit farther afield like the badlands.

    Another thing you might consider is flying to Denver and just starting your trip from there. That alone is going to save you basically 6 days that you'd need to spend driving from PA across the plains.

    Go Steelers - for the next 3 weeks anyway!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Oh yeah, reality

    Yeah, I agree with Michael, I hadn't really penciled out the mileages very well. It's going to be very tough to spend 2 to 3 days in Las Vegas and a corresponding period in Denver. I actually think you ought to consider cutting California from the list. Or maybe cut Denver and save that part of the trip for another time.

    Mark

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

    Default No shortage of options.

    Or maybe cut Denver and save that part of the trip for another time.
    It looks as though that's a 'given' Mark, as they are meeting family there.

    Flying to Denver is a good option, especially if you can use a family car from there and not have the cost of a rental on top. If it isn't an option perhaps as Michael suggested, leave Badlands this time, and as much as I love the place, Yosemite. You could explore some of the parks in Southern Utah though such as Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce canyon and Zion with the Grand canyon, and although you might not be able to visit them all, you certainly have no shortage of options without adding the miles.

  6. Default

    Hi again!

    Ideally, I would love to fly out there and explore the west, however my husband WILL NOT get on a plane (it's quite restricting on what we can do!), so driving is our only option.

    As for our vehicle, I drive a compact Chevy, and he drives a Trailblazer...Mine is better on gas, his is more roomy, so we don't have that completely figured out yet. We aren't 100% sure if our Denver family is going to travel with us or not at this point, we may just be dropping in for a visit.

    I'd really hate to skip Yosemite, if we're going all the way out there, it would be a shame not to see it. I'm ok with skipping the Badlands or Death Valley, but those were two on my husbands list. I guess we'll have to compromise!

    As for driving, I have been reading the forum, so I have read that 600 miles a day is pretty much max, so I thought we could work out the route so that at least when we stop for rest, it will be somewhere interesting. We are both driving as well.

    There is potential for adding 1 or 2 days onto the trip...i just really don't want to put if off any longer, we've been talking about it for 3 years, and it is something we want to do before starting a family!

    Thanks for all your help!
    Carrie

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Very little time to see anything at that rate

    The problem with 600 miles per day is that in real-life-time, that will require that you are on the road for a minimum of 11 hours per day. Once you factor in fuel and food stops and traffic, you won't have enough daylight hours to really see much of the places you're trying to drive to and see. And you've got at least 3-4 days of relatively low mileage days built into your plan.

    If you hammer down for three days, you can reach the western states and then allocate ~10 days to see family and as much of the western attractions as possible and then hammer down again for the return trip. But that's an exhausting way to travel. When you mentioned the Badlands -- were you referring to South Dakota? If so, you really need to cut that from your route -- as much as I love South Dakota's wildlands you'll need to prioritize on this trip.

    It's still possible to see some amazing places and see your family -- but to allow time to actually travel in the national parks -- you need to figure those days at less than 250 miles of travel and a full day of being in the car. If you try and drive 500-600 miles per day, you'll miss much of why you're taking this trip.

    Mark

  8. Default

    I would cross off California myself. Save that for a dedicated trip to the west coast. I have made a similar roadtrip twice in the past few years. Once with each of my boys when they got their drivers license. 11 day trip from Knoxville to Denver and a drive through Rocky Mountain NP. Then through Glenwood canyon, which is one of very few interstate sections that the scenery rivals any road in the country. Head south to Durango via the Million Dollar highway before stopping to see Mesa Verde. Four corners is a little corny but a must stop photo opportunity. From there, swing by the south rim of the Grand Canyon and walk around the many overlooks. A few more hours and your in Vegas. Out of vegas you have to drive Zion NP and on over to Bryce Canyon. A good days drive north and you will be in Jackson Wyoming and Yellowstone NP. Cody wyoming is a nice place to spend the night and there is a rodeo every night at 7pm i believe. Coming back east we stopped for lunch before visiting Mt. Rushmore and of course Badlands NP loop. If you need t-shirts and stuff, Wall Drug is right there. Another CORNEY stop we did was the corn palace in Mitchell,SD. We just needed gas and so we stopped to take pics of the outside of the palace, which is made of beautiful murals from ears of corn. After that is was a push back to Tennessee but you will be on I-90 already and that will take you towards your home. 11 days was alot of driving each day, but i REALLY enjoy watching the landscape pass by and the beauty of how it changes hour after hour.I wanted to see the Grand Canyon, breathe Rocky Mountain air, watch buffalo in Yellowstone, and touch the dirt of the Badlands. I will remember it always. Most folks on here tell you that weeks upon weeks are needed to take a proper roadtrip out west to really experience it. Not true, I can enjoy Zion NP without hiking 3 hours up a trail, I can enjoy the snowball fight i had with my son at 12,000 feet in june atop trail ridge road in the rockies, siting on the hood of the car watching prairie dogs pop up all over the place in Badlands was great without having to spend days camping. Remember you dont have to stay at a place for days, lasting memories can happen in an instant.

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