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  1. Default Big 80-day Spring Road Trip From Spokane, WA to Orlando and Back

    We're schedule to depart on a 8200mi 73+ day RV road trip in early April. We're starting and stopping near Spokane WA. Aside from necessary over night stopovers and compulsory visits at various relatives in CA, we plan to stop at the following locations; Bodega Bay, Lake Havasu city, AZ, Petrified Forest NP, Santa Fe, NM, Carlsbad Caverns, NM, Austin, TX, Beaux Bridge, LA, Mandeville, LA, St. Andrews ST PK, FL, Disneyworld Fort Wilderness, St Augustine, FL, Jekyll Island, GA, Savannnah, GA, Charleston, SC, Great Smoky MT Natl Park, Cumberland Gap Natl Park, Solon, IA, Brandon, SD, Badlands NP, Custer State Park, SD, Yellowstone NP. I've attached our current route, although I haven't tweaked it for avoiding the nastiest of mountain passes (we're towing a car).

    Any comments, on route suggestions, or sights?
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2

    Default Big Road Trip!

    Hello Reeds,

    What a great looking route! Wish I could go.

    I think the best advice as to sights and what to do, and even route-tweaking, would come from some additional info as to what you and your group are likely to enjoy (heavy physical activities like high-elevation hiking and whitewater rafting, or gentler activities like short hikes, picnics, etc.

    I do see two parts of the route which perk my ears up:

    1) One must really want to see Cumberland Gap NP in order to drive an RV into KY, particularly from the Park out west to I-75 at Corbin. It's 4-lane most of the way, but it's a lousy drive compared to Interstate driving.

    2) From Rapid City/Belle Fourche SD to Crow Agency, MT along US 212. While this is a reasonably scenic drive for the most part, from about Lame Deer to Crow Agency is shockingly poverty-stricken and not an enjoyable ride. I could editorialize and say we all need to see what is going on out there, but I won't get in to it here. In an RV towing a car, I'd stick to I-90 through the northeast corner of WY and leave the long 2-lane segment of US 212 and the congestion from I-90 through Belle Fourche for another time.


  3. Default


    This exactly the kind of feedback I was looking for. On your first point (Cumberland Gap), I was trying to hit as many National Parks as possible and I've never been to Cumberland Gap before. We had planned to stay there 3 nights. But I see what you mean about my route vrs taking I-75. Is Cumberland Gap not worth the visit? If not, I'll need to find somewhere else to spend those days before we get to Custer SP where we have reservations. Suggestions?

    On your second point, I have no particular reason or interest in taking 212, so I changed the route to I-90. Thanks for that tip too.


  4. Default ..and activities

    regarding activities ... There are three of us, one of which is our son who has some physical limitations. So long hikes are out of the question. but we are taking a couple of inflatable kayaks, bikes (son is in a bike trailer), and paved/boardwalk trails are fine. We also like interesting arts/crafts type towns and historic sites. Since we are towing a car, we can also take separate driving tours of surrounding areas.

  5. #5

    Default There are no "bad parks" to visit


    Far be it from me to suggest any park of any kind is not worth a visit. It is indeed powerful in terms of Colonial frontier history to visit Cumberland Gap. Unlike Shenandoah and the Smokies, however, there's just not a great deal of visual "snap" to Cumberland Gap. Nowadays the highway passes beneath the Gap in a tunnel and a footpath passes up and over the Gap itself. I am not aware of the situation as to the trail's accessibility for those with mobility issues, but that should be readily determinable on the NPS website.

    Oh, and have a look at the annual pass for the National Parks. Could be you can save a few bucks by purchasing the Pass before you leave, or at the gate of the first NP you visit.

    Having the car along with (which my RV-er friend calls a Toad since it's towed), you can enjoy Cumberland Gap without having to get too deeply into that part of the mountains on old highways. One of the original TVA lakes, Norris Lake, lies along a TN state highway between I-75 north of Knoxville and the Cumberland Gap. When I tent-camped there, literally 33 years ago, there were some nice campgrounds near the I-75 exit and it's perhaps a 20 mile run up a fairly level and straight highway parallel to the lakeshore to Cumberland Gap.

    The National Rail Trail Conservancy's website might interest you as it provides much info to rails to trails conversions. I believe there's a segment of rail-trail near Cumberland Gap, in Virginia, but I don't know if it's paved. Although it's not on your suggested route, the Katy Trail in Missouri looks very promising to me as a cycling destination. You can easily vector through St Louis and KC enroute for home and check out a section of the Katy.

    Not far east of Cumberland Gap in west-central VA is the New River Trail State Park, a 57 mile rail-trail along the New River, featuring bridges over the river, tunnels, and virtually flat riding. Most sections I've seen are hardpacked crusher-run (fine granite or limestone gravel compacted by rollers). My RV friend loves the little campground at Fries (pronounced "freeze), which is at one of the two southern trailheads. Best access to NRTSP is from Hillsville, on I-77 east of Fries and Galax. Fortunately, the segment of US 58 connecting Hillsville to Galax is mostly 4-lane and fairly straight.

    Another VA-TN attraction for cyclers and paddlers would be the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area near Damascus, VA. Damascus lies at the intersection of the Virginia Creeper Trail and the Appalachian Trail, the former a rail-trail conversion and the latter the venerable backpacking trail. The section of the VCT from Whitetop Station to Damascus is 17 miles all downhill from the crest of the Blue Ridge back to town. I've ridden it often and it's routine to see small children in bike trailers and older children on tandem bikes. The trail surface is fine gravel/crusher-run. Along the lower section of the VCT are a number of small wooden piers over a trout stream and these are built for and reserved for wheelchair accessed trout fishing. These piers are within a short walking distance of a parking area off of US 58, so riding the VCT is not required to access the stream. A number of agencies in Damascus offer bike rentals and shuttle services to the top, and you just ride your rental (or you own bike) back to the bike shop in town. The campgrounds within the Mount Rogers NRA and Virginia's Grayson Highlands State Park are accessed from US 58, the infamous "Crooked Road". You most certainly don't want an RV + Toad on US 58 east of Damascus, but a nice National Forest campground at Backbone Rock lies just across the TN border around 5 miles south of Damascus, so one could drive into town from there.

    I believe there is some paddling to be had on one of the forks of the Holston River accessible from Damascus, and the Nolichucky River along the NC-TN border is around an hour's drive south of Damascus. Damascus itself is within perhaps 75-90 minutes drive from Norris Lake, up by Cumberland Gap. Look at that carefully, as it's been 33 years since I combed that section of TN, too.

    You might also be interested in the Blowing Rock area along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Price Lake campground is very nice and offers canoe rentals (and perhaps private kayaking?). Moses Cone Memorial Park is adjacent to Price Park and features + 20 miles of carriage trails looping through 2,500 acres of ridges, pastures, and orchards. The carriage trails are wide and generally low-gradient as the needs of horse-drawn carriages would require. I don't believe the trails can be accessed by bicycle, however, but horseback tours can be arranged if that's possible for your son. The Moses Cone Mansion at Cone Park is a nice crafts center with working demonstrations always in progress as well as display/retailing of craft works.

    Down near Spruce Pine, not too far from the Parkway, lies the Penland School for Crafts. A visit to Penland is probably a must for a crafts person, and one can visit the Museum of NC Minerals right at the Parkway, too. Access to Penland might be tricky in the RV, so that could be a toad trip.

    And lastly, down in the Smokies, the Nantahala Outdoor Center headquarters at Wesser, NC offers whitewater trips on the Nantahala River. The Nantahala is fairly gentle water save for Nantahala Falls, a Class III drop right at the take-out at NOC HQ. The Falls can be bypassed, leaving the paddler with a couple of hours or more of fast, fun Class I and II water. I think NOC offers full-service camping right there at Wesser.


  6. Default

    Thanks, Foy ...

    What are your thoughts about a route up the Great River Road as an alternative to Cumberland Gap? Looks like it would be from Wickliffe, KY to New Boston, IL. Feasible in an RV?


  7. #7

    Default Very little experience there


    I have essentially no info for that, excepting having run US 60 from Paducha to Wycliffe twice, once in 02 and the other last summer, while shortcutting from I-24 to I-55 in a misguided attempt to avoid the worst of St Louis traffic and Illinois fuel prices. It's 2 lane on US 60 and a bit rolly-polly, but no problems. The bridge over the Ohio River at Cairo is AWESOME, though, being a 2-laner which reaches something well over 100' above river level (150? 175?). There are two IL to MO vehicle ferries which cross somewhere along that route, and just last night I saw where one claims to accomodate tractor-trailers, so presumably your RV + toad would do it.

    At the foot of the aforementioned bridge on the IL side you're right at the confluence of the Ohio and the Mississippi, so turning west there takes you immediately across the Mississippi on another insanely narrow 2 lane high bridge. I believe I heard of that bridge being closed for repairs starting in December or Jan, though, probably on CB radio chatter in Dec/Jan of this year.


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