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  1. Default Loop the Loop of the USA

    I'm in the midst of planning my first big road trip - I am aiming for either September or October (roughly a month of travel, potentially a little more) and want to cut from home (Austin) over to New Orleans, up to Memphis, through the Smokies to NYC, over to Chicago, Minneapolis, through as many national parks as possible until I hit Seattle, go down through Oregon and Glacier Nat'l Park, wind down the coast of Cali to San Francisco, cut over to Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and then take whatever way is easiest (I guess through New Mexico) back to Austin. I know this is a a month enough time to cover that much terrain and really be able to take in the sights? I was originally planning this as a three-month adventure, but as it is, I don't have the funds to pull that off. I could probably manage a month and a half, but anything more is pushing it. I'm forming most of my routes (with some tweaks, obviously) from the book "Road Trip USA" by Jamie Jensen, because I really want to take the scenic routes - though I know that's the 'long way.' I drive a Prius, so my gas cost isn't going to be as outrageous as if I drove a non-hybrid, and I plan on sleeping in my car quite a bit, as well as staying with friends along the way. I'm allocating $1000 for gas alone (it's over 10,000 miles) and around $3000 for the rest. Am I living in a fantasy world, or can this be done? Need some practical advice...and maybe a gentle smack in the face. Bring it on! Also, any advice on what parks are good at this time? I've read that Yellowstone is not great at this time, but Glacier is...yadda yadda. Guess there's really no time of year when all the national parks are going to be at their peak. Afterthought concluded.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default at least some good

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The good news is that if I was going to pick a single "best" time of year for travel, Sept and October would be my choice. Crowds are past summer peaks, and Weather is generally good, although the later you get into October, the more questionable it can get. Once you start getting into mid-late oct, some seasonal areas will be shutting down, and you can start to see signs of winter in the mountains.

    but the news goes downhill from here.

    With a month, I really don't think you're going to be able to do nearly as much as you'd like. A month is enough time to do a general loop around the country, but you need to be going at a pretty brisk pace. If you are hoping to have a trip where you can spend some time exploring national parks, taking scenic and 2 lane highways, then you're going to struggle. It's just too much area to cover in too little time, so you'd really have to do a "scratch the surface" type trip.

    A month and a half would help, or perhaps you'd be best off taking a different approach. Instead of trying to eat "the entire elephant" that is the US in one bite, break it down into smaller pieces. People tend to really focus on these big ideas of "coast to coast" or "the entire country" and can miss the bigger picture. If you really want to breathe in a trip, and take time for the scenic routes, you could be better off focusing on just one part of the country for now, and save the rest for "next time." Just an idea to consider....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If it helps you with planning, the Going-to-the-Sun Road through Glacier closes for the season on September 19, 2011. Yellowstone is completely open till October 11, 2011, when the first batch of roads close for the season. September and early October is actually a great time to visit Yellowstone, because winter hasn't hit yet and the summer crowds are gone.

  4. Default

    Thanks for your responses! I could probably take more time, if I wanted - maybe August and September - but I'm just not sure I have the funds to make it happen. I'm kind of set on the idea of looping the country, because part of the purpose is to visit some friends along the way. I could either take more time and have to stretch an already small budget further, or wait another year and hit the road with more money, thus allowing even more time. Thoughts on this? I hate to wait, because who knows what will be going on next year...but I do want to be prepared enough to bs able to take my time and really enjoy the journey.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default What's the hurry

    Quote Originally Posted by CPills View Post
    ......or wait another year and hit the road with more money, thus allowing even more time. Thoughts on this?
    Without doubt, I would say, wait another year.... but don't waste that year!

    Besides saving further for this trip (it must be a nightmare running out of funds on the road), spend the year researching all the places where you are planning to go, and where you could go but have not yet considered. It would likely make for a very special trip, rather than a hurried one, put together in a couple of months.

    Which of course will then also lead to an interesting RoadTrip Field Report. Who knows how many will read it and follow your example of going well funded.

    Lifey wishes you a great trip

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Test the waters ?

    You could do a smaller, less ambitous trip this year on a budget, say 10/14 days, and gain some experience and 'scratch that itch' to hit the road. It'll give you more time to save, could be real good fun, as well act as a 'test run' for your BIG adventure.

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