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  1. Default Trip from Chicago to The West

    hey folks
    im new to RTA and need advice hope this is right place for the thread.
    We are Road Trip virgins and camping virgins.
    My wife and I are planning a summer trip from from Chicago to the west.
    june 13 till june 30 here is what we have planned so far.

    PLAN:
    Chicago to STL(STL for few hours)
    STL to Denver(I-70 explore denver)
    Denver to Grand Canyon(probably stop at Glen Canyon)
    Grand Canyon to Vages(camp in grand canyon)
    Vages to LA(spend night in Vages)
    LA to pacific coast hight to SF(spend few nights in LA)
    SF to Crater Lake(few hours in SF)
    Crater Lake to Glacier National Park.(few hours at Crater)
    Glacier to Yellowstone(camp in Glacier and Yellowstone)
    Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore(few hours at rushmore)
    Rushmore to Chicago


    Since my wife and i enjoy scenic stuff and architectural stuff and photographers
    was wondering if anyone can guide us to interesting POI for the entire trip.
    also we want to drive during the day to see more except from STL to Denver(corn field)
    in LA we were thinking of getting a hotel for few days looking over the ocean and away from LA any suggestions(romantic)
    stat the obvious POI to the unusual. also what should be need for the camping? anything else we should bring just in case?

    thank you guys!!!!!!!

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

    Default swing and miss

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'm sorry, but I really think you have to go back to the drawing board. You are trying to do vastly more than is even possible, much less enjoyable. You've got about 4 weeks worth of trip that you are trying to do in 2.


    St. Louis to Denver, for example is 850 miles. That's way too much to do in one day, that's a minimum of a day and a half. Similarly, Denver to the Grand Canyon is at minimum a day and a half drive and that's if you ignore all of the many great sights and parks in between. LA to SF is a minimum of 2 days via the Pacific Coast.

    I could continue, but the trip is just like that throughout. Simply put, you can't plan to be driving 800+ miles a day, and that's what you are doing for nearly your entire trip. Just trying to cover the miles you've got at a reasonable pace, you don't have enough days available, much less have time to spend several days along the beach in LA.

    You need to go back to the drawing board and rebuild a plan where you work with the time you have available, rather than throw the entire massive "west" out there and try to jam it all in.

    If you are camping, 500 miles a day is the maximum you should be trying to do in one day, and I'd really suggest you get beyond the idea where you'll drive for hundreds upon hundreds of miles, stop someplace for "a few hours" and then drive several hundred miles more.

    You can have a great trip with the time you've got available, you just can't do nearly as much as you have laid out here. Once you come up with a more reasonable plan, we'll be glad to help you come up with some additional ideas.

  3. Default

    Other than what MM said about the feasibility of your trip, I have to chime in with the suggestion that you're really going to want to take a short camping trip near home, say an hour or two away, to a state park, before going on on a multiweek car camping trek. You will find out what works and what doesn't (and what equipment/gear/etc. you need and what you don't) when it comes to camping and road trips.

    You do not want to find out that you or your wife don't actually like camping or road trips a day or two into a long trip!

    (I am new here, but I have many years of road tripping under my belt - only way my family vacationed when I grew up.)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Spot on

    Hi burgundyyears, and welcome.

    Good to see you come in with sound advice. Far too often folk fail to take small trips to get the feel of it, so to say. Feel free to jump in and contribute from your experience. It is good to see.

    Lifey

  5. Default

    MM
    thank you for pointing out the time frame is small. yeah i was thinking it would be too much for the time.
    for me i drove from chicago to Louisiana non stop just stopped for gas from chicago to Toronto. so i have no problem driving 850 in one day. but yeah its too much to handle.

    in STL we are just stopping to see the Arc. and drive from STL to denver is over night so we wont be stopping anywhere only for bathroom n gas. still a loonnggg endless drive for one day.
    Rushmore is for sure sure just few hours.

    yeah i will go back to the drawing board.

    i could cut over few places so we can stop at main destination like grand canyon for few days and LA for few days.

    thanks MM super appreciate it! :)

  6. Default

    yeah we were thinking of camping some national park around chicago but we have a short window. before the trip we have a family wedding on june 12 and july 4th is the wife's brothers wedding. and july 5th my summer semester starts. so we really got a short window.

    we been looking at forums and calling National park and asking them what we need for camping and what not.

    Thanks Burgundy and Lifey ! :)

  7. Default

    i know this is like choosing apples from oranges
    but if one had to chose between Yellowstone NP or Glacer NP. which one would you choose :)

    Grand Canyon, Vages, LA, Pacific Coast Highway. the other locations are optional and flexible

    Thanks!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default a dangerous game

    Quote Originally Posted by munda View Post
    for me i drove from chicago to Louisiana non stop just stopped for gas from chicago to Toronto. so i have no problem driving 850 in one day. but yeah its too much to handle.

    in STL we are just stopping to see the Arc. and drive from STL to denver is over night so we wont be stopping anywhere only for bathroom n gas. still a loonnggg endless drive for one day.
    You need to understand you are talking about things that are in a word, dangerous.

    Driving 850 miles in one day, in a one shot trip can be done. Its not recommended by any means, and it is about 250 miles more than a professional driver is allowed to do because of safety concerns. However, If you are careful, have multiple driver, and have plenty of time to rest up both before and after that one day, it can be done.

    What can't be safely done is driving 850 miles in a day as part of a multiple day roadtrip. The lack of rest that comes with driving that many miles will wear on you quickly, and even trying to do 500 miles the next day will be pushing your body to the point where you will be as dangerous as a drunk driver (even with multiple drivers).

    Your plan to drive from Chicago to Denver overnight, adding in a 200 mile detour to St. Louis, is a recipe for a homicide. You're talking about nearly 24 hours on the road, plus the time you spend at the Arch. Even doing St. Louis to Denver overnight is a recipe for disaster. If you manage to avoid killing someone else, and don't for a second think you are doing anything less than a very real game of russian roulette, you simply won't be in any condition to have any fun for several more days. The affect of trying to drive through the night and throwing off your sleep schedule, in addition to being extremely dangerous, is simply going to throw off your body to a point where you'll be out of wack for several days.

    Your misguided idea that there is nothing to see between St. Louis and Denver (there actually is plenty to see, if you get beyond the idea that all you'd see if cornfields) is simply not worth destroying the rest of your trip.

    In a sentence, when you go back to the drawing board, redo the entire thing, and please don't think your first step is a reasonable one.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by munda View Post
    i know this is like choosing apples from oranges
    but if one had to chose between Yellowstone NP or Glacer NP. which one would you choose
    If I'm reading your post correctly that the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and LA are your priorities, I don't think you'd have time for either unless you've got much more than 2 weeks. Even doing a loop directly out to LA and back would pretty well fill up 2 weeks.

    But just from a logistical standpoint, Yellowstone is a full day drive south of Glacier. If you're thinking of doing one, then it would probably make sense to do both, but I don't see any way you do either one of them on a 2 week trip and have time to drive to Southern California.

  10. Default

    I will strongly recommend that you pare your trip back significantly. You just don't have time for LA/California/points southwest.

    Here's something I came up with, fitting in Yellowstone, Glacier, and Mount Rushmore: (Google maps link)

    June 13 - Chicago to St. Cloud, MN (470mi)
    June 14 - St. Cloud, MN to Bismarck, ND (366mi)
    June 15 - Bismarck, ND to Billings, MT (415mi)
    June 16-18 - Billings, MT to Yellowstone NP (stay 3 nights) (170mi)
    June 19-21 - Yellowstone NP to Glacier NP (stay 3 nights) (389mi)
    June 22-23 - Glacier NP to Billings, MT (stay 2 nights) (415mi)
    June 24-25 - Billings, MT to Mount Rushmore (stay 2 nights) (364mi)
    June 26 - Mount Rushmore to Sioux Falls, SD (372mi)
    June 27 - Sioux Falls to Chicago (572mi)
    June 28-30 - Recover in Chicago!

    This is the most I'd ever personally attempt, and I think you'd be wise to pare it down from this. It's a huge 3600 mile trip. With this amount of driving, you'd at least have a fighting chance of not hating the trip and camping.

    I cannot emphasize enough the need to have a practice trip, from a gear, safety, and relationship perspective. This trip would be truly miserable with someone who doesn't want to be there.
    Last edited by burgundyyears; 05-16-2011 at 06:20 PM.

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