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  1. Default ambitious trip from Florida to San Francisco by way of southwestern national parks

    So I feel like I should say up front that I know this might be an overly ambitious trip. If we were planning on doing any real hiking, we'd have to cut our sites to visit drastically - but I managed to turn my ankle but good, and not even the best pair of boots is going to allow me to put in a 20 mile hike. So, that said, here's the plan from Orlando:

    Three days of hard driving out to Salt Lake City for a concert - probably a very long leg to Arkansas for a steak dinner and a good nights sleep in a hotel, followed by another almost as long leg to a hotel in Denver, and then a not-too-awful day into SLC. The real trip actually begins on day 4 leaving from SLC.

    The next stop is Fort Collins, and we are trying to decide between Fossil Butte National Monument and Dinosaur National Monument 'on the way.' This will be our first national park, where we pick up our annual pass. I'm leaning towards Fossil Butte. In any event, we'll spend a few days in the Fort Collins area with friends, picking up another driver.

    From there we are heading to Taos, New Mexico to meet up with more friends - I think we're going to stop off at Great Sand Dunes National Park on the way there. We're only staying a night in Taos before heading to Bandelier for the night. From Bandelier we're heading to Moab for Arches, Canyonlands, and Dead Horse Point.

    After Moab we're headed to Bryce for a day, then down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for a day, then to Zion for a couple days. Then we're off towards San Francisco, stopping off in Las Vegas for a night, then visiting Death Valley and staying a night in Giant Sequoia National Monument. We're spending two nights in San Francisco (don't know if we're eating anything but Dim Sum while we're there) and then heading back to Vegas, stopping off at Yosemite National Park.

    We're spending three days in Vegas this time, which is where we lose that third driver. From Vegas we're heading to camp near Petrified National Forest, and the next day we're driving to Carlsbad in time to see the bats fly out. We'll stay the night there and then head to Houston to visit with friends for a few days. We're going to New Orleans for the night from there, and then one last long push back home.

    So, tell me: is this feasible? I've plugged it into AAA TripTiks and it's a lot of driving, but I don't really want to skip any of this without adding something else awesome. Any suggestions? Anyone know if the AAA routings are any good? Thanks guys! I'm excited =)

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

    Default Not Safe or Reasonable

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'll tell you right from the beginning, your plan isn't reasonable at all, simply because of the start. There is no way you can safely drive from Orlando to SLC in 3 days (really 2.5 since you want to see a concert at the end of day 3). That's 2400 miles and would be pushing it to do it in 4 full days. Your idea of driving non-stop to Arkansas and then again to Denver if flat out homicidal, no matter how many drivers you have. You simply can't safely drive back to back days of nearly 20 hours on the road. (It's also illogical since neither destination is on the shortest/faster route between Orl and SLC) Even if somehow you manage to win your game of russian roulette and make it to SLC alive, how do you expect to enjoy a concert in a zombie-like state?

    Just scanning the rest of your trip, it also seems really illogical, as you are doing a ton of backtracking and doubling back over the same ground. There are a few legs you've proposed that simply aren't reasonable there either, however, it's really not worth going into detail until you've fixed the first part of your trip, which will truely put yourselves and everyone else on the road in a serious amount of danger.

  3. Default

    Hmmm... Unfortunately, this is a *really* short notice trip, and there are some definite date requirements on it. As for the start, I can wrangle us leaving a day early, but we wouldn't be able to get an early start - on the road by ten, I'd figure.

    We have a few weird things about this trip - we want to drive through as many states as possible, we have specific restaurant desires in different parts of the country, and we have certain days we can meet people in SLC, Fort Collins, Taos, and San Francisco. We also have to contend with very limited campground availability when you're looking at leaving in three days.

    Anyway, going back to the start of the trip: AAA says that Orlando to SLC is 34 hours and 2360 miles. Because we're determined to have visited all the states in the lower half of the US by the end of this trip, we changed the route to allow us to drive through Arkansas and Oklahoma instead of Missouri and Nebraska. If we go through Tulsa, the trip is up to 37 hours. This is marginally less than going through Oklahoma City. Through Tulsa, AAA steers us through Nashville. It seems like good stopping points would be Nashville, Tulsa, and Denver. That's 700 miles on day 1, 625 on day 2, 700 on day 3, and 550 on day 4. Is that more reasonable? We seriously have no way to move our departure up any more.

    As for the rest of the trip, there are so many dates that are fixed that I *think* I've done the best I can with the route. If you guys are still willing to walk through it with me, I'd really appreciate the help.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Contradictions

    Besides the words of wisdom from Michael, your plan is full of contradictions. For example:

    probably a very long leg to Arkansas for a steak dinner and a good nights sleep in a hotel
    Do you really think you can drive this distance, then eat a steak dinner and have a good night's sleep? Reality is that you will not enjoy the dinner without time to wind-down from the drive, or you won't feel like eating. To get a good night's sleep will mean rushing through dinner and possibly ending up with indigestion. Neither of which will make for 'a good night's sleep'.

    You will not be in any state to drive safely the next day. And that is only day one!


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by mylonite View Post
    Hmmm... Unfortunately, this is a *really* short notice trip, and there are some definite date requirements on it.
    Only viable aternative to enjoy the concert, will be to fly to the concert, and plan your road trip for when you have both more time, and more time to plan.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Wantin' Ain't Gettin'

    Sorry, but just because you want to do something, or because you have self-imposed constraints, does not mean that you get to ignore the laws of physics, space and time. Note that computer programs DO get to ignore reality, such as when they tell you that a trip can be made in 34 hours...IF you never stop, IF you never need to fuel the car, IF you never hit any traffic whatsoever, IF you never need to eat, IF you never need to sleep, IF you never need to go to the bathroom, IF you can drive at or above the speed limit for every second of every minute of every one of those 34 hours. The computer lives in virtual reality. You, however, have to live in real reality.

    You came here looking for advice from those with significant experience in such endeavors. I will now be at least the third such experienced RoadTripper to tell you the same thing. The trip you have 'planned' is simply not possible. Now it's up to you to either take that advice or enroll in the school of some very hard knocks.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    You really need to keep in mind that computer travel time estimates assume you can drive non-stop without ever having to slow down, stop for food, fuel, etc. They simply don't reflect real world conditions. 34 or 37 hours are really meaningless numbers.

    As far as the specifics, of your updated plan, it is at least on the brink of being reasonable. As mentioned, 4 days is the minimum you need for doing this trip safely. However, your plan still doesn't make much sense. Nashville, for example, adds a good 100 miles to the trip between Orlando and Tulsa.

    If you are going to do the trip in 4 days via Arkansas, your stops would be Tupelo, Mississippi; Ponce City, OK; and Denver. That's still going to be a pretty rough day one at nearly 700 miles, but then scales back to a more reasonable 600 miles a day for the rest of the trip. I will say that is still going to be a pretty brutal slog, and you're going to be very exhausted when you finally arrive in SLC - which will still make it tough to enjoy a concert. Considering you are planning to double right back to Colorado anyway, I'd really think long and hard about if pushing yourself to the brink and twisting up your roadtrip for this concert is really worth it.

    If you think you've done the "best you can" with the rest of the trip" then perhaps it is the best. I'll just say again that you are doing a ton of backtracking. Vegas to Sequoia via Death Valley isn't possible in one day, but it probably doesn't need to be since you are backtracking to Vegas anyway. And I'll say that if you've got so many dates that are "fixed" that it is forcing you to do a trip that doesn't really makes sense, perhaps you'd be best off trimming off some of those stops so you can actually enjoy your trip rather than driving back and forth to stay on a schedule.

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