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  1. Default Help wanted: Advice on Two-week Northwest Roadtrip

    Hello Road Travelers:

    My wife and I are planning a two-week roadtrip during mid-August through the Northwest, starting from Illinois. However, this is our first time ever doing a roadtrip and we would like some advice, mostly on the routes (we already read a lot of articles in this website but we still have some doubts).

    I originally thought of a long-trip that would cover several Northwest states until Oregon, then down to California (got friends there), then back home through Colorado. The thing is there is only 14 days for about 8 or 10 states, and it seems like it will be a rushed trip. So, do you think this is a good idea or should I cover less states but allowing more time for each?

    Also, what 'essential' places do you recommend for the Northwest? I already have Yellowstone as a must-see place (almost non-negotiable). We also have interest in Oregon due to some beautiful natural places we saw online, and if possible Washington for the same reason.

    Note that we are a young couple (24 and 29) with a preference for natural wonders and the occasional artistic stuff. Though we are somewhat sick of zoos, small galleries and small museums, historic houses, and the like. On the other hand, we would love more 'involving' activities like balloon riding, canoeing, waterparks, fairs, and the occassional theater (even burlesque).

    Thanks in advance for your help and we hope to have a good trip.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Cut Back - Just a Little

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    My first impression, on reading your proposed trip(s) was to encourage you to do the entire drive: Yellowstone, Washington, Oregon, California and the Rockies. But upon a little reflection I've changed my mind. Such a trip would take at least 9 days of driving, leaving just a few for actual out-of-car activities, and I get the impression that you're much more activity oriented than just driving from place to place would satisfy. So, I think something has to go, but not much. If you can forego heading down to California (thus also 'saving' the time you would have sat around your friends' homes) you can reduce your driving time to 8 days, leaving 6 full days free.

    You and others may disagree (We don't believe in any universally applicable lists of 'must see' sites) but the major outdoor attractions on your general route westward would include the Badlands, Wind and Jewel Caves, Devils Tower, Little Bighorn (Even though an historic site, it's got a decidedly different feel from most.), the Grand Tetons, Craters of the Moon, the Thousand Springs of the Snake River, a couple of personal favorites of mine: Bruneau Sand Dunes and especially Bruneau Canyon, the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood, and a bit of the Oregon coast.

    You could then return back east on I-84 (the way you came) as far as Hagerman, ID and there strike off towards Great Salt Lake, Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, Dinosaur National Monument, use US-40 across to Rocky Mountain National Park, and finish up taking I-80/US-30 along the Platte River in Nebraska following the old Oregon Trail to get home.

    The real problem with trying to build any trip that is mostly driving around events, theatre, festivals and the like is that you have to be incredibly lucky to have an event in a place on your route on the one day that you'll be passing through. So concentrate on getting to the natural wonders. You can probably find rafting trips, plane and balloon rides without too much difficulty, but live performances will be strictly a matter of luck.

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    So, do you think this is a good idea or should I cover less states but allowing more time for each?
    Personally, I'd forget Oregon and Washington this trip and wait until you had more time. Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons are a great place to go to. Please allow yourself at least 3 days or more would be even better just to see Yellowstone. Lodging might be a problem at this late date, so as soon as you have your dates, you will need to start looking into lodging.

    I agree with AZBuck that Badlands National Park, SD, Devils Tower, WY are worth seeing. Along with Mt. Rushmore and Custer State Park in SD. You might even consider going up to Glacier National Park in Montana or down to Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Just these attractions alone and your the time to travel from Illinois is going to quickly eat up your two weeks. If you want to have time to hike or other activities, you won't want to spend half the trip in the car driving.

    Utahtea

  4. Default

    @AZBuck:
    I also thought that such original trip was toooo long for the available time. At first I was rather ambitious and planned the most, but then I threw some numbers to the calculator and realized that there is too much driving. Perhaps we should cover the original desired states during different future trips.

    Also, you may not believe in an universal 'must see' list, but most places you mentioned look very awesome (at least online) and probably are must-see indeed. Thanks!

    And finally, you are correct with regards to coordinating with events. I will stick more to natural wonders. And balloon rides, rafts, etc.

    Thanks again AZBuck; you were very helpful.

    --------------------

    Now, in general:
    From what AZBuck said and from further research, it all seems that the trip would be centered mostly in the strict northwest: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, but let's also include South Dakota. So, if anyone here would have to choose 3 states from those 6 (due to time constrains), which ones they would be?

    And what about Nebraska and Iowa? Any recommendations for these, just in case?

  5. Default

    @Utahtea:
    Thanks, you too. Letting go Oregon and Washington is a bit disappointing, as they look so beautiful. But yeah, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons are also awesome. So as I suspected, I'll probably have to break this trip into smaller trips for other times (can't wait to have more vacation time :P ).

    Lodging might be a problem at this late date, so as soon as you have your dates, you will need to start looking into lodging.
    Didn't know that this would be a problem. Lodging doesn't necessarily has to be fancy; we are open to motels and cheap inns.

  6. Default

    As a loyal washingtonian...we have 3 beautiful National Parks, Mt Rainier, North Cascades & the Olympic National Park. The Olympics are beautiful, the only rainforest in the continental U.S., a wild coastline, mountains, Native American Culture. Don't forget Mt St Helens, but I will give you a hint on that one..if you can't see if from the freeway I-5 or Hwy 12, you can't see when you're on top of it !!
    Have a great trip.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    We have done the Oregon-Washington trip, and loved it. It was separate from other trips, though. Crater Lake in Oregon, Mt St Helens, Mt Rainier were among our three stops that year. (I had already been to the Olympic National Park on a previous trip, and we decided to save North Cascades for another trip.)

    Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons, as well as the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho, are all on for a future trip.

    Colorado, for us, was a separate trip completely. That year we spent time in the mountains above Denver, traveled down to Royal Gorge, over Monarch Pass (where hubby decided that we'd add a PacBrake to the diesel when we got home as we heated up the brakes quite a bit), and into Black Canyon of the Gunnison. We headed home via Million Dollar Highway (PacBrake for sure! we were towing a 5th wheel), into Durango. I think we would have gone into Mesa Verde if we didn't figure we would just have more braking issues and that it could be done on another trip.

    Just some ideas - make several vacations out of where you want to go, so you can REALLY see things rather than "Okay, I've been here, now what?"

    Donna

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by YOMorales View Post
    @Utahtea:
    Thanks, you too. Letting go Oregon and Washington is a bit disappointing, as they look so beautiful. But yeah, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons are also awesome. So as I suspected, I'll probably have to break this trip into smaller trips for other times (can't wait to have more vacation time :P ).



    Didn't know that this would be a problem. Lodging doesn't necessarily has to be fancy; we are open to motels and cheap inns.
    Except for our first trip in 1974, we've always camped in Yellowstone but if you want to stay in the park, they booked early even back then! You might be able to get in on a cancellations so once your dates are set, check for one. If you want to stay outside of Yellowstone I'd recommend the town of West Yellowstone, Montana for the most centralized location to all the areas in Yellowstone. Sorry, I can't recommend a place to stay....just the best location. :)

    Utahtea

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    There is nothing cheap in West Yellowstone. In August, you are looking at a minimum of $100 a night for a hotel/motel room. I can highly recommend the Evergreen Motel.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default West Yellowstone Hostel

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    There is nothing cheap in West Yellowstone.
    If you are into hostels, you will find this probably the cheapest accommodation in West Yellowstone. I stayed there in 2004, so like most places, anything can have changed since then. However, it was affordable, clean and comfortable. Dorms or private rooms.

    Only carrying a tent would be cheaper.

    Lifey

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