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  1. Default Chicago to Vegas... maybe....

    Hi all.
    Have spent weeks going round in circles - the extent of my usual planning on holidays abroad (I'm from UK) is to go for a month, and book some flights... Has suited me fine in Asia, Middle East, China etc... but perhaps not if I'm doing all the driving!

    I'm going to undertake a solo road trip. I'm not particularly interested in seeing big cities on this one necessarily (although if they book-end the trip, brilliant - quite likely given I'll be flying in from London, although happy to consider internal connections to nearer and smaller airports, ie to avoid the 1st stretch from Chicago to Fargo), but instead want to keep off the interstates through small-town, big skies, empty landscapes.

    The closest thing I have to a plan so far:

    Chicago to Bismarck ND (via La Crosse, Fargo), down to Rapid City, spend some time meandering around the Badlands, Custer National Park etc... then back due south onto US-83, 'road to nowhere' kinda route through Nebraska, Kansas etc.

    I'm then undecided: either vaguely route 66, from about Texas/Oklahoma border, up to St Louis, and back to Chicago...

    or... push west to Las Vegas, through Colardo and Utah - I'd love to see that landscape.


    I'll be travelling in a few weeks. I'd prefer to take 3 weeks, possibly could take 4. Obviously there's going to be a hefty surcharge for returning a vehicle elsewhere, but I'm prepared to take the hit.

    Any thoughts appreciated. I'm 28, happy to take my time, don't want it to simply turn into a race against time - is 3 weeks sufficient for detours and whims for that odd route? I basically want to see US-83 emptiness, buffalo/Rushmore etc AND deserts... am I trying to fit too much in?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    If it were me, I would narrow it down to a few of those places, and save the others for a possible future trip. When I was about 9, we did a trip like you suggested (even starting in Chicago), but we took 6 weeks. My suggestion would be take the northern trip one year, and the southern trip another year.

    Rapid City has Wind Cave NP, Custer, the Badlands, and is near to Mt Rushmore. (The latter is US presidents, but is amazing when you realize this is carved out of the mountainside.) Nebraska and Kansas have their points, as well. St Louis - the Arch, the Mississippi River, and lots of other little things. Kansas City is equally interesting.


    Donna

  3. Default

    Thanks for the input. I think I'm already coming round to your proposal... my knowledge of the USA as a visitor is limited to New Hampshire, NYC, and San Diego, which I guess is like Venice to Italy... and so every option is exciting me! Perhaps best if I don't bite off too much and end up haring around everywhere!

    Guess I need to make up my mind though and book some flights... intend to leave in 3 weeks!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Flight booked ?

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Just by looking around the forums and road trip planning resources in the tool bars above with a good map to hand is going to help you discover what it is you want to see. Once you have got some dots on the map and worked out start and finish points we can certainly help piece it altogether.

    or... push west to Las Vegas, through Colardo and Utah - I'd love to see that landscape.
    I'm from the UK and the incredible and diverse scenery through this area [and Cali and AZ] appealed a lot to me and my interests, and it didn't disappoint, not once ! Vegas, Denver, Salt lake City are all places that you could fly into and create a loop trip and get rid of the one way drop charge. [That's if your flights are not already booked].

    Enjoy the planning ! Any questions, just ask.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Driving Every Third Day

    I agree that trying to do everything you've listed on your 'wish list' would be tiring and expensive to try to accomplish in just three weeks. But there is an alternative that will let you see most of it and still return you to Chicago to save you a few hundred dollars in one way drop-off fees. As Donna noted, you simply do the 'northern' portion of your trip with Yellowstone National Park as your ultimate western destination, seeing the Badlands, Caves, Devils Tower, Little Bighorn and other sites more or less along I-90 on the way out, and then on the return, swing a bit south and take US-191/US-287 down to Rawlings, WY and then I-80 across Nebraska to I-29 down to Kansas City and I-70 to St. Louis, finishing up on I-55 back to Chicago, dropping the car off where you picked it up and hopping back on the same carrier who brought you over on a simple round-trip ticket.

    Now, I know I listed mostly Interstate highways and you said you want to avoid them. But in most cases Interstate highway were built in addition to, but parallel to, existing US (two or four lane) roads. and it is usually simple enough to take these older roads which are still out there a bit removed from the motorways. For I-90, US-18 runs about 10-20 miles south of it for much of its length, For I-80, US-30 runs alongside of it and along the Platte River through most of Nebraska. You can almost always find alternatives to the Interstates that allow you to cover the same general ground at a slightly slower pace and with the opportunity to stop when something catches your eye. And if you need to make up time, the motorway is always there.

    As noted, the loop out to Yellowstone and back would take about a week to drive if you stuck to the Interstates. But that still leaves you two weeks of time to stop at places along the way, take the road(s) less traveled, and just plain relax.

    AZBuck

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    If using I-29, keep an eye on road reports. Flooding problems!!!!


    Donna

  7. Default

    Brilliant replies - thanks for all the detail and highly useful suggestions.

    Lots to weigh up! Need to get those flights booked first of course...!

    Will keep you posted and I'm sure better/more detailed Qs will follow...

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    you simply do the 'northern' portion of your trip with Yellowstone National Park as your ultimate western destination, seeing the Badlands, Caves, Devils Tower, Little Bighorn and other sites more or less along I-90 on the way out, and then on the return, swing a bit south and take US-191/US-287 down to Rawlings, WY and then I-80 across Nebraska to I-29 down to Kansas City and I-70 to St. Louis, finishing up on I-55 back to Chicago, dropping the car off where you picked it up and hopping back on the same carrier who brought you over on a simple round-trip ticket.
    I'm really taken with this approach...

    Chicago out along I-90... but then I was thinking maybe I could drop down into Utah, taking I-70 past Moab, then either 76/80 thru Nebraska back toward Chicago?


    3000 miles or so in 3 weeks...sounds OK in theory... would I still be pushing it?

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

    Default Umm....

    You're asking this of someone who drove over 7,000 miles in two weeks and had a wonderful time! The key is just pacing yourself and enjoying both aspects of a RoadTrip, the driving and the 'being there'. 3,000 miles in three weeks means that you only have to average about 150 miles a day, or a full day of driving every three days. A very easy pace, especially through the wide open spaces of the plains and the scenery of the Rockies.

    AZBuck

  10. Default

    Great point. You're insane: in a great way! Sounds like an awesome trip you had from reading up on it.

    I'm gonna go with the Chicago to Utah loop plan then. Cheers for all the suggestions... likely I'll pop back for more when I'm a bit nearer to it.

    Right. Flights. Must book now.

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