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  1. Default My Great Sept. American road trip, GA to Grand Canyon, input please

    Although I'm not a novice to long car trips, this trip I'm planning is a new experience for me. I've always wanted to see the Grand Canyon and some of the other beautiful places of this great country. Now I have some time and would like to take a road trip from Atlanta to NM/CO. I would just take in the countryside, take photographs and generally enjoy the trip.

    My plan is to take my Ford pickup and drive to interesting spots along the way and camp out overnight where I can, probably dispersed areas in NF and BLM lands or State parks. I've never really been a camper although I've spent the night in a tent a few times. I plan on a 2 week trip taking I-40 West from TN (after I get there from GA) and returning South to Gila and Big Bend before turning East and returning perhaps via I-10 and then North from LA.

    I would appreciate any tips of must see places, cautions, warnings, advise, etc. I am particularly interested in what the weather might be in September along my route and at my destinations so I can plan my tent, sleeping bag. clothes, etc., appropriately. This is my rig as set up for overnight stays.

    Thanks!

    tent4.jpg

    tent5.jpg
    Last edited by hobbit; 08-01-2011 at 07:34 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    September is a lovely time for camping out - - most areas have cooled down a little bit (or at least, we HOPE so). There are some great places to camp along your route - BLM lands, National Forest lands, etc. You can find directories online or for purchase, of these types of campsites, and one would be a good idea to take along on your trip. You might consider state park campgrounds, too.

    One person's idea of "must see" places would be different from someone else's. Along I-40 in Tennessee, you will pass through Nashville, home of country music. Down in Memphis, there's more of that plus Graceland, Elvis' home. Arkansas - - well, if you pass through Sallisaw around the dinner hour (or stay at a state park near there), there's Shad's Catfish Hole, a WONDERFUL all-you-can-eat catfish (or chicken) dinner, served family style. Just outside Amarillo, there's the Cadillac thing, and in Amarillo itself there's the steakhouse that challenges you to eat a 72 oz steak in one hour and they'll give it to you free.

    Further along, on the west side of New Mexico still along I-40, there's Lava Beds and a pueblo you can tour. The lava beds place has an ice cave - - I haven't been, but it's on my list of "to do". On the east side of Arizona, still along I-40, is Petrified Forest National Park. It's a wonderful 30+ mile road through the Painted Desert and lots of petrified wood forests. I have not only done that, I worked at Fred Harvey gift shop years back, so I got to know the park somewhat on my time off.

    A little further west is the Meteor Crater, and then north of Flagstaff is Walnut Canyon. South of Flagstaff is Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon, both along Rt 89A.

    That's a good start for you to think about...


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default If only we knew.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    Quote Originally Posted by hobbit View Post
    I am particularly interested in what the weather might be in September along my route and at my destinations so I can plan my tent, sleeping bag. clothes, etc., appropriately.
    Now, isn't that what we would all like to know? My best advice is to go prepared for anything (other than snow, I guess!). If you take clothes which can be layered, rather than bulky things, you can add or take off as desired.

    Donna has mentioned many of the great sites along your route. If you have good paper maps of the area, or a road atlas, you will find all these, and more, as well as scenic routes, marked on them. Also great for finding SPs and SFs which have camping facilities - the map will show a tent.

    There really are no cautions, but the advice I would give is, just behave the way you would at home, observing the same security measures as you would there. Remember, everywhere you go is someone's home town, and they feel safe living there, so there is no reason why you should not. If at anytime, you feel uncomfortable somewhere, follow your gut feeling and find some place else.

    Like your tent set up!

    Lifey

  4. #4

    Default

    while in Amarillo, go to Palo Doro Canyon,16 miles drive into canyon it is beautiful, Texas calls it their Grand Canyon, also in New Mexico Carlsbad Caverns National Park is worth seeing.

  5. Default

    Thanks for the nice suggestions. I probably should have been more clear in my question. There are way too many "must see" spots to see. Obviously I will be drawn to some of them as I have certain interests. However, my question(s) are more about special natural features or places. My idea is to see things like special rivers, forests, canyons, deserts, etc. Particularly those where I can pull my truck off the road and camp out for the night.

    As far as the climate question, it's more than just trying to get a weather forecast. I'm driving from Atlanta and right now it's in the mid to high 90's. It's impossible to say for sure, but September and even October can be quite warm (no chance of hypothermia around here). However, I am aware that weather conditions can be quite different in other parts of the country. I wonder if I should prepare for very chilly nights....

    Thanks

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Flagstaff and the GC are up at higher elevations, so cooler nights are probable in the fall! If you check the NPS website for Grand Canyon high/low temps during the year, that should give you a good idea.

    Pulling your truck off the road anywhere and just camping for the night might end up with you on the wrong side of the law! Each national forest has its own rules regarding dispersed camping, as do state parks and national parks. Most of the NP and SP's that I've been in, only allow camping within designated areas. National forests are a bit more lenient, but even they have their rules. That's why I suggested getting a directory of free campsites. In the west, there are often strict rules about campfires, due to the possibility of brush and forest fires in dry areas.


    Donna

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    Flagstaff and the GC are up at higher elevations, so cooler nights are probable in the fall! If you check the NPS website for Grand Canyon high/low temps during the year, that should give you a good idea.

    Pulling your truck off the road anywhere and just camping for the night might end up with you on the wrong side of the law! Each national forest has its own rules regarding dispersed camping, as do state parks and national parks. Most of the NP and SP's that I've been in, only allow camping within designated areas. National forests are a bit more lenient, but even they have their rules. That's why I suggested getting a directory of free campsites. In the west, there are often strict rules about campfires, due to the possibility of brush and forest fires in dry areas.


    Donna

    Thank you for your input. I will check the websites for high and low temps for the general areas where I think I will be. As far as dispersed camping goes, I got my information from the NFS and BML sites and publications. I have a flyer that was given to me at the NFS site in North GA and it says in there along with directions to various areas: ""You may actually camp anywhere on National Forest Land as long as you don't block any roads, You don't cut any vegetation to make a site, and the area is not marked "No Camping" or "Day Use Area Only" Please do not camp in wildlife food plots""
    The same information is in many other publications and websites. I intend to find out if there are any restrictions before I set up camp. Also, I don't think I will make any campfires as I wont be there long enough to properly tend them.

    Still, I think it's a very good idea to get a directory of the free campsites. Do you know where I can find one?

    Thanks

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    The biggest thing you need to keep in mind with dispersed camping on National Forest land is that each and every National Forest has its only policies.

    Some of them will allow and even encourage dispersed camping almost anywhere, but many have various restrictions on where you can set up and where you can park. The biggest restrictions tend to be around how far you need to be away from things like roads and rivers. There are also some National Forests that do not allow dispersed camping at all.

    You really need to contact the ranger station/office of each national forest you are looking at camping to find out the specific rules for each place.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Google for them.

    You can find free campsites by doing an internet search. There are a few sites which have extensive lists. Just search with a variety of keywords.

    However, I think you will find that the majority - though not all - are suitable for RV camping only, and not really what you are planning. And quite a few looked a bit dodgy... to say the least. Just do a search and decide what is for you. But don't be tempted to use rest areas. That could get you into trouble in more ways than one.

    As for camping in NF, you should find on your maps, that there is a tent pictured on those which have camping facilities. And as advised above check with the ranger... there is usually an office not far away.

    Lifey

  10. Default

    Thanks everyone! I will definitely ask for specific info about dispersed camping on the NFs and BLM where my route is likely to take me.

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