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  1. #1

    Default Northern loop: NJ to Seattle and back Summer 2012

    I have been meaning to do this trip for awhile. It isn't my first road trip (I have done a few week long trips) but it is the longest.

    Anyway a very general itinerary

    Day 1: stop somewhere in western PA
    Day 2: stop somewhere in Indiana
    Day 3: Hit the Shedds Aq for a couple of hours sleep somewhere outside des moines
    Day 4: Making some time switch off driving until we get to maybe the Buffalo Gap (there are three of us 10 hours wont be that bad)
    Day 5: Visit Mt. Rushmore act touristy; drive to someplace between Billings and Livingston MT
    Day 6: Get up real early head to Yellowstone.
    Day 7-8: Yellowstone for two nights. Stay somewhere outside Twin falls ID
    Day 9: Stay somewhere outside Reno
    Day 10: Arrive Redwood NP. Stay two nights.
    Day 12:Longish drive to in laws house in portland.
    Day 13: Get up early go to Seattle. One night in hostel.
    Day 14:Go to Vancouver. Spend the night.
    Day 15-18: LONG drive to Thunder Bay ( I am not sure if there is anything cool to do besides enjoy the prairie for a few hours and then hustle through). Should get there early enough to visit the amethyst mine.
    Day 19-20: Head to Toronto stay for one night.
    Day 21-22: Go home.

    Any advice about the long part on the trans canada hwy? Any must see places? I know camping can be more money in Canada but do they have the equivalent of BLM places you can stop for free? I know this is the road trip America forum but I thought I would ask.

    Oh, it says on the NPS website that they keep some tent sites open for walk up campers at the more secluded all summer. Does anyone know how likely it is to actually get one of these sites?

    Also, my car is getting kind of old, 2005 Saturn Vue with 125,000 mi on it. I will get it checked out before I head out but anyone think the car is just too old?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Definitely get your car serviced before you leave -- but that's whether it has 10,000 miles on it or over 100,000! My husband and I took a trip this past summer and left with the car at 129,000 miles on it (a 2002 model Pontiac). There were 134,000 miles on it when we got home. The car behaved beautifully. Of course, my husband babies it. It gets an oil change every 3000-5000 miles and when it has a problem, it goes to the shop.

    Tent sites and walk up campers -- well, the drive-in campsites may fill very early at the more popular parks. If it's a hike-in campsite, they usually don't fill too early.

    As far as things to see and do along the Trans-Canada....Wow. If you take the entire T-C, you'll go right through Banff, the most scenic place (and loads of camping available). There are some Provincial (State) parks along the way as well, plus some lakes in Sask. Riding Mountain National Park is also in Sask -- have never been there but it sounds lovely to me!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I'd devote more time to the Trans-Canada if you can. The Canadian Rockies are a destination worthy of several days all by themselves, but the bigger key is that the Trans-Canada is not an Interstate Quality freeway. Most of it is 2 lane roads, with the occational passing lane and a 55 mph (90km/h) speed limit. There are some sections with a higher speed limit, but even there is is only 100-110 km/h, which is just a tad over 65 mph. Both your Vancouver to TB and your TB to Toronto sections are really just long enough to make the drive, and don't leave much extra time for exploring. The TB to Toronto drive also covers some of my favorite scenic areas, with lots of national and provincial parks along the way.

    BTW, Canada is distinctly in North America and very much a part of this site. I'm not sure of BLM type sites for camping. I've done a lot of camping north of the border, but pretty much all of it has been in provincial parks.

    As far as your car, its just a baby! The vehicle I used for my 5000 mile summer roadtrip is a 2001 with more than 250,000 miles on it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Problems and Opportunities

    For the most part, your driving days are well paced and should leave you some time to do more than just cruise down the Interstates looking at traffic. But there are a couple of spots where you are taking on more than is pleasant, if not more than is safe. The most glaring example is Des Moines to Buffalo Gap. That's 700 miles, and it's 10 hours only in the fantasy world of computer programs. Add in stops for fuel, food and bathroom breaks, as well as just a couple of sanity breaks to stretch and turn off the brain for a few minutes, and you're looking at nearly 13 hours in the real world.

    Similarly Vancouver to Thunder Bay is just under 1900 miles. That's a full 3½-4 days in the real world. As others have pointed out, the Trans-Canada Highway is not freeway for the most part, but rather good two-lane blacktop. But in the western portions through the Cascades and Rockies, it is simply good quality mountain road, with grades, twists and turns, small towns, and generally low speed limits. You will be passing through some world quality scenery and national parks, such as Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay and Banff. It would be a shame not to have any time to get out of the car and appreciate then with at least a few hikes. See if you can't add a day here. Calgary, Medicine Ha, Moose Jaw Winnipeg are also worth some time beyond stopping for a quick meal. And if mines intrigue you, take a look at Sudbury.


  5. #5


    Thanks for the tips.

    I am thinking of adding another day on the TCH and spending a night and a few days looking at glacier and banff parks.

    Anyone know whether it is a foolish gamble to risk walk up camp sites in the summer at yellowstone?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Unless you are planning to spend the previous night right outside the park, I wouldn't risk going without a reservation at Yellowstone. The walk-in sites typically fill up very early in the morning - often by 9 or 10 am. With your schedule, I don't think it is very likely you'd find any availability.

    The nice thing about Yellowstone is that there is no advance fee for making a reservation, you only have to pay the first night up front. You can cancel or change your reservation with no penalty up to 48 hours before your trip. The liberal cancellation policy does mean places that are fully booked up one day, can and do open back up later, so if you've got a preferred area, you can get it if you are persistant.

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