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  1. Default Jersey and Back Again

    My girlfriend, a few friends of mine, and I are looking to go on a trip this July, and are currently trying to pick the route. Just a few bits of information...

    We have ~3 weeks (20-24 days)
    Car: 2011 Subaru Forester
    All recent college grads
    Intent on keeping costs down
    Focus on National Parks (with key cities)

    We would be leaving New Jersey, stopping in Chicago, seeing the Badlands, Yellowstone, Salt Lake City, Bryce, Zion, Vegas, Grand Canyon, then heading back and stopping in Memphis and Nashville, before going home (this all clocks in at around 5,800 miles). We would obviously be hitting other stops in between, and our trip is subject to change based on any feedback we may get.

    The question that I have is, would expanding the trip to include California (Lake Tahoe, Muir Woods, San Fran, Santa Cruz, Yosemite) be way too much (an addition of almost 2,000 miles)?

    I am open to suggestions about how to change the trip in any way, shape, or form.

    Thanks so much for your advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Three Little Words

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    In general, three weeks is enough for a Grand Tour of the United States, back and forth across the continent all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific and back, hitting all the places you've listed, Except...

    Three words jumped out at me from your description: "a few friends". If this were just you and your girlfriend I would offer nothing but encouragement, but 4-5 people crammed into a small wagon for three weeks is a recipe for disaster. There will be inevitable personality, scheduling, dietary, musical, sleeping, etc., etc., etc. conflicts - and nowhere to go to get away from them. Understand that I know you all think that you are the best of friends and that either such problems would never come up or you could work them out. But I can pretty much guarantee (and would bet serious money) that you will return from this trip and not speak to one another for at least a week or two. If you really want a trip that involves all these people, then scale it back to fit within your budget (and last no more than a week) and allow lots of alone time for everybody - time spent well away from the car. If the length of the trip is more important, then you should jettison the "few friends" and just hit the road with your girlfriend, saving up for as long as you need to so that you can make the trip on your own without the "paying passengers".


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


    I really don't think I would add in California on your timeframe. You could likely cover the miles, but it would force you to make your stops at all the attractions you listed so short that it really wouldn't be worthwhile.

    As it is, with your loop without California involves a good 10 days worth of driving. You've also listed 10 places you want to see, which means you've got time to spend about a day each at all of those places. That's enough to have a nice trip, but when you consider time for other things that might be in between and some places (ie yellowstone) really need more than a day, I wouldn't be adding too much more to that outline.

  4. #4


    You could easily fill up your time without going all the way to California. In Utah, you're overlooking Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, Dead Horse Point St. Park and Capitol Reef NP. In fact, just driving Utah Scenic Highways 12 and 24 is a great trip in and of itself. There is also Monument Valley Tribal Park on the Utah/Arizona border near Mexican Hat, UT and just north of Mexican Hat is Goosenecks State Park - a must see that only takes about a half an hour. A little farther north of Mexican Hat is Natural Bridges National Monument. Do not underestimate Utah. I know of no other area in the US where you can see so much natural beauty in a comparatively compact area as you can in southern Utah (I-70 to the Arizona Border.

    In South Dakota, there is the Black Hills with Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse monuments as well as Custer State Park where you will see wild burros and buffalo herds. The Iron Mountain Highway (US 16A and US 16) from Keystone to Custer State Park is an amazing drive with neat pigtail bridges and several tunnels that are aligned in such a way that, as you look back through them, they frame Mount Rushmore. The Needles in Custer State Park is an area of very interesting and unusual rock formations which, as you might suspect, resemble needles.

    In Wyomng, Devil's Tower National Park is only 26 miles northwest of I-80. Also in Wyoming, The Beartooth Highway ( US 212) from Yellowstone to Red Lodge, Montana is a wonderful alpine drive.

    Have A Great Trip!!

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