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  1. Default Help Me Plan a 6500 mile 3 week cross country road trip

    Hey guys, first post here!

    Hey fellas,

    My buddy and I bought tickets for EDC in Las Vegas and have decided to take a once in a lifetime road trip before work starts.

    We're leaving from NYC and plan to hit Indianapolis to visit a friend, Denver to visit family, and then head on out to Las Vegas through Utah. From Las Vegas we are going to So Cal and on up to San Francisco where we will then turn back towards the east coast through Chicago. We have friends in LA, SF, and Pasadena.

    We need some ideas on the homeward bound portion especially since we have no place between SF and Chicago to stop.

    I have flown to California and Arizona when I was a kid but do not know what attractions I should hit along the way in a car. I'm an hobbyist photographer and plan on time-lapsing the entire trip as well as including some sights along the way.

    The trip is very open in the sense that we have no real deadlines other than the concert the weekend of June 8th; however, we don't want to stray too far off course due to the length and time frame that we're doing this in - 3 weeks.

    FWIW, I'm very used to 10-12 hour driving days as I have made the Chicago-NYC trip multiple times.

    Here is a skeleton I have laid out.

    New York, NY to New York, NY - Google Maps

    My buddy wants to stop in Arches NP in Utah. The stop in Denver is to see family and the stops in California, Indy, and Chicago are to see friends. While stopped at those locations the "hosts" will most likely plan out our days. We'll be in Vegas for the 3-day festival and want to buffer in a day at the end for recovery.

    Between those locations we really don't know whats out there.

    I'd like stops between San Francisco and Salt Lake, and maybe one or two between Salt Lake and Chicago.

    We'll rip it between the other locations.

    We'll probably end up allotting 3 weeks for this when all is said and done.

    Thanks in advance for any tips, advice, and locations.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    This is a pretty nice itinerary, though I think you may be selling time short when it comes down to it. Three weeks is OK, four weeks would be more comfortable to cross the country twice and actually SEE something. The reason I say this: while NYC to Chicago is easily done in 2 long days on the highway, Chicago to San Francisco is 4 days without stopping anywhere. There's 6 days of your schedule. LA to SF is at least one day (I-5), two or even three if you're going up the coastal route (PCH-1).


  3. Default

    Thanks Donna!

    See the NYC to Chicago trip and the initial NYC to Indy trip would be done in 1 day. 8AM-~8PM. I've done both of them in 1 day. I also have 0 desire to stop anywhere between those points.

    I'm really just looking for places between SF and Chicago to stay.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    NYC to Chicago is 800 miles, depending on where you start from and where in the city you end. That is far more than we ever recommend that anyone drive in one day. My husband (ex-long-distance-trucker) never considers anything more than 650 miles, and even that's pushing it. One time we did 720 in a day, and it was NOT a good experience. So we've never repeated it. You probably won't get much sympathy from the regulars here, either.

    San Francisco to Chicago would be on I-80. It's 2150 miles -- I would allow 4 days, or 3-1/2.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Doing an 800 mile trip in one shot is one thing, but doing it as part of a 6500 multi-day trip, really is quite something else. Think of it like a marathon vs. a sprint. Trying to do a drive like that on the last day of a trip of this size really is not a good idea, and since you've already very familiar with Chicago, I'd think about skipping it and continuing farther east if you're just looking to get home.

    Here's some ideas for places to take a quick break and explore right along I-80.

  6. #6

    Default A little about I-80 in NV, UT, WY, and NE

    Quote Originally Posted by Enigma View Post
    Thanks Donna!

    See the NYC to Chicago trip and the initial NYC to Indy trip would be done in 1 day. 8AM-~8PM. I've done both of them in 1 day. I also have 0 desire to stop anywhere between those points.

    I'm really just looking for places between SF and Chicago to stay.

    Hello Enigma,

    I haven't measured it out, but if Elko, NV is a good stopping point from a SF origination, when I visited there last summer, I had a blast. There's an old downtown with a couple of old hotels, some Basque restaurants, lots of bars, and some entertainment one can't find elsewhere in the Lower 48. Elko is the town the recession forgot, as the gold mines between roughly Winnmucca and Elko are booming, and Elko is a big supply point for goods, services, and labor.

    West Wendover, NV, on the NV-UT line looks like a fun "border town", also. We just fueled there but the casinos looked new and nice. It's the closest "sin city" to Salt Lake City, and we sort of got the idea lots of the folks around us there were "supposed to be somewhere else", or ANYWHERE else other than a casino.

    Just into UT, with its own exit off of I-80, is the Bonneville Salt Flats. A 4 mile drive, all paved, brings you to the place at which you can drive your car out on the salt pan.

    There are some very nice places to dine in Salt Lake City and likewise around 20 miles east, and only 5-6 miles south of I-80, at Park City, UT. Downtown Park City would be a splendid place to spend a late afternoon/early evening in June just walking the street, doing some shopping, some local brews at Wasatch Brewing, and a good dinner at any of many fine restaurants. If you had time, you could even access Park City from Salt Lake City via "the back way" by taking the I-215 loop around to its southeast corner at 6200 South (the SLC grid, as with most UT city's grid, is named in terms of "# of yards north, south, east, or west of the LDS Temple). At 6200 South, head to Big Cottonwood Canyon, past the ski areas of Brighton and Solitude, to Guardsman's Pass Rd. It's paved up to the pass, then graded gravel for a few miles over on the east side, and it drops through Deer Valley ski area onto Main Street in Park City.

    Wyoming is long on scenery and short on towns and cities, with Green River looking like it's worth a stop, as are Laramie and Cheyenne, but not Rock Springs or Rawlins, which have reputations as rough-and-tumble oil and gas towns. In Nebraska, think about turning north at most any point between North Platte and Kearney, enter the Sandhills, then turn southeast towards Grand Island on NE-2, the "Sandhills Scenic Journey" highway. The Sandhills are mesmerizing and unique. NE-2 runs parallel to a main railroad line and along some nice rivers, and through cool little railroad towns every few miles (around most of them with just a short 45 mph zone, down from 70 mph on the open prairie between towns). Although I've never overnighted there, Lincoln, NE seems like a pretty nice college town (U of Nebraska).

    So, there are some ideas of stopping points between SF and Chicago. Best of luck to you.


  7. Default

    Foy, thanks for the thoughtful response. It seems you kept our interest at heart (college towns and the like). You've definitely given us some ideas to go over.

    Thanks again!


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