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  1. Default East Coast to LA

    Hi - all , newbie here. Im from the UK and I am planning 6 month road trip across the US visitng friends along the way. October to end of Feb. A buddy of mine who is a car dealer is purchasing for me a minivan for when I arrive. I will be starting off in maryland , visiting friends in WV, FL. then making my my west at a nice slow no rushed pace, after all I will have 6 months. I will also stopping off in Texas and colorado visiting more friends. I have a sort of rough guide what I want to do, but this all depends on the winter weather and if there are closed roads. a couple of things I would like advice on.
    1) Im hoping to go to New England for the fall when is the latest time to go there pending weather and the fall of the leaves, I was hoping November.
    2) I have always wanted to visited Mount rushmore, will the road be ok in late november to december ?
    3) on my way to visit friends in Aspen and Denver will roads be ok to access Aspen. jan time.

    Because of the weather maybe be being bad for driving, I was thinking of going east to west via the southern states then up to Colorado to see friends then make my way to LA. I fly out of LA for a month in Australia then fly back again, where I was thinking since the weather will be nice by then I can do the northern states, including yellowstone, Wyoming, Mt Rushmore. maybe pop up to Alaska.

    All advice would be great

    Cheers

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Welcome!

    How do you plan to register and insure the van? It's not easy when you don't have a US residence.

    Finding bad weather and closed roads is always possible anywhere out in the mountain areas anywhere in your time frame. The leaf season in New England is over by November, you need to go there FIRST as soon as you arrive.

  3. Default

    Is the trip to Australia included in the 6 months or after it, after which you were thinking about visiting northern states? If you meant northern states in Feb, it's probably not going to be "nice" then, even at the end of the month. There might be some nice days mixed in with cold ones, but unless you are very used to cold/snowy weather, it probably won't be the most pleasant time to be outside.

  4. Default

    Also, yes, Nov is definitely too late for leaves in New England. They'll all be on the ground by then.

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

    Default A Few More Tidbits

    To answer a few more of your questions...

    November will be getting a bit late to see the best fall foliage color in New England, especially in the mountains and lake district of New Hampshire where peak color typically occurs in the first couple of weeks in October, but there will be color somewhere at that time. By late October, peak will be occurring in the Blue Ridge Ranges of Virginia and West Virginia, and by early to mid- November peak should be happening in the Piedmont and tidewater areas of Virginia and the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina/Tennessee. You can find current information on foliage during your trip here.

    Roads throughout the mountain west will be subject to occasional closures during and after major snow storms. Unless you have significant experience in mountainous and winter driving, you should be off the roads well before such official closures happen. This is irregardless of the vehicle you are driving or any special equipment you might have. There is simply no substitute for experience. However, it should only be a matter of hours after the storm has passed for the road crews to have plowed/salted/sanded the roads to make them passable again. The Interstate highway system will get priority followed by major roads in heavily traveled areas, particularly tourist areas such as around Rapid City (Mount Rushmore) and the larger ski resorts (Aspen, etc.). You have the time to wait out any significant snowfall and just enjoy it's beauty without risking life and limb.

    On the other hand, Alaska is not a place you want to casually visit in the winter, and Yellowstone is almost entirely closed to vehicular traffic from November until sometime in April, so those portions of your travels should wait until warmer weather. And I will just second glc's warning about the difficulties in getting a car registered and licensed to a foreign national with no fixed address in the US. Since your friend is a dealer, has a permanent address, and likely has experience dealing with the legalities, it is quite possible that he will be able to work all that out. Just make sure that the paperwork is all done properly and that you are carrying adequate insurance so that you are not taking unnecessary risks.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-29-2012 at 11:48 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default details

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    As you certainly know, a 6 month trip includes a whole lot of details to be worked out.

    First, I will add to what GLC mentioned about the car. It is very difficult for a non-resident to get a car licensed and insured. Most of the time you will need a US drivers license before you can register or insure the car (although you are perfectly legal to drive on a UK license), and you typically need to prove that you are actually living in a state for at least 30 days to get a license.

    I will also note that it is typically quite difficult and frustrating to get a visa for a 6 month visit to the US. Have you started work on that yet?

    And as has been said, November is too late for leaves in New England, you really would have to go in October.

    As far as winter travel, you need to really keep in mind that just because an area sees snow, it doesn't mean that it is always snowing or that roads are always bad. Even in the most northern and mountainous areas of the US, its only snowing a relatively small percentage of the time. Also keep in mind that going south doesn't keep you away from winter weather, as all 50 states can see snow, and ice is quite frequent in much of the southern US.

    As for the specifics, Aspen is a major ski resort town, so certainly they do everything they can to keep the roads open, which means you'd only have to worry about a major storm. Mount Rushmore is open year round, however, most of the services like restaurants and hotels in the nearby tourist focused towns shut down by October.

  7. Default

    Guys
    thanks for the advice, let me touch on your concerns. My buddy is sorting out the registeration and insurance for me so no worries there. I already have my 6 month visa for multiple entries. Still it is always up to immigration to stamp me for the 6 months. I may get less.
    I should of clarified my journey better. My plan is to do 6 months visiting friends and priority sites to see. Fly to Australia to see my buddy for a month maybe two. Then fly back to the US for another 6 month by this time it is nice weather, giving me the opportunity to visit Alaska and the northern states which all national parks would be fully open.
    It certainly sounds like the US have got their asses in gear with bad weather clearing the roads quick, We are lucky if our cities even bother to clear our roads. yet they wonder why everyone complains and they just come out with some lame excuse of we didnt predict how bad it was going to be. Hello!! we live in norther Europe.

    thats my little rant over with sorry! Thanks guys I guess I have a lot of planning to do. Im going to have to miss the fall until another time. As I cant make it there until November time.

    If you all know of any off the beaten sites tourist dont know about let me know please. I like the unknown.

    Cheers
    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-30-2012 at 05:24 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Next Step Is Up To You

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    With six months on the first segment, another few months on the second segment, your own car, and the whole continent at your disposal, it's really impossible for anyone to give you any meaningful specific tips at this point. We (and you) simply don't know where you're going. So the next step is for you to figure out a basic itinerary that at least starts to exclude major portions of North America. In the meantime, there are plenty of suggestions throughout these forums, in the Map Wizard, etc. I would suggest that you start by going through the resources under the "Routes and Sights" tab above.

    AZBuck

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

    Default Tools and resources

    Further to Buck's advice, may I suggest, if you have not already done so, that you get yourself a wall sized map of the US. My preference is for the National Geographics map, for all the detail it contains. It can also be a good idea to get it laminated. Mark on it (with sticky notes) all the places which are already on your schedule - friends, etc. As you do your research, add those places which interest you. Soon you will see your route laid out before you. After that, there is only the fine tuning and filling of the gaps to attend to.

    Like yourself, I too have the six month per entry visa, and like you will have, I now also have my own vehicle. It is the way to go. Each visit so far has seen me driving some 25000+ miles north of the Mexican border, and (almost) up to the Arctic Ocean.

    If AK is definitely on your agenda, make sure to get a copy of The Milepost now! It is a big book and a thick book, and is the bible of those who take the trek north. You get the best out of it, if you give yourself time to study it beforehand... especially if you are taking this trip solo.

    Having just come back from my third trip up north, I am so glad I kept the 2004 edition from my first trip, which I also used in 2009.

    Quote Originally Posted by viking View Post
    If you all know of any off the beaten sites tourist dont know about let me know please. I like the unknown.
    Of course, if we knew, and put them on the forum, they would no longer be the 'unknown'. One way to find some of these is to speak with the locals wherever you are, be they the ranger, or the 'check out chick' at the supermarket. Another is to read the bulletin boards wherever you see them. Locals often put events and places up on there, which never make it into the travel guides. Only two weeks ago I was able to alert a fellow traveller who I knew was travelling to Dawson City on the relevant days, about a midnight sun, Scottish games festival. He thoroughly enjoyed them, meeting both spectators and participants.

    BTW, where in Oz will you be visiting?

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 06-30-2012 at 09:55 AM.

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by viking View Post
    Guys

    I should of clarified my journey better. My plan is to do 6 months visiting friends and priority sites to see. Fly to Australia to see my buddy for a month maybe two. Then fly back to the US for another 6 month by this time it is nice weather, giving me the opportunity to visit Alaska and the northern states which all national parks would be fully open.
    It certainly sounds like the US have got their asses in gear with bad weather clearing the roads quick,
    I think that plan sounds much better than visiting some of the northern areas in winter. Although it can often be fine to drive through them then, it's just not the best time of the year if you want to do much out-of-the-car sightseeing.

    You may find with driving in winter that northern areas do a lot better job clearing snow efficiently that southern areas that rarely get wintry weather. Places that get snow regularly have better plans for dealing with it than those where it's much rarer.

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