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  1. #1

    Default Utah to Baltimore then back home via Oklahoma city....what should we not miss?

    Hello everyone I have loved reading all the trip ideas over the years and decided this may be the fastest way to plan a last minute trip this summer......because it is obvious where the experts are!

    We have decided to hit the road and go from salt lake to just outside the Baltimore visit grandparents in PA then stay about a week there and then head home going through OKC to visit the other grandparents..then home. We are traveling with our 11 and 13 year old. the kids love children's museums and sites, NPs, etc my son really wants to see mount Rushmore. I am at a loss of even where to stay, cabins in parks are fine, don't really want to tent camp in the heat. Trying to save over hotels. we like scenic roads or interstates, are interested in visiting cool local festivals and such if they coincide with our dates. looking at leaving around July 21 and returning around aug 18 or so. We are flexible, so that helps. Would like to stay a week on the east coast and a week in how to do this and what are the do not miss items? haven't found decent website yet for planning, ideas for that appreciated too!

    Can't wait to hear evryones ideas! Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    Where to stay ... you may want to compare those cabins in parks with the prices of hotels. They aren't necessarily all that much cheaper, and then you've got to bring your own sleeping bags and a lot more. Tent camping in the heat, well we totally hear you. For less expensive hotels, try two different methods: Either the motel/hotel finder on this website, or perhaps getting the coupon booklets from the state visitors centers. You can get some pretty decent deals either way and then you don't have to carry sleeping bags with you.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Cabins and heat

    I'll add a note here: Campground cabins aren't always air conditioned and from a heat perspective can be worse than being in a tent. I'm reminded of a situation where I was in a cabin on Cape Hatteras, in July. It didn't have AC and seemed to have the unique ability to not allow any of the prevailing winds to blow through its interior without leaving the screen-less door open (this I attribute to the window design). And as Donna stated, the costs aren't always competitive with hotels...and in most cases, you'll still end up having to use the shared bathing resources.

    There are always exceptions to the rule, however, and it is possible to find cabins with the amenities of a hotel room (private bath, linens provided, etc.) - but again I wouldn't suggest them as a way to decrease costs.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Planning Pays

    I will concur with my colleagues above that cabins in the national parks, much as I have enjoyed my stays in them, are not necessarily a money saving way to travel. What I have found is that it often pays to forego the presumed benefits of flexibility and plan out your trip to the level where you at least know where you'll be at the end of each day. That lets you do some comparison shopping, via booking sites such as ours, to find the best deal on a motel that suits you. I have generally been quite satisfied with rooms in the $50-75 range and those usually come with 2 queen-size beds (enough space for 4 people), air conditioning, pool access, and free breakfast.

    Where you can save money on the national parks is with two deals that they offer. The first is the annual pass ($80) that covers entrance fees for the holder and everyone else in the car for a year. This will pay for itself if you plan to hit four or more national parks during your travel. Since the year starts at purchase, it is best to buy these at the first park you come to that asks you to pay to get in. The second is a free service the parks offer for children: the Junior Ranger Program. These are a set of park specific activities that the kids would do. It's a great way for them to learn more than they would by just looking at the beautiful scenery, plus they get some very nice certificates, patches, and other souvenirs - all free.

    You should also keep in mind that national parks (and historic sites and monuments, etc.) are everywhere, and they're all included in your annual pass. For example, in the Mount Rushmore area. there's also Badlands National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, Wind Cave National Park and Devils Tower National Monument. So be sure to make full use of their many locations.


  5. #5


    You might get some ideas about the Rushmore area here. It is a great place for kids.

    I don't know where in Pennsylvania you'll be but you might consider Gettysburg National Military Park. If you should, be sure and visit the new Visitor Center first to gain some insight about the battle. This is important because the area of the battlefield is very much the same as it was in 1864 and if you have an understanding of the battle, you can easily visualize what took place there. You might also try to watch the film Gettysburg with Martin Sheen and Tom Beringer. It is based on the historically accurate novel, The Killer Angels by Michael Shara. The more a visitor understands about the battle, the more enjoyable the visit to this premier battlefield is.

    Kids love sand dunes. You'll pass close by Indiana Sand Dunes State Park and Indiana Dunes Nat'l Lake Shore. They would be reached from I-80/90 Exit 31. It would be a bit out of the way but Great Sand Dunes Nat'l Park in Colorado would be another great stop. It's about 15 miles north of US 160 west of Walsenburg, CO. If you chose to do that, you could find your way back to Salt Lake via US 160 and US 550 which are both wonderfully scenic drives.

    You might also consider Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park but, being fairly close to it, you may have already been there.

    Have A Great Trip!!

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