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  1. #1

    Default Family of 5 "Cross Country" (July 2 - August 9, 2013) - Expertise appreciated!

    Hi there, RTA...

    Our family (ages 34, 34, 12, 10, 8) is forgoing our town-home lease, has just paid off a car, cutting the fat from our lives, storing some of it away, and using our summer savings on a six-week U.S. road-trip. We just got back from a 13-day to Vancouver, BC; prior to, a 7-day to Seattle, WA, and a weekend jaunt to Tucson, AZ. The following itinerary is in no way 'fixed', as we do not know the realities of such an adventure, nor do we anticipate it going "as planned." Hence, we are here fishing for your sage advice. We'd like to camp 2-3 times, will be staying with friends & family, and in no more than 6-7 hotels (using our Choice Privileges card). So far we've booked a rental through Thrifty at just under $1,000, from San Diego International. We'll be driving any economy to full-size sedan; to be determined by what we're packing. We're packing 1 duffel bag & a backpack for clothes (yes, that's all we'll need), 1 cooler, 1 hex-dome 6 person tent, 4-5 sleeping bags, 4 pads, lantern, camping grill or stove, coins for toll-roads & laundromats. The following is what we're entertaining.

    1. In parenthesis (after each destination) I've left "(_days)", awaiting your suggestions.
    2. We're open to any stops you might feel are more worthy of a visit than others.
    3. Please critique away; add & subtract as you feel is necessary. Be brutally honest.

    HOME, San Diego, CA 92123

    LEG #1 (two weeks)
    Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas, NV (We begin from here on July 2)
    Zion National Park, Springdale, UT (2 days) - camping
    Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, SD (_ days)
    Amana Colonies, Amana Colonies, 622 46th Ave, Amana, IA 52203 (_ days) - possibly camping
    Chicago, IL (_ days)
    Family - Lafayette, IN (_ days)
    Friend - Cleveland, OH (_ days)
    Family - Buffalo, NY (Niagara Falls) (_ days)

    LEG #2 (two weeks)
    Family - Holyoke, MA (_ days)
    Boston, MA (_ days)
    Statue of Liberty National Monument, New York, NY (_ days)
    Family - Newark, DE (_ days)
    Washington, DC (_ days)
    Family - Greenville, NC (5 days)

    LEG #3 (two weeks)
    Family - Roanoke, VA (2 days)
    Family - Norman, OK (2 days)
    Carlsbad Caverns, NM (_ days)
    Sedona, AZ (_ days)
    Grand Canyon National Park, AZ (_ days)
    Joshua Tree National Park (drive through?) (_ days)

    HOME, San Diego, CA 92123

    Possible Stops:
    Graceland, Memphis, TN
    Family - Fort Worth, TX
    Lake Havasu City
    Family - Tucson, AZ

    Thank you very much, ahead of time, for taking the time to read this post and if you've decided to contribute to it in any way. We really appreciate it.


    Albert O. Reed
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 04-30-2013 at 12:32 AM. Reason: Sorry, new members are not permitted to post outside links.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Leg 1.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    How long you spend in any one place and where you stop is something of a personal issue based on your tastes and how long you wish to stop with family at various places. Some people like multiple days in one place and others [like a lot of us here] like to keep on the move, sometimes spending a few hours in a place and sometimes a day or two.

    You will find a lot of info just searching the forums and checking out the planning resources in the tool bar above, where you will find such tools as the map centre where you can find attractions listed by RTA contributors all over the country.

    As an example on leg one, you have about 5 days of driving to cover the mileage at a reasonable and sensible pace [however you decide to divide it up] and would need at least one overnight stop between Springdale and Rushmore and another on route to Amana. Reckon on roughly 550 miles being a full day on the road with plenty of short stops to stretch and take time for lunch, fill with gas and set up and break down camp. That would leave you with 9 days to do as you please along the way wich could easily be used up [and more] travelling between Zion and Rushmore, so again it comes down to you choosing priorities.

    If I were to drive between Zion and Mt R, I would be looking at visiting Bryce canyon and taking Utah scenic 12 to Torrey and then to Moab via Capital Reef NP and visit Arches NP [and Canyonlands time permitting] After which I would head to I70, which is one of the most scenic of Interstates and drive through Rocky mountain NP to Estes Park. That would be a magnificent drive and you could camp in these great parks [booking advisable] but you would need a minimum of 4 nights before even getting to Rushmore, stopping at Zion, Bryce, Arches and RMNP would work quite well. Then in the Rushmore area you have the likes of Wind cave NP, Custer State park, and as you head east, Badlands NP.

    You will find 'distractions' like this throughout your trip or you can just concentrate on getting from your A to B's and decide how then to divide your time.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Few things come to mind.

    Albert, I'd have to agree with Dave, check your resources, including the indispensable paper maps, and see what there is along the way. Why not get the childrfen to do some of that research for you. In South Dakota you also have two great touristy attractions, Walldrug in Wall and the Corn Palace in Mitchell.

    With children the ages of yours, camping within the national parks would be a most wonderul experience. I'd get on to the booking a.s.a.p. and see if you can still pick up some vacancies. Your children are the perfect age to benefit from the Junior Ranger program at every national park you visit. Get all the information at the visitor centres. Their passport and badges will be great keepsakes from the trip, along with a great appreciation of these natural wonders.

    Do you have your tickets for the Statue of Liberty? They do sell out, well ahead of the date.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    The cruise to the Statue of Liberty will also take you to Ellis Island. It's a historical tour of the place where immigrants had to stop for so many years before they set foot on American soil. Your 12 year old should have studied the great immigration in school. There are also some good historical fiction books written for 10 and 12 year olds, about Ellis Island. I'll try to hunt up the titles later. Lifey is right, though, get your tickets NOW for the cruise. We found that the cruises that left Newark were less booked than the ones that left NYC. However, that said, they also don't run as often.

    I'm not sure what the status of the Statue is, this year. Last year, you could not go into it at all. The year before, you could only go into the pedestal.


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


    Unfortunately, you likely won't be able to visit Ellis Island during your trip. Both Ellis and Liberty Island suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Sandy and are currently closed. Liberty Island is scheduled to open on July 4th, 2013, so it should be open for your trip, but there is no reopening date scheduled yet for Ellis.

    It is a shame, as I found Ellis to be much more interesting than I expected, and really more enjoyable than Liberty - although I didn't get to go up inside the statue.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 04-30-2013 at 06:58 AM. Reason: added year to avoid future confusion

  6. Default

    It's going to be a great trip which your family will treasure. You are fortunate to have kids who are seasoned travelers and many family members to visit. There are many places of historical importance to visit in MA, Delaware and VA which will appeal to your children. If you go to Sedona and Grand Canyon then my suggestion is 2 days each. If you would be taking more trips from San Diego in the future, then you might want to spend more time farther afield (that is, New Mexico and east).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Oakville, ON, Canada


    Sounds like an exciting summer. We have visited several of the locations you listed and here's my two cents worth. We visited Mt. Rushmore and the area for 4 days and then drove to Estes Park in Colorado for another three. Rushmore itself is an afternoon but there are many other things to do in the Black Hills including Southwest Dave's suggestions of Wind Cave NP, Custer State Park (including getting stuck in a herd of hundreds of buffalo on the road) and the Badlands. The towns of Deadwood and Hill City re-enacts gun fights at noon on the main street. We also enjoyed Wall Drug and the Corn Palace as Lifemagician suggests.
    We live less than an hour from Niagara Falls. You can certainly visit it and see the sights in a day. Certain nights they have fireworks over the falls in the summer.
    I recommend early tickets for the Statue of Liberty if possible. The lines get very long later in the day as security clearance takes a while (think airport plus). If the statue still isn't open on your visit, a free ride on the Staten Island ferry will go right by the statue. We spent a full 3 day weekend in NYC which we found to be enough for younger children. We also spent the same amount of time in Chicago, Boston and DC. I strongly recommend the Spy Museum in DC along with all of the traditional monuments on the Mall.

  8. #8


    Dave - Thank you very much for the advice. It's very informative and certainly sets a tone of optimism for our outing. We thought we'd be rushed. We're taking the advice about the stops between Springdale/Rushmore and Rushmore/Amana. We'll be implementing the 550 mile suggestion, and possibly adding RMNP and/or Estes Park to the list.

  9. #9


    We're not likely going to be booking anything (Statue, et cetera...) seeing as how we don't want to burden ourselves with timetables. We'd like our itinerary to remain as loose as possible; catering to our spontaneity and any unforeseen encounters that take up more time than intended. Camping within the NPs is definitely something we're going to aim for, and I'll definitely look in to the Junior Ranger programs. Thanks Lifey!

  10. #10


    Thank you, Donna! It looks as though the Statue is re-opening on the 4th. As we near NYC/NJ, and get a better idea of an ETA, we'll see what luck conjures as far as tickets go. Thank you for the input as well, Michael!

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