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  1. Default Father-Son Road Trip Long Island to Phoenix

    I am brand new to the site. I plan on driving my son back to college in Phoenix this August. We plan on making an adventure out of it with some great bonding time. We would love to go the route that goes through Cleveland, Chicago, Iowa and eventually get to Mt. Rushmore. I would like to head south from there and end up in Phoenix. We never took a road trip like this before and are very excited about it. We have plenty of time and plan on lodging when needed. We are starting on Long Island, NY and are at square one in the planning process. Any advice on routes or anything else would be so helpful. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA! You've come to the right place!

    This is what I recommend: take a good look at a map of the USA, and the Map Center here on this site, and see what interests you besides Mt Rushmore. Just looking at your brief mentions of places and a route you have in mind, I think of Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame (OH), Field of Dreams (IA), Herbert Hoover Presidential Library (IA), Wall Drug (SD), Wind Cave and Jewel Cave NP's (SD), Badlands (SD), Rocky Mt NP (CO), and so much more.

    What is "plenty of time" to you? It's about 3000 miles from Southampton, NY to Phoenix via Rapid City, SD. That's about 6 days driving (500 mi a day). So to do sightseeing, you'll need more than 6 days (1 way). Return (for you?) will be about 2600 miles, or 5 days driving between 500 and 550 miles a day.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default A good nights rest essential.

    As Donna mentioned, sit down together with a good map and see what it is that appeals to you. Use the RTA search function for more info and start getting some dots on the map. Once you have got that far we can help to fill in the blanks and make suggestions. Between Rushmore and Phoenix you have a number of scenic wonders like Rocky mountain NP, Black canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado National Monument and the historic Mesa Verde NP. You could head into Southern Utah and visit Arches and Canyonlands NP's before driving through Monument Valley to the South rim of the Grand canyon NP. As you continue south to Phoenix you could explore some of Red Rock country around Sedona.

    You have many options and it's a wonderful oportunity for father and son bonding time.

    We have plenty of time and plan on lodging when needed.
    How much time are you thinking of ? I heard a small 'ting' from my alarm bell when you say "Lodging when needed". Donna has given you an estimate for a minimum amount of time you will need for the basic trip and each day on the road will require a good nights sleep, in a proper bed. [Or at least in a tent and not the car]

  4. Default

    Thanks for responding. I am driving my son back to school at Arizona State so he can have his car. I am flying home. We can leave after the first week in August and his classes don't start until the 21st. I plan on stopping every night with no overnight driving. We are taking his 4 cylinder-'91 Nissan Sentra so we are going to take our time. That said, we just want to stop and see some key places along the way without spending a lot of time site-seeing. Not sure whether to go through Iowa or Minnesota. Mt Rushmore is a definite and leaning towards heading south through Colorado and New Mexico. I am getting excited about it and so is my son. :-) Lenny

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Excitement and planning.

    Your and your son's excitement is understandible, but you are going to have to come down to earth and do some real planning. The excitement will build as you see the possiblities, but that's half the fun of a road trip..... and the bonding. Learning what specifics interest you and him. There may be some differences.

    ... without spending a lot of time site-seeing.
    You may find (and I feel certain) that this may change once you find out just what is out there. How could you not go sightseeing through States like Colorado. You could spend a month there and not see all the great sites... experience some of the great drives. Southern Utah is a place where father and son could spend some time walking (or hiking - depending what you're into) amongst some of the most spectacular natural wonders you will ever see. All of these, and those mentioned above, I would consider to be 'key places along the way'.

    Having two weeks for this trip you have ample time to spend off the interstates, and use the old US highway system. That will take you through many small towns, all of which have their own attraction. In Iowa, for instance, you have the historic barns and covered bridges.

    A well maintained 20 year old 4 cylinder should make the trip fine, but you may not be travelling at the break-neck speeds of some other road users. You have the time to take some sidetrips as the mood takes you, and still get to Phoenix in ample time.

    I would take out a AAA membership for roadside assistance. It's a small price to pay for peace of mind..... just in case. And while you are at AAA, make sure you pick up good maps of all the States you will be traversing.... and all those you think you might hit as well.


  6. #6

    Default The 73rd Annual Sturgis Bike Rally


    It was a "drive out with him and fly back" RoadTrop with my son, from NC to Southern California which brought me to RTA in the first place. This has the opportunity to be a memorable trip for both of you.

    But, whenever I see travel to the Mt Rushmore/Badlands NP area in August, I am reminded of a trip I took to Montana in 2002, a trip which took us directly by Sturgis/Rapid City, SD both outbound and returning. We found ourselves in the midst of the Sturgis Rally. For hundreds of miles east, west, and south of Sturgis, the fuel plazas, rest areas, restaurants, motels, and campgrounds were all jammed with groups of motorcyclists, most of the towing trailers full of Harleys, but including thousands upon thousands of ridden Harleys. I've nothing against a bike, mind you, but with attendance at Sturgis having been estimated to be over 500,000 in 2012, you can rest assured of seeing a whole lot of bikers at Rushmore and Badlands, and everywhere in SD and nearby parts of MT, NE, and WY.

    This year's official Sturgis dates are August 5-11, 2013. Expect the aforementioned crowds to be on the roads inbound for 2-3 days before and 2-3 after.

    If this trip was mine, I'd drop down to I-80 or even I-70 to access the central Rockies and points south/southwest and avoid I-90 and the Northern Plains altogether.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Foy has a good point -- Sturgis has a big effect on that area for a week ahead and a week behind. (We felt it one year when parked in Idaho right after Sturgis!)

    If you used I-70, you could catch Gettysburg and/or Hershey in PA, the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton OH, so much Lewis & Clark stuff in MO, the Eisenhower Museum in Abilene, KS, and then in Denver, head north for Rocky Mountain National Park. From there, Arches NP near Moab, UT, Canyonlands-Capitol Reef-Bryce-Zion parks also in UT, take a detour over to the Grand Canyon, and then come down into the Phoenix/Tempe area for ASU. Or, instead of the Utah parks, go south and west into Colorado for Great Sand Dunes NP, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Mesa Verde NP, Petrified Forest NP, detour over to Grand Canyon, and then south into Tempe.

    So many and your son should have a good time planning this trip!


  8. Default

    Wow. Thanks a lot everybody. Some great feedback. Im going to spend some time and start routing the trip using your suggestions and the great tools on this site. I will keep you posted.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Before you get out west.

    Most of the advice on here so far is focused on the Western States and their spectacular National Parks. But don't overlook much of what is to be enjoyed as you head towards them. One route which comes to mind is route 6 through PA, described 'not so much a route, as a destination in itself'. It is not a speed route, but all the attractions make up for that. Two that stand out for me are the Kinzua Bridge (or the remains of it) and the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.


  10. Default

    Happy to report that I have a map going (this is fun). Im heading to RR HOF and NFL HOF in Cleveland. Notre Dame in South Bend and Wrigley Field with a few blues clubs in Chicago. Now, I definitely want to end up in Denver. Contemplating St. Louis/Kansas City but not sure. I have never been to the mid west KC area. Is their another option?

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