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  1. Default June/July roadtrip from NYC to LA


    Going on a road trip from New York City to Los Angeles in mid-June, and we don't have too much tim (20 days). We've hired an RV (it's already reserved and all that), and we are to hand it over in LA on July 3rd. We're three guys in our mid twenties. It's our first road trip in the US (two of us haven't been to the US before). We're aware that it would be optimal with more time, but that's just how it is.

    We are kind of unsure what our optimal route would be. What would be most fun; an off-the-highway trip through the more scenic parts of the US or a city based trip? Both appeal to our interests, so it kind of depends on what will give us most out of our trip given our time limitations and the fact that we use an RV.

    We have set a few places that we definately want to stop in, and the most important two are Las Vegas and Santa Fe. Based on some tips and some googling, we've come up with these two alternatives. Other alternatives are appreciated:

    Route 1:,15,16&t=m&z=6

    Route 2:

    Note that the blips do not neccessarily represent actual stops. On the second route, we have yet to change the route between the cities to get more scenic drives and so on.

    What do you think? We'd prefer to get a mixture of both scenic, beautiful places and some big cities (some partying, big city attractions and so on would also be fun). We're not sure if the cities we've added are worth stopping at, such as Denver, so input on that would be great. We would like to have time to stop for a day or two every now and then. The Grand Canyon would be interesting to visit, and we are considering a helicopter tour over the canyon from Las Vegas.

    Thanks! :-)

    Edit: should mention that we have a few days in NYC before we get the RV, so we'll go straight from NYC on the first day.
    Last edited by cromoglic; 01-19-2014 at 01:38 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default RVs are not really city friendly.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    There are dozens of routes between NY and LA, and 20 days gives you a nice time to choose whichever way you want to go. Which route you choose in the end, will depend much on your interests.

    One caution though. RVs are not particularly city friendly, and are definitely not a budget option. RVs come into their own out in nature, at the NPs and generally, well away from from the larger urban areas. They are typically more difficult to park, and RV parks are usually well outside of the cities. This means a taxi ride to wherever you wish to party, and have 'fun'. Furthermore, most city RV parks are not much more than parking lot, with very little ambiance to enjoy.

    What was your specific reason for choosing the RV? What is the purpose of your trip? What are you hoping to achieve? You might like to check out this thread.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Very, Very Generally Speaking

    For someone making their first cross-continent North American RoadTrip, I would suggest something like your Route 1: Follow the coast and the Appalachians into the south, head west through the Ozarks and Red River Valley, experience the Spanish Southwest, see the Red Rock Country of the Four Corners area, and finish up on the Pacific Ocean. I have nothing against the Midwest (My family has its roots there.) but it can be a bit plain vanilla for the traveler seeking adventure, and your Route 1 simply exposes you to more of the different geography and cultural diversity that America has to offer.

    As has been mentioned, cities are not usually RV friendly, so I'd aim for those that either are or have good public transportation. In the former category would be the newer cities of the southwest that have broad multi-lane boulevards such as Las Vegas and Phoenix, even Santa Fe to some extent. I the later category would be older eastern cities such as Washington DC where you can park the RV well outside of town and take the Metro (subway, tube) into center city. Towns on or near your route that are well known for their nightlife would include Nashville, Memphis, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. But also check out smaller towns that are home to large colleges throughout the South and Central Plains, especially those that host SEC or Big 12 schools.

    One other thing. You're going to be close enough to the actual Grand Canyon to simply include a visit to the National Park in your driving itinerary and physically stand on the rim. I think you would be sorely disappointed with a helicopter flight from Las Vegas. First of all, those flights do not go to the main part of the Canyon (Flights into the Canyon are forbidden.) but to the 'West Rim' which is on Indian land where the Canyon is not nearly as deep or spectacular as it is within the national park, and most of your flight time is spent getting from Las Vegas to the 'Canyon' with comparatively little of it being even in the vicinity of the Canyon.

    And finally, at the first national park you come to, buy an annual pass. This will cost $80 but, similar to the National Heritage Pass, is good for admission to all national arks and monuments for one year. It does not, however, cover extras such as camping and concession fees.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA! I, too, wonder about the RV and cities. Having owned one before, we preferred it when we were in the national parks and forests, or other sightseeing areas. In the city, it could be a hassle. We were fortunate to own one that we could drop (trailer), but still driving a dually truck around a city had a lot of similar hassles to driving a big motorhome.

    One thing that jumped out at me: a helicopter ride from Las Vegas "over the Grand Canyon" is not going to get you over the most beautiful part of the Canyon. It will get you over the shallower west end, which is all Native American land. If you drive from Santa Fe NM to Las Vegas, you'll go just south of the Canyon -- an hour's drive north of I-40 will take you up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, by far one of the two "best" rims (South and North).

    Las Vegas has ONE RV park "on the Strip", and that's Circusland, part of Circus Circus near the northern end of LV Strip. It is a glorified parking lot, no doubt about that. There's very little grass, though there are hookups, a small pool, a hot tub, and you can use anything inside the casino. There is transportation up and down the Strip, or you can walk. Bear in mind that July in Las Vegas is HOT -- usually in the 100's. So you may want to stay indoors as much as you can, and use public transport to get up and down the Strip to the various casinos and other nightlife.

    Make sure that all 3 of you have a say-so in where you go and what you do. It will be easier for the 3 of you to negotiate at home, than it will be when you're in the midst of a strange place. It's also a good idea to be able to go your separate ways a few times during the trip, such as a hike, separate casinos, "leave me alone in this bunk", etc.


  5. Default

    Thanks for your replies, very helpful. We're going for route 1, where we'll include more of the nature, such as Blue Ridge Mountains, Smokies, Grand Canyon, Ouray/Rocky Mountains area, Grand Canyon and so on. We've heard at least a couple of the RV parks in Santa Fe have bus connections to the city. If that's the case, we'd be well off. We're skipping DC to go straight to Charlottesville, which seems like a cool place. We're taking the Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville, where we'll stay for a day or two. We'll go from there, through the smokies, to Nashville and stay there for a couple of days. Then we're speeding to Santa Fe (might have an overnight in Elk City), and stay there for 3-4 days, before heading up to Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, and then down past the Grand Canyon (perhaps a detour to Moab/Arches). Whereabouts in the Grand Canyon area should we stop?

    Thanks for the tip about the Las Vegas helicopter tour. Once we get to Vegas, we're kind of done with the RV ride thing. We still have the car, but we're mostly going to use it to get around.

    The main reason why we chose an RV, was to combine accomodation and transport. Our travel agent made us a great offer for the RV, and as we will wing some of the trip (especially in terms of how long we are staying at each place), it is good not having to think about finding hotels. It's also spacious and comfortable. I've looked around at RV campsite rates, and it seems they range from 30 to 50 USD, which is quite cheap when we divide it by three. It might be a mistake, but we've already hired the car :)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    to Nashville and stay there for a couple of days. Then we're speeding to Santa Fe (might have an overnight in Elk City), and stay there for 3-4 days, before heading up to Durango,
    Whoa, hold it there. Nashville to Santa Fe, by the speediest route, is 1200 miles. That's not a one-day speed thing, no matter how you cut it. In a car, it's definitely 2 days. But, that's at least 2-1/2 days with an RV. This is why: RV's are heavier, and therefore they don't go nearly as fast. What you can do in 10 hours, with a car, will take you 12 in an RV. Fuel stops will take longer because the tanks take a long time to fill (and a lot of money, you only get 5-8 mpg). Of course food stops don't take as long if you're eating in the rig. Yes, you have 3 drivers, and that's a plus -- one person is always driving, a 2nd is the "second pair of eyes" and the 3rd (preferably the one that just drove) is resting eyes in the back of the camper. Don't expect to sleep back there while the rig is rolling down the road. In most states, you'll have to be seat-belted when the rig is moving, and you won't get a decent shut-eye when belted in.

    Then we're speeding to Santa Fe (might have an overnight in Elk City), and stay there for 3-4 days, before heading up to Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, and then down past the Grand Canyon (perhaps a detour to Moab/Arches). Whereabouts in the Grand Canyon area should we stop?
    Santa Fe to Durango is 250 miles -- about 5 hours in the RV. Durango to Ouray is "just" 70 more miles, but considering the highway and the RV, it will probably be a 2 hour drive as this is the "million dollar highway". Ouray to Moab is another 150 miles, all on state and US highways, so count on 3+ hours to drive. Moab to the Grand Canyon is 330 miles -- another 6-7 hours.

    The US West is a BIG place, and getting from one place to another takes time...especially with an RV.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I think you may be underestimating some of the distances you are looking at and/or overestimating how fast you'll be able to go, especially in an RV.

    The Blue Ridge Parkway is a very slow going road. Its a fantastic scenic drive, but you're looking at maximum speeds of 45 mph, and may sections with even slower travel. It takes at least a few days to drive the whole thing, and you certainly won't be able to get from Charlottesville to Ashville in one day.

    Nashville to Santa Fe in 2 days will be very difficult in an RV. It would be a speed run in a car, and RV's and speed run don't really work well together. I would plan to take at least a 2nd night on the road. Fort Smith AR and Tucumcari NM would probably make the most sense, with an easy drive into Santa Fe on your 3rd day.

    If you can stay right at the campground within Grand Canyon NP, that would be your best bet, but you will need to make reservations.

  8. Default

    Yeah, we're thinking about going Nashville - Oklahoma City, or Elk City if we can manage it, in one full days drive. To Elk City it's around 788 miles, which is doable in, say, 12-13 hours. We'll then rest there, and go to Santa Fe the next day. This should be doable if we plan well. According to testimonials we found around the web, we should be able to get 8-10 mpg in our RV. Combining fuel stops with eating (and restocking) on these two stretches would save us some time.

    We're planning to stop between santa fe and Grand Canyon Village in both Telluride (or Ouray) and Monument Valley

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Quote Originally Posted by cromoglic View Post
    Yeah, we're thinking about going Nashville - Oklahoma City, or Elk City if we can manage it, in one full days drive. To Elk City it's around 788 miles, which is doable in, say, 12-13 hours.
    Sorry, but no that is not doable in 12-13 hours - not even close. In a car, it would be closer to 14 hours, factoring in real world conditions and even the minimum stops. In an RV, 16 hours is a distinct possibility.

    Anyway you look at it, it is a dangerous distance. No matter how many drivers you have, you should not be trying to drive nearly 800 miles in a day. Even if you do it safely, you will be in no condition at all to drive all day again the next day to Santa Fe.

    As both Donna and I posted earlier, considering your choice of transportation, you need to plan for 2 overnights. In an RV, 500 miles really is a very full day on the road, and you shouldn't try to push things much farther than that.

  10. Default

    The route we've picked including the Blue Ridge Parkway is approx 370 miles (combined HWY/Blue Ridge Parkway driving), and at 40 MPH that's less than 10 hours. If we go quite early from Charlottesville, shouldn't that be a possibility?

    If we estimate that we'll average at 50-60 mph on the interstate (I-40) between Nashville and, say, Oklahoma City, which is around 680 miles, we'd be able to get from Nashville to OC in around 11-12 hours. Assuming we are very set on going as non-stop as possible, and combining fuel stops with eating, I reckon we could make it. The drive to Santa Fe from Oklahoma City is around 540 miles, which could be done in 10 hours at an average of 60 mph.

    This is just me estimating, but what do you think? I know it will be tough, but if we consider it a leg where we do not prioritize the sights, could we pull it off?

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