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  1. #1

    Default Roadtrip August/September 2014 South and North West

    Hello guys

    here i am again after 3 years :) In 2011 I had a great roadtrip experience, see topic here.

    Now with 3 friends of mine I'm trying to plan a new RT for next summer, to visit other areas of your beautiful country.We consider ourselves quite expert after the first experience :) , in terms of how to drive, where to sleep, interact with locals, and survive in general. We will of course make our research in the meantime on this forum and reading guides, however we want to get the most out of the experience and US is a huge & diverse country so any tip on places to visit (or to avoid) will be welcome. we need to decide and book by end of February.

    Period 16th August-3rd September

    I fly from London UK, my 3 friends fly from Italy.

    They want to see the South especially Tennessee, I'm more for the old North West like Wyoming and Montana. We would like to combine both experiences but might be hard, so any suggestion from you guys will be welcome. Here's the potential plan and some specific questions.

    16th August landing in Denver, CO (car rental and 1 night to recover)
    17th Aug. Early morning heading North to Wyoming via Boulder, then to West and North again to Jackson, WY. Denver-Jackson = 635 KM can be done in one day but I suspect the Rocky mountains would slow us down.

    18/19/20th Aug for Yellowstone and Grand Teton

    Q: are 3 days enough for a superficial visit? any other unmissable city/area attraction on the way between Colorado and Wyoming?

    21st-22nd-23rd Aug heading north to Montana; we want to do some Scenic drives then take an internal flight from Helena, MT to the south (Lousiana/Tennessee)

    Q: anything else must-see in MT?
    Q: i notice there are no direct flights from Helena, MT; i was wondering if it is quicker/cheaper to fly Helena/Denver/New Orleans or Memphis or avoid MT at all, and after Yellowstone "only" see West Wyoming and drive down to Denver to take a direct flight to N.O., landing by Saturday 23rd at night or Sunday 24th August
    Q: do you think I can book a US internal flight from the UK?

    From 24th we would have 10 days to see New Orleans (1 or 2 nights? 24th to 26th), 637 km to Memphis + Elvis house (1 night -26th to 27th), 341 km to Nashville (1-27th to 28th) adding 1 day for driving between those cities let's say in total to 29th.

    Q: do you think this schedule is too tight and we would need more days to visit those cities?
    Q: what else is worth or maybe not worth spending time?
    Q: are last 10 days of august too hot in the South?

    From Nashville to Washington DC is over 1000 km; we would like to stop on 29th-30th Aug-1st September between Virginia and North Carolina to see historical places (civil war) , leaving last 2 days to visit the Capital main attractions, then from DC we fly back to Europe on the 3rd September

    Q: is this last leg feasible in less than a week? what places in those states would you recommend more?

    I think the tricky part is to decide if we want to rush and see both "regions" and increase the budget (2 cards required, internal flight) and the time needed to travel, or if we should sacrifice the North West :( and just concentrate on the South. In this case, how/where can we spend the first week? is it better to fly into DC and head South maybe flying back from Atlanta? Sort of an "elongated ring" itinerary. Or even to fly into Atlanta, do a "ring" including South + DC, and fly back from Atlanta again.

    I can't skip the South cause my friends are Elvis' fanatics so we MUST go to Memphis :)

    Q: finally last Q, I'm told the South can be very friendly but also quite rough.Last time we went through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California and we never had any problem with the locals, on the contrary.We were welcome everywhere and I personally think if you don't look for trouble you stay out of trouble, in most cases.Just wondering if we would need to pay special attention in certain areas.

    thanks in advance to all of you!
    London, UK
    Last edited by AZBuck; 02-02-2014 at 03:55 PM. Reason: Fixed link.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Logistics

    A couple of points to keep in mind as you plan. First, flights from Europe to the US typically fly during the daylight hours, arriving at their US destinations in the late afternoon to early evening local time. In the case of Denver, that means an 8:00 PM arrival is 3:00 AM London time. I am willing to bet that you will have gotten no sleep on the flight over and you are going to be exhausted by the time you rent your vehicle, get to your hotel and get joined up with your travel companions. You will not be ready to hit the road first thing next morning and drive over 500 miles to Jackson, not even with multiple drivers if they all have flown over the day before. Instead you need to make full use of whatever check-out time is and sleep in as late as you can, have a relaxed breakfast with copious coffee, and plan on only getting in a half day's drive that first day. Then, having checked in somewhere about half way to Jackson (Rawlins WY would be a good target, stay up as late as you can - 10:00 PM would be my target - and you can have an early start on your second full day in America.

    Second, internal flights from small towns to anywhere, but particularly another small town, tend to be expensive and involve one or two plane transfers. Given your basic itinerary, I'd suggest that after visiting Yellowstone, you head south instead of north. US-89 would be a great scenic route that would take you to Salt Lake City where you could get a relatively inexpensive flight to Nashville TN, only about 225 miles from Memphis, or St. Louis, about 280 miles from Memphis. I wouldn't simply retrace my steps to Denver, but see as much new ground as I could. Flying from larger cities (Salt Lake City and Washington DC) also means that the one-way drop off charges on your rental cars might be a bit lower as well.

    To answer a few of your specific questions... Three days is enough for a superficial tour of Teton/Yellowstone, but not enough to do them full justice, particularly at the height of summer tourist season when the roads will be clogged and slow-going. Still three full days within those parks will rival any three days you could spend almost anywhere else. Yes, you can book an internal US flight from anywhere - all you need is access to the airlines' web sites and a credit card.

    Two weeks may seem like a lot of time, but it will disappear quickly if you try to cram too much into it. Personally, I wouldn't try to include New Orleans. It's just too far in the wrong direction and means you'd be backtracking and spending too much time in the car rather than seeing the South and interacting with the locals. If you are fans of Elvis and the Civil War, then look instead at hitting Tupelo (Elvis' birthplace and childhood home) in northern Mississippi, Shiloh Battlefield (site of one of the largest battles of the war) in southern Tennessee and the Natchez Trace Parkway (an historic and scenic road). All of those can be included in a somewhat direct drive between Memphis and Nashville. Continuing eastward from there, you should be looking at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Historic Triangle of Virginia, maybe the Eastern Shore of Maryland and a couple of other Civil War Battlefields in the Washington area: Bull Run and Antietem.

    I wouldn't spend two seconds worrying about 'rough' treatment at the hands of the locals anywhere in America. Your accents will help assure that everyone will give you a bit of leeway should you inadvertently step on some local custom.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 02-02-2014 at 07:12 PM.

  3. #3


    thanks so much AzBuck for the precious advices...i will let you and the forum know what we decide!

  4. #4

    Default Just a couple of quick comments (from a Southerner!)

    Hello, and Welcome Back, from North Carolina,

    AZ Buck has given you some great feedback. I'd just add a bit from personal experience:

    The last 10 days of August can be anywhere between fairly uncomfortable and virtually unbearable in the Deep South. We road-tripped to Houston in early August 2012 with stops in New Orleans outbound, 3 days and nights in Houston, one night in Clarksdale, MS, and a final night in Nashville on the return trip. It was only slightly hotter than normal and it was approaching the unbearable level--and I'm from North Carolina. I must imagine visitors from the UK and from Europe would find daytime highs in the high 90s to 102 degrees F, night time lows in the upper 80s, and humidity between 80 and 90% to be very uncomfortable. That said, you won't be spending much time OUTSIDE of air-conditioned facilities, so hopefully it won't seem like a deal-breaker.

    I like the idea of running down to Salt Lake City rather then Helena, MT to fly out of the Yellowstone NP area. You might find Bozeman, MT to be a reasonable alternative, and it's somewhat closer to YNP (depending upon where in YNP you'd be departing from, of course). The airport in Bozeman is "Gallatin Gateway", and is a Delta-served facility with a handful of daily flights from/to points East (ie the Atlantic Coast states).

    Don't worry a bit about rough treatment from the locals. Chances are you'll be mostly in tourist-oriented watering holes and restaurants, and you'll be welcomed everywhere you go. Outside of tourist spots, the locals will just think you're from "Down East" North Carolina, where Elizabethan brogues are the norm.


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


    I agree that Salt Lake City could be your best bet as a hub to fly back to the south from, and it should be much cheaper than someplace like Helena. However, along those same lines, you might consider flying into SLC instead of Denver on your initial flight as well. It should lower your car rental expenses, and your flight costs shouldn't change much.

  6. #6


    Thanks a lot Foy for the invaluable tips.

    I am afraid of the high temperatures but my friends can only take days off in August.In July 2011 we drove in Utah Arizona and Nevada towards California, with a highlight of a flat tire in the Death Valley at 6pm on the 22nd.Deadly temperatures but dry...But we will suffer if we have to, i'm sure the pros are more than the cons.

    Being Italian travelling with 3 country-fellows barely speaking English will be really funny with our Soprano's accent then ;) We're friendly people though so we will mingle well for sure.

    Will keep you informed on how it goes, thanks again

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Looking forward to it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pier75 View Post
    Will keep you informed on how it goes, thanks again
    That will be great. We love to read how things went. In fact, we have a special forum for that. Pictures of course, are much appreciated.


  8. #8


    hey guys, "small" change of plan, this is the basic route for our trip

    -Sat 16th Aug, flight from London LHR to in Denver
    -North route to Wyoming
    -Wyoming (stops on the way) and Yellowstone (Q: better entering the park via Cody or via Jackson?)
    -Grand Teton, then route South via US 89 to Salt Lake City
    -Sat 23rd Aug, internal flight SLC-Memphis via Dallas
    -Memphis, Tupelo, (Shiloh) (Natchez trace), Nashville,

    ...I would need ideas for a "ring-route" in Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia

    -Thu 4th Sep flight back to Europe from Atlanta

    I think we have enough time to see a lot of stuff in the area...

  9. #9


    Final plan! 6 days to go, i'm incredibly excited!

    Sat 16th August landing in Denver
    Route north to Wyoming, staying 1 night in Grand Teton, 2 nights in West Yellowstone
    East exit, Cody, Bighorn mountains, Sheridan, South Dakota > Mt Rushmore/Deadwood; drive fast via Sioux city?Omaha till Kansas City
    KC > St Louis > Memphis
    Memphis > Clarksdale, MS > Nashville, TN civil war sites, Chattanooga, possibly day trip to Smokey Mountains Nat. park
    4th September > fly out from Atlanta

    tough! but we will make it in a way or another

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Truly unbearable? That's surprising!

    Quote Originally Posted by Foy View Post
    ...It was only slightly hotter than normal and it was approaching the unbearable level--and I'm from North Carolina.
    Foy, I always thought you good southern men had a secret way of dealing with the heat and humidity.... I never feel really comfortable until the temperature passes 112 degrees F (but I prefer about 12% humidity too...)


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