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  1. Default NY-Yosemite-Minneapolis 14 days

    Road trip dummy looking for some advice. In late July I have a wedding in Western NY. Two weeks later I have a wedding in Minneapolis MN. I thought it would be a good opportunity to take a nice cross-country road trip.

    Preliminary plans: Borrow parents truck, double-cab with 6 foot bed (I live in NYC and don't have a car), and head West. I only have interest in hiking, camping, outdoor activities etc. I chose Yosemite as an endpoint however I believe that may be ambitious and would settle for Zion NP before I have to head back NE to get to Minneapolis.

    I would appreciate any routes/sites/recommendations on the way to Yosemite. Right now, only targeted destinations are Boulder, Canyonlands, and Zion before Yosemite. From there, I would drive NNE toward Yellowstone/Glacier NP. What would be good sites on the way and if I had to choose between Yellow/Glacier for the last week in July, what would be best? From there, I would be heading due East to Minneapolis. I presume the Black Hills are of high priority here, anything else I should put on my radar on the way?

    Thanks for reading and for any help.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    Can you be a bit more specific where in western NY?

    Randomly choosing Buffalo, it's a full 4 day drive from there to Zion by most direct route with no sightseeing. From Zion to MSP is a full 3 day drive. This is going to eat up half of your time just transiting (more days with detours off the direct routes and off Interstate highways), so you will have to choose your diversions carefully.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Time works against you

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    While 2 weeks seems like a lot of time, once you factor in the amount of time it takes to safely drive across the country, that time quickly evaporates. As GLC mentioned, you're looking at a full week worth of driving to make it from Western NY to Zion and back to MN.

    That certainly is enough time for a nice, but brisk trip. You could basically spend say 3 days exploring Zion and a couple other parks in Utah, another 3 for Tetons/Yellowstone, and then zip through the Black Hills/Badlands in a day. That's not your only option, but it gives you an idea of what you have to work with.

    With this amount of time, Yosemite would really be tough. You'd basically be adding on 2 more full days of driving. If you did include it, you'd have very little time for Utah, and you'd basically have to head straight back for MN, without stopping really anywhere else.

    Glacier is another park best left for another day, as it is also too far away (It's a full day drive North of Yellowstone), that is unless you skip Utah. Basically you could do Utah/Yellowstone as the backbone of your trip, or Yellowstone/Glacier, but not all 3.

  4. Default

    Wow, thanks for the quick responses.
    GLC- Geneseo NY (20min South of Rochester). You all confirmed what I feared about being too ambitious. Eliminating Yosemite, do you all have a NP preference this time of year? I.E. will Yellowstone be too crowded and should I devote more time to the parks in Colorado, Utah and the Badlands and save Yosemite, Glacier, and Yellowstone for another time? And is there anything interesting on the way to Colorado/Utah? Thanks again for the help.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I think I would look at doing only Yellowstone and Glacier if you only have 14 days - and restrict any other activities to places close to the direct routes. I'd roughly follow I-90 all the way out, entering Yellowstone via the Beartooth Highway - then head up to Glacier via US-191/I-90/US-93 and on the way out follow US-2/I-94 to MSP.

    Do CO/UT/Yosemite on another trip. That would be a good fly/drive trip - fly into a western city and rent a car and do some kind of loop trip.

  6. Default

    I think the far west is over ambitious, but perhaps Colorado would be viable (Rocky Mountain NP, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Mesa Verde, maybe the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge steam railroad through the San Juan mountains), perhaps combined with the Moab area of eastern Utah (Arches, Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point).

    Or for a radically different concept: Shenandoah, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Smokies. Then via St Louis to Minneapolis. That would be about 2000 miles. Just an idea.
    Last edited by John259; 05-06-2014 at 01:49 AM.

  7. Default

    This is great, thanks fellas. It sounds like its either or UT-CO vs Yellowstone/Glacier (John thanks for the Shenandoah suggestion however been out there already). In terms of a last week of July timeline, is either area more preferable for the time of year? I.E. is that the busiest time in UT-CO and I might have better experience in Yellowstone, or vice-versa. And which trip (UT/CO vs Yellow/Glacier) is more conducive to making it back through the Black Hills/Badlands of SD on the way to Minneapolis?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    The reality is that the end of July is going to be the peak of the tourism season at pretty much any destination anywhere in the U.S. It might be a bit more pronounced at Yellowstone and Glacier, but that's only because the tourism season at those parks is much smaller than some of the parks in Utah. Much of Glacier and Yellowstone are only accessible from May/June to September.

    Having said that, National Parks can be huge places (especially Yellowstone, which is larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined!) and even when they are busy isn't hard to get away from crowds. Simply walking down a trail - away from the viewing areas right next to the road - can have you practically all to yourself.

    Either trip could pretty easily include South Dakota, although if you were going to do Yellowstone/Glacier, I'd actually stop there while driving west, then go to Yellowstone, up to Glacier, and then make your way back to Minneapolis via North Dakota (including Teddy Roosevelt National Park).

  9. Default

    Glacier is more remote, and largely unknown to many people, so that would (I think) be the best choice. Yellowstone will of course be busy.

    But how about thinking outside the national parks? For example, the Big Horn Mountains in northeast Wyoming (putting you reasonably close to the Black Hills), or the Wind River Range in central Wyoming. Because of the lack of paved road access to the Wind River mountains I've only ever seen them from afar, but I believe there are some great hiking trails there, especially if you're happy with the concept of overnight backcountry explorations.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Along the way, just off I-90.

    Crowds are going to be everywhere in July, and as mentioned, there are strategies to get away from them. I have read of folk who walked away from the hoardes at Old Faithful, following a path to a more remote and unpredictable geyser. Their reward was actually seeing and photographing its eruption.

    Big Horn Mts and Canyon are amazing, with a nice hike up to the Medicine Wheel, and all its history. Leave I-90 at Ranchester and take Alt 14 from Dayton to Lovell. If it is either early or late in the day, you will find the prolific wildlife more active. I am not aware of any camping up there.

    Another short scenic drive just off I-90 in eastern MN is route 16. Starting at La Crescent - best accessed through La Crosse - ending at Dexter (or vice versa), where it rejoins I-90.

    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 05-06-2014 at 10:14 AM. Reason: fixed town name

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