Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. #1

    Default 30 day, 6500 Mile Western Road Trip - Tentative Route

    Hi Forum,

    I have been living in the US for 6 years now getting my Bachelor and Masters. Before I go back to Europe I would like to do one last epic road trip in the Western part of the country. I have road tripped extensively in Europe and have previously done a 7 day 4000 Km (2500 Miles) road trip in the deep south of the US. So I know the trip I am planning is very long and epic, but that is the whole point of it. I want to leave the US with a feeling that I got everything out of it – that I saw all the places I wanted to see and that I have so great stories I can share about this diverse and beautiful country.

    I am counting on a 25-30 day trip on a student budget. I am a huge admirer of the diversity and sheer scale that the American nature can offer. I most definitely value the natural destinations over the urban ones, which might help to explain the limited days spent in LA, SF event though I am sure both will knock me off my feet! My brother will join me and left the planning entirely in my hands, neat I know.

    Here is my very, very tentative route:

    Day 1: Texas – Austin > Carlsbad
    Day 2: New Mexico – Carlsbad > Tucson > Yuma
    Day 3: Arizona – Yuma > San Diego
    Day 4: California – San Diego
    Day 5: California – San Diego > Los Angeles
    Day 6: California – Los Angeles
    Day 7: California – Los Angeles > Death Valley > Yosemite
    Day 8: California – Yosemite
    Day 9: California – Yosemite > Carson City > Lake Tahoe
    Day 10: California – Lake Tahoe > San Francisco
    Day 11: California – San Francisco
    Day 12: California – San Francisco > Portland
    Day 13: Oregon – Portland > Ecola State Park
    Day 14: Oregon – Ecola State Park > Seattle
    Day 15: Washington – Seattle > Glacier National Park
    Day 16: Montana – Glacier National Park
    Day 17: Montana – Glacier National Park > Livingston
    Day 18: Montana – Livingston > Yellowstone
    Day 19: Wyoming – Yellowstone > Grand Teton National Park
    Day 20: Wyoming – Grand Teton National Park > Salt Lake City > Moab
    Day 21: Utah – Moab > Capitol Reef National Park
    Day 22: Utah – Capitol Reef National Park > Grand Staircase > Bryce Canyon
    Day 23: Utah – Bryce Canyon > Zion National Park > Oljato, Monument Valley
    Day 24: Utah – Oljato, Monument Valley > Four Corners Monument > Durango
    Day 25: Colorado – Durango > Albuquerque
    Day 26: New Mexico – Albuquerque > Lubbock > Austin

    I have earlier driven from Hamburg to Marseilles, Denver to Dallas, Edinburgh to London and Atlanta to New Orleans, Budapest to Berlin in one day, so I know I can make some of these drives even though they undoubtedly will be horrible. So my question is not whether or not I will make it, but more if anyone have some previous experiences with a road trip this long and might have some tips and if anyone had already traveled these parts and would be willing to share some information as to:

    Where I should stay longer
    Which places I should skip (I am a big western fan so Yuma, Tucson, Carson City, and Monument valley are off limits)
    Advice to what sights to see in some of the places
    Special road conditions I should be aware of
    Wildlife danger in some of these areas - Is it safe to camp in a tent?
    Places I have omitted that I shouldn't have (I have already seen Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Flagstaff, Phoenix, Denver, Aspen, Boulder, and Amarillo on other trips so those are off the list).
    Last edited by Waltz; 12-31-2014 at 12:10 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default What's the Rush?

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The very first thing that struck me about your plans is that they seem to run counter to your stated goals! Take the first couple of days: Austin to Yuma. You say you're going to go to Carlsbad, but why? Presumably you want to see the Caverns but you've left no time for that. Nor have you left any time for the many sites in Tucson including a national park, a major aircraft museum, and an intriguing outdoor museum devoted to desert life. So that at the end of your first two days you will have driven nearly 1200 miles through one of the more unique areas of the US, the desert Southwest, and you will have seen nothing except what flies past your windscreen.

    The same is true of your drive from San Francisco to Glacier National Park by way of Portland and Seattle. The three days you've allotted will be totally taken up with driving. If you leave the Interstates to try to sample the coast (Why else would you go to the Pacific Northwest?), you won't be able to get to Glacier in three days. And at the end of this 'epic' journey you plan to drive over 900 miles in a single day (!?!?!?!?!) from Durango to Austin. That's simply not going to happen.

    As it stands, your plan is nothing more than some long drives between city pairs and lets you see almost nothing of the cultural and experiential diversity that America has to offer. And that's in addition to (subtraction from?) it being logistically impossible in part. This is a clear case where less is more. Plan on seeing fewer cities (expensive, and all pretty much the same anyway), driving fewer miles per day, and spending more time out of the car actually seeing and doing stuff. If you end up 'seeing' less, so be it. You will still have actually experienced much more of America, and enjoyed it rather than endured it.


  3. #3


    First of all thank you so much for your input - you sound like you know what you are talking about and have done these kind of trips before!

    I was initially counting on 30 days for the trip, so putting in some extra time on the west coast and the pacific highway would absolutely be beneficial. I changed the schedule so I have an extra day getting from San Francisco to Seattle and an extra day to get from Durango to Austin.

    In regards to the Texas, New Mexico, Arizona (Colorado) area, it is all places I have visited before so they are not particularly high on my list. The ultimate part of the trip for me personally is Death Valley, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Montana, Wyoming and Utah. They are places I have seen on movies growing up and places I have always wanted to see. I have spent most of my life near Salzburg in Austria and I cant wait to see how it compares.

    Unfortunately staying a full day at each national park is too expensive for my budget so I have tried to cover more ground for less money. That might prove a mistake but it is hard to eliminate places that look amazing when you know you wont have the opportunity to see them again for another 15-20 years.

    If I have no real interest in LA except for dipping my toes at Venice Beach and driving through Hollywood and Sunset blvd. is that something I can do in maybe a day (from 10-6)? Because then I can save some time in LA to spend in Yosemite instead.

    Again, thank you so much for responding. I truly value your input!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Quote Originally Posted by Waltz View Post
    Unfortunately staying a full day at each national park is too expensive for my budget so I have tried to cover more ground for less money. That might prove a mistake but it is hard to eliminate places that look amazing when you know you wont have the opportunity to see them again for another 15-20 years.
    Ultimately, you're going to have to decide if you'd rather give yourself enough time to actually see these places on your list, or if you will be content to drive past them at 70 mph and check them off a list, being able to say that you've been there, without really enjoying them.

    For example, you claim Death Valley is a priority, yet you aren't giving yourself any time there at all. LA to Yosemite via Death Valley is basically an all day drive - leaving you no time to actually see DV.

    Visiting National Parks doesn't have to be expensive at all - so saying you can't afford to spend a full day there is a huge cop out. Yes, lodging within the parks can be pricey, but driving just a little ways outside of the parks usually can find affordable motels, and camping could be a option to consider.

    The Death Valley day is by no means the only example of cases where you just aren't giving yourself enough time. Your "fix" to the Oregon coast didn't really fix anything, as you just added another detour to an overstuffed section of the trip. Really as Buck said as well, you still don't seem to have a trip that matches up very well with your goals. Even if you might not be able to get to some of these places again for a decade, I think you have to make some choices about places you really want to go, so you are actually making good use of the time you do have available.

    I'll also add a note that your brother leaving you to do the planning doesn't just mean more work for you, it's a recipe for a horrible trip - as he won't be nearly as invested in the trip.

    Finally, in the future, please do not edit your initial post after someone else has responded. It is considered rude behavior, makes it difficult for others to read the thread, and makes it less likely that others will notice the changes, thus making it less likely that you'll get a good response.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default What about your brother?

    You may have seen the Grand Canyon, but is that a reason to deprive your brother of the experience to stand on the rim of one of the wonders of the natural world? Do you not long to go back there, even just for a quick peep, and experience it with him?

    As for the comments above, Over some 180000 miles in North America, I have found that 1000 miles per week is really the most for an enjoyable trip. You may not get another chance for a couple of decades, but all these great places will still be there. Not everything has to be accomplished before you settle into your career.

    Travelling on a budget, I too have never stayed within a NP, but budget accommodation can usually be found close to the great parks, allowing for multiple entries. I camped three nights in the Yellowstone?Tetons area for a total of $60. With a little research and asking around at the destination, you could be overwhelmed with the number of budget campgrounds. Problem is you have not left yourself time to interact with the locals, visit rangers and BLM offices nor to spend much time in visitor centres. Those places are a wealth of information.

    I agree with all the above - seriously scale this trip down, get your brother to do some of the research to get to know what his priorities are. And if LA and SF are not priorities, why not head north at Tucson? Head up straight through NV, UT and WY. Spectacular country allowing you to visit ever so many national and state parks as well as drive scenic routes.

    Lastly, for an enjoyable trip, plan at least one, but preferably two non driving days each week.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    We have a whole forum full of budget ideas, to make a trip like this a lot more affordable. Among tips that jump out at me:

    1) Less driving means less fuel costs. Thankfully, gasoline costs have dropped considerably in the past 4 months, but still -- the more you use, the more it costs. Consider the above advice to trim back your trip.

    2) Camping. If you like to camp out, enjoy nature, consider purchasing a small tent and a couple of sleeping bags. Campsites can run $10-20, while even inexpensive motels outside of Yellowstone run $80-110/night.

    3) Food. Eating from a cooler can save money, but like anything else, don't plan a steady diet of this. Plan a meal out here and there. Cheapest meal to eat out is breakfast unless you stay at a motel that offers a continental breakfast, then it's even cheaper.

    4) Souvenirs. We find that souvenirs are usually less pricey just outside of the park. If you're looking for t-shirts, most Walgreens and WalMarts will have souvenir shirts. Another way to save on souvenirs is to collect something cheap, like keychains. Or just stay out of the gift shops, as they are very tempting.

    5) Watch your route and stay off the toll roads whenever you can. But do realize that $3 saved on a toll can mean $3 more used on fuel by going longer.


Similar Threads

  1. Breaking a 1000 mile trip into 400 mile segments.
    By JoDon in forum RTA Map Center -- Support
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 04-21-2016, 05:36 AM
  2. Help Me Plan a 6500 mile 3 week cross country road trip
    By Enigma in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 05-07-2012, 12:32 PM
  3. Planning a 3 week, 6500 Mile Roadtrip with 2 friends
    By Cessna88 in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 12-13-2009, 01:43 PM
  4. tentative planning for first road trip - any advice appreciated!
    By jt299 in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 03-09-2009, 05:17 PM
  5. Replies: 23
    Last Post: 07-11-2006, 02:37 PM

Tags for this Thread


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name