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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Jakarta, Indonesia, Indonesia

    Default Chicago - Great Smoky Mountains - New York 5 Days

    Hi All!

    I am planning for my first ever US road trip in May and decided to go to Great Smoky Mountains, start from Chicago and finish in New York, in 5 days. I am interested to see nature (#1 priority) and museum/ historical places, location with great food is a bonus. The trip is for two, though if anyone is interested to join, we are very open to share :)

    Based on my research and some suggestions from this forum, here is my plan. Please let me know if it makes sense or not:

    May 4: Morning, Driving from Chicago to Great Smoky Mountains (non-stop). Please let me know if this sounds like a bad idea. - Sleepover in GSM
    May 5: Visit GSM
    May 6: Continue at GSM
    May 7: Driving from GSM to Virginia. The purpose is to stay around the Skyline Drive
    May 8: Driving from Virginia to New York (around 6 hours driving). Is there any recommended stop? I have to arrive in New York the same night.

    Or, is it enough to stay at GSM only for one day, thus I don't have to take a non-stop driving from Chicago to GSM and take stop in Indianapolis?

    Please let me know what you think.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Chicago to GSM is almost exactly 600 miles and is right at the limit we recommend for a single day, you are looking at about 12 hours. May 4 is a Monday, and you need to get out of Chicago by dawn to avoid the morning rush hour traffic. Doable? Yes, but don't try to do it day after day. I would probably spend the night in Gatlinburg.

    Skyline Drive? Note that it will take you about 5 hours to drive from Waynesboro to Front Royal on it. Front Royal to NYC is 6 hours via I-81/I-78.

    If you are looking at taking the Blue Ridge Parkway from GSM to the Skyline Drive, this is a multiple day trip - 2 to 3 days. Otherwise, GSM to Waynesboro is about 7 hours via I-81.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Pacing

    One of the hardest things to get right about any RoadTrip is the pacing. It's generally pretty easy to figure out where you want to go and what you want to see, but not how much one can do on any given day or over a longer time period. That's especially true of one's first few RoadTrips before one has a sense of what works for them (Everybody's a bit different.) But even experienced RoadTrippers occasionally bite off more than they can chew. Your overall schedule, Chicago to New York in five days, is eminently doable, but you'd probably be happier if you rearranged your daily itinerary.

    Yes, you can get to the Great Smoky Mountains in a day from Chicago, but at what price? 600 miles is a long slog and will leave you exhausted and not really up to the physical needs of exploring the park on your one day there. A better plan would be to pull up a bit short on Day 1, say somewhere around Knoxville, and get a good night's sleep before hitting the park the next day and exiting to the east and staying in Asheville at the end of Day 2. Then you could split that second day between seeing anything you missed in GSMP and getting started north on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Both the BRP and Skyline Drive are very slow going, particularly if you are going to stop and hike some of the trails or visit some of the historic sites. Plan on averaging no more than 25-30 mph. Besides the natural beauty of the drives and Shenandoah National Park, there are plenty of historic sites worth checking out nearby including Jefferson's home, Monticello, outside Charlottesville and numerous Civil War battle sites. Your aim should be to get to northern Virginia by the end of Day 4 so that Day 5 can be spent taking a fairly leisurely drive up I-81/I-78 to New York and still have time for a visit to Gettysburg.


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