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  1. Default South Central Road Trip - too much driving?

    My sister and I go on road trips each year as soon as school lets out (she's a teacher). We road trip as a way to learn and discover places around the USA and we typically search out historical landmarks, museums, national or state parks, oddball roadside attractions, etc.

    Each year, we've ventured a little bit further from home in Indiana. This year, we're planning a trip to New Orleans, but we keep finding interesting places to add to the route and now I'm afraid we'll be spending too much time on the road and not enough time at each location.

    We have a week for the trip; we can leave on a Friday night and get 9 nights on the road before returning on a Sunday. We're planning something that looks like this:

    Fri - to Louisville, KY (about 2.5 hours drive time)
    Sat - stops at Mammoth Caves, KY, Cumberland Falls State Park,KY, and then overnight near Knoxville, TN (5 hours)
    Sun - to Chattanooga, TN and overnight near Tuscaloosa (4.5 hours)
    Mon - to New Orleans (4 hrs)
    Tues - to St. Francisville, LA (1.5 hrs)
    Wed - Jackson, MS and an overnight stop near Pine Bluff, AR (6 hr)
    Thurs - stops in Hot Springs, AR, Poteau, OK, and overnight in Eureka Springs, AR (6.5 hours)
    Fri - to Memphis (5 hr)
    Sat - stops in Adams, TN and overnight near French Lick, IN (7 hr)
    Sun - to home (3 hr)

    That's about 45 hours of driving time. I'm concerned about the longer drives where we're going for 6 to 7 hours - that eats up a big chunk of the day and I'm worried that we won't have enough time to properly enjoy the stops. I could potentially remove the stops in Arkansas and Oklahoma, which would bring the total drive time down to 34 hours, though I'm sad to miss those stops because it will be at least 3 years before we head in that direction again (planning east coast for 2016 and likely SE or NW for 2017).

    What do you think? Is 45 hours doable or would we be miserable? In previous years, we've done 24 hours in 8 days, 26 hours in 8 days (both of which were awesome and we never felt rushed) and 33 hours in 6.5 days (felt a tad rushed but doable).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Big Picture

    I find that it helps me a great deal to just think in very general terms of days and major attractions when trying to plot out how much is too much on a Roadtrip. Worry about the details later. 45 hours of driving time, if you are getting that from a computer-based mapping program, really translates to about 50-53 hours on the road when you add in stops for gas, food, R&R, etc. That's a solid six days of nothing but driving, which leaves you only three days for sight-seeing. You could easily eat that up with stops at Mammoth Caves, New Orleans and Memphis, leaving you no real time for anything else. So at first glance I'd say yes, you are trying to do too much in the time available to you and you need to cut a day or two, 500-1000 miles, from your itinerary.


  3. Default

    Thanks for the advice, AZBuck.

    I've been playing with the stops all afternoon, adding and subtracting different places, and I can't make it work without taking out the westernmost places. I hate to miss out on Hot Springs, Eureka Springs, etc but there's no point if I wouldn't really be able to enjoy those places anyway.

    I think we're going to take out the Cumberland Falls stop as well, since we won't be going through during the "moonbow" time frame and we can easily pick it up on a later trip. We did tons of waterfalls on the last trip, so I'm just not that excited for waterfalls this time around. :)

    The revised schedule looks more like 31 hours over those 8 days, which is much more in line with what we did in the past trips.

    Fri - to Louisville, KY (2.5 hours)
    Sat - Mammoth Caves, KY (1.5 hours - gave ourselves way more time here)
    Sun - Adams, KY and Nashville, TN (2.5 hours - plus an overnight at / near Nashville should be fun)
    Monday - Chattanooga, TN and overnight near Tuscaloosa (5 hours - this is our heaviest driving day but there's not much we've seen that we'd want to do in Alabama)
    Tues -New Orleans (4 hrs - we've got all night here plus a lot of the next day)
    Wed- St. Francisville, LA (1.5 hrs - staying here just for the Myrtles Plantation)
    Thu - Jackson/Flora, MS (3 hr)
    Fri - to Memphis (3 hr)
    Sat - maybe Evansville (4.5 ish)
    Sun - to home (3 hr)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default That's Better

    It's always better to have spare time to enjoy the places that you place a priority on getting to, rather than rushing from pace to place with no real time to enjoy most, or even any, of it. I think you'll all be a lot happier with your new plan. Relax and Enjoy.


  5. Default Advice on New Orleans to Russellville, AL Leg of Trip

    My sister and I are going on a road trip next week (leaving Friday, June 5th) from Indiana down to New Orleans, and then swinging back up and around to Chattanooga and Gatlinburg before heading home (full route is below, if anyone's interested).

    On Wednesday, we had plans to drive from NOLA to Russellville, AL, making stops to see the Red Bluffs (Mississppi's Little Grand Canyon), the Natural Bridge of Alabama and the Dismals Canyon, but there won't be a night tour of the Dismals Canyon on the night we're in town. We're disappointed, but flexible. I started looking up other stops along the way and there isn't much that I'm finding. Any suggestions?

    Here's our route and time-table:
    Fri: Lafayette, IN to Louisville, KY
    Sat: Louisville to Mammoth Caves, overnight in Bowling Green
    Sun: Bowling Green to Adams, TN (Bell Witch Cave), Nashville (just a quick stop) and on to Tupelo (overnight) via the Natchez Trace.
    Mon: Continue the entire length of the Natchez Trace to Natchez, MS (slight detour to visit the Petrified Forest in Flora), then to St. Francessville to overnight at Myrtles Plantation
    Tues: To New Orleans (spending all day here)
    Wed: NOLA to Russellville as described above
    Thu: to Chattanooga (Rock City, Ruby Falls and anything else that catches our eye)
    Fri: Through Knoxville (sunsphere) to Gatlinburg (We're leaving this a little more open)
    Sat: Gatlinburg to Cumberland Falls State Park, then to Lexington (overnight)
    Sun: Drive from Lexington back home. We may stop at Big Bone Lick State Park or Jungle Jims grocery store, but we both grew up in the region so we might skip it if we're feeling particularly homesick).

    [Moderator edit: It is much easier for us if you keep all posts about the same trip in the same thread.... So, I've merged the thread you created this morning with this original thread]
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-28-2015 at 09:41 AM.

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