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  1. Default Moving from Florida Panhandle to Sacramento, CA

    This June, my boyfriend is flying from Sacramento to travel with me as I pack up and move across country. We'll be leaving the Emerald Coast Sunday morning and we need to arrive in Sacramento in time for him to be in classes on Wednesday. I realize that this isn't a lot of time but we are both photographers and it'll be our first cross-country trip... That being said, we'd like to get as much out of it as we can. Does anyone know of any must see locations along the lower states? We know we want to stop at the Grand Canyon and we'd like to get some long exposure shots at night in some cool locations. Any recommendations?

    Traveling from Destin, FL to Sacramento, CA.
    Taking my prius.
    Traveling straight through. (No hotels.)
    We'd like to adventure/explore/hike.
    We love the great outdoors and would like to visit any chill local faves.
    Any tips an where we can see bright stars and camp out in my car would be much appreciated!

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Can't be done (Safely)

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The plan you've presented so far simply can't be done, without endangering the lives of you and everyone else you will be sharing the road with.

    You're looking at 2500 mile trip and you want to do it in 3 days, and you want to do it without stopping for real rest. Oh, and on top of that, you want to hike and explore? And you mentioned photography too?

    I'm sorry, but if you leave Sunday, there is no way at all you can get there for class on Wednesday. If you push yourselves to the brink of your physical limits, and you leave first thing Sunday morning, the best you could do is get there late Wednesday night. Doing that means being behind the wheel for more than 12 hours a day, and you would HAVE to get hotels so you can get REAL REST at any point where you are not behind the wheel. That includes ZERO time for photography, detours to the Grand Canyon, or anything else other than treating this like work and being focused ONLY on driving. For the record, professional drivers wouldn't even be allowed to try to get there until Thursday, because of safety laws, and they certainly don't have time to stop for any of the extra's you're looking for.

    If you want to drive, sleep in your car (and you can't just plan to pull over in a "dark" spot and think you'll be ok to sleep. At best, based on what you are looking for would be campgrounds. Plus, if your car is filled with your stuff, where exactly do you plan to have room for 2 people to sleep?), have time for photography or any other extras, you need a minimum of 5 full days on the road, and really more like 6.

    Again, it can't be said enough, there are no other options. Doing what you originally proposed is so dangerous, it would be very similar to drunk driving in terms of the actual danger you'd be posing to others on the road.

  3. Default

    I figured as much but was hoping for the best haha. Of course we are going to play it safe, being our first big road trip. We'll save the risks for when we have more miles under our belts. Say we were to take our time... Any neat stops or camp grounds that are worth a visit? We won't be doing this any time soon so it'll be worth the extra time, honestly. I appreciate the response.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    Michael has made some very good points. I'm here to tell you that my husband and I, when we were much younger, tried to do something like you're doing. We couldn't do it, we were just too tired. A speed run, like you propose, works for 3 or 4 people that drive, but with two, one of you is always driving and the other is keeping the driver awake (not taking a nap themselves).

    2700 miles in 3 days means you want to travel 900 miles a day. Commercial drivers (truck drivers) are only allowed to drive 600 miles or 10 hours per day. If the electronic mapping program is telling you that you can drive it in 40 hours and you're thinking, okay that's "only" 13 hours a day, that's not true either. The electronic mapping program doesn't have to stop and go to the bathroom, get something to eat, get fuel for your car, get stuck in a traffic jam, get into construction zone where you're down to one lane....but you do. You will be lucky to average 60 mph.

    Hopefully your young man can get an excuse for missing class for a couple of days, as you really need to build at least two more days in there, possibly 3.


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


    How are you defining taking your time? Doing this just slow enough to be safe, or actually adding in several days to be safe and do the things you've talked about?

    Beyond the Grand Canyon (which itself is a big enough detour that you'd basically need an extra day) are there any other places you know you'd like to visit? When you're talking a trip that takes you across the entire country, there are thousands of places that are worth a visit, so helping us narrow things down goes a long way towards giving you useful information.

  6. Default

    Thank you all for the safety concerns.

    When it comes to taking our time I mean safely with a more relaxed timeline. My boyfriend would be able to miss school without an issue. Looking back, I should have worded it as the 3 days being an ideal length but not being a requirement. We really want to enjoy the trip so I appreciate the realistic responses.

    I understand that there are quite a few stops along the way that could be made. I was just asking for everyone's personal favorite spots. Other than the Grand Canyon, we would prefer to visit scenic sites that aren't highly populated... Hidden gems, one could say. I'm not familiar with any of the lower states so any suggestions or recommendations would be great.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Safely and more relaxed

    When I need to get from A to B in a specific time, not allowing me much time to go sightseeing, I try to choose scenic routes. These are more pleasant to drive, although a bit slower than the interstates. They also often have photo ops along the way, or small stop over attractions (hidden gems). One good thing is that most of the old US highways run about parallel with the interstates, so if time for that particular day starts running short, it is not a huge detour to get back on the interstate. (e.g. US90 and I-10 through AL/MS/LA)

    I too would urge you not to even consider sleeping in your vehicle. If you are considering campgrounds go out and buy a cheap tent and some sleeping mats and bags. Sleeping in a sedan is never wise. If you do not get a decent night sleep, your tiredness will build up, until you are fatigued, but you won't know that. [Right now we have some road safety ads running on our TV, which basically warn that sleep will come when it is ready, you won't know when.... until it is too late. Each ad ending with a fatal accident.]

    If you look out for the hotel motel discount coupon books you can pick up quite good deals. I rarely pay more than $50 (all incl.) per night. And considering your time line, motels would be better than having to pitch a tent and pull it down each day. Commercial campgrounds are at least half the cost of a motel, with state parks and forests less then $20. However, they rarely have showers.

    Having taken the before given advice on board, I sincerely hope you will plan to do this trip over a minimum of six days, and make it a trip to remember, for all the right reasons.

    If towards the end your time line is getting narrow, would you consider skipping the Grand Canyon? From Sacramento there may be better opportunities in the future.

    Do you actually have good paper maps to check all this out. On good maps, such as Rand McNally or those from the AAA, you will see all the attractions along each route. It also shows clearly where the old US highways are divided roads. Those usually have speed limits akin to the interstates.

    Safe travels.


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


    If I were in your situation, I'd plan to take at least 6 days for the drive.

    One possibility would look something like this:
    Sunday, drive to Texas, mostly along I-10 and spend the night in the Sam Houston National Forest.
    Monday, make your way through Dallas towards Amarillo. Palo Duro Canyon State Park might make for a good overnight spot.
    Tuesday, continue along I-40 to Arizona. Petrified Forest/Painted Desert National Park would be about right to spend the night.

    All 3 of those days would be at least 10 hour days on the road, and as far as you should plan to go.

    Wednesday, slows you down just a bit, so you can actually see the Grand Canyon. Either spend the night at GCNP, or in a campground in one of the nearby national forests.

    At that point, you're still too far from Sacramento to make it there safely in one day, so take enjoy the two days you'd need. Head to Death Valley to spend the night - another great place for photography and stargazing.

    Your final day, head over Tioga Pass and onto home. If you're enjoying yourself and have a little time left, spend some time actually exploring Yosemite, otherwise, just continue onto Sacramento - and plan to go back there as a daytrip from your new home.

    Of course, that is just one option, quickly sketched out by looking at a map. In fact, since you're leaving on a Sunday, I might try to spend 1 more day on the road, and plan to arrive in Sacramento on Saturday, which would still give you a full day to unpack and relax before getting back to school/work on monday.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    For the record, Painted Desert/Petrified Forest does not have a motel within the park. The nearest lodgings are in Holbrook, about 15 minutes down the freeway. Same with campgrounds, as it's one of the few NP's with no camping inside the park. There IS a small cafeteria on the north end of the park.


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