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  1. Default Ideas for cross country road trip in 9 days

    hello,

    this is my first post. have read many interesting posts so far.

    so i'm moving with my wife from South NJ to Portland, OR, so now looking for ideas to combine this move with a road trip.
    Have only 9 days (or 10 if I arrange it a bit), and both my wife and I are nature lovers (=National Parks!!!). Both of us can drive, i have my license since 2002, and have done a number of long trips, including twice Philly-Miami and once Philly-Maine. So I'm not scared of driving. My wife is reasonably new, had her license from last year.

    For this trip, we'd like to see as many nat'l parks as possible, but def don't mind seeing other monuments and important landmarks. I have a few must-sees for myself: Rocky mountain, Yosemite, and heard about the Mighty 5 of Utah, and Colorado's other national parks.

    But i wonder if anyone has any suggestions about feasibility, as recommended route given my interest. We'd like to stay below 2000$ for total expenses.

    thx!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Default

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip forum.

    Quote Originally Posted by asteros View Post
    I have a few must-sees for myself: Rocky mountain, Yosemite, and heard about the Mighty 5 of Utah, and Colorado's other national parks.
    A cross country drive by the quickest route can be done in five long days. With nine/ten days available, you could possibly hit all your must sees.... but I mean hit. You will have barely enough time to get a decent glimpse at each one. You'd be better off leaving places like UT and Yosemite to visit on vacation when you are settled in OR.

    Going the northern route you have quite a few places of interest you could check out. There is the Delaware Nat Water Gap; Indiana Dunes Nat Lakeshore; Badlands NP; Mt Rushmore; and maybe even Yellowstone NP. (When will this trip take place?)

    Get some really good maps of the States through which you will be travelling. Maps such as the AAA produces. If you are a member, the maps will be free. These maps have all the mentioned attractions shown on them, as well as many more. Scenic routes are also highlighted, and you will find quite a few short scenic detours off the northern route.

    Have a great trip

    Lifey

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Default competing goals

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Have only 9 days (or 10 if I arrange it a bit), and both my wife and I are nature lovers
    For this trip, we'd like to see as many nat'l parks as possible
    As Lifey touched upon, Being Nature Lovers with Limited Time, and trying to see as many parks as possible are kind of opposite goals. I think you kind of need to decide if you want to check as many parks as you can off a list, or if you want to see as much as you can with the time you have available.

    On the most direct route, you're looking at a trip that's just under 3000 miles, which means you need at least 5 full days of driving, at a pace that doesn't leave time for stops, just to safely cover the miles. But to get to all of the parks you mentioned at this point, you're adding another 700 miles or so, which now means you need close to 7 days just for the driving. That basically leaves 2 days for the numerous national parks you've listed, and most of them really deserve at minimum, a half day of your time.

    Lifey mentioned one route that would certainly let you see a lot of nature, without adding miles, giving you more time to actually enjoy the parks you've mentioned.

    Another possibility would be still to head to Colorado, and still check out Rocky Mountain NP and some of Colorado's other natural wonders, even get into Eastern Utah for Arches and Canyonlands, but then start cutting back north towards Salt Lake City and into Oregon, without the big detour into Southern Utah and California.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default Moving truck?

    One thing you didn't mention is your vehicle. When some folks move, they are driving a rented moving truck (Penske, U-Haul, Budget) and towing their personal vehicle behind. The above advice seemed to be given with the thought of you driving your own vehicle. It would help to know this, as moving trucks can affect your travel time, and accessibility in some national parks.

    I would concur with the above advice either way, though. Travel time is going to be 5 long days in a car (6 with a moving truck), leaving only a few days for sightseeing.


    Donna

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    One thing you didn't mention is your vehicle. When some folks move, they are driving a rented moving truck (Penske, U-Haul, Budget) and towing their personal vehicle behind. The above advice seemed to be given with the thought of you driving your own vehicle. It would help to know this, as moving trucks can affect your travel time, and accessibility in some national parks.

    I would concur with the above advice either way, though. Travel time is going to be 5 long days in a car (6 with a moving truck), leaving only a few days for sightseeing.


    Donna
    Wow..., thanks so much for all your prompt responses.
    I have also been thinking hitting CO right away, and then start from the NPs there. But really wanna drive through Yosemite and drive around the Bay Area. I understand I have no time for camping. But really just to drive through and get a sense. Too pretty to see at once. Oh, is it recommended to get an annuals pass for NPs?

    As far as the map goes, I did get a Rand McNally atlas :)

    I will be driving a sedan (Toyota Camry), not extra cargo racks or whatsoever.

  6. #6
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    Default

    It can be done, but when we say you won't have time to do anything other than drive through, we really mean it.

    No only will you not have time for camping or hiking, you'll barely have time to get out of your car and look at the various viewpoints. Personally, I wouldn't even consider it "getting a sense" of the parks, when you'll struggle to have time to even pause for a picture.

    As has been noted, detouring to the Bay Area means that you'll need to be on the road for nearly 7 full days, before you start detouring through National Parks. Even at a hard sprint - of 600 miles, the farthest you should try to go in a day on the interstates, because of safety concerns - it's going to take you 3 days just to get to Colorado.

    So once again, your plan is possible, but if you actually enjoy nature I'd strongly suggest you leave California for another day - especially when you're moving to Oregon, and can now get there relatively easily when you have more time to actually get a sense of these magnificent places.

    A National Parks pass is $80 usually pays for itself after the 4th or 5th visit to a park (fees vary by each park), but it is valid for a full year, so even if you do decide to actually see a couple of parks, rather than drive through as many as you can, it could still be worth it to have for future exploration.

  7. Default

    Thanks for all your replies.
    Yes, sounds like CA is not an option. And I agree that it's relatively c

    The other thing I am thinking now is to first see Great Smoky (yes, certainly don't wanna be greedy, but I feel like we cannot leave the East Coast without seeing this NP). And then head to CO, then drive thru some of the best of the best NPs in CO and UT. From there to Portland ASAP. Google Map says it's 53 hours non-stop driving. Can anyone comment on this pls?
    What else is worth stopping by/driving thru between Great Smoky and Denver? Given this plan, what are the must-sees in CO and UT?

    Again, I know it's less enjoyable (and kinda kills the idea of a road trip) to drive more than 600 miles, but if I need, I could drive more than that. (I did South Jersey to St Augustine, FL in 1 day). And having 2 drivers certainly helps.

  8. #8
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    Unfortunately, having 2 drivers still doesn't help much. My husband and I find that the maximum of 600 miles is right on, even when we both switch off driving. The driver has to stay awake, and the passenger's job is to navigate and keep the driver awake. In the professional commercial driving world, the driver can only drive 10 hours, and that *includes* any time spent sitting in the passenger seat. Period. It's like driving while intoxicated: dangerous, putting yourselves and everyone else on the road in danger. We've tried it, we have said, NO MORE, so we advise people: don't try it.

    When others say you only have time to "drive through", they mean it. In most national parks, 30mph is the speed limit, not 55mph. So with 9 or 10 days, pick one park -- and I'd say, Great Smoky Mountain may be it since you'll be living in the west where all the "best parks" (IMHO) are. From Portland, it's less than 2 days to Yellowstone, Yosemite, Lassen, less than a day from Crater Lake, so save all of those for your vacation time (or for Crater Lake, a long weekend).




    Donna

  9. Default

    Donna - thanks for the advices. I will take your points! Better be more conservative.

  10. #10
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    Default A marathon, not a sprint.

    Quote Originally Posted by asteros View Post
    (I did South Jersey to St Augustine, FL in 1 day). And having 2 drivers certainly helps.
    There is a huge difference between a one day sprint, and a multi day road trip. I'd bet when you got to FL you were no longer full of energy, and ready for a good rest. On a multi day long distance trip, It is essential that you not tire yourself out, especially on those first couple of days. Fatigue is cumulative. Best plan this trip as a marathon, and have equal distances and time in the car each day, Even 600 miles every day, gets quite tiring with two drivers. And remember, if you want to see some attractions, such as the Smoky Mtns, that will take you off the high speed interstates.

    Lifey

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