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  1. Default Planning road trip out west and overwhelmed! Need help planning route...

    Hi! We are just getting started planning a road trip out west. We're getting an early start anticipating a TON of planning. We won't travel for 3-4 years. It will need to be in the summer due to school age kids. June or July, depending on schedules for kids and leaving work. Anyway, we've started with a list of places we definitely want to see. We'll start in the Cincinnati, Ohio area, and thought we'd head northwest to SD to see Mount Rushmore, then over to Yellowstone, and Jackson Hole. That's about as far as we got in terms of a route. Others places we want to see are the Grand Canyon, Sequoia Natl Park, quick run past/through the Vegas strip, and by then we'd be headed back east. We realize it's a giant loop. We are planning on around 3 weeks if we can pull it off. Can anyone suggest or share an already planned route? We're also open to suggestions if there are any "must see/do" places near the route that we haven't thought of. Also happy to hear suggestions on how many days/nights to allow for places like Yellowstone. Of course we know you could spend forever...just getting ideas. We will be in an RV with three kids but they'll be 11 and 14-ish years old by then so no babies or little ones. We're pretty much open to any information anyone can share. We'd like to start with a route, and then calculate mileage, days needed, and then if it's too big we can trim it back. But we want to see if we can pull off a big one. Thanks so much, we sure do appreciate any time and help you can offer.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    Is this for summer 2015, or are you thinking ahead to 2016? The reason I ask is that RV spaces in the national parks of Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia, and Grand Canyon, are very difficult to get at the last minute, if not impossible. (They're probably booked for this summer already, meaning you'd have to hope for someone else's cancellation.) Do you have your own RV or are you planning to rent one? (If the latter, it may be lots cheaper to use a car and overnight in motels. But if you own one, you have the payments instead of the rental price.)

    This is what I'd plan, if this were our trip: Get on I-74 West, take it up to Cedar Rapids where you catch I-80. At Omaha, head up I-29 to Sioux Falls where you catch I-90 west. It's about 1200 miles to Rapid City, SD, where you'd head south to Mount Rushmore. That's at least 3 days in the RV. You may not want to miss Badlands National Park on the way in to Mount Rushmore, and a kitschy place in Wall, SD (west entrance/exit to the Badlands) is Wall Drug.

    From Mount Rushmore, it's about 2 days into Yellowstone via I-90 and US-212 (Beartooth Hwy). The latter has gorgeous scenery, and lots of pullouts for awe-inspiring views. It also takes you into Yellowstone via the Northeast entrance. Two interesting places to stop between Mt Rushmore and your overnight stop before Yellowstone would be Devil's Tower National Monument (think "Close Encounters of the Third Kind") and Little Bighorn National Battlefield Monument.

    Allow at least two more days in Yellowstone to do all the main stuff. There's 8 days of your three weeks. Allow another day for Grand Teton National Park.

    Head out south and west on US-89 to I-15 through Salt Lake City. It's about 700 miles from Grand Teton to Las Vegas, or two days on the road.

    Sequoia? With the big trees? Or Yosemite, with its awesome mountain scenery? (There's a big grove of redwood trees there, too, but I understand there is construction going on and they have closed the area for 2015.) From Las Vegas, you could take the short cut through Death Valley over to US-395 north, if you own your RV. (A rental place probably won't let you drive through DVNP in the summer.) I think it's at least a one-day drive. Then take the Tioga Pass Highway, CA-120, through Yosemite via the Tuolumne Meadow area and then down to Yosemite Village. Allow at least a full day in the Yosemite Village area.

    From there, go back to CA-99, head south to Bakersfield, take CA-58 east to Barstow where you catch I-40 east to the Grand Canyon. Allow a day and a half for this drive at 650 miles, overnight at Barstow. Allow at least a full day at the Grand Canyon.

    Getting home is 1800 miles -- 4-1/2 days in an RV. (I allow 400 miles per day for an RV, just because they take a long time to fill the fuel tanks, they don't have a lot of get-up-and-go.) That would be via I-40, 44, 74.

    There are many other ways you could do this, but trying to get it all in, in 3 weeks, we'd stick to interstates as much as possible.


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Donna, I-74 meets I-80 at the Quad Cities, not Cedar Rapids. You are only about 90 miles off! Before you get to Omaha, you have to take I-680 to get to I-29.

    To get from the Tetons (Jackson) to SLC, I'd recommend you take WY-22 over Teton Pass, it becomes ID-33. Take that through Victor to Driggs, stop and see the world's largest (concrete) potato at the Spud Drive-In.

    Then take ID-33 back to Victor and take ID-31 to US-26 to Idaho Falls and I-15.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Sorry, I was doing a lot of that from memory, not from a map. You're right, of course, 74/80 junction is in the Quad Citieis.

    That potato was not in sight at Driggs last summer. However, it might have been parked off the highway. We didn't really look for it, though we stayed in Driggs overnight.


    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default The best advice.

    Here is the best advice on starting to plan a route, I have ever read. Thought it may help you.

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck
    Start with maps. Not GPS, not software, not Google, but real honest-to-god paper maps that show you your entire route, that you can mark up (and erase), that you can stick pins in, and that show something about the land you'll be driving through. Those are your essential tool in any RoadTrip planning process. Start by marking all the places you know you want to visit. Then connect the dots. Then look for more places of interest and scenic routes and along the lines connecting the dots. Repeat until you've got as many sites and roads as you think you want.
    Hope it helps.

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Pull it off, Yes. Enjoyable ????

    Is this for summer 2015, or are you thinking ahead to 2016 ?
    It's for 2018/19 Donna.

    Hi! We are just getting started planning a road trip out west. We're getting an early start anticipating a TON of planning. We won't travel for 3-4 years.
    To be honest I think you are trying to much for a fun family road trip, especially in an RV where it's much more about 'being there'. Yes you could "pull it off", but at what cost ? I think the Kids will enjoy roadtripping much more if they don't spend so much time couped up inside the RV and use more of it outside enjoying the fresh air. I think you are trying to plan 2 trips into one with the time you have and you will always get chance to have another. I would choose between Yellowstone/Rushmore and Grand canyon/Seqouia for your points of focus and then create a loop that includes parts of Utah and Colorado. That would still be 'busy', but not too rushed to keep it enjoyable and relaxed. Either that or plan on spending more time on the road.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Perfect Start

    Quote Originally Posted by ccthatsme View Post
    We're pretty much open to any information anyone can share. We'd like to start with a route, and then calculate mileage, days needed, and then if it's too big we can trim it back. But we want to see if we can pull off a big one. Thanks so much, we sure do appreciate any time and help you can offer.
    Especially considering this trip is so far out, I think you're taking the perfect approach to your planning.

    Start big, think about everything you might want to see and do on your trip, and then trim and shape with the time and money you've got available.

    I will say, 3 weeks probably won't be enough to hit everything on your list so far, especially going as far west as California. I'd also start looking at the many other National Parks in Utah, that you might be able to work into a loop if you have time to make it as far south as the Grand Canyon. You might also look at many options in Colorado, which has lots of great options that could make a fun loop, with a few less miles. As Donna mentioned, traveling in a RV is fun, but it does take more time, and you can't travel as far in a day as a car/motel trip.

  8. Default Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Especially considering this trip is so far out, I think you're taking the perfect approach to your planning.

    Start big, think about everything you might want to see and do on your trip, and then trim and shape with the time and money you've got available.

    I will say, 3 weeks probably won't be enough to hit everything on your list so far, especially going as far west as California. I'd also start looking at the many other National Parks in Utah, that you might be able to work into a loop if you have time to make it as far south as the Grand Canyon. You might also look at many options in Colorado, which has lots of great options that could make a fun loop, with a few less miles. As Donna mentioned, traveling in a RV is fun, but it does take more time, and you can't travel as far in a day as a car/motel trip.
    Thanks for ALL the replies. We will definitely get the paper map. I appreciate the feedback about RV vs Motels, we will compare for sure. We'll also consider taking two trips if this one is too big. Thank you all so much, this is a great start!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default The children can de most of the work for you.

    When you get the maps, get the children to have a look at them, and all the places along the way where you are planning to go. Then they can do the research into each of those places for you. It should give you lots of information about each place, and help you narrow down to what would make a 'perfect' trip for your family.

    The more children of that age have invested in the planning, the more they will get out of the trip.

    Lifey

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