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  1. Default Moving cross-country, road trip plan sound feasible?

    Hi everyone! My SO and I will be moving cross-country in the early summer of next year (April/May). We would like to turn that ordeal into an awesome American road trip! My SO is not American and has not seen much of the country aside from the coasts. We will begin in Boston, MA, and end in San Francisco, CA, and would like to take a bit over a month to really take our time. We will be driving our personal car (Civic), and there will be two drivers (at times, possibly 3, as a few friends are interested in joining for certain legs) and no children. We are avid hikers and would like to take at least a short (3-5 mile) hike every other day or so, with several all-day hikes.

    I have divided the trip into 4 phases:

    1. Boston -> Paducah, KY -- this is where my family lives so I think it's a great idea to stop here. It only adds a couple hundred miles to the "minimal" Boston->SF trip so it would be hard to get out of stopping here.
    2. Paducah, KY -> Utah -- Have to cover this ground somehow! This is the section I have the most concern about.
    3. Utah -- previously we had planned a hiking roadtrip in Utah for next summer, before the move, hence the extreme detail and slow pace here!
    4. Utah -> San Francisco, CA -- Again, this part is hard to avoid as we must end in San Francisco.

    Average driving per day is ~150 miles, but given that a lot of days we don't plan to drive, average driving per "driving day" is closer to 250 miles.

    Detailed prospective itinerary is below.
    My questions are:
    1. Does this seem feasible? Too much driving? We have done a good number of "utilitarian" trips in the 750-1000 mile range, nothing like this (~5500-6000 mile range).
    2. Is there something along our approximate route that is a must-see? If so, what would you drop from our itinerary to make space for it?
    3. Is there anything on the route that seems not worth how out-of-the-way it is?
    4. Any specific hikes you recommend?
    5. If we had to cut this trip down, what would you cut?
    6. Any other advice?

    Your advice is very much appreciated!

    Google Maps:
    PART 1: Boston to Moab
    PART 2: Moab to LA

    Detailed Itinerary:
    Phase 1 -- Boston to Paducah
    Day 1: Boston -> Washington, DC (440 mi)
    Day 2: See Washington, DC -- I have been many times but SO has never been.
    Day 3: Washington, DC -> Raleigh, NC (250 mi)
    Day 4: Raleigh, NC -> Asheville, NC (230 mi)
    Day 5: Relax/Hike in Asheville. May leave Asheville in the late afternoon to cut down on day 6 driving.
    Day 6: Asheville -> Paducah, KY (427 mi)
    Day 7-8: Visit family in Paducah

    Phase 2 -- Paducah to Utah

    Day 9: Paducah, KY -> Memphis, TN (185 mi). Civil Rights Museum.
    Day 10: Memphis, TN -> New Orleans, LA (400 mi). Longer if we stick close to Miss River.
    Day 11: Explore NOLA. None of us have ever been.
    Day 12: New Orleans, LA -> Houston, TX (350 mi)
    Day 13: Houston, TX -> San Antonio, TX (200 mi). Would like to see the Alamo.
    Day 14-15: Finish seeing the Alamo. San Antonio, TX -> Big Bend, NP (412 mi)
    Day 16: Big Bend, NP - hiking, see Rio Grande (??)
    Day 17: Big Bend NP, TX -> Carlsbad Caverns NP, NM (242 mi)
    Day 18: See Caverns.
    Day 19: Carlsbad Caverns NP, NM -> Santa Fe, NM (292 mi)
    Day 20: Santa Fe, NM -> Mesa Verde NP, CO (247 mi). I think we can get by only stopping for a half-day here.
    Day 21: Mesa Verde NP -> Moab, UT/Arches NP (124 mi)

    Phase 3 -- Utah/AZ
    Day 22: Hike Arches NP.
    Day 23: Hike Canyonland NP, UT (~30 mi)
    Day 24-25: Drive Canyonland NP, UT -> Bryce Canyon NP via Grand Staircase National Monument, Capitol Reef NP (300 mi)
    Day 26: Hike Bryce Canyon
    Day 27: Another day in Bryce (and/or flex day to make up for something awesome earlier!). Drive Bryce Canyon NP -> Antelope Canyon (124 mi)
    Day 28: Bryce Canyon -> Antelope Canyon, see Antelope Canyon (120 mi)
    Day 29: Antelope Canyon -> North Rim Grand Canyon, AZ (250 mi)
    Day 30: Hike Grand Canyon
    Day 31: Grand Canyon North Rim, AZ -> Zion NP, UT (75 mi)
    Day 32: Hike in Zion NP, UT

    Phase 4 -- Utah to San Francisco
    Day 33: Zion NP, UT -> Hoover Dam/Valley of Fire State Park (264 mi) towards Las Vegas, NV
    Day 34: Las Vegas, NV
    Day 35: Las Vegas, NV -> Death Valley -> ?? (154 mi to Death Valley)
    Day 36: ?? -> Los Angeles, CA (257 mi from Death Valley)
    Day 37: Visit Los Angeles, CA
    Day 38-38: California Coast to San Francisco, CA (~400 miles)

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


    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    I think you've come up with a pretty fantastic plan. Most people aren't lucky enough to have more than a month for a move, and you've done a good job making the most of your time.

    If you had to shorten things down, it would depend upon how much you needed to shorten things. If you only needed to save a couple of days, you could trim back the stuff in California - especially LA - as you'll be close enough to visit there when you're living in SF. If you had to trim out a lot of time, then driving a little more directly from Kentucky to Utah, instead of dipping all the way down to Texas, would be an option.

    If I was going to add something, I might rework the first bit so you have a little more time to explore the Smokey Mountains or Blue Ridge Parkway, as that would seem to fit with your interests. You'll already be around there, and may be planning some of that, but it is one thing that stands out a bit.

  3. Default

    Thanks Michael!

    I am considering dropping Texas, which would save hundreds of miles. But I feel like Texas will be more interesting than Oklahoma?

    As far as the Blue Ridge/Smokey Mtns, you are absolutely right that they are gorgeous! I used to live in that area, though, hence the fairly quick pace -- Boston to Raleigh and Raleigh to West KY are pretty familiar jaunts to me. Possibly that's an argument for a completely different path --through Amish country and West WV to Eastern KY and on to West KY....

    Lots to think about, thanks!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Day 20: Santa Fe, NM -> Mesa Verde NP, CO (247 mi). I think we can get by only stopping for a half-day here.
    Mesa Verde has a number of cliff dwellings that are only accessible by ranger-led tours. Allowing a half day, you may or may not be successful to get in on one of them. It will depend on how heavy the crowds are, which hopefully in the time frame you are speaking of, won't be too bad. Here's the link to tour ticket information. Unfortunately, most of the tour tickets have to be purchased in person - can't request them online.

    Day 38-38: California Coast to San Francisco, CA (~400 miles)
    Going northbound on the Pacific Coast Highway means that to get to the scenic overlooks, you will have to cross traffic to get into and out of them (and traffic can be heavy). It also is a two day drive, though it doesn't seem like it with "only" 400 miles. So many stops to see! If you're going to live in San Francisco, you may have many more chances to see the coast of the state -- it's a nice weekend just to drive from SF to perhaps Cambria on a Saturday and return on a Sunday (just be sure to get reservations for the night so you aren't stranded). Or perhaps a 4-day weekend sometime. Just a suggestion, on how to get the most out of that area.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I agree - on the last day just drive straight from LA to SF, but take US-101. It's a bit longer than taking I-5 but a lot more scenic. Taking CA-1 would stretch it out to a 2 day trip. However, you could take CA-1 from say, Santa Monica to Oxnard to pick up the 101. Trying to take either I-5 or I-405 to the 101 can be a real headache.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Maybe reserve, not buy.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    . Unfortunately, most of the tour tickets have to be purchased in person - can't request them online.
    To do both the Cliff Palace tour and the Balcony House tour you will need more than half a day. I'd give it a full day, and truly get to see and understand the significance of this great National Park. I believe the tickets can be reserved, not sure if online or over the phone. When I was there to purchase a ticket, I had to wait to see if all the reservations turned up, as it was fully reserved for that day. It pays to reserve them if you know on which day you will be there.

    Still, it is a place not to be missed.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    You can't reserve tickets for the Mesa Verde tours but you can purchase them up to two days in advance - but it's only in person, nothing's available by phone or online. Details are in the link Donna provided. The larger point that it does take more time than you might expect is a good one.

    If you've spent a lot of time in NC in the past, then I'd certainly look at instead staying a bit farther north as you head to Kentucky. Perhaps Shanandoah NP and Skyline drive could be added to you agenda, or the New River Gorge in West Virginia. Just more options to consider.

    Similarly, there's a lot you could see and do beyond Texas. Certainly, there are things to see in Oklahoma, and such a route could also take you through the Ozarks of Arkansas/Missouri. That of course, isn't your only option, as you could look at heading through Kansas or Nebraska, or even South Dakota, before continuing onto Colorado. While the great plains states don't have many of the high profile tourist stops that you'll find in the mountains, there are still a lot of interesting ideas and routes.

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