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  1. Default looking for advice on a 4,000+ mile road trip

    Hello and thanks for any advice,tips,and tricks you can offer my wife and I. I am 32 and she is 29, this is the first big road trip we have done and doing it on a limited fund of $2,000

    Her sister is getting married just outside Tulsa Oklahoma in a couple weeks (oct 15) and we live in Upper Michigan (da U.P.)

    we both got 2 weeks off work and plan on leaving a little early to see sights along the way and take the long way home.

    we plan on leaving oct 10th when I get done with work (around noon) and head to McGregor Iowa and spend the night at pikes peak SP, we hope to tent camp as much as possible with a few cheap motels now and then. The next day we plan on checking out the Effigy mounds (free) and then drive down to Dyersville Iowa to check out the farm that field of dreams was filmed(free). Then a quick stop in central city Iowa to visit a friend who past away 2 days before our wedding. After that we don't have much other plans for Iowa, Any ideas?

    I was thinking about spending one more night in a Iowa SP since they only charge $6 a night! Then onto Skiatook Ok.

    I would like to swing by the J M Davis gun museum, the largest private gun collection (free) and then head onto Skiatook ok. There we plan on staying at a campground in tent for one night and then two nights rent a cabin.

    After the wedding we start the real road trip! I figured rather than take the same boring route back that we took to get there we would head west and then north.

    we hope to leave ok and head for pueblo Colorado with a few stops

    Leaving her sisters we plan on stopping at the Oklahoma city bombing memorial and museum ($15 each) and then head for Amarillo TX with a stop at Cadillac ranch (free other then spray paint) and a stop for some texas BBQ, any advice on a good spot?

    we don't know if it would be better to head north or go thru the NE corner of new mexico to pueblo?

    we are planning on setting up the tent in pueblo.

    leaving pueblo so far all we have planned is pikes peak and then spend the night in Denver in a motel.

    early the next morning we plan on taking the trail ridge road thru rocky mt NP. Looking for a cheap place to stay that night, we do have cold weather camping gear. after rocky mt NP we are heading to yellow stone.

    I would like to stay at mammoth springs campground but she's not into the idea of 25-30 temps in a tent :) any cheap places?

    after Yellowstone I was thinking about going thru Montana but might just head east to devils tower and then onto South Dakota

    In SD we plan on seeing all the sights MT Rushmore, custer SP, deadwood,sturgis,crazy horse,wall drug, badlands

    from there we head home to da U.P.

    for the most part we plan on having 3 days for Colorado 3 days for Yellowstone and 3 days for south Dakota

    we are buying a ford escape so should get about 25mpg average and 30 mpg on highway and have $500 set aside out of the $2,000 for gas

    we having camping gear and plan on tenting it most the time and plan on cooking all our own meals unless we see a place we don't have back home.

    I know I'm not the best writer but I hope you can get the idea from what I laid out.

    we leave the 10th and come home the 26th, the wedding is the 15th and we leave ok on the 16th

    If you see anything that stands out as not do able please tell me, if you see we will be in a place that has a must see please tell me. Just keep in mind $$ like the cog train on pikes peak sounded fun until I looked at the price.

    Thanks again for any tips, tricks, and advice we sure can use it....this planning is stressful not knowing or have done this before

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default To get you started.

    Hi and Welcome to the Great Amkerican Roadtrip Forum.

    Roadtripping on limited funds is something most of us here can relate to. And that (free) is my favourite four letter word as well.

    To get you started you might like to follow the advice in this paragraph:-

    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 along the lines connecting the dots. Repeat until you've got as many sites and roads as you think you want.
    Good maps which show the lay of the land, and most attractions along the way, as well as scenic routes, are invaluable while planning a road trip and essential when on the road. Don't be tempted to rely solely on your electronics.

    You might like to check on the Trail ridge road to see if it is open, as it can close at less than an hou's notice by blizzards..... any day of the year.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Long days in the saddle.. but worth it

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh&molly View Post
    Thanks again for any tips, tricks, and advice we sure can use it....this planning is stressful not knowing or have done this before
    Welcome to the road trip planning forums!

    For the first time ever, I spent about a week in the UP in July. Beautiful in the summer months. What part of the UP are you from?

    You've done a lot of thinking about this trip. Good work. Your fuel cost estimate is probably pretty accurate. Using the RTA Fuel Cost Calculator, a 4000 mile trip yielded this result:
    Your 4000.0 mile (6437.2 km) road trip will cost you about 560.00 in fuel, based on an efficiency of 25.00 miles per gallon and a total fuel volume of 160.00 gallons. (Your fuel cost per mile will be about 0.14.)
    But even with camping and staying with relatives, averaging under $75 per day for food, lodging, attraction costs and supplies is pretty tough to achieve --> $1050.

    The roads are scheduled to still be open in late October in Yellowstone, but are subject to snow closures.

    The biggest obstacle with your plan is the number of miles you would need to drive a day to accomplish it. Most of the driving days will be 8-10+ hours and that doesn't leave much time to set-up camp and then strike it in the morning. But it's probably still doable.

    Yeah, the Effigy Mounds are pretty cool as are the other places you've laid out. On those long driving days -- use some of the tips provided in the Speed Run article.

    October is just about the best month to road trip. You are going to have fun!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default trimming, with a cleaver

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you've got a great concept for a trip, but when reality sinks in, I think you're really going to have to cut back, as you're trying to do more than you can realistically get to.

    The pre-wedding portion of the trip looks like it would be ok, except for that first day. If you don't get done with work until noon - meaning getting on the road, optimistically at 1 o'clock - it's going to be way after dark when you get to Iowa. Getting from Marquette, Michigan to Marquette, Iowa is at least an 8 hour drive, possibly more since much of the trip is on 2 lane roads. That means trying to set up a tent around 9 or 10 o'clock at night, in the dark, after a day at work followed by 8 more hours of "working" behind the wheel. The exact travel times will depend upon your exact starting point, but the principal is going to be the same no matter where in the UP you're starting from. Also, keep in mind that online travel time estimates are not accurate over a long day on the road, you need to plan for real world times to take at least 20% longer, when you factor in even the minimum of stops and slowdowns.

    I will say, I'm pretty strongly biased against Iowa State Parks - in fact, it's the only state in the country where I will generally look for anything other than a state park for a place to set up camp. That's based on having several bad experiences at several of their parks, and finding the tent areas of most of their state parks consist of taking a small piece of lawn and seeing how many tents they can have people stacked on top of it, with no trees or anything to break up the sites. Pikes Peak pretty much qualifies for that kind of area - the park itself is fantastic for it's overlooks - but for camping, I would much rather stay across the river at Wyalusing SP in Wisconsin.

    Your trip back is where you've really bitten off more than you can chew, I have to say. It doesn't appear you've factored in the time you actually need to cover the miles you're planning. For example, Skiatook to Pueblo via OKC and Amarillo is more than 700 miles, including more long stretches on 2 lane roads. Just on the road time for that is about 13 hours, which is more than is safe or reasonable on a multi-day trip. That doesn't even start to factor in more time to see the Bombing Memorial, find a place for BBQ, or find and set up camp at the end of the day, during a time of year where you've got limited daylight to work with.

    I could probably go on day by day, but I'll just summarize by saying 10 days just isn't nearly enough time to drive from Northeast OK to Yellowstone and back to the UP. Yellowstone is a huge detour - that's more a full day drive from RMNP, especially to get to the North end of the park by Mammoth Hot Springs. Also, Considering the fact that by the end of October, Yellowstone is nearly into full winter mode, with hardly any services available, and many roads already closed for the season, and it's a trip that needs to be saved for another day.

    I think with 10 days, you could probably come up with a plan to see some of Colorado and South Dakota, but that's really the maximum you should be looking at on your timeline. Even there, the weather is going to be something you'll need to keep in mind. Trail Ridge Road could very well be closed by the time you arrive, as it typically shuts down in mid-october, and storms can cause temporary closures even before then. In the black hills, you'll find that most tourist services are closed for the season. I was there on Columbus Day weekend (Native American day in South Dakota) a few years ago, and most of the restaurants, shops, etc were either closed or were in their last weekend. That doesn't mean you shouldn't go there at that time of year, it just means you'll have to plan ahead a bit more.

    When you come up with a Plan B, I'd really keep in mind that 500 miles is a very full day on the road when you factor time for camping, a factor that's even more important when it gets dark early. Even there, that doesn't allow a lot of time for extra exploration, so if you want to stop and explore museums, parks, or other attractions along the way, you should think about even shorter days on the road.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 09-28-2015 at 05:12 AM.

  5. #5


    You have a lot going for you already. You are married and used to traveling with each other.

    Some real inexpensive ways to complete this journey is to shower at either laundromats or truck stops along the way so you feel refreshed and not all grungy, stock a cooler in the car with drinks and snacks (meats and cheeses, veggies with dips, crackers etc..) and once a day eat at a nice place (actually sit down and stare into each other's eyes and enjoy a delicious meal). And no, fast food does not count as a sit down meal, even though I should be a major stockholder in McD's as much as I have eaten there over the decades! That is not a sit down meal. Another great thing about the trip you have planned is it gives the two of you lots of alone time to talk and dream and plan with each other. And don't rob yourselves with insignificant topics like the weather or what team is going to win the pennant this year. Invest in real conversations about your marriage. Think about things you are struggling with and use those as a catalyst to resolve issues. Road trips often make the best marriage retreats because of the time you have together. And do special things for each other along the way. Pay attention to your wife as you walk around a site you want to see. If she mentions something she would like find a way to buy it for her and surprise her with it at your nice meal. Wives, if you haven't figured this out yet then let me share some wisdom with you, your husband is very visual, so while you are on this long road trip don't be shy to tease him while you are driving, just make sure he is the only one that enjoys the tease. I hope this advice will help you with your trip. They real key is for you to arrive at the wedding more in love with each other than when you left the house. You want to make the new bride and groom envious of your marriage. Oh one last thing, take as many pictures as you can of your adventure and include each other in the pics. For some suggestions go to Pinterest and type in "Romantic Pics" or "Older Couples in Love" and find ways to take lots of pictures of the two of you on this great road trip.

    Moderator Note: A large portion of this post has been edited to remove dangerously reckless advice.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 09-28-2015 at 04:40 AM. Reason: Good Neighbor Rules

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Ft. Collins, CO.


    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Trail Ridge Road could very well be closed by the time you arrive, as it typically shuts down in mid-october, and storms can cause temporary closures even before then.
    Can be daily closures, or rather overnight closures as melting snow from the early snows freezes on the road at night so the road gets closed. Only reopens mid-morning even on sunny days. And then there can be the big enough snowfall that they just don't want to plow it and the road is closed for the season.

    In other words - don't count on being able to drive Trail Ridge Road. You can check and maybe it'll be open but have an alternate plan.

  7. Default

    Thanks for the help, took a while to reply our computer is down so I use my moms when she is gone to deer camp for the weekends.

    I will be leaving the UP from Delta county, easiest way to explain would be Escanaba.

    I have been slowly planning the trip since we were told the wedding date about a year ago, first thing I did was send out to the states we wanted to see/go thru and get the tourist guides that also come with very detailed maps.

    I was figuring that Yellowstone would be a stretch but it is something I have wanted to see as long as I can remember....oh well next time, I hate to rush the rest of the trip just to have to rush Yellowstone to make it home in time.

    I have scratched off Yellowstone and tried to come up with a better itinerary in Colorado and south Dakota.

    As far as sticking to schedule we're just planning on winging it...if things work out sweet if not oh well we will see it tomorrow.

    Also the camping part is more less a place to sleep for cheap, we don't plan on setting up camp and having a fire....we have a 6x10 four pole tent with a Kamp rite air mat and a 0 degree sleeping bag. Our meals will be easy to make and done on a coleman propane stove, if it will be a late arrival to the campground we will just stop at a roadside and eat, or eat out.

    here is a list of the new plan, again we wont mind if we cant make it all as planned. I left 3 days for wiggle room, if we get it all done as planned and have the 3 days we are going to head to mall of America for a day or two.

    day 1 Escanaba-McGregor,IA
    sleep at a campground...pikespeak SP or spook cave

    day 2 McGregor-Dyersville-Central City-campground as far as we feel like driving?
    see the Effegy mounds in morning, drive to field of dreams,then onto Central city to visit a friends grave. Drive as long as we can and stop at a campground/SP (Iowa/Kansas?)

    Day 3 Finish drive to Skiatook, OK
    Stop at the J M Davis Gun Museum on way to stoney ridge campground in Skiatook

    Next couple days hang out with sister and check out Tulsa and OK City if time to kill (will save on the trip when we leave OK)

    THE TRIP HOME October 16th

    Day 1 Head for Amarillo, TX (might see some of the ok city sights while in Skiatook)

    OK City bombing memorial and museum

    Stafford space museum

    Route 66 museums (?)

    BBQ dinner in Amarillo

    Cadillac Ranch

    Onto Lake Meradith state park North of Amarillo to camp for the night at fritch fortress campground

    Day 2

    Lake Meradith TX to Pueblo Colorado

    stop by Capulin volcano national monument

    camp at pueblo SP

    Day 3

    Pueblo - Divide - Golden (all CO)

    Pikes Peak

    Florissent fossil beds

    garden of the gods

    Buffalo bills grave/museum

    Camp at Reverends ridge Campground

    Day 4

    Golden-Estes park via "Peak to Peak"

    Estes park-Granby-Kremmling via "trail ridge road"

    We plan on setting up camp at radium campground near Kremmling. 20 minute hike to Colorado river where there is a natural hot spring to soak in!!

    I have the # for TRR closure info and if need be we will just reroute if need be, From web sites I looked at that I cant seam to find right now had the last 10 years of the closure dates and it looks like we "should be" ok...oct 17th 2012 was the earliest is closed in 10 years....fingers crossed :)

    Day 5

    Kremmling, CO- Deadwood, SD (this is going to be the long one)

    side stop to devils tower

    sleep at deadwood dicks

    Day 6

    Check out deadwood...saloon #10, mount Moriah cemetery, midnight star, etc

    Head to Jewel cave for tickets

    Crazy horse

    custer SP wildlife loop to blue bell and check into cabin.

    Mount rushmore via iron mt road

    Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway

    Day 7
    ( I know there is a lot of back tracking but the silo tours are limited and 1st come-1st serve )

    Leave custer SP and take 44 to badlands park entrance to get pass

    head to minute man missile silo visitor center for tickets

    go to the guided tour of missile silo

    visit wall drug

    head back way we came and see the self guided missile silo

    back to badlands and take the whole way to scenic and then take 44 back to 90

    Drive as far as we can towards Mitchell SD and stop at a cheap motel

    Day 8

    Mitchell SD

    Corn palace

    If all goes like I laid out we will be leaving Mitchell around Noon on the 23rd and we don't have to be home till the 26 and back to work the 27th. If there is time we will then head to mall of America

    along the way we might find something else or drop something we had planned....rather then stress over everything going as planned we are going to try and enjoy the things we do get to see.....we don't mind spending 12 hours driving with stops to eat and explore as long as we get a few easy days

    Thanks again and am looking forward to any advice about plan B :)

    I will be able to check on our cell phone but wont be able to reply as much, trying to save data for trip

    Thanks again and I will try and post updates as we go along and have wifi

  8. Default

    I was given the following advice. Best one I ever received about visiting any site.

    Go to the Oklahoma Bombing site in the evening, before going in the morning. We traveled in our motorhome for 5 years and this evening visit is rated in our top 3 Sights Seen !!!

    Rule of thumb --- Drive 2 hours, break. Drive 2 more hours, lunch. Drive 2 hours, break. Stop driving at 4 PM. Drive 2 days, take a day off. You will stay refreshed and alert and prevent your trip from being boring and becoming a drudge !!

    Enjoy !


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Great Plan for a memorable trip.

    Hi Marc, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    Thank you for jumping in with your first post, to share your experience and help another member. I am sure it will be appreciated.

    Sounds like you have a great and relaxing travelling style. I must check out the places you mention. Not been on my list so far.

    Should you ever want to ask for advice on a trip, feel free to start your own thread.


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