Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 17
  1. Default Planning My First USA Road Trip

    A loop road trip from Chicago (our American friend lives there) that should include California and New Orleans, because we are going to visit friends there. We are six people (three drivers) driving probably a mini van and also planning to camp in National Parks. This will take place from mid July to mid August 2016. Here is the map.

    We start from Chicago, we take Great River Scenic Road, then we go Rapid City and around Rushmore, then Yellowstone, Salt Lake City, then we take "Loniest Road in America" from Elly to Lake Tahoe, then we cut through California to reach Pacific Coast Highway, San Fran, Yosemite, Sequoia, LA, Death Valley, Vegas, Grand Canyon, a bit from Route 66 until Albuquerque, El Paso, San Antonio, maybe Austin, New Orleans, then follow Mississippi's 8,000-year-old pathway from Natchez to Nashville, Kentucky countryside, Louisville, Indiana scenic countryside, Chicago.

    I am reading all day about interesting byways, national parks and scenic routes in forums. The book "The Most Scenic Drives in America" was a really good starting point for planning the actual itinerary and not only highways. I incorporated my knowledge in the map. The idea of avoiding Oregon was actually a very good one. Makes it work our road trip better. What do you think about this primal schedule ? Can this work ?

    Schedule Draft

    1 - Chicago
    2 - La Crosse [320 miles - 6 hours]
    3 - Chamberlain (?) [430 miles - 7 hours]
    4 - Rapid / Rushmore [250 miles - 4,5 hours]
    5 - Deadwood (drive afternoon and sleep closer to Yellowstone) [250 miles - 4 hours]
    6 - Yellowstone [315 miles - 6 hours]
    7 - Yellowstone [100 miles - 2 hours]
    8 - Yellowstone (sleep to Salt Lake City) [300 miles - 6,5 hours]
    9 - Salt Lake city (sleep to Ely) [250 miles - 5 hours]
    10 - Drive through Desert - Lake Tahoe [332 miles - 8 hours]
    11 - Drive through California - Point Arena [310 miles - 6 hours]
    12 - Pacific Coast Highway - San Francisco [140 miles - 3 hours]
    13 - San Francisco [0 miles]
    14 - San Francisco - Yosemite [200 miles - 4 hours]
    15 - Yosemite [40 miles - 1 hour]
    16 - Yosemite - Sequoia (sleep closer to LA) [240 miles - 5,5 hours]
    17 - LA [170 miles - 3,5 hours]
    18 - LA (drive at evening and sleep closer to Death Valley) [200 miles - 4,5 hours]
    19 - Death Valley - Las Vegas [230 miles - 4 hours]
    20 - Las Vegas (drive at afternoon to Grand Canyon) [300 miles - 5 hours]
    21 - Grand Canyon [40 miles - 1 hour]
    22 - Grand Canyon-Albuquerque ( drive to Albuquerque) [ 410 miles -7 hours]
    23 - El Paso [280 miles - 5 hours]
    24 - Boerne (San Antonio) [580 miles - 10 hours]
    25 - Houston (Sleep Closer to New Orleans) [300 miles - 4,5 hours]
    26 - New Orleans [280 miles - 4,5 hours]
    27 - New Orleans [0 miles]
    28 - New Orleans [0 miles]
    29 - New Orleans [0 miles]
    30 - Mississippi (Sleep French Camp) [385 miles - 7 hours]
    31 - Nashville [300 miles - 6,5 hours]
    32 - Louisville (Sleep in Indianapolis) [220 miles - 4,5 hours
    33 - Chicago [230 miles - 4,5 hours]

    Points of Improvement:
    - California is a problem organizational-wise because we miss coastline between San Fran and LA (in terms of miles and time, someone should select either Yosemite and Sequoia or coastline), if we had both we could do both in a loop, of course. This is the main reason I added Pacific Coast Highway, which I read that is very beautiful. We shouldn't miss all the coastline. Any suggestions about California?
    - Between Grand Canyon and New Orleans needs more details but time-wise we may need to rush anyway.
    - Between Chicago and Rapid City same situation.
    - New Orleans to Chicago we should be able to drop plans, if we get late with the schedule

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default There might be too much rushing in this plan

    We start from Chicago, we take Great River Scenic Road, then we go Rapid City and around Rushmore, then Yellowstone, Salt Lake City, then we take "Loniest Road in America" from Elly to Lake Tahoe, then we cut through California to reach Pacific Coast Highway, San Fran, Yosemite, Sequoia, LA, Death Valley, Vegas, Grand Canyon, a bit from Route 66 until Albuquerque, El Paso, San Antonio, maybe Austin, New Orleans, then follow Mississippi's 8,000-year-old pathway from Natchez to Nashville, Kentucky countryside, Louisville, Indiana scenic countryside, Chicago.
    Great work about thinking about this epic trip. Unlike many road trippers, you've allowed reasonable driving periods for much of the trip. But the biggest problem I see is that you are spending a lot of hours on the road most days and if you are camping, you are going to get very tired trying to keep up with this schedule.

    Fastest Average speed in Yellowstone NP and Grand Canyon is probably closer to 35 mph and if you factor in actually stopping and looking at some of the places you are driving through, a 300 mile drive could easily take a couple days of driving.

    The other five people -- are they ready and willing for such a hectic pace? I am guessing that three of them are children? Six people in a van, plus luggage, plus camping gear -- it can be done -- but will require very good packing skills.

    The Big Sur -- between San Francisco and LA is probably one of the most beautiful coastal drives in the world. But if it really comes down to a choice between visiting Yosemite and driving the coast.... Yosemite would be hard to beat.

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    I think I would reorganize the California portion of your trip. Rather than going from Lake Tahoe to the coast north of San Francisco, I'd go from Lake Tahoe across Tioga Pass to Yosemite. From Yosemite, head to SFO, and then head down the coast from SFO to LA. You'd skip Sequoia and the coast north of SFO, but that would save you some miles, and will likely save you a little time, which it seems like you could use.

    As Mark mention, none of the legs you've listed look like a problem by themselves, but always being on the move could grow tiresome after a while, especially when you have to set up and tear down camp nearly every day. Also, if you are planning to take a lot of scenic roads, the drives could take a lot longer than you've got planned.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    You could actually do Sequoia after Yosemite and then head to SF, it's not much longer from Sequoia to SF as it is from Yosemite to SF. If there's nothing in SF you really want to do or see, you could go from Sequoia direct to Monterey. The most spectacular part of the PCH is between Monterey and Cambria.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    4 - Rapid / Rushmore [250 miles - 4,5 hours] 5 - Deadwood (drive afternoon and sleep closer to Yellowstone) [250 miles - 4 hours] 6 - Yellowstone [315 miles - 6 hours] 7 - Yellowstone [100 miles - 2 hours]
    We just did this as part of our vacation, a year ago. The Black Hills area to Yellowstone is at least a 2 day drive. We drove Rushmore to Billings, stopping at both Devil's Tower and Little Big Horn, in one very long day. Each stop was about 2 hours.

    From Billings to West Yellowstone, via the Beartooth Highway (highly recommended) is about 200 miles. However, it was about a 9 hour day. We stopped quite often between Red Lodge, MT, and West Yellowstone, at scenic viewpoints. It might have been a longer day if the weather had been a little more cooperative. I would have liked to stop in either Cooke City or Silvergate, but it was pouring down rain.

    Then we spent the next two FULL days (out 10 - 12 hours) seeing Yellowstone - the lower loop one day, and the upper loop the next day. Forget 100 miles in 2 hours. We put about 140 miles on the truck each day in those 10-12 hours.


    Donna

  6. Default

    Your feedback is valuable and changed my perception of many things. When you do this for first time, you have many preoccupations about things and you want to cramp everything. I am trying to avoid those preoccupations but they slip always inside.

    I have incorporated in the map the suggested changes in California and I think that now it makes much more sense. I also found very useful the comments about the pace in National parks, like Yellowstone and Grand Canyon. I want to examine carefully the new info and re-organize the schedule. I will come back with a new schedule.

    Driving Pace:If we take for granted that I don't want to avoid California and I can't avoid New Orleans, which both shape the whole lengthy loop, how can I make the pace more doable? I was thinking things like using only highways for the last part from Nashville to Chicago, strict prioritizing of the scenic roads and removing days from the cities.

    Accommodation: We are not doing only camping but also cheap motels, airbnbs in cities and friends in New Orleans. As I have read, there are two ways to deal with accommodation book or find on the way. On the first case I am afraid that we are going to be anxious to catch "deadlines", the dates we have booked, and not improvise at all. The journey becomes really irritating, especially if some people can't stand the pace of needing constantly to arrive somewhere. On the other hand, we are traveling high season, some of the parks must be pre-booked in order to find anything. Also, how easy is to find affordable accommodation while you are on the road. I really don't know. Can you find something vacant in a understandable amount of time? Sounds adventurous and interesting but it may ends up with loosing valuable time. I think we should totally book some of areas, like Grand Canyon. What do you think?

    Participation / Vehicle: We are either 6 or 7 adults. One of us is an American and owns a Toyota Corolla. If we are 7, we are going to rent a second standard car and split. We will have two drivers per car. The dilemma is, if we are 6. Does it make sense to rent two cars or to rent a Dodge Grand Caravan minivan? The packaging may be a great challenge (especially with 6 sleeping bags) but it will be much better cost and group wise. Any tips on that?

    Weather:
    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    It might have been a longer day if the weather had been a little more cooperative. I would have liked to stop in either Cooke City or Silvergate, but it was pouring down rain.
    What is the weather like in the different parts we are gonna travel? Are there many rains involved? I think the south is pretty hot and in some spots like death valley above 100F.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    If you are in a time crunch, Nashville to Chicago can be driven in about 8 hours via direct Interstate (I-65). This would give you a few hours to play with to make brief sightseeing stops enroute.

    With the scope of your trip, you need to be prepared for weather anywhere from near-freezing nights in the mountains to close to 100 degrees and 100% humidity in the Deep South.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Dilemnas.

    Quote Originally Posted by kongo View Post
    Participation / Vehicle: We are either 6 or 7 adults. One of us is an American and owns a Toyota Corolla. If we are 7, we are going to rent a second standard car and split. We will have two drivers per car. The dilemma is, if we are 6. Does it make sense to rent two cars or to rent a Dodge Grand Caravan minivan? The packaging may be a great challenge (especially with 6 sleeping bags) but it will be much better cost and group wise. Any tips on that?
    With two vehicles you could end up spending time waiting for the other vehicle, whether it be at rest areas or attractions. It could also create anxiety among some of the members of the group - wondering where the other car is. Strictly following one after the other makes the trip anything but enjoyable. However, with one vehicle you have the issue of comfort and luggage. Guess it is something you should discuss among all of you.

    Accommodation is the same. Are there members of the group who get anxious not knowing where they will rest there head at the end of the day? On the other hand, booking everything may cause you to rush where you should not.

    One thing you could do is book all the accommodation so that you have 24 hr to cancel. That should give you some leeway. The day before you are bound to know how far you will get 'tomorrow'. NPs of course, as you said, need to be booked.

    Lifey+--`

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Two vehicles has it's plus points.

    I actually think a 2 car strategy can have it's good points, budget aside. You are spending a lot of time in the vehicle[s] and to be crammed in together for long periods of time can cause tensions in a big group, tension could start outside of the vehicle on a small disagreement of who wants to go where, and then the trip in the car can feel long and silent. With 2 vehicles you all get a bit of extra room and you have the option of swapping travel buddies daily, or even throughout the day. So if 2 people aren't talking for whatever reason you avoid the tension growing into 'something out of nothing' and separate them for a bit of breathing space, it's then soon forgotten as everyone just gets on with their day. Even 'best friends' have differences and habits that can get annoying over long periods, it's natural, some might be louder, some might want to be quieter and having the ability to 'mix and match' moods is a big plus. There is no real need to follow each other either, you could have a pre-organised meeting point[s] so that you can meet up later. It also gives you more scope when it comes to what people want to see. For example, there is much to see and do in Yellowstone and you don't have a lot of time there, so it gives you the option of 2 different groups choosing different highlights.

  10. #10

    Default

    Six adults in a minivan will be challenging. For seating and packing of luggage and camping gear. Practically speaking, you would probably need to retract the rear seat into the vehicle for stowage of clothing bags, sleeping bags, tent(s), camp stove, a cooler and other gear. That would leave two front bucket seats and maybe a middle bench seat or two captain chairs, depending upon the actual minivan model supplied upon arrival. A good middle bench seat will only seat 3 people, two comfortably for long drives. Six people with gear is also a very heavy load on the standard minivan frame.

    There are pro's and con's for a single vehicle and two vehicles, as discussed above, but a single vehicle option would necessitate something like a full-sized van. Check the fine print on rental agreements and pricing for a month using a full-size van or similar vehicle. And your credit card's insurance coverage fine print as well.

    Yellowstone deserves an additional day or two on your itinerary -- consider it to be roughly the size of Belgium but full of interesting experiences in the many corners of the park. Hike on some of the trails to see the sights. Work on a "Junior Ranger Badge" (we are all kids!) as a way to force yourself to widen your experience in the park.

    Entering Yellowstone via the Beartooth Highway is another great experience (look for Red Lodge, Montana and follow the road). It is a scenic road (can't call the switchbacks a highway). It is not a fast drive but well worth it.

    An alternate route to the Grand Canyon, if Death Valley and Las Vegas are not must visit destinations, is via Joshua Tree NP, where you can also camp overnight (enough elevation for the air to cool down to at least the lower 70s). From there it is a nice drive on Rt 62, US 95 and thenI-40, to Flagstaff, and on to the Grand Canyon.

Similar Threads

  1. My first road trip rv in USA
    By josecarm in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 03-26-2015, 11:29 PM
  2. First road trip in USA !
    By Badgerini in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 08-10-2011, 07:33 PM
  3. First road trip in USA
    By nandini.purandare in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 05-17-2011, 04:26 AM
  4. Planning USA Road Trip
    By Nadz in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 03-30-2011, 05:14 AM
  5. First Road Trip in USA
    By 7marlboroman in forum Going to Las Vegas!
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 08-30-2010, 07:46 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name

    Loading...



  • MORE STORIES