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  1. Default Winter Road Trip Ideas

    Hey, I'm new to the whole road trip thing and am looking where to start. I've recently come into a lot of spare time and am looking to fulfill a life long dream of driving around the united states. I should be able to start in January and am looking to do it as cheaply (and as warmly as possible) but I honestly have no idea where to start for this. I want to focus on national parks and camping and again do it all as cheaply as possible. If any one has any advice on how to start that would be amazing.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default That All Depends...

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    For starters, at an absolute minimum, we'd need to know where you're starting out from and how much time you have before we could offer any advice on where to go. t would also help to know what your interests are, whether you have any experience with driving in winter conditions.


  3. Default

    Of course. I'd be starting out in Boston and have a lot of experience with winter driving. I mostly am interested in seeing national parks and camping.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    A couple of things jump out at me: first, camping in the winter often means cold temperatures - even in the desert southwest. At the very least you'd need a 4-season sleeping bag and a decent tent - not something that you might use during the summer months and then toss away.

    While most national parks are technically open 365/7/24, that does not mean all of their facilities are open all year. For instance, Yellowstone is open but only one campground (Mammoth) is open year-round, only some of their roads are open, and the main attractions, like Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Old Faithful, are not accessible. Only a few services in Mammoth are open.

    Many other campgrounds are not open year-round either, speaking to both private campgrounds and RV parks, and county and state-run. You'll find more open in the temperate southern states, but even those may not be open as it may not be financially prudent to be open (not enough customers to pay the bills).

    Get yourself a good map, set of maps, or at the very least, a good road atlas such as a Rand McNally. If you can't buy one locally, you can buy one from the RTA store -- just scroll down. Have a highlighter pen or set of sticky notes and start flagging what looks interesting to you. A route will begin to develop. A loop trip would be great, heading south first (to take advantage of the slightly warmer weather and fewer closures) and then to the north.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Where I'd Concentrate

    As Donna points out, many of the western national parks are effectively closed for the winter because of a fact that many easterners fail to appreciate - they are at significant elevation. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is at roughly 8,000 feet, only a bit lower than the summit of Mount Washington, and it is closed throughout the winter. The South Rim is open, but it too is at over 7,000 feet. Zion is at 4,000 feet (It's in a canyon!), Bryce Canyon is between 8,000 and 9,000 feet, the list goes on. None of this makes it easy, or even feasible at times, to camp. In addition, you'd have to spend close to a week getting there and another week getting home meaning you'd need to have a good three weeks or more to make the trip worthwhile just from a time management point of view.

    So I'd probably concentrate on the southeast and Gulf Coast. there are certainly enough national parks and camping opportunities. For starters have a look at some possible stops on the way south including Assateague National Seashore and the Outer Banks. I'd steer clear of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, again due to the cold and elevation. Continuing down the coast (and a little bit inland) there's the relatively new and little visited Congaree National Park in South Carolina, Cumberland Island National Seashore and Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, and Canaveral National Seashore and Everglades National Park in Florida. Then working around the Gulf Coast you have the Chassahowitzka and Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuges, Gulf Islands National Seashore and New Orleans. Then to head home you can use the Natchez Trace Parkway up to Nashville before using Interstate 40 back across the Appalachians and maybe checking out the many national historic sites in Washington and Philadelphia.

    Besides national parks, monuments and seashores, another great camping resource consists of the national forest system where camping can relatively low cost and sometimes be free of charge .


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