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  1. Default Road trip Charlotte, NC to PCT, CA

    Hey everyone, a friend and I are in the beginning stages of planning a trip across the US from Charlotte, NC, hopefully ending at the Pacific Crest Trail in CA which we'd like to hike at least a small chunk of. We're trying to have the trip last most of the summer of 2016, from the second week of May until August. We have a basic list of things we'd like to see such as Zion national park, Yosemite, garden of the gods, the Grand Canyon, and red rocks, as well as some hikes and potentially half dome, but I wanted to get some opinions from you experienced road trippers out there- I've never been out west in my adulthood, and that'll be the most important part of the trip for us. What are some other things y'all could recommend as must-sees? Additionally, as this will be our first ever really big road trip, what advice could you give us in terms of money saving techniques, recommendations for camping vs rest stop sleeping, things learned from personal experiences, etc? We're both 23 year old girls and will most likely have a dodge pickup truck that is our own. Really any opinion or advice of any kind would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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

    Default For starters

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    One thing I can tell you to start is that under no circumstances should you consider sleeping in Rest Areas - that's just not safe. If you need a place to pull over and get some rest, then Truck Stops are a much, much safer option. Camping, however, will be much more comfortable and really is the route I would recommend the vast majority of time. Getting proper rest is a very important part of having a good trip - especially when you're traveling with another person. I would also budget to spend some of your nights in a motel, for times when you've got bad weather or just want a real bed.

    If you don't have much experience being out on the road - or even just haven't been on the road together - I would strongly recommend you head out and do at least 1 or 2 smaller, weekend trips to get used to being on the road with each other.

    On a month-long trip that covers pretty much the entire country, we're not going to be of much help in offering suggestions of specific places. The number of possible "must sees" is in the millions, and we can't really do much to narrow them down, until we have much more focus from you. What I can recommend is that you continue doing what it appears you have been doing, is just keep researching the many possibilities. Look at maps, read books, look around this site - and based on your interests so far - take a real good look at the National Parks and National Forest websites. Also look up at the "how to use this site" link up at the top of the page, where you'll find a wealth of other information to help you with planning, budgeting, and other ideas to get your planning off the ground.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    It's hard to beat the experience of camping in National and State parks and forests and it's generally quite good value. As you are probably visiting a number of National parks it would make financial sense to purchase an annual pass which is currently $80. That's for a vehicle and up to 4 occupants, but will not include camping fees. When planning you should consider creating a nice loop where you can see different attractions in each direction rather than Zig-Zagging up and down. For example head into Colorado and Southern Utah [where there are numerous National parks] and then make your way to Yosemite and then down towards the Grand canyon before making your way back east. As your trip develops and more specific questions come up, just ask away !

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Planning Resources.

    As Michael said, rest areas are amongst the most dangerous places to sleep However, there are a few States, Mississippi and Florida being two of them which have night time security at rest areas. If they do, you'll see the signs. Other than that, 24 hour truck stops are the safest. They are well lit, have people coming and going all night and have all the facilities you need. Be sure to always ask at reception where to park to sleep overnight. Many have extra night time security who will keep an eye on you.

    Be aware, not all truck stops allow overnight parking - this directory lists those which do. Be sure to reward the business by filling your tank, or eating in their restaurant, or some other way. Most have shower facilities for a small price.

    Other very valuable sources for safe camping/sleeping spots are the local ranger office, BLM office or even the local law enforcement. They know the area intimately, and have often directed me to a spot which is legal and safe - often free. Bonus is that they know you are there, and are likely to keep an eye on the area in their nightly rounds. Especially when they know there are two young females alone.

    Even at the visitor centre I would sometimes get that information by asking for camping spots. I would ask them starting with BLM, State Forest, State Park, National Fores, National Park, and as a very last resort, if they did not know any of those, a commercially run campground. But they can be expensive, especially if they have the word 'resort' in their name.

    When you stop at a motel/hotel be sure to ask to see the room before you commit. Besides comfort and cleanliness, check that the smoke detector has not been disabled, and that the room has a lock which can not be opened from the outside, such as the chain lock.

    If you do not already have it, take out a roadside assistance package such as AAA. Whichever you have, check how much towing they will cover. I have been towed hundreds of miles, and found the top plan covered all of it. Once you get out west the distances can be vast.

    For your planning, make sure you have a map of every State you plan to cover, or a road atlas. If you are a member of AAA the maps will be free. Then you might start by following 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 are invaluable during the planning stage and essential when on the road. Don't be tempted to rely solely on your electronics. Many have done so at their peril - some fatal.

    Money saving techniques.

    Continue to do your research and when you have specific questions just post them here. Someone is bound to know the answer.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Where are you planning to find the Pacific Crest Trail? There are many, many miles of the trail through our state. How long are you planning to spend on the trail?


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