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  1. Default Hold on, WB and down from Chicago...historic and authentic sites

    Making final preparations for an adventure solo winter roadtrip (midsize AWD SUV with hitch cargo rack, tent, credit cards) identified below and seeking insight and advice from the well traveled participants of the Forum. It's a dream roadtrip with a very flexible timeline and itinerary seeking all things that are historic and authentic. Can go where and as the currents push's some thoughts. Leaving Chicago on or about January 12 to Badlands, to Rapid City, to Sturgis, to Deadwood to Northern Colorado, then onto Park City, UT for skiing w/friends during week of January 18, exiting there on/about midweek to Flagstaff/Sedona/Grand Canyon (first timer), then onto Las Vegas and Hoover Dam, then to Phoenix, and then onto Tucson on/about January 25ish. Check out Nogales? Then head to Tombstone, and onto Corpus Christi and South Padre Island, TX. Catch my breath, and then head to New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras where I already have accommodations for February 4-6. Exit New Orleans for Chicago, unless something else catches my attention...I will do hotels, motels, Bed and breakfasts, boat and breakfasts, camping, history, craft brew pubs, museums, nature, whatever. Thanks for the advice! Dave H.

  2. #2

    Default Winter camping in the Northern Plains and Northern Rockies?

    Howdy Dave,

    Allow me to welcome you to the RTA Forums even though I am not a Moderator.

    Strictly on the basis of having enjoyed a number of ski trips to Copper Mountain-Beaver Creek-Vail in CO and to the splendid Park City area of UT, as augmented by some familiarity with winter weather in the Dakotas, WY, and MT, I assume you're aware of the limitations to tent camping on your route, from departure essentially all the way to Park City (where I am assuming "with friends" means indoor accomodations of some sort). Similarly, Flagstaff/Grand Canyon AZ is at 7,000' so they have real winter there in Northern AZ, so my guess is you're in frosty temps all the way to the Phoenix area. Not that it can't be done, of course, but I imagine you'll need to improvise greatly, as all or virtually all campgrounds will be closed and many of the National Forest (NF) areas where disbursed camping is allowed will be inaccessible due to winter road closures. Seeing that you're including motels, B&Bs, and camping, perhaps you're more oriented to indoor accomodations while further north.

    As you leave the Black Hills area, headed to northern CO, consider dropping down to Fort Robinson State Park in the Nebraska Panhandle. If I'm not mistaken, the cavalry barracks (a cool brick building built in 1909) are open as hotel rooms year-round, and the park's status as a finely restored US Army cavalry post makes it a cool place to visit.

    From there you can bushwhack down to Sidney, NE, where the world headquarters of Cabela's is located right on I-80. Depending on where in Northern CO you're interested in, you'd have to choose between holding I-80 all the way to just east of Rawlins, WY before dropping south into CO vs. going all the way to Denver and crossing the Front Range via I-70 or US 40 there. If you end up at Steamboat Springs, a winter night soak at Strawberry Hot Springs just north of town seems like fun. And US 40 from Steamboat all the way out to Park City is a great drive. PC has more restaurants, bars, brew pubs, etc than you can shake a stick at, and don't dismiss the places just outside of the Main Street ski-tourist area down by Kimball Junction. They're by and large newer, less expensive, very high quality, and tend to be where some of the locals hang out.

    From Phoenix to Corpus, I'd have a close look at passing through Big Bend country southeast of El Paso, where Big Bend NP and the adjacent Big Bend Ranch State Park offer loads of disbursed camping areas, back roads, and even knarly vehicle-borne trail travel and camping. Terlingua, TX is an enclave of oddballs, artists, and probably fugitives from justice right on the western border of BBNP, in between BBRSP and BBNP, and has a legendary watering hole named La Kiva, with its own tent camping sites right outside the place. I assume you're aware of the National Seashore beach driving and camping at South Padre. I think on the way from Phoenix to Corpus or from Corpus to New Orleans a night or two in Austin, taking in some live music, brewpubs, and the preliminaries of South by Southwest would be a lot of fun.


    [Mod Edit]: Foy is a senior member of the RTA road tripping brain trust and he can always "welcome" new members!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-08-2016 at 02:53 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    then to Phoenix, and then onto Tucson on/about January 25ish. Check out Nogales? Then head to Tombstone, and onto Corpus Christi and South Padre Island, TX. Catch my breath, and then head to New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras where I already have accommodations for February 4-6.
    Even camping in some of these more "southern" reaches can be a bit...chilly! For instance, tonight it is supposed to get into the mid-30s in the Phoenix area. Tucson, at slightly higher elevation, is to be about the same. So if you are talking about tent-camping, I hope your sleeping bag is rated for 0 (F) and that your tent has good stakes, as the caliche (soil) is very hard. (Bring a mallet.) Most of the public campgrounds in this area are open year-round, to my best knowledge, but you may have a little competition in the form of RV snowbirds!

    Phoenix and Tucson, and the area in between, are full of great places to see and things to do.


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