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  1. Default Advice requested for East Coast to West Coast and back summer trip

    I live in NJ and want to give my boys, ages 14 and 12, a chance to see the rest of the country. I only have 26 days to do it. We hope to do some car camping along the way. I've talked to my boys about the idea and they are excited. Here's my first attempt at a schedule. Any advice or wisdom this forum could provide would be greatly appreciated. The only MUST stay destination is the Grand Canyon, otherwise I'm completely open to suggestions.

    The mileage is just approximate, I've read enough posts on this site to understand the actual total will be more.

    Day 1 Leave HOME to Hershey, PA (son may have soccer game there) - 140 miles
    Day 2 to Madison, WV (coal mine museum) - 410 miles
    Day 3 thru Lexington, KY (churchill downs) to Louisville, KY (louisville slugger) - 270 miles
    Day 4 to St. Louis, MO (gateway arch, mississippi river) - 260 miles
    Day 5 to Baxter Springs, KS (Route 66) - 330 miles
    Day 6 to Oklahoma City, OK (oklahoma city national memorial) - 210 miles (keep moving toward Amarillo, TX?)
    Day 7 to Alburquerque, NM (nuclear science museum) - 540 miles
    Day 8 to Grand Canyon National Park, AZ - 390 miles
    Day 9 Grand Canyon National Park, AZ - 0 day
    Day 10 to San Diego, CA - 530 miles
    Day 11 San Diego, CA - 0 day
    Day 12 to Joshua Tree National Park, CA - 160 miles
    Day 13 to Las Vegas, NV & Hoover Dam - 190 miles
    Day 14 to Zion National Park, UT - 160 miles
    Day 15 to White River National Forest/Aspen, CO - 490 miles
    Day 16 White River National Forest - 0 day
    Day 17 to Denver, CO - 200 miles
    Day 18 to Omaha, NE - 540 miles
    Day 19 to Iowa City, IO - 250 miles
    Day 20 to Chicago, IL - 220 miles
    Day 21 Chicago - 0 day
    Day 22 to Dearborn, MI (Henry Ford Museum) - 280 miles (stopping along the way in South Bend, IN)
    Day 23 to Cleveland, OH (Rock & Roll) - 160 miles
    Day 24 to Niagra Falls, NY - 210 miles
    Day 25 to Syracuse Museum (Erie Canal) - 160 miles
    Day 26 to HOME! - 280 miles

    Total approximate mileage (before factoring side trips/getting lost/etc.) 6380 miles.

    Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    304

    Default

    That looks exhausting to me with a lot of trapped-in-the-car time. Checks the boxes for quantity ok but is it enough quality?

    When in Chicago visit the museum of science and industry. Tour the captured U-boat.
    (My nuclear submarine shipmate and I determined we could have gotten it underway - and neither of us speak German!)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default More time 'chilling' perhaps.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Whereas your trip is certainly doable on paper the same question as above sprung to mind, is there enough quality time for it to be really fun for the boys. There are some long days in the car and they might start to get agitated. You know them better than anyone, but maybe cutting back and enjoying more quality time in the fresh air might be beneficial.

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

    Default

    Example: Day 7. How are you going to drive 540 miles AND see a museum?

    Just out of curiosity, where are you going to stay in Baxter Springs KS? I'm not aware of any facilities there, it's an old tiny Route 66 town.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Your plan looks like it could work to me. There's really no single leg that stands out as a problem. Most of the time, you've got short enough driving days on the road where you should have plenty of time to camp and look for things to do and explore along the way.

    However, as others have mentioned, the fact that there are very few places you are staying for even two days could make this overwhelming too. That's an extra big concern if you're going to be looking to set up and tear down camp on a daily basis. There may be cases where you'd actually be better off having some longer days on the road, so you have the chance to actually set up and explore some areas for more than a day.

    It really comes down to how you like to travel, but that's something to keep in mind.

  6. Default took feedback and made some revisions!

    Thank you all for the feedback. Super helpful to me to bounce ideas off you all. I kinda felt like I had to make it to CA but I don't HAVE to. I think this revised trip gives us more time to camp/hike in Grand Canyon and Colorado mountains and I further scaled back any longer days, now there is nothing over 500 miles. Keep the input coming! It is appreciated!

    Day 1 Leave HOME to Hershey, PA (son may have a soccer game) - 140 miles
    Day 2 to Madison, WV (coal mine museum) - 410 miles
    Day 3 thru Lexington, KY (churchill downs) to Louisville, KY (louisville slugger) - 270 miles
    Day 4 to St. Louis, MO (gateway arch, mississippi river) - 260 miles
    Day 5 to Baxter Springs, KS (Route 66) - 330 miles
    Day 6 thru Oklahoma City, OK (oklahoma city national memorial) to Amarillo, TX - 470 miles
    Day 7 to Alburquerque, NM (nuclear science museum) - 290 miles
    Day 8 to Grand Canyon National Park, AZ - 390 miles
    Day 9 Grand Canyon National Park, AZ - 0 day
    Day 10 Grand Canyon National Park, AZ - 0 day
    Day 11 to Las Vegas, NV & Hoover Dam - 270 miles
    Day 12 to Zion National Park, UT - 160 miles
    Day 13 to White River National Forest/Aspen, CO - 490 miles
    Day 14 White River National Forest - 0 day
    Day 15 White River National Forest - 0 day
    Day 16 to Denver, CO - 200 miles
    Day 17 to North Platte, NE - 265 miles
    Day 18 to Omaha, NE - 280 miles
    Day 19 to Iowa City, IO - 250 miles
    Day 20 to Chicago, IL - 220 miles
    Day 21 Chicago - 0 day
    Day 22 to Dearborn, MI (Henry Ford Museum) - 280 miles (stopping along the way in South Bend, IN)
    Day 23 to Cleveland, OH (Rock & Roll) - 160 miles
    Day 24 to Niagra Falls, NY - 210 miles
    Day 25 to Syracuse Museum (Erie Canal) - 160 miles
    Day 26 to HOME! - 280 miles



    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Example: Day 7. How are you going to drive 540 miles AND see a museum?

    Just out of curiosity, where are you going to stay in Baxter Springs KS? I'm not aware of any facilities there, it's an old tiny Route 66 town.
    Good point about Day 7, so I made the longer day the day before. Baxter Springs is more of a holding spot - representing about how far I want to get that day. Once I'm happy with the overall big picture plan I'll start planning out exact campsites/motels/hotels etc.

    Thank you in advance for your continued feedback!

  7. Default

    Quick comment on Day 3...Churchill Downs is in Louisville, KY...though Lexington is a lovely city surrounded by beautiful horse farms...might be fun to visit Kentucky Horse Park.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Good trips often start out with too much planned and then a heavy scale-back. Here are some comments I have about your 2nd draft:

    You will have to buy your tickets to the Gateway Arch ahead of time. I believe that requirement is all the way through 2016. It is completely closed now through end of March of this year, for renovation. So be sure to check online and pick up your tickets there.

    The Nuclear Museum in Albuquerque is fascinating - or at least, it was to my husband and I. It is definitely a lesson in both nuclear science *and* history! Allow at least 3-4 hours. Check for its hours of operation and then plan your arrival time in ABQ accordingly.


    Donna

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default

    Just a couple of suggestions. Consider leaving GC after lunch on day 10 and then leave Vegas the following day after lunch and spend 2 nights at Zion NP. The way it is means you adding almost 400 miles of driving for a few hours in Vegas and Zion.

    Have you considered breaking the journey to Aspen ? You will be rushing through some possible breath taking scenery that you could enjoy given a bit more time. You could stopover in Arches NP for example and you would have time to take Utah scenic 12 to UT24 that drives right by Bryce canyon and Capital Reef NP's. You won't have a lot of time to stop but the rock formations and views are so worth it !

    Unless you have plans in some of the City's you have listed on the way back, these are the days you could perhaps add extra miles to your driving days and spend more time in the natural wonders.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
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    Default

    I'm in agreement with Dave, for a trip where you seem to be interested in camping, hiking, and nature, it seems a bit strange how you are really just blowing through Utah. The longest drive of your entire trip (day 13) is a drive where you'd otherwise be going past more than a half dozen National Parks and Monuments. I'd think you'd want to check out at least a couple of them (Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands).

    On the other hand, you're giving yourself 4 days to get from Denver to Chicago and then 5 days to get from Chicago back to NJ - and both of those drives could be done in as little as 2 days.

    That's not to say you shouldn't give yourself time to explore places east of Denver, but if you're going to take the time and energy to drive all the way out to the American West, most people want to make the most of the time out there. Think of it this way, you could go see the sites around Detroit and Cleveland sometime when you have a long weekend, but if you want to see the National Parks of Utah, you'd either have to take another multiple week trip, or get on an airplane. Again, that's not to say what you have down right now is bad, and if those places in the east are all top priority stops, then you're in good shape. It's just something to think about.

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