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  1. Default NY/Shenandoah/Blueridge Parkway/Smokey Mountains/Kentucky/Indiana/NY

    Hi,

    We're planning to go on vacation to the USA (from the Netherlands) in july/august 2017. I'm already searching the internet :-) . We will be travelling with our (then) 15 year old daughter. We're planning to start in New York city, stay there for 3 nights to see some highlights and then pick up a rental car. We want to go from New York straight to Shenandoah NP and stay there for 2 nights. Then we'll take a detour for 1 or 2 night to Newport News to visit a friend. And then back to the beginning of Blueridge Parkway. I could use some advice on the following. How many days should we plan to drive the BRP to the Smokey Mountains ? Because I have back problems, I'm not able to do much hiking (one mile at the most if it is not strenuous) so we'll probably just stop at scenic overlooks, have lunch etc..... Where should we plan an overnight stay? At Smokey Mountains we want to drive Newfound Gap road and go to Clingmans dome. Would two nights be enough? Then we want to go to Winchester, Kentucky. From Winchester, we want to visit Daniel Boone National Forest and a horse park ( my daughter loves horses
    :-) ). We're thinking about 3 nights here. Any suggestions? From Kentucky we're going to Indiana (Indiana Dunes) where we plan to rent a vacation home for at least 5 days so we can visit Chicago and some friends who live in Indiana. And then it's straight back to New York (I guess that will take 2 days) to fly back home. My husband and I have been in the USA before, but since we always stayed with friends we're not experienced drivers in the USA. So advices and suggestions are welcome :-) . Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,190

    Default Suggestions

    Welkom! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Your overall scheduling looks quite reasonable, but I do have a few suggestions that might help you make the most of your time in the US. First for your drive from New York City do NOT use I-95 down through New Jersey and Maryland to Shenandoah National Park. Instead leave NYC to the west on I-78 to I-81 near Harrisburg PA and follow that down to near Front Royal VA. That will be the northern end of the Skyline Drive which runs through the park and then hooks up with the Blue Ridge Parkway. Driving the entire lengths of those two scenic roads can take the better part of two days due to the low speed limits, meandering nature of the roads, and number of scenic pullouts. As with any national park, monument, forest or other lands, be sure to check in at the visitors centers or ranger stations to get their advice. Neither my wife nor I can take long strenuous hikes either, but they always seem to have suggestions for good, short, flat walks that let us get the best out of their particular park.

    If your really want to drive the entire length of the Skyline/Blue Ridge, then coming in from the north as recommended above not only let's you avoid some horrendous traffic and tolls, but also sets you up to start right at the northern end of roads. For your little 'detour' down to Newport News, you would leave the Blue Ridge near Waynesboro VA and take I-64 down to Virginia's Historic Triangle area, and take the same road back. On either leg of that detour you could visit Thomas Jefferson's Monticello outside Charlottesville. Here's a possible timing that might work for you. On the day you leave NYC, drive as far as the Winchester/Front Royal area and spend the night. Then the next day set out on your exploration of Shenandoah National Park and plan on getting at least to Waynsboro and possibly as far as Richmond. That would set you up to drive to Newport News the next day. Spend as long as you will in Newport News then on the day you return to the Blue Ridge Parkway, try to get as far as Roanoke. That will leave you a good day's drive (with time for scenic pullouts and short walks) to get down to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

    On your way to Lexington, don't forget the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area at the south end of the Daniel Boone National Forest. And then in the Lexington/Winchester KY area there are several Bed and Breakfasts on actual horse farms that I think would suit your needs. Just do a search on "horse farm bed breakfast Lexington KY".

    For your final two legs, up to the Chicago area and back to New York, I don't have quite as many suggestions. Those legs will mostly be on Interstate Highways, I-64/I-65 up to Chicago and I-80 back to New York. The drive from Lexington to Chicago can be done in a day, while the drive to New York will require an overnight stop. Given that your trip seems to be about seeing natural settings rather than urban ones, I'd suggest that you look to stop around Clarion PA, a small college town. That would also set you up, if you so wished, to finish your drive off with another scenic route by first heading up PA-66 to Kane and then following US-6 across northern Pennsylvania to Scranton and then using I-380 to rejoin I-80 into NYC.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 02-01-2016 at 09:16 AM. Reason: Typos

  3. Default

    Thanks a lot for your suggestions and advice!
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 02-01-2016 at 07:18 AM. Reason: Removed quote of entire previous post

  4. Default

    The plans have changed a little bit. We're not flying back from NY but from Chicago. That gives us an extra day which we'll spend at a friend's house in Newport News, who will take us to Williamsburg and Jamestown. Now we've been offered to stay at a cabin near BRP in Floyd County, Virginia for a night. As we'll leave from Newport News to go to BRP I wonder if it is not too much of a drive to start in Afton and go to Floyd to stay there for the night. I wonder if it is better to start somewhere else to fully enjoy the BRP and not rush it. Any advice?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,065

    Default

    Newport News to Afton is about 160 miles via I-64, should be about 3 hours. Afton to Floyd via the BRP is about 160 miles, should be no more than than 5 hours unless you make a lot of stops. Doable in one day.

  6. Default

    thank you for your reply!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,190

    Default New York to Newport News

    Since you are now, apparently, not going direct from New York to the northern terminus of Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, my previous advice about taking I-78/I-81 doesn't really apply anymore. However, the advice to avoid the New Jersey Turnpike/I-95 still holds. If your plans now call for a more or less direct route from New York to Newport News, then let me offer the following suggestion instead. You've got a couple of options for leaving New York City, but your goal now would be the Garden State Parkway south. You could either take one of the bridges or tunnels west out of Manhattan to the New Jersey Turnpike and then switch over to the Parkway at Exit 11, or if you're leaving from Brooklyn, take the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and I-278 to NJ-440 and the Parkway.

    Continue on the Garden State Parkway (toll unfortunately) all the way to Cape May and use NJ-109/US-9 to the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. On the Delaware side, you can enjoy some of the beaches (less crowded than those in New Jersey) but you might also just want to take US-9/DE-1/DE-24 to US-113 south to US-13. If I were to make a major stop anywhere along this route it would be in the Chincoteague area of Virginia. Taking VA-175 east through NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility would bring you to the town of Chincoteague and the Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge and Tom's Cove Hook Area of Assateague National Seashore.

    Return to and/or continue down US13 to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and cross over to the Norfolk/Newport News area to complete your journey. While the above routing will take a fair bit longer and costs a bit more, especially with the ferry ride, it is a far more relaxing and enjoyable drive and, as I say, the way I'd go given the choice.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 09-24-2016 at 03:57 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,065

    Default

    If you don't want to spend the time to take the ferry, I'd take the NJ Turnpike/I-295/I-95 into Delaware, then DE-1 south to Dover, then US-13 to the Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Lots of tolls this way too, hard to avoid with your routing. You may want to inquire about an "EZ-Pass" for the rental car, this is a transponder that works on all toll roads, bridges, and tunnels you will find in the northeast, but not on the ferry.

    Another option is get off DE-1 at Odessa, take DE-299 to US-301 to US-50 to Bowie, then US-301 south to US-17 into the Hampton Roads area.

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