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  1. Default Maryland to SW (Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon, etc)

    Hitting the road for approx. 3 weeks to drive from Maryland to the GrandCanyon/bryce/Zion etc area. 5 kids in the car - we love to stop along the way at odd little places. Looking for suggestions of the odd and unusual plus the must-sees. We'll be camping along the way for most of the trip

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Long and the Short of It

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    I'm assuming that your three weeks encompasses a round-trip to the Canyon. So it may not be as long as you think for the task you have at hand. Especially with five children in tow, you'll need to make more frequent (and longer) stops and won't be able to drive as late into the evening as we usually envision when setting out timelines for RoadTrips. Needing to set up camp each evening and strike it in the morning will also slow you down a fair bit. I'd say a minimum of five driving days each way, perhaps a little more. I'd also suggest you break up the major east-west legs with a 'day off' somewhere in the middle to give the kids and drivers a break. That would still leave you a week or so in the Petrified Forest/Grand Canyon/Zion/Bryce Canyon area. So, a few details and suggestions.

    First, plan on two different routes out and back so that you're constantly discovering new things to see. Two possible basic routes would be I-81 down to Knoxville TN and I-40 west to Flagstaff; work your way up through Utah seeing Zion, Bryce Canyon, maybe Capitol Reef and/or Canyonlands, and Arches; and finally head home along I-70. As for what to see along the way I have two basic suggestions. The first is to plan on making multiple short stops each day so that everybody gets some fresh air and exercise. The second is to get a good wall map of the US and plot your basic route(s) on it, then let the kids see what they can find along those routes that interests them.

    Finally, a few general notes. Your best bets for camping are state parks and national forests, both are generally quieter and lower cost than other options. National parks tend to fill up early and completely, plus some of them can get pricey. The same is true for commercial campgrounds which can cost almost as much as a decent motel. Plan on buying an annual parks pass at the first national park or national monument that you come to. For $80, that pass will be good for entry fees to each member of the system you come to for you and everyone in your car. Camping, however, will be extra. Also, depending on their ages, plan on signing the kids up for the Junior Ranger Program at each individual park. The program is free, will give the kids some fun and educational activities to perform, and will earn them some badges, certificates, and other souvenirs.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Getting the children to do the nitty gritty.

    A camping holiday with five children is such a memorable activity. I have fond memories of the times we spent a few weeks camping with our five. But I am also well aware that it takes longer. I like Buck's idea of spending a day in one place along the road. There is just so much to choose from.

    Firstly, do you have good detailed maps? If not, that is where I suggest you start. AAA has excellent maps (free to members), or you might prefer a road atlas such as the Rand McNally. Now when you have good maps, you might like to follow the advice in the following paragraph, also written by the above member.

    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.
    Depending on the children's ages, get them to do much of the research for you. Most, if not all attractions are on these maps, and scenic routes are highlighted. Be sure to take the maps with you on the road. Don't be tempted to rely solely on your electronics. Besides, it is a perfect opportunity to get the children to practice their map reading skills. Skills which are so often ignored, yet so essential.

    Check the attractions tab on this site, and do some research for yourself on the web for more attractions which would interest your family.

    One thing you might consider is to get each of the children to write a journal of the trip. This need not be irksome and can be done in any notebook - though a special notebook would be great to keep. 15 - 20 mins before bedtime is all it needs to note down the most memorable parts of the day. These can then be illustrated with ticket stubs, or a twig/leaf picked up along th4e way. What ever interests the children. Even a three year old can do this with a little help from Mum or Dad. Draw pictures of what he/she recalls, and include special souvenirs of the day. An adult can add the words. These journals are great to look back on later. My grandchildren now have a shelf full of journals.

    Enjoy the planning.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Secure your NP campgrounds.

    You really need to consider booking your campgrounds in these National parks asap as they are popular and can sell out pretty fast.

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