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  1. Default 24 days across America

    Long story short, a friend and I are looking at doing a 24 day trip across the country in Fall, 2017. I've done a very rough sketch out of the route, and I figure this is what we'll do.

    Toronto, ON - Seattle, WA, w/ overnights en route in Wisconsin Dells, WI; Wall, SD; and Butte, MT.
    Planning on staying 2 nights in Seattle.
    Sights to see:
    • kitschy sights along the way
    • Minuteman missile silo
    • Mt. Rushmore
    • Devils Tower
    • Little Bighorn Battlefield.

    I figure that we'd allow for an hour at Mt. Rushmore, and the other "sights" will be a "stretch your legs and take a photo or two" type of affair.

    Seattle, WA - Portland, OR
    Planning on staying 2 nights in Portland.

    Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA
    Planning on staying 3 nights in San Francisco.

    I'm not sure what sights would be best to see en route - so I'm open to suggestions!

    San Francisco, CA - Los Angeles, CA
    Planning on staying 1 night in Los Angeles, CA.

    I'm planning on taking Hwy. 1 down the coast, and figure there will be lots of good pull-off spots to take photos, stretch the legs, etc. I've taken note of a few interesting bridges I'd like to see and photograph, as well as the McWay Waterfall Trail in Big Sur which looks pretty sweet.

    Los Angeles, CA - Las Vegas, NV
    Planning on staying 1 night in Las Vegas, NV.

    Las Vegas, NV - Grand Canyon, AZ
    Planning on staying 1 night in Flagstaff, AZ.

    I'm planning to see the Hoover Dam (by way of driving over it and/or snapping a few pics (neither of us have any real desire to do a tour or anything), stop in Chloride, AZ and be in the Grand Canyon (South Rim) with enough time to get some great pics in daylight.

    Flagstaff, AZ - El Paso, TX
    Planning on staying 1 night in El Paso, TX.

    El Paso, TX - Austin, TX
    Planning on staying 1 night in Austin, TX.

    I'm planning on stopping at the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall, TX en route to Austin, which I think will require a pretty early start out of El Paso - especially given the time change between El Paso and the rest of TX.

    Austin, TX - Vacherie, LA
    Planning on staying 1 night in Vacherie, LA.

    I'm planning on stopping en route to Vacherie at the Tabasco factory in Avery Island, LA.

    Vacherie, LA - Mobile, AL
    Planning on staying 1 night in Mobile, AL.

    Planning on stopping en route to Mobile in Biloxi, MS, to see the historic lighthouse (and maybe grab lunch!).

    Mobile, AL - Daytona Beach, FL
    Planning on staying in Daytona Beach, FL for a total of 5 nights.

    Daytona Beach, FL - Atlanta, GA
    Planning on staying 1 night in Atlanta, GA to see a friend.

    Atlanta, GA - Toronto, ON
    And, home.


    Now, I've never done a road trip of this magnitude, and I figure that, since we are staying with family in Florida, we have a buffer of a day or two on the way to FL. I know that some days will be very driving intensive (esp. the leg out to Seattle and from Atlanta to home - although I did Atlanta-home in May in 13 hours nearly on the nose).

    In any event, my question really is - is this feasible? What alterations would you make/suggest? Any tips on lodging, where to eat, etc., for folks who have done any potion of this trip?

    Thanks in advance! Comments and suggestions are always welcome :)


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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I really think you're setting yourself up for an exhausting (at times to the point of being dangerous) trip, where you're going to have very few good memories.

    At the heart of your trip, you're just not giving yourself enough time to enjoy anything. From Toronto to Seattle, you need at least one more night to make the trip safely, much less have any time at all to make any extra stops.

    There are numerous other examples where you haven't given yourself hardly any time to explore anywhere. For example, from SF to LA via the coast highway requires 2 days on the road, and even if you skip the coast and just take the freeway, your 1 night in LA means you will have essentially no time to see anything in the city, since you will need to be back on the road to Vegas the next day (repeat the same problems with Vegas and the Grand Canyon.)

    Finally, driving from Atlanta to Toronto in one sitting is dangerous to the point of extreme recklessness. If you did it in 13 hours, then you had to be driving at extremely dangerous speeds (The only way you can average 73 mph over such a distance is by having your cruising speed well in excess of 90 mph) and not taking any breaks. If you were a professional driver, you would lose your license for driving more than 50% more miles than allowed by law.

    In any case, trying to do such a dangerous distance at the end of an already exhausting trip is just a recipe for a disaster.

    My advice, if you've only got 24 days, and you want to see the west coast, and then see the west coast. That means actually giving yourself enough time to drive there, and to actually see it once you get there. Getting rid of the detour to Daytona Beach and starting to make your way home after say Texas, will save you a massive number of miles, and significantly improve the amount of time you can actually spend out west. 24 Days just isn't nearly enough time to do the west coast, and spend almost a week in Florida.

  3. Default

    Hey, I appreciate the feedback. I understand what you're saying re: not enough time to see anything, for example between SF and LA - but, really, we're not looking to explore between these two points. Same with LA - neither of us have any real interest in seeing LA, and are using it mostly as a place to spend a night. Ditto for Vegas; we're content to see the strip, play some slots and hit the road. The primary goal of this trip is to hit as many cities as possible - not necessarily be a tourist in each spot. We seem to have a knack for experiencing a city with 5-8 hours of actual in the ground time.

    WRT to the route out to Seattle, I've kept the route miles to an avg. of less than 675/day. Maybe I'm just used to driving long distances, but I don't see this being a problem.

    Also, for what it's worth, I live about 40/50 miles south of Toronto; I use Toronto as a marker because few people outside of Southern Ontario know the city I reside in. That said, I can say with certainty that we never exceeded 85 mph. Typically, I set the cruise at 6-8 mph over the limit, and that keeps me at a speed that still has others passing me. We made it door-to-door in 13 hours, with stops for fuel, eats and stretches as needed.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Quote Originally Posted by dukeofwentworth View Post
    WRT to the route out to Seattle, I've kept the route miles to an avg. of less than 675/day. Maybe I'm just used to driving long distances, but I don't see this being a problem.
    I do always find it interesting when people come onto the forum and say they've "never done a trip of this magnitude" and ask if their plan is feasible, and then when they are told that it isn't, they respond with all sorts of reasons why they are special and should be able to get it done.

    675 miles is not a safe or reasonable distance to be planning on a multi-day trip. Professional drivers are legally forbidden from driving that far in a day because of safety laws, and they certainly aren't trying to add in time for detours to Mt. Rushmore or other kitschy stops.

    Driving a long distance in one day is not nearly the same thing as driving long distances day after day. It's much the same as if you tried to run a marathon the same way you run a sprint - you'd be out of energy long before you got to mile 1, much less mile 26.

    We seem to have a knack for experiencing a city with 5-8 hours of actual in the ground time.
    The point is that you're not even giving yourself 5-8 hours. Driving the coast - where the top speed is often 35 mph or under - from SF to LA is about an 18-20 hour drive. Even if you take the freeways, and are lucky enough to not be stuck in traffic for hours, you still wouldn't have 5-8 hours in LA. Personally, I don't see the point of driving all the way out to the west coast just so you can say that you've stayed at a hotel in a city, but it's your trip....

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Toronto to the Dells is over 700 miles, and you have Chicago traffic to deal with if you use I-94 to go around it. UGH! You are also hereby advised not to try to stay at the Dells on a weekend, even in the fall. BTW, my husband is a former commercial hauler. He was only allowed to drive 10 hours -- about 600 miles -- before a mandatory rest of 10 hours. He could drive 600 miles in those 10 hours, or 250, but he had to get out from behind the wheel of the rig and get out of the front seat as well, so he couldn't even ride in the passenger seat.

    Rushmore -- if you don't arrive early in the morning, plan on two hours. Just getting a place to park and walking from it to the viewpoint can take a half hour.

    Devil's Tower -- it's 30 miles off the freeway and 30 miles back. So allow an hour and 10 minutes just for the drive. You'll want to spend a half hour just gazing at the Tower, taking photos, but if you really want some great pics, take the hike around the tower. Add an hour for that.

    Little Big Horn -- it's 1/2 mile from the freeway, but you should allow at least 2 hours just to see the main points.

    I don't see why you'd want to spend $10-20 to get into these places, snap a few pictures, and move on. Seems to me an awful lot of money for a few minutes! But that's just me.


  6. Default

    Post deleted; replied to wrong post.
    Last edited by dukeofwentworth; 09-25-2016 at 08:56 AM. Reason: replied to wrong post

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    If it seemed a little snarky, it wasn't meant to be. It isn't really my style. Just pointing out that these places will charge you to come in. Mt Rushmore will cost $12 to park. I believe the entrance to Devils Tower is $10 or $15. Little Big Horn is also that. I do apologize if you thought I was rude.

    Another thing I should point out: Wall to Butte is over 600 miles without adding the 60 miles to Devils Tower, and about a 40 mile round trip down to Mt Rushmore. Hubby and I went from Wall to Three Forks this past summer, 603 miles. Our only stop was at Dinosaur Park, which was about 3 miles off of I-90. We were on the road 11 hours that day. Two years ago, we went from Custer SD to Billings with the DTNM and Little BH stops, and we were on the road well over 12 hours. Exhausting!


  8. Default

    The snark comment wasn't meat for you, my apologies! I had hit reply and believed that I was replying to the post above yours. Embarrassing! Your tips and information is very welcome and informative :)

    I appreciate the tips and suggestions! I have a spreadsheet done up with Point A and B, and stops in between with the mileage, est. drive time and build in time to see each point. I'm a planner, what can I say! I hadn't taken into account that all those spots (i.e., Devil's Tower and Little Bighorn) would require an entrance fee. Knowing this, I may need to re-think the stops along the way.

    Having 700 mile driving days doesn't really bother me; I'm traveling with at least one other person who will share the drive, so I'm not doing it alone.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    It's a fallacy to think that two drivers mean you can go further in a day. That is one reason why I pointed out that a commercial driver must go to the back. Any front seat time means you are watching the road along with the driver. It does get tiring, even when you aren't driving. From personal experience, I can tell you that more drivers than two doesn't even make it work! FBS (flat bottom syndrome), fatigue, and hypnosis sets in, even if you are sitting shotgun and not driving.

    You definitely want to go back and rethink some portions of this trip, or get more time. The other thing you didn't say is when in the "fall" this trip is going to take place. Weather can, and will, try to interrupt trips. You may need an alternative plan, or at least some good maps in your car to help plan on the fly if need be.


  10. Default

    We're looking at departing the first day of autumn, so not really that much into fall.

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