Do I have enough time to mostly avoid interstates?
I'm heading out in late July and have 2 to 3 weeks to wander. My rough plan is to hit the interstates to Little Rock, AK (I've been all over the southeast on many occasions). After Little Rock I'm aiming for Routes over Interstates. It'll end up looking like a loop jutting out from Florida to Yellowstone then down into Roswell,NM and back again. My target stops, tentatively, are - Little Rock,AK - Oklahoma City,OK - Wichita,KS - Garden City,KS - North Platte,NE - Mount Rushmore - Yellowstone - Rock Springs,WY - Aspen,CO - Santa Fe,NM - Roswell,NM - Amarillo,TX (for the 72oz. steak challenge at The Big Texan)- Austin,TX - Houston,TX and back home again via I-10.
I don't want to rush, but if I need to I can switch to Interstates. Is this do-able, or totally insane?
You can probably do this, but it'll be mostly driving; that'd be my choice anyway -- driving IS the trip for me. The Cunard Line used to have a slogan -- getting there is half the fun. Well, for ME, it's ALL the fun!
Best thing to do is plot out your trip to get an idea of the total mileage, then divide it by the number of days you'll be on the road, or divide it by the number of hours you want to drive each day to see how many days that works out to. Either way, you'll get an idea of what's possible.
You can adjust as you go. If you find you need to make 400 miles a day, and you only do 350 one day, you'll know that you have to make up the 50 miles somewhere. Doing this, you'll know how much you can stick to two-lanes, and when you need to jump on the Interstate to make up some time.
You're going to find a lot of history along your route -- if you're interested. If you are, then along with your already mentioned items, be sure to stop at Old Fort Robinson, NE; Wounded Knee, SD; Badlands Natl Park; Crazy Horse Memorial (SD); Fort Washakie (WY), South Pass and Independence Rock (WY); & Durango, CO. You'll also find northern New Mexico to be beautiful beyond belief. Check out the area around Angel Fire and Taos, if you have time.
I recommend staying loose as far as planning goes. Keep your overall plan in mind, but make your decisions about each day as you go. You'll find it is a lot more fun that way. Hope you have a great trip!
Bob, thanks for the mileage/time tips. Math has never been a strong point of mine, so the formula you laid out really helps out. Crazy Horse is a definite stop for me. Santa Fe I've been to, however it was a lightning stop on a drive out to Vegas. New Mexico has always been a favorite of mine so I'm gonna do my best to explore Taos if time allows. History and Roadside Americana are two of the major reasons I'm taking the rural routes through NE,SD, and KS. I'm open to any other suggestions you might have...and thanks again. The drive is the trip and the trip is the drive !
You can generally count on going around 50 mph on US highways if that's what you're looking at, so 400 miles is roughly eight hours of driving (compared to about six hours on the interstate.) That doesn't count stops, and you may have to allow more time if you're going through mountainous areas (tougher on US highways than interstates, since they tend to back up when you go over a pass.) But, generally, you can count on getting better time out west if there aren't mountains. I remember one US highway in west Texas that had a posted speed limit of 70 outside the towns, which were very few.
Lead and Deadwood
I'd also include these two -- they're about as wild as the Old West ever got (along with Tombstone and Dodge City, of course)! Virginia City, Montana is similar in "vein" (think gold!) -- a little pun there -- although I've not been there. Also in that area you'll find Red Lodge, Montana -- another place I haven't been yet, but Liver-eatin' Johnson was the lawman there once, so it's got to be an interesting place!
If you have your highways already chosen, send me an e-mail and I'll plug the stops into MS Streets and Trips and see what pops out. Bob