17 days out west next September
My boyfriend and I are taking our first roadtrip together out west next September. We will start in Cleveland, Ohio and want to go to the Rockies, Bryce Canyon, the Redwoods, Crater Lake, up the Oregon coast, possibly Olympic National Park, and on the way home, stop at Yellowstone and the Tetons. Does anyone know if it possible to do that all in 17 days?? Also any recommendations for routes to take, places we can't miss or general tips would be greatly appreciated. We will be tent camping and are trying to do this as cheap as possible. Thanks!!!
Tips from Oregon
Wow! That seems like quite a trip. I'm not sure about 17 days... But I do have some tips. My husband and I took a trip through N. Arizona and S. Utah last month. Bryce is amazing, but don't miss Zion - you are so close. Take the time to hike into Bryce Canyon. It's great to get a close-up perspective.
If you pass thorugh, Ashland, OR (in Southern Oregon) is a fun town with lots of great restaurants. They put on wonderful plays, including a fantastic Shakespeare festival. If you are into that, you should definitely stop there.
Portland is a nice, comfortable and beautiful city. For shopping, try downtown or NW 23rd Street or SE Hawthorne. Have a great trip!
To do this in what amounts to two weeks plus a weekend (17 days), you'd not be able to do much except drive the route. That may be good enough for you (or maybe not), but you might also consider slowing down and really see some of the places you've named -- if so, then your list is over-ambitious.
Instead, you might concentrate on the SW red rock country and Rockies (the San Juans of SW Colorado, for example), or perhaps the Yellowstone/Grand Tetons/Black Hills region.
If, on the other hand, what you really want to do is cover lots of miles and see a vast cross-section of the countryside, I think you could do these miles as planned in 17 days, no problem. You'll need a good rest when you get back home, though. :) Bob
narrow down - missing a lot
I recommend you narrow down your mileage and see so much more of Arizona / southern Utah. Definitely do not miss ZION national park. It is "the best" of all IMHO.
Day 1 - Cincinatti to Tulsa OK (long driving day)
Day 2 - Stop in Oklahoma City & see the bomb memorial
Day 2 - continue to Albuquerque NM for late overnight
Day 3 - to PETRIFIED FOREST NATIONAL PARK, AZ / Painted Desert. Spend couple hours.
Day 3 - continue to GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, AZ arriving that evening.
Day 4 - Grand Canyon
Day 5 - Drive past LAS VEGAS to ZION NATIONAL PARK, Utah
Rest of afternoon / overnight at Zion.
Day 6 - Zion to BRYCE CANYON.
(take a half-day horseback ride down into the canyon!)
Day 7 - Bryce to SALT LAKE CITY
Day 8 - to JACKSON, WY (this is the entrance to Grand Teton National Park - stay overnight in Jackson)
Day 9, 10, 11, 12 - see GRAND TETONS & YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARKS (yes it will take that long or spend 3 days at least - Huge area, many parts, many roads!)
Day 13 - drive out northeast exit of Yellowstone to Hwy. 212 "Beartooth Highway" - one of the, if not THE most scenic highway of the USA.
& then turn down to CODY, WY. This is a neat little western town. The biggest attraction is the BUFFALO BILL HISTORICAL CENTER where you could easily spend a whole day & still not see all of it.
Day 14 - Cody to DEADWOOD or LEAD, SD Deadwood is where Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok are buried. "shootout" in the town square daily, etc. Fun "western" emphasis town.
See MT. RUSHMORE (which is 1-1/2 hr away from Deadwood)
Lots more to see near Mt. Rushmore if you have the time.
Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer State Park (drive amongst the bison!), Mammoth Site.
Day 15 - Enroute home, at WALL, SD turn into BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK & drive the loop which brings you back out onto the interstate further east on your way home.
At Wall, before turning into the Badlands, is the famous "Wall Drug" big tourist store. Interesting memorabilia & old photos of the west, souvenirs, food, etc. Takes up a whole "block" (if there is such a thing in the desert!) of various attached stores.
Day 16, 17 - drive home.
2nd option of less mileage:
Stop in St. Louis - see the Gateway Arch.
Moab, Utah (very nice small town to stay in - take a jeep ride of the Canyonlands area)
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK
CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK
BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK (take a horseback ride)
*** ZION NATIONAL PARK *** !!!
up through Salt Lake City to
GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK (you'll need at least a few days here)
then home through South Dakota - seeing MT RUSHMORE, CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL, BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK, etc.
I really don't think you should head all the way over to the Oregon coast with only 17 days. You'll be missing too much and just driving.
Thank you so much for all of your help. I am taking all of your suggestions into consideration and am definately narrowing down the list of places. I just wish I had more time..........
Just keep posting your "revised" itinerary, & we'll keep helping you get organized.
Planning is half the fun!!!
I drove from north of Toronto Ontario Canada to see all of Colorado, Wyoming, & South Dakota last summer with only 17 days & that was definitely as far as we could get west, or south in that many days.
If going to 3 or more national parks, nat'l monuments, or nat'l historic sites - buy a PARK PASS. They are about $50. Gets you entry into ALL of the above and expires in one year. You can just purchase the National Park Pass at the first park entry gate you come to.
Campgrounds in the national parks are very good. Usually $12-$20 per night. Showers are about $2. Some campgrounds require reservations, others are "first come first serve". If that is the case, when you arrive in a park, head straight to the campground to "stake your claim" on a spot or there may be none left by nightfall. Once you've marked your spot, you can then leave with your vehicle to see the park. They give you a tag to post at your spot. Also most people either set up their tent or leave a towel or something under a rock on the picnic table so people can easily see the spot is taken.
Be sure to keep drinking water with you & your gas tank filled when travelling through desert / mountain areas. Sometimes the map shows a "town" but when you get there it is just a couple buildings with no services, or everything's closed early.
To keep things cheap, bring a small cooler with you. Pack a few snacks. Pick up fresh fruit or other odds & ends at grocery stores along the way. I find if you can live on groceries/healthy snacks, & just one "restaurant meal" a day, that really helps save $$$.
Hope this helps.