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  1. #1

    Default 48 days and a lot of stops

    I am not sure if I am allowed to really post something this big and detailed, but better to try than not to try. Some of the areas are desperately in need of some assistance. If it is a little too much, then let me know. To go through this is a lot to ask.

    It is a big road that my girlfriend and I will be going on in the summer. We have 48 days and I have budgeted about 45 days so there is a little buffer in case it is needed. The trip would start about mid May and end near the end of June. The “detail” is rough and is up for debate if:

    a) it is insane to think we can drive from A to B in a day
    b) if going through X would be a better way
    c) if we would be wasting our time going “here”
    d) Lodging “here” would be tough, so better plan to stop somewhere else
    e) Other.

    Thanks to all so far who have helped out. The assistance has really uncovered some great additions to the trip.

    I was going to try to attach a Streets and Trips file for all to play along, but I think the site only takes pics.

    Here is the route (after some tooling around, we will begin in Toronto)

    1. Toronto to Niagara Falls – I have been there a hundred times, but it’ll be the first time for my girlfriend. We’ll spend about 5 hours there, then leave for Cleveland.

    2. Niagara Falls to Cleveland. Stay in Cleveland overnight.

    3. Cleveland to Chicago. Because Chicago is a milestone on the trip, we sort of want to get there fast and enjoy it. We are toying with spending some time in Cleveland, but aren’t sure yet.

    Spend 2 nights in Chicago and then leave in the morning.

    4. Chicago to Denver -- Taking I88 out and meeting up with I80 for the long haul. We are planning to stop somewhere just passed Lincoln NB for a sleep stop. We hope to get into Denver at around 3pm the next day.

    In Denver, we plan on spending 2 nights. Mostly resting and doing some sightseeing of the city. It’s a great city.

    Need help here:

    5. Denver to Aspen

    This portion is up for debate. I am not sure if Aspen is worth the detour. Any comments? We would spend one night in Aspen. Otherwise, we would be going from Denver to The Great Sand Dunes NP.

    6. Aspen (or Denver) to Great Sand Dunes NP

    I am totally excited about this part. Sand dunes…in the USA. When you live in the east, this is unfathomable. We would spend one night here.

    Need help here

    7. Great Sand Dunes NP to the Four Corners, then to Monument Valley.

    We would stay a night in the monument valley area. I don’t hear a lot about lodging in the area, so if anyone knows if it is cool or not, please let me know.

    8. Monument Valley to Moab

    Stay the night in Moab and then get up and go to Arches NP (or else just go straight to Arches and camp there).

    Stay another night in either Moab or Arches.

    9. Arches/Moab to Canyonlands NP

    Spend a few hours in the Islands in the sky district, then leave via I70 to SR-24 to Torrey.

    10. Canyonlands to Torrey

    As mentioned, take the “Scenic Route” and stay in Torrey for one night. Thanks again for the tip on this one!

    11. Torry to Bryce

    Spend the day in Bryce and camp there. Leave at noon(ish). Hopefully this will be enough time to see the good stuff in Bryce.

    12. Bryce to Zion

    Down SR 89 to 14 to Kolob road and into Zion. Apparently this will take 3 hours to get to Zion, so we should have the afternoon to see the place. One night in Zion and leave at noon.

    Need help here

    13. Zion to the Grand Canyon.

    This portion is up for debate. My fear is: will I be sick of crazy geological formations? Will they all start to look the same after visiting Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion? We would be going to the North Rim because I have heard that it is better and has less crowds. We would be probably staying 2 nights (if we can get lodging). The problem is that we would have to go back the same route to go to Vegas which is a drag. The other option would be to go from Zion to Vegas and swing around to the South Rim from Vegas. Hmmm…..if anyone has opinions, it would be greatly appreciated.

    14. Vegas

    A couple of nights in Vegas. I’ll do what I do best: Contribute to the Nevada economy.

    15 Vegas to LA.

    Looks like the standard issue for this route. Take I15 for the most of it. I would love to go to Death Valley, but just can’t swing it due to time.

    Don’t really know what to do in LA besides go see Beverly Hills. It’s a big city, so I am sure that we will find something.

    16. LA to Big Sur along SR-1

    This is going to be amazing. The pictures I have seen are incredible. We are stopping in Big Sur to break up the drive. I am sure that we will be stopping many times along this route.

    16 Big Sur to San Fran

    San Fran is awesome, so we will be spending 3 nights there. We could spend 2 weeks there, or if I had a zillion dollars, we could purchase a 500 Square foot basement apartment and live there.

    17 San Fran to Napa

    Hopefully here, we can do a few toasts to a healthy liver. We can visit wineries, right? I saw that they did in “Sideways”, but that’s Hollywood and sometimes they stretch reality.

    17. Napa to Yosemite

    Drive SR 120 and make it to Yosemite after a few hours. The place looks amazing. I am just worried about the billions of people being there and it turning into an amusement park. We are budgeting 2 nights here, but may knock it down to 1 if we don’t like it.

    18. Yosemite to Lake Tahoe.

    Leaving from the east of the park and traveling up SR-395, we venture through Carson City and onto Tahoe. Friends of ours said it is amazing so we will spend 2 nights there.

    Need help here:

    19. Tahoe to Crater Lake NP

    This is a long drive and we will probably have to stop somewhere. Does anyone know a good place to stop along the way?

    20. Crater Lake to the Oregon Coast to Portland.

    Seeing things like the Smelt Sands Recreation center and the Dean Creek Elk Viewing area (again-- thanks for the tip on these places!). I hope to also see some lighthouses on the way. This is a long day, so we will probably arrive in Portland at night and spend the next day and night in Portland.

    21. Portland to Seattle

    3 nights in Seattle. It’s one of those cities that you hear about and see on the TV and wonder “if this place had a NHL team, then I would do whatever I could to live here”.

    22. Seattle to Glacier NP

    From Seattle through to Spokane and finally to Glacier NP. Take the Road to the Sun road. Stay 2 nights, hopefully enjoying some mountainous scenery.

    23. Glacier NP to Craters of the moon NM

    After some side roads, take SR-93 to I15 down to the Craters of the moon. Stay one night in the area.

    24. Craters of the moon to Teton NP.

    Mostly just driving through Teton NP up to Yellowstone.

    25. Teton to Yellowstone

    We won’t be spending a ton of time in Yellowstone. We will spend a few hours hopefully touring a few of the sites. It’ll be one night there too before we get up and head out.

    26. Teton to Devil’s Tower!

    I asked my girlfriend she would think it’s weird that I was going to bring some mashed potatoes in the car with us when we left Yellowstone. She didn’t get it.

    It’s mostly I90 from here on…

    27 Devil’s tower to Mount Rushmore.

    We are spending a night in Rushmore and maybe a night in the Badlands, we’ll see.

    27. From the Badlands all the way to Minnesota.

    We may not make it to the Mall of America, but it’ll be close. I hate shopping, but it might be neat to see a place so huge.

    From here, we will either go over into Canada and over Lake Huron or else go under through Chicago and back to Toronto. It’ll be the end of the trip, so we’ll probably just see the end and try to get there.

    Phew... that's it so far, but like I's up for debate considering there are still 5 months to plan it. It's going to be huge. It's going to be exhausting. Hopefully, most of all, it will be memorable.

    Thanks again to everybody who has helped (knowingly or unknowingly) on this trip so far!


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

    Default Wow!

    That looks like a great trip, I wish I could get that much time away for an adventure like that. It looks to me that you've budgeted the right amount of time for most things, but don't be afraid to take more or less time for things along the way.

    A couple suggestions I'd have:

    Instead of taking I-88 out of Chicago, I've always taken I-80 across Illinois. The travel time difference is minor, and you won't be stuck stopping every few miles for a toll booth. They also doubled the toll rates last year for anyone who doesn't have an I-Pass, so I'm guessing the one way trip would cost you at least $5. Not worth it, in my opinion.

    In Colorado, I don't see that you've included a stop at Rocky Mountain N.P., at the very least I'd swing through there on your way to Aspen, or instead of Aspen if you decide to cut that destination off your trip.

    Sand Dunes is a pretty neat park, the contrast between sand and mountain is pretty cool. Its even better if you have 4WD and can take the primative road back where you're right next to giant walls of sand. If you'll be camping in the area, there's also a state park just a few miles from the National park. We stayed there, and found it almost empty, so we much more privacy than we would have at the NP campground.

    At the end of your trip, I might spend more time in the Black Hills area and skip the mall of america. There are 2 cave national parks as well as the NP where you can go inside an old Minuteman Missle silo (i've been dying to get to that one) in that area. The Mall of America is worth stopping if you're going to go to Minneapolis anyway, but if you're tired at the end of your trip, which you might very well be, its a good 3 hours out of the way from the Badlands/Black Hills if you're heading back through Chicago. The drive over the top of the Lakes is very pretty, but will take much longer since its all most all 2 lane roads. If you are going to go up and over anyway, and you've got an extra day at that point, it might be worth going over the top of Lake Superior. The drive from Duluth to Thunder Bay is spectacular.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula


    Welcome to the forum! Wow, what a great trip you have planned!!!

    Some thoughts:

    5-6: Instead of going to Aspen, I'd go from Denver to Leadville (Leadville is just a tad east of Aspen on 24). Leadville is one of my favorite towns. Fantastic architecture and amazing views of the Rockies. The route on 24/285 to Great Sand Dunes takes you parallel to the Rockies. A fantastic drive! If you go to Leadville, go to Quincy's for dinner. You won't regret it. I have nothing against Aspen. I just like Leadville better.

    13: I don't think you'll be sick of "crazy geological formations". Each park is very different. The north side of the Grand Canyon is awesome. No doubt about it. However, I really think you're missing something by not going to the South Rim as well. The views are far more awe-inspiring from the South Rim, imho. I think there's a reason why it's the more visited side. Don't get me wrong...I love the North Rim, too. Both sides are very different from each other and have something to offer. And I'm glad I've been to both sides. If I was to go back and only had time for one side, I'd go to the South Rim. The views from there just can't be beat. The drive from the North Rim to the South Rim is gorgeous as well and really worth doing. And this way you won't have to backtrack and can just keep on enjoying new roads. New roads are always the best roads, imho.

    20: I really don't see how you're going to get from Crater Lake to the Oregon Coast and to Portland in one day and still have time to make the stops you have planned. And there are so many other things to enjoy along that coastal drive that you haven't considered. could easily budget 2-3 days for doing the Oregon Coast itself and still not see everything worth seeing. I hope you will find a way to add an extra day for this portion of your trip. And, be aware, that making good time on the coast can sometimes be difficult. It's a 2-lane highway with lots of twists and turns. If you are behind slow-moving vehicles, you might drive a LONG time before you can safely pass. So don't assume you can rush this portion of your trip. Personally, if you can't squeeze another day out for this, I wouldn't even bother. But that's me. YMMV.

    21: If you get into Portland late, you won't have any time to enjoy this wonderful city. I would suggest spending a bit of time here enjoying the Riverfront area downtown, if you can swing it. And I really wonder if you need 3 nights for Seattle. Seattle is a wonderful city. Lots to see and do. But you're missing my most favorite stop in Washington if you just zip up I-5 to rush to Seattle. Try to spend some time exploring Mt. St. Helen's. At Castle Rock, WA, you can take 504 to the Johnston Ridge visitor center. It will take you about 1.5 hours to get there. It's a gorgeous drive and worth the time. And, once there, you can peer right down into the crater that is now the peak of Mr. St. Helen's. You can see the devestation caused by this blast and it's an amazing sight. You won't regret it. Trust me on this. You could drive from Portland to Seattle in one day even with this detour but it would take pretty much that whole day to do this. It's worth it.

    Gosh, so much to see and do in Seattle: The Public Market on 1st Ave., the waterfront, The Olde Curiousity Shoppe, the space Needle, the Hiram Chittenden Locks, the fun Fremont Troll statue holding a real VW Old Beetle in his hand, The Museum of Flight (with the barn that Boeing was born in), Pioneer Square, Bill Speidel's Underground Tour, etc. You can see this in 2 days instead of 3 but you'll be busy the whole time. Enjoy!

    LOL on the mashed potatoes! It took me a while to get that one, too. :-) You're gonna need a BIG pot!

    You're gonna have a wonderful trip!!! Enjoy!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France



    Here are suggetions regarding some parts of your trip.

    We would stay a night in the monument valley area. I don’t hear a lot about lodging in the area, so if anyone knows if it is cool or not, please let me know.
    I know there are at least some chain hotels in Kayenta (Holiday Inn, Best Western) and a couple of Mom & Pop Motels. I never stayed overnight there though so I can't recommend any of those places.

    Stay the night in Moab and then get up and go to Arches NP (or else just go straight to Arches and camp there).

    Stay another night in either Moab or Arches.
    If you plan to camp, there are several campgrounds within Moab in addition to the ones located in the National Parks. Many of them are located on the banks of the Colorado river on the Upper Colorado Scenice Byway (route 128).

    For cheap lodging, try the Lazy Lizard Hostel, the Center Street Hotel or the Motel 6.

    I strongly suggest you take the hike to Delicate Arch in Arches NP, it is such an easy climb and the views are so awesome that it would be a shame to pass it by!

    This portion is up for debate. My fear is: will I be sick of crazy geological formations? Will they all start to look the same after visiting Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion?
    The obvious answer for me would be NO because every place looks different to me and no place is dreary! Bryce Canyon is only a few hours away from Bryce but these two parks are so distinctive from each other. Bryce's rock formations are kind of pinkish with sharp rock needles, you have to hike through it while Zion offers huge mountains of brownish rock and tall trees and you can drive through it.

    We would be going to the North Rim because I have heard that it is better and has less crowds. We would be probably staying 2 nights (if we can get lodging).
    For lodging try the Jacob Lake Lodge or if you run on a lower budget, get a room at the Crazy Jug Motel in Fredonia. Don't be intimidated by all the fioritura and showy stuff, their rooms are very clean.

    The problem is that we would have to go back the same route to go to Vegas which is a drag.
    Why don't you go straight from Bryce to GC North Rim and then off to Zion and skip the GC south rim? Sometimes you have to take "unpleasant" decisions like that to make a trip more pleasant. It'll just give you an excuse to go back to that area on a future trip and you'll have more time off for your upcoming trip. Maybe you should visit Death Valley instead, it is more on your way I think:-)

    Have a great trip!


  5. #5

    Default A couple of stops

    Although I'd prefer to stop in Leadville rather than Aspen as well, it you do go to Aspen and you enjoy "geological formations" check out the Maroon Bells southwest of Aspen.

    Also, a bit out of your way, but worth a stop if you like to hike - Hanging Lake off I70 just outside of Glenwood Springs.

    In California, if you have the time take CA89 between Tahoe & Oregon. On the way check out Lassen Volcanic National Park and Burney Falls in the McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial Park.

    A google search will give you info on all of these. Have a great trip!

  6. #6

    Default Great Suggestions!

    First off, the reassurance that this proposed trip isn't far fetched is awesome. Thank you all for that.

    Second, thanks for the great suggestions! I was worried about the Oregon/Washington part. There is just soooo much to see there and we'll definately have to swing by Mt. St. Helens.

    And last but not least, the suggestions/help on the Colorado/Utah/Arizona swing is awesome. I am glad that we will continued to be amazed throughout that portion by new and cool stuff.

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