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  1. Default Coast to coast in 6 weeks

    My wife and I are currently planning a 6 week trans-US roadtrip beginning in the end of July and ending in the beginning of September. We'll be starting out from central California and our main waypoints that we would like to make include the Pacific Northwest, Kansas and Missouri, Rhode Island, New England, and North Carolina.

    2.5 weeks into our roadrip we need to be in Kansas for a wedding, so we are trying to determine the best route to take. Would it be better to traverse the deserts of the midwest in late July when we set out or in late August on our return journey (we're driving an air-cooled van w/o AC)? We are also looking for places to stay and things to do in between our primary destinations. Being college students, we're attempting to do this as low-budget as possible. So, we're hoping to do as much camping and cheap-to-free activities as we can.

    Our main interests are in beautiful nature spots as well as historical locations. However, as a rule, we don't care much for big cities. If any of you have destination ideas, timing strategies, or survival tips we'd love to hear them.

    Matt & Jessi

  2. Default National Parks


    One of the first things I do when planning a cross country trip is locate definite places I want to visit. Your interests seem to mirror what is available in our National Parks/Monuments. The National Parks Pass which is valid for 1 year costs just $50.00. You should check out the National Parks Website to see which sites you wish to visit then plan your route. I have planned 6 such trips. Once a general route was determined, I emailed each state we were to pass through and had them send any free info. There is a wealth of free information available. Individual towns are also very helpful in providing free info.

    We really do not like many of the big cities either. As far as the desert, I have crossed during both months. They were similar the years we went. Any other questions, please ask.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Deserts of the Midwest?

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Would it be better to traverse the deserts of the midwest in late July when we set out or in late August on our return journey (we're driving an air-cooled van w/o AC)?
    You've really got me puzzled here, what areas are you talking about when refering to the "deserts of the midwest?" Other than maybe the badlands, I can't think of any part of the midwest that could be catagorized as a desert.

    In terms of desert crossing tips in general, I don't think there is a huge difference between picking July or August. You certainly have the chance of very hot weather in either month, although the sun does go down slightly earlier in August, which should have things cooling off a little more quickly in the evening.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Plains -- Yes, Deserts -- No

    Quote Originally Posted by mnj
    Would it be better to traverse the deserts of the midwest in late July when we set out or in late August on our return journey
    Like Midwest Michael mentioned above, you are unlikely to encounter any "deserts" along your route. To find the deserts you need to drive the south western sections of the USA. As far as whether July or August is better for travels in the midwest -- I would suggest late August.


  5. #5


    The National Parks Pass which is valid for 1 year costs just $50.00. They give you a pass that is similar to a credit card. It covers any entrance fee to the national parks. It will not pay the parking fee at Mount Rushmore but if you plan to visit a few parks it is well worth the investment. 80 % of the proceeds from the pass go directly to park preservation, restoration and any other park projects. Along with the pass you get a great little hand book that lists all the parks, historical sites, monuments ect. …

  6. Default

    Thanks for the tip! We'll definitely be getting a National Parks pass... and my wife has started perusing the websites of the states we'll be passing through to see about requesting information

  7. Default

    Sorry, I misspoke when I said "midwest". I should have said the southwest -- it just goes to show how well traveled I am. I hadn't considered that there would be a perceptible difference in the time of sunset. But, it makes sense... the further from solstice that we can get. We may end up altering our route to try to avoid Arizona and New Mexico altogether and instead cross in the north through Idaho and Wyoming before heading south.

    Aside from Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone, does anyone have any must-see locations that come to mind in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, or Tennessee?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Bay Area, CA

    Default a lil bit

    Your plans sounds interesting. When I think of Montana, I immediately think of Yellowstone and Glacier National Park.The view from logan pass(where continental divide passes thru) is one of a kind. A short trail from the parking lot, hidden valley trail, gives closer views of mountains goats and bighorns. I really saw them..The goats are not very shy animals, so they come very close.

    I don't know if you will have the time, but Grand Teton National park is a quick detour from Yellowstone.
    If you want, you can get to Mt.Rushmore. Since you are going for the National Park pass, it would be good to put it to max use.

    Have fun.
    And yes, if you are looking for budget accomodations, we stayed in the much less crowded East Glacier(a acouple miles east of Glacier National Park); a place called backpacker's inn.
    Its not all that fancy, but basic needs are met.
    Its in the backyard of a busy(very busy) mexican restaurant. So no problem for food.
    Just a thought.

    Hope this helps.

    Planning a trip is half the fun.

    Last edited by cool; 06-24-2006 at 12:40 AM.

  9. #9


    There are many places aside from Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone and a lot of miles between. Although the mileage between can be an adventure in its self.
    What do you want from a vacation, excitement, adventure, rest, peace and quiet or just the thrill of the unknown? Well everyone wants something different. Although, we should all agree that a vacation is a recess from our daily lives and the stress that comes with it. Most of us can find a way to spend a relaxing vacation without traveling very far from home.
    I recommend you get the park pass first and read the manual that alone will help you decide where you will visit.. With the manual you can easily find national parks by state and region. This will help set your path of travel. . The national park pass is valid for one full year from its first use in a national park. If you ever plan on visiting a few national parks I highly recommend getting one. If interested, you can get information and even purchase a pass on-line. You can also purchase a pass at any entrance of every national park or monument.

    Mnj you asked , does anyone have any must-see locations that come to mind in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, or Tennessee?
    Well here are some places I visited and enjoyed.
    Idaho …Craters of the Moon Natl Park.
    Wyoming … Grand Teton Natl park, Yellowstone, Cody, Devils Tower Ntl Monument (visit it at sunset if you can)
    South Dakota .. Sturgis, Deadwood, Wind Cave, Mt Rushmore (a must drive is Needles highway through Custer State park besides the wildlife you get a great view of Mt Rushmore)
    We still have not explored all the Black Hills or the Bad Lands Ntl Park yet and we have been in the area twice already.
    Nebraska is a cool place to visit. You can follow the N Platte River or perhaps stop in the Scottsbluff area and see the historic sights and landmarks there.
    Montana, has lots of scenic beauty besides Glacier Nat. park and perhaps the most scenic road in all of America (the road to the sun) there are many ghost towns worth checking out between Glacier and Yellowstone.
    That said do not give up on New Mexico, Bandlier natl monument, Santa Fee are worth a visit. Utah is like a world in itself with its unbelievable landscape reminiscent of another planet.
    In a way I hope I confused you as to where you should go. America is beautiful with so much for us to see. Where ever you decide to go will leave memories of a lifetime deep within you. So remember this where ever you go, you can’t do wrong!

    As Cool said ….” Planning a trip is half the fun.”

    Good luck

  10. #10

    Default Some ideas

    We just came from eastern WA, through Idaho, and then onto Montana.

    A couple of things of note: The Road to the Sun in Glacier NP was not fully open due to immense rockslides and a ton of rain. You can still visit West Glacier and drive up to the end of Lake McDonald. Also you can visit East Glacier and drive up to Logan pass. Driving from West to east, around the park takes about 1.5 hours -- but it is worth it. This park is one of the best we have been to. Be sure to call first to get an idea if the road is open. If it is, you will have a great time. If it isn't, you will still have a great time, it will just require a bit more driving.

    While in Montana, I would suggest not taking the interstate. The landscape of Montana is some of the most awe inspiring of the country (for example: from East Glacier NP to Helena, you can either take RT-2 to I-15 and down, or you can take RT-2 to SR-89 to SR-287 and "see" Montana -- and the speed limit is still 75 in spots).

    Also in Idaho, up north, in Coeur d'Alene, I would suggest going to the White House for dinner -- a rather interesting place and a lot of fun (if you like garlic).

    Enjoy your trip!

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