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  1. Default 5,500 Mile Road Trip Agenda - Comments/Criticism Are Appreciated!

    Hello again everyone, your help assisted me in last years solo 24-day trip from Buffalo that included Pike's Peak, Moab, Grand Teton NP, Yellowstone NP, and Mount Rushmore. I had posted some preliminary plans for this year's trip late last year. I have begun to fill in the details which currently are listed below. This year's solo journey will include Boulder, Co., Rocky Mountain National Park, Utah Ski Country, Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho, 9 nights at Glacier National Park (lots of 10-15 miles hikes), and home through the upper peninsula of Michigan.

    I haven't been to any of these places before and am excited about exploring. It looks like currently the trip will have 17 nights in campgrounds (tent baby!), 3 nights in hotels, 2 nights in a cabin, 1 night in a fire lookout tower, and 1 night in a Forest Guard Station. I have three hell days of driving (including the first two right off the bat). Based on last year's expenses, I expect that total cost will be around $3,500 including around $300-400 for gear before I leave.

    Any comments that you have regarding the route, the schedule, or anything I'm missing would be greatly appreciated! Thanks again for your help last year in making that trip (also around 5,500 miles) a success.

    Friday, August 29th - Buffalo to Springdale, Iowa (Econolodge)
    727 miles

    Saturday, August 30th - Springdale to Fort Morgan, Colorado (Super 8)
    717 miles

    Sunday, August 31st - Fort Morgan to Boulder to Rocky Mountain State Park -
    Moraine Park Campground
    160 miles

    Monday, September 1st - Rocky Mountain State Park - Moraine Park Campground
    0 miles

    Tuesday, September 2nd - Rocky Mountain State Park - Moraine Park Campground
    0 miles

    Wednesday, September 3rd - Rocky Mountain State Park to Colton Guard Station (Rental Guard Station in National Forest), Vernal, Utah
    325 miles

    Thursday, September 4th - Colton Guard Station to Redman Campground Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
    230 miles

    Friday, September 5th - Redman Campground to Stanley Lake Campground, Stanley, Idaho
    390 miles

    Saturday, September 6th - Stanley Lake Campground to McCart Lookout, (Rental Fire Lookout Tower; Hike-In 1.5 miles) Sula, Montana
    205 miles

    Sunday, September 7th - McCart Lookout to Glacier National Park - Bowman Lake Campground
    305 miles

    Monday, September 8th - Glacier National Park - Bowman Lake Campground
    0 miles

    Tuesday, September 9th - Glacier National Park - Bowman Lake to Many Glacier Campground
    115 miles

    Wednesday, September 10th - Glacier National Park - Many Glacier Campground
    0 miles

    Thursday, September 11th - Glacier National Park - Many Glacier Campground
    0 miles

    Friday, September 12th - Glacier National Park - Many Glacier Campground
    0 miles

    Saturday, September, 13th - Glacier National Park - Many Glacier Campground
    0 miles

    Sunday, September 14th - Glacier National Park - Many Glacier to Two Medicine Campground
    45 miles

    Monday, September 15th - Glacier National Park - Two Medicine Campground
    0 miles

    Tuesday, September 16th - Glacier National Park to Bismarck, North Dakota
    680 miles

    Wednesday, September 17th - Bismarck to Itasca SP, Minnesota (Bear Paw Campground
    305 miles

    Thursday, September 18th - Itasca to Copper Falls State Park, Wisconsin
    270 miles

    Friday, September 19th - Copper Falls to Wilderness SP, Michigan (Sturgeon Bay Cabin)
    350 miles

    Saturday, September 20th - Wilderness State Park (Sturgeon Bay Cabin)
    0 miles

    Sunday, September 21st - Wilderness State Park to Pinckney State Recreation Area, Michigan (Crooked Lake Campground)
    280 miles

    Monday, September 22nd - Pinckney State Recreation Area to Buffalo
    380 miles

    5500 miles total
    Last edited by toddnick; 03-31-2008 at 11:33 AM.

  2. #2

    Default First thoughts

    I am afraid that I'm not familiar with many of the areas through which you are travelling but the mileage that you are looking to cover on the first two days rings alarm bells. Generally we would recommend no more than 500 miles driving per day although we've all been known to do more than that. However the real problem lies when you do a 'double stint' and try to cover serious mileage again the following day. Is there a reason that you are looking to press on to Fort Morgan on day two? Could you not spread the journey to Rocky Mountains NP over the full three days?

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

    Default long days

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I agree that your first two days are really pushing things, especially for back to back days. Even if you spaced it out so you're driving just 100 more miles on day 3, I think you'll be better off and still have time to enjoy RMNP.

    The other mega driving day I see is your trip from Glacier to Bismarck. I've made that trip before, and it is a long day. We left in the morning, and didn't pull into camp until after 10pm, without any specific stops along the way.

    If you do camp there, Fort Abe Lincoln is a nice state park that we used.

    However, I would recommend breaking this up. I'd cut out a day at Glacier and instead just try to get to say Glendive, MT. Then spend a day exploring the badlands of Montana and North Dakota, including Teddy Roosevelt NP.

  4. Default Long Days

    I realize that there are three long days in my agenda (all around 700 miles), the reason for this is to maximize my time at Glacier National Park and to see as many other wonderful Rocky Mountain destinations in Utah, Idaho, and Montana as possible.

    Last year, I had one day that was about 650 miles (St. Louis to Colby, Kansas) and that wasn't a problem. The first few days I will be so psyched up to see the Rockies again that it shouldn't be as big an issue to do back-to-back "700 Club" days as it would be later in the trip.

    I always enjoy driving new roads (these are all new to me) and to be honest the three days I have chosen for the long jaunts are all the least interesting scenery-wise and I'd like to minimize the time I spend in these areas.

    I also gain an hour (time-zone wise) each of the first two days. I expect to leave Buffalo on Day 1 about 6:00 AM and arrive in Springdale by 6:00 PM even with an hour of meal stops along the way. Day 2, I figure to start by 7:30AM and be in Fort Morgan by 7:00 PM (based on about 57MPH average on major highways). So, I'd be driving in daylight pretty much both days which is much less strenuous in my opinion. Is it really all that crazy to put these two days back-to-back?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default knowing yourself

    You know your own limitations more than anyone else, but I think you'll be pushing yourself.

    While it doesn't sound like a lot, an extra 70 miles at the end of the day can really be the difference between an enjoyable day of driving and a slog where you just can't wait to be done. That's especially true when you are looking at doing this on back to back days.

    Personally, I think you are giving yourself plenty of time in other places that you really could afford to have a much more enjoyable first 2 days. If you cut both of those first two days down to the 650 mark, you would only be an extra 100-150 miles from RMNP on day three, and I don't think that would have a big impact on your overall ability to enjoy the park.

  6. Default Modification

    OK. I probably can bend a little. But I want to get to Rocky Mountain National Park reasonably early (by 3PM) and that is after exploring Boulder for a few hours. This said, I could add 100 miles onto Day 3 and meet these criteria. So, how about.....

    Friday, August 29th - Buffalo to Springdale, Iowa (Econolodge)
    727 miles

    Saturday, August 30th - Springdale to Fort Morgan, Colorado (Super 8)
    717 miles

    Sunday, August 31st - Fort Morgan to Boulder to Rocky Mountain State Park -
    Moraine Park Campground
    160 miles

    change to....

    Friday, August 29th - Buffalo to Davenport, Iowa
    690 miles

    Saturday, August 30th - Davenport to Julesburg, Colorado
    650 miles

    Sunday, August 31st - Fort Morgan to Boulder to Rocky Mountain State Park -
    Moraine Park Campground
    260 miles

    This keeps me under 700 miles for each of the three nasty driving days...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default My 2 Cents

    Stop being so specific with you travel destinations. I see that you've even posted what hotels you will stay at. I've only prebooked hotels for places like San Francisco and the Black Hills where hotels are limited and expensive. Just take your driving days in stride and see how you feel. There have been times when I've driven 13 hours two days in a row and other times when I could only manage 4-5 before wearing out. It all depends on you.

    But 5500 miles over 24 days is fine. I did 4100 in 10 days last summer. Other than that I've never really traveled in that section of the country. But it does sound like a fantastic trip. Good Luck and please post back when you return. We love to hear roadtrip stories.


  8. Default Reservations

    Actually, I haven't made any hotel reservations yet. These are just markers to measure mileage on my mapping software (as well as possible destinations).

    The only reservations I have made so far are for the nights in the Guard Station, The Firetower Lookout, and the cabin in Michigan because they are unique and reservable. Many of the campgrounds (including those at Glacier National Park that are the most desirable) are first-come, first-served. Most campgrounds (other than Glacier) shouldn't be full after Labor Day anyway.

    I found last year that it is good to have a general route with reasonable mileages for reference but that you can massage the schedule if you want. Last year, I subtracted a day in St. Louis early in the trip and replaced it with an additional night in Minneapolis towards the end of the trip.

  9. Default

    I'm no seasoned roadtripper by any stretch of the imagination but...I do agree that it might be better to cut out some of the mileage of the first 2 days. Boulder is a cool little town, but you might be better just passing through it briefly and heading straight up into RMNP. Or, visit Golden CO instead and tour the Coors Brewery!! Of course, they give you free beer at the end of the tour and you may not want to drive around alot after that : )
    You'll love the drive from RMNP over into Utah and up into idaho. That was the sum of my road trip last summer and I loved it. Breathtaking views while driving over the Rockies. But give yourself plenty of time because you WILL want to pull off at the many "scenic" reststops that they have. Also, consider stopping at Red Rock Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO- just outside of Denver. SO cool ! Also, if you go over the Rockies on the interstate, stop at a little town called Frisco- very pretty lake and nice place to stop and eat. Also, Try to stop and visit the Colorado National Monument Park in Grand Junction, CO, if you go that route- it was awesome.
    Have a great time!!

  10. Default Thanks

    Thanks for your input. As I review my plans on leaving Rocky Mountain National Park, I realized that my plans take me West on Route 40 though Steamboat Springs and into Utah (this is all well North of I70). I have read that Berthoud Pass and the Winter park area of Route 40 is amazing and I'm now considering leaving RMNP on the East side and taking an extra 1 1/2 hours to travel South on Route 119 to I70 and then West to Empire before heading North on Route 40 through Berthoud Pass and Winter Park.

    I loved Independence Pass and the approach to Aspen from Leadville which I travelled last year. I also did Vail and Breckenridge areas last year as I entered the Rockies in Colorado Springs and to Pike's Peak. This year is I70 and North including Boulder.

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