My girlfriend and I (usually along with several other friends) like to go on weekend camping/road trips, but this summer just the two of us are going to be going on our first big "road trip". We've been researching this upcoming trip for a month or so now, but I figured I'd see what kind of good ideas/advice I can get from this forum since it's such a wealth of knowledge.
We'll be leaving on the Friday of Labor Day weekend and will be heading west and we figure that we'll get as far as about Salt Lake City, UT or so. We're going to be on the road for 23 days. We have a route in mind, but it's pretty much just one of those things that we started naming off things and places that we want to go and then made a route that hit most of them. We're going to start out in Apalachin, NY (near Binghamton) and head Northwest first. Our route in Google Maps is here with the rough estimate of overnight stops having the markers:
These aren't really any set dates or locations, we just roughly figured out where we thought we'd be on which day and picked a place on the map to stay.
Our real "goal" is to get to see as many states as possible along this journey. We're both 24 and would like to try to hit all 50 states by the time we're 30 or so and we've each only got about 10 done so far. Now, I don't want to just drive through a state and say "oh, I've been there", we'd like to actually SEE something in each of the states that we go through excluding the ones that we've already been to several times and are relatively close to home. We're not really concerned with doing anything special in NY, PA, Ohio or Maryland. Along with our "states" goal, we just really enjoy great scenery, picturesque places, hiking, parks, etc. We're just really out to have a great time and see as much of the country as we possibly can (while having fun and relaxing in between) during our 3 weeks off from work!!
What I'm looking for is anything of interest along this rough route that are "must see" things, just random tips for any area (or the whole trip), suggestions for camping at any of the stops (unless otherwise noted below), or just anything you'd like to offer up to help make our trip better! :-)
Now, onto the route (again, the route is in Google Maps via the link above) ... Our "simplified" route is going to be:
NY > Michigan on the coast of Lake Michigan -- Stay 1 Night
MI > Black River Falls, WI via an afternoon in Chicago -- Stay 1 Night (We actually already have our only reservation booked here, simply because we were afraid that camping sites might be filled due to Labor Day weekend)
WI > Bismark, ND via Minneapolis for a few hours -- Stay 1 Night. What is there to do in/around Bismark?
ND > Mt. Rushmore -- Probably stay the night we get there and then spend another 1/2 day or whole day checking out the other parks around... who knows.
Mt. Rushmore area > Billings, MT via Casper, WY -- Stay 1 Night. What is there to do in/around Billings or in Montana at all? It's a state that I've always thought would be great to go see, but can't really find a whole lot of information about it. I know that Glacier NP is there, but that's just too far out of the way... I'm sure it's AMAZING, but I really just don't think we can fit it in our trip.
Billings, MT > Yellowstone NP via the scenic byway that leads into the NE entrance -- Thinking of staying here for 3 nights or so and would REALLY REALLY appreciate any advice that you all may have for here. We're hoping to get in some really good hiking here (at least one day long hike if possible). Also, what I'm really looking for is which campsites are the best/most picturesque in Yellowstone??!! Also, are there any natural hot springs that visitors are permitted to go in? Kinda like hot tubs? Doesn't have to just be in Yellowstone, but anywhere around here. Lastly, what are your suggestions for camping reservations here for this time of year? Can we call a day or so ahead or should we really be booking ASAP?
Yellowstone NP > Grand Teton NP -- Stay 1 or 2 nights here -- Pretty much ditto to the questions I had for Yellowstone above
Grand Teton NP > Salt Lake City via Idaho -- Stay 1 or 2 nights here. I'd really like to know of something to do in that Southeast corner of Idaho that wouldn't take us too far off our route? Also, what would you suggest for Salt Lake City? I know that there are a ton of Mormon historic sites/attractions here, but what else besides that? Everywhere I look, that's what I see as attractions and nothing more.
Salt Lake City > Montrose, CO via Arches NP for a few hours -- Stay here 1 night. We're not set on staying in Montrose, but we both grew up in Montrose, PA, so we figured we have to at least stop by Montrose, CO. We do however need to stay somewhere around Montrose... possibly Grand Junction and then head to Montrose the next day or something like that?
Montrose, CO > Colorado Springs, CO -- Stay here a night or so. We'd love to hear what there is to do around here. I've gotten a few hours, but nothing set in stone yet.
Colorado Springs, CO > Denver, CO -- Stay here for at least 1 night. I know that there is supposed to be a TON to do in Denver and we'd like to see whatever we can. I know that "LoDo" is a popular place. We're also going to go see Rockey Mountain NP and will probably stay there for a night, but that all depends on how much we're enjoying Denver. We're definitely going to the NP, but may not stay there. We're both really excited about Denver because we've heard so many good things about it, so any of your expert opinions, would be great!
Denver, CO > Omaha, NB via Kansas -- Stay 1 Night. lol... this is how little I know of what to do in Kansas, I can't even think of anything to say that we're going to go through or do there.... just that we'll be driving through.
Omaha, NB > St. Louis via Iowa -- Stay for 1 Night. What is there to do in Iowa that wouldn't take us too far out of the way? Also, what else is there to do in St. Louis besides the famous arch? That's the only thing that I know of in St. Louis (admittedly, I haven't looked up too much about St. Louis yet though).
St. Louis > Louisville, KY -- Stay 1 night here. I have family that lives here, so hopefully they'll be able to give us some pointers on stuff to do (if we even do much of anything... we might just hang out w/the family for a day). Buuut... what is there to do around Louisville? I know NOTHING about the area.
Louisville > MD -- Stay 1 Night here... if any at all. I have more family that lives here, but we go to MD once a year or so anyway so we might just go right from Louisville back home depending on what our schedule has done the previous 3 weeks haha.
So anyway.... that was a REALLY long post, but any information that you guys have that could help, would be really great!!
Thanks a lot!