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  1. Default Tips/Suggestions for Sept. trip NY > UT & back in a big circle


    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!


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

    Default A few Thoughts

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You've got a few stretches with very long days, where you really will only be able to drive drive and drive. Your very first day, crossing the 700 mile mark and then trying to set up camp is a real challenge and will likely leave you very drained. If you also get started even a little behind schedule, you'll probably have to start your trip setting up camp in the dark. You've got a couple more stretches like that, including your Denver to St. Louis via Omaha days.

    Its probably too late, and it won't cause any harm, but the Black River State Forest outside of Black River Falls, WI has three campgrounds, include 2 just off the Interstate, and both are pretty underused. It actually is a place where you'd have a pretty good shot of finding a site even on a holiday weekend.

    Otherwise, for things to do along your way, check out our State by State A-Z list.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Now Comes the Easy Part

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Quote Originally Posted by SkinsFan0521
    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.
    That's how some of the best RoadTrips are planned.

    Quote Originally Posted by SkinsFan0521
    Our route in Google Maps is here with the rough estimate of overnight stops having the markers.
    Generally good, but you do have a couple of excessively long days (600 miles or more) in there. You've got time enough that you don't have to push yourselves that far.

    Quote Originally Posted by SkinsFan0521
    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.
    We do offer 26 (or so) posibilities in each state

    Quote Originally Posted by SkinsFan0521
    Yellowstone??!! Also, are there any natural hot springs that visitors are permitted to go in?
    The Yellowstone hot springs run around 160°F. It's no coincidence that the few bacteria that manage to live in them are called extremophiles.

    Quote Originally Posted by SkinsFan0521
    Also, what would you suggest for Salt Lake City?
    There's the Lake, of course, Bonneville Salt Flats, and the Golden Spike site near Provo for starters. Similarly for Colorado Springs: Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, and the Air Force Academy; in Iowa, the Amana Colonies and the 'Field of Dreams' in Dyersville. Actually, there are tons of things to see everywhere you go. Go with that attitude rather than starting with a disbelieving question each time and you'll have a great time.


  4. Default

    Midwest Michael -
    I believe that we looked into the campgrounds in that forest, but the problem with it being Labor Day weekend was that they all wanted 2-3 night minimums. I can't be sure if that was the case for those campgrounds that you're talking about in particular, but that was what we were running into for that weekend.

    Midwest Michael & AZBuck -
    You are both much more experienced at the long road trips than I am and apparantly I have underestimated some of these legs of the trip. Honestly, I'm just going by the times that Google gives me because they're normally dead on. Then, I've been taking the times that Google gives me and adding in however much time I feel is necessary for the attractions that we'll be stopping at along the way. However, as I said before... I'm going to take both of your opinions on this because I've never done a trip that I had to travel that far in one day (besides in a plane lol) so I really don't know how I'll be feeling after driving 500 miles or so. I'll have to go through some of those longer legs of the trip again and see what I can do about shortening them up a little.

    But, all that being said, I'd like to re-iterate that what I said in the first post is just an idea of our timetable. It basically includes all the things that we want to do, but the time may be off. Our plan is to try and stick to somewhat of a schedule, but if we get tired, we'll just find someplace to stay and if it's too late to set up camp, we'll just get a hotel.

    AZBuck -
    I quickly looked at a couple of those lists of things for each state and they seem like they'll be extremely helpful, but I don't have time to look at them all right now. The same goes for all of your other suggestions that you gave for things to do in the other places... I'll have to look into all of them and see what seems interesting. I had thought of the Garden of the Gods & Pikes Peak, but forgot to mention them. The Field of Dreams field sounds interesting... as long as it really is in the middle of a cornfield like in the movie.

    As for the hot springs... I was under the impression that there were some places "out west" that you could actually get into and had a temperature more like hot tubs (like 90 - 110 degrees farenheight or something like that). Maybe that's just a naive thing that I was thinking, but I thought I've always heard of places like that?

    Thank you both VERY much for your replies and helpful hints and links!! I look forward to hearing more from both of you as well as any of the other helpful members of this forum.


  5. Default Tips/Suggestions for Sept. trip NY > UT & back in a big circle

    So, I posted here several months ago when I first started thinking about this trip and got some good advice, but now that I have some more information and a better idea of what will be going on, I'm back and looking for some more tips and suggestions!

    My girlfriend and I will be leaving from Upstate Ny (Binghamton area) and going on a 3 week trip. We plan to be camping more than half of the nights and maybe even more towards 3/4 of the time.

    Here is the ROUGH itinerary, but we don't really have many definite plans except for when we leave, when we get back and a few of the major stops along the way.

    August 29, 2008 - Leave from home and just drive to the western part of Michigan (Benton Harbor, MI seems to be about the area that we might end up)
    30 - Drive down to South Bend, IN to check out Notre Dame (I'm a big fan), head to Chicago for several hours and then get to Eau Claire, WI where we have a hotel reserved (our only reservation of the trip)
    31 - Drive through Minneapolis and check out the Mall of America for an hour or so (I know it's not much time, but we just want to check it out, not make a day of it) and then head up to somewhere around Jamestown, ND where we can camp
    September 1 - Leave from Jamestown and go down to the Badlands National Park in SD (possibly by going through Bismark, ND)
    2 - Go to Custer State Park, check that out for a little while, then go to Mount Rushmore NP and most likely stay right around there for the night (hopefully camping)
    3 - Head to Billings, MT and maybe stop along the way for a while if we see something interesting somewhere. ANY IDEAS HERE?? Stay in hotel for the night.
    4 - Head into Yellowstone NP in Wyoming via the Scenic Byway there (don't remember the name right now) and spend the night there camping
    5 - 9 - hiking during the day, camping at night in Yellowstone, then Grand Teton NP. Suggestions for day hikes?
    10 - Head to Salt Lake City, UT and stay there for a night (hotel)
    11 - Maybe spend some time in Salt Lake City (depending on when we get in the night before) and then head to Arches NP. Again, depending on when we leave, we might camp there or continue on a little further towards CO.
    12 - Head to Montrose CO and go to some parks around there. stay in the area (hotel/camping)
    13 - Colorado Springs, CO area parks/attractions and stay in the area (hotel/camping)
    14 - Denver, CO - spend the day checking out some stuff in Denver and stay the night there in a hotel
    15 - Rocky Mountain NP - hiking during the day, camping at night. Suggestions for day hike?
    16 - Drive into Kansas as far as we can go and stay the night (hotel)
    17 - In Salina, KS, head north up to Omaha, NE and stay there for the night (probably hotel)
    18 - Go to St Louis through Des Moines, IA stay the night there in hotel
    19 - Check out St Louis for the morning, then head to Louisville, KY to stay w/family
    20 - head to MD to stay w/more family
    21 - go to a Redskins game
    22 - Drive home

    Now most of that schedule is just guesses, so we'll be able to stay longer or leave earlier in some places if we feel inclined to do so. The only set dates are that we're leaving August 29, staying in Eau Claire, WI on the night of the 30th and we're going to a Redskins game in MD on September 21.

    So, I know that was a long post, but does anybody have any ideas or suggestions for us on what we "can't miss" along the way. As I've said, we're pretty flexible with our dates, but don't want to go a day out of the way of our current plan to go check something out... just stuff that's roughly along the way of our current route.

    Thanks to everybody in advance!!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Well Planned

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    O still think that you're pressing it a bit much on your first day, but after that things settle down quite nicely. So don't worry if you fall behind a bit on your way to Chicago, you'll be able to make it up. As far as day hikes in National Parks go, there is no better source of information than the Visitors Centers at the entrances. What I would consider a day hike, you might consider a wimpy walk, and what I would find interesting, you might find boring. So ask a Ranger and they can direct you to something that will meet your needs exactly, and they'll also have knowledge of the latest trail conditions. Look's like you're in for a great trip!


  7. Default

    Ok, thanks AZBuck. I know that our first day is going to be a lot of driving, but we're just going to get up and on the road pretty early and just drive straight there. We figured there's no sense in stopping anywhere in between here and there since we could just go there any weekend.

    I was thinking that we'll be asking ranger stations about hikes as well as maybe go on some of the guided hikes that they have. I know that there are some of them that are nice and somewhat strenuous hikes that are guided, so that should be another source.

    Thanks again AZBuck!

    Anybody else have any more suggestions?!


  8. Default RMNP Day Hikes

    I found this site to be very helpful when hiking in RMNP Just remember when planning your hikes, you will be at altitudes much higher than we experence here in the Mid Atlantic States so a 3 mile one way hike may be much harder than you realize depending on the elevation gains. Good Luck RMNP is a hikers dream !!! I just may see you there as we will be there at the same time.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 08-15-2008 at 09:14 AM. Reason: preferred link format

  9. #9

    Default Update?

    My boyfriend and I are planning almost the same trip for this September. We are driving from CT to Yellowstone and Grand Canyon, then back again via a route similar to yours. Did you do it and if so how did it go?

    I'd love an update and appreciate any feedback you have.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default dead thread

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Sorry, but this trip was from last year and the original poster hasn't been back since.

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