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  1. Default Florida to NYC and back for New Years

    Hey there. A couple of friends and I are going to be driving from Tampa, Florida to New York City for new years. We would like to avoid highways at all costs and take the scenic routes if possible. Is this possible to do during the winter months? We are planning to leave here on the 26 or 27 and arriving in NYC on the 30. The spring semester starts up again on Jan 6 so we would have to be back in Gainesville by that time. So I have a few questions regarding this trip.

    Is it feasible to avoid taking I95 and other major highways throughout the drive so we could take the scenic route?

    Is it dangerous in the winter with icy conditions and such to be driving in the mountains through NC, VA, etc...?

    We are planning on just stopping at either cheap motels along the way but preferably would like to just pitch a tent and camp along the way to make it as cheap as possible. I spent a couple of months driving through mexico this summer and we just camped along abandoned roads everynight. Is it possible to camp along the way for free and would we be able to just pull over to some small side street to do this?

    What guide books would you recommend for this trip? We want the drive to be as interesting as possible rather than a drag along some highway.

    We were thinking of stopping in washington dc or phili along the way. Do you have any suggestions on preferred cities along the way or cool places to check out?

    Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you very much.


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

    Default options and non options

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    It certainly is possible to do the kind of trip you are talking about. If you are sticking to 2 lane highways, I suspect it will take you at least 3 days to make the trip, so you're not going to have a lot of extra time, but the trip is certainly feasable.

    I think if this is a 2 way trip, then going inland one way and staying closer to the coast would be a nice option to see some different things. I don't have any specific book recommendations myself, but you might want to check out the book reviews in the planning section as simply look around the forum. There are lots of threads about Florida to NYC and alternatives to I-95, so take a look and see if you find something up your alley.

    As far as making this trip in winter, yes it is certainly possible that you'll run into snow or ice, especially if you head into the mountains. That doesn't mean you can't do your trip, it just means that you have to be prepared to drive in those conditions.

    Camping is possible, but a bit problematic, and not possible in the way you've suggested. Every piece of land is owned by someone in the US, and if you just set up camp somewhere, the odd are, you will be trespassing. There are places, like some National Forest Land, where you can camp for free, but you need to make sure you are in a safe and legal location before you set up. Additionally, you also need to remember that you will be winter camping, and you'll need the appropriate cold weather gear. Trying to camp in the cold of winter with the same gear you use for a summer trip will make for some very very long nights.

  3. #3

    Default Hit and miss, likely mostly miss

    Hello toeby,

    I can't help you much with the FL-GA-SC portions of your trip but I certainly admire any effort to avoid I-95 and similar routes. I can give you a bit of help otherwise, however.

    While there are large swaths of NC and VA mountains within National Forests, the actual pattern of land ownership is very chopped up, with privately-owned parcels entirely within and all around the NF parcels. It can be very difficult to tell where private and public starts and ends. Simply stated, I would not assume it's a good idea just to pick a spot and set up overnight camp. My own assumption would be that open commercial campgrounds are going to be few and far between and most, if not all, public campgrounds (Nat Parks, State Parks, and Nat Forests will be closed. I'd assume a "motels only" trip.

    Any segment of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Skyline Drive (BRP and SD) are subject to closure during winter since there is little to no snow removal effort set forth. Segments will close from a day or two to a week or two or three. It's a rather iffy way to route one's self. Besides, with very low speed limits, it can take a long time to get anywhere on the BRP and SD.

    Routing to avoid I-95 might include US 15 from central SC, through NC, VA, MD, and into PA near Gettysburg. A "left hook" from Harrisburg, PA takes you through the Poconos, past Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, and ties back into the NY State Thruway around 70 miles above NYC. Nice drive, but a number of higher elevation segments (read: snow and ice potential) above Harrisburg.

    The return trip might involve going down the Jersey Shore to Cape May, taking the Cape May Ferry to Lewes, DE, thence down the Delmarva Peninsula, across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, thence down the NC Outer Banks, taking the Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry then the Ocracoke-Cedar Island ferry to the vicinity of Beaufort, NC. From there you can start angling SW across NC and SC back towards central GA, or keep south down US 17 towards Savannah.

    Have fun in the Big Apple!


  4. Default

    thanks for the help. we have set up an inland and coastal route that we will be taking. we will probably be going the coastal route on the way up and the inland route on the way back down. what do you guys think of these routes...? any input would be much appreciated.

    tampa> I75> I10> I95 through Savannah and Charleston> US17 to Cedar Island> ferry to Ocracoke> 12 up the barrier islands> 158> 168> 13> 9> ferry to Cape May> 9 and into NYC
    (we may not take the ferry to the outer banks and instead just take the 64 out to the outerbanks around Nags Head) Is it worth driving the whole of the outer banks?

    NYC> I78> 222 through Amish country> 30 to Gettysburg> 81> 75
    theres a lot more options along this route... im assuming that I81 would be much faster because its an interstate but likely boring so we probably actually want to avoid this highway. is there more to see on the 15 and how quickly does that move?
    we wanted to take the blue ridge parkway and/or skyline drive but these are obviously prone to closures. are there any sections that we could drive through by getting off of the 15 or 81 and then getting back on the highway further down the road?
    if we were to follow that left hook past gettysburg to get to new york, what roads would we take?

    thank you for your help.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default There are Always Other Roads

    Going just to Nags Head means missing all of the Outer Banks, which are the string of barrier islands from roughly Beaufort to Virginia. In addition, the 2½ hour ferry ride from Cedar Island to Ocracoke is one of the best $15 you'll ever spend. There are also lighthouses, miles of empty beaches, pirate museums, wildlife refuges, historic sites and more. It's one of the crown jewels of the east coast. Why miss it?

    I-81 is actually one of the more scenic Interstates, with the Appalachians a constant presence out the passenger side windows. But it is nevertheless true that through much of the south there is an excellent network of four lane divided highways that will show you the same scenery and still let you fulfill your goal of eschewing the Interstate System. US-11 most closely parallels I-81 and could be reached by continuing west from Gettysburg on US-30. Other options for the return trip would be US-29 through Virginia or US-19 from around Kingsport, TN down through the southern reaches of the Appalachians and western Georgia.

    As for the 'left hook' from Gettysburg to New York, my choice(s) would probably lean towards US-15 north past Harrisburg, then US-209 up to Stroudsburg and the southern end of the Delaware Water Gap, and finally I-80 into the city.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 12-22-2008 at 07:57 PM.

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