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  1. #1

    Default Moving from Cambridge, MA to Stanford, CA: summer road trip?

    I'm going to be moving from Cambridge, MA to Stanford, CA this summer and it looks like a road trip with a friend of mine might be my best choice (out of many crappy options) for getting all my belongings (including my car) across the country. Therefore, I'm hoping the folks on this forum can help me figure out the best route to take.

    About the travelers

    * We're both in our mid 20's
    * We'll be driving a 1999 Toyota Corolla VE (~85,000 miles)
    * The car's trunk & backseat will be packed full of my belongings
    * We have 10-12 days to make the trip, from around August 21 to September 3rd
    * We are willing to camp out occasionally

    Our Interests

    We are primarily interested in the beautiful natural sites around the country as well as seeing a couple of the major US cities. We'd like to do a little bit of hiking, but nothing too long as we are fairly limited on time. We are not interested in the "weird" and "zany" attractions scattered around the US.

    Preliminary plan - please critique!

    Aug 21: depart from Cambridge, MA via 90W.
    Aug 23: arrive in Chicago, IL (984 miles).
    Aug 24: explore Chicago.
    Aug 25: depart Chicago, IL via 90W.
    Aug 26: arrive near Badlands National Park, South Dakota (845 miles).
    Aug 27: explore Badlands National Park, Mt. Rushmore and Black Hills Forest.
    Aug 28: depart from South Dakota via 90W and arrive at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (572 miles).
    Aug 29: explore Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and Craters of the Moon.
    Aug 30: depart Wyoming via 93S to 80W
    Sep 01: arrive in Stanford, CA (793 miles).

    Google map of trip (w/f/s): 3547 miles.

    I just threw this trip together and still have plenty to figure out: if my time estimates for driving & site seeing are reasonable, if I'm missing any cool sites along the way, and where we'll be staying at night. Please share any advice, suggestions, corrections, etc!
    Last edited by brikis98; 06-15-2009 at 09:02 PM.

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

    Default quite reasonable

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you've got a very nice trip planned that does an excellent job of balancing covering miles with siteseeing. You're never forcing yourself to travel more than about 500 miles over a day, and you've got a break for exploring a city or park after every couple of driving days. That's an excellent recipe for a good trip. If you've still got a couple extra days, you might enjoy spending an extra day in either Yellowstone or the Black Hills, but if you're looking to get moved into your new place, I can understand simply wanting to get to your new home. Having at least 1 full day in each of those places will still give you a chace for at least a quick overview that should be a good time.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You need to examine each leg - you should not try to drive more than 550 miles in one day on Interstate highways, less on secondary roads. Google's time estimates are very optimistic - it assumes you will be driving the speed limit with no traffic delays, no fuel, food, or bathroom stops. If you map with Google, add 20% to the time estimates to account for reality.

    EDIT: Michael got in before me - just need to confirm that those long legs are in fact broken up into 2 days.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Having driven from Boston to both LA and SF several times, and back, there are so many routes you can choose. I love the route you have chosen, as I have only just driven most of it.

    As for extra things which I liked along that route.... the Corn Palace in Mitchell, well worth the time, Wall Drug in Wall, SD, make sure you get your free iced water and your 5 cent cup of coffee. The rest of their menu is great as well. Make sure you check out the back mall of the place, where there is lots to learn about the local history.

    Coming from the east, if you do the spectacular Badlands Loop, the road will take you into Wall.

    The other road which I just loved, but which is slow going with many hairpins and switchbacks, is the road from Red Lodge into Yellowstone, over Beartooth Pass. If you like a challenging drive with breathtaking scenery, it is well worth the time. And stop by the Top of the World Store.

    You may find the going through Yellowstone slower than you anticipate. It is such a wonderful National Park.

    And lastly, for budget accommodation, why not check out hostels here.
    Lifey who hopes you enjoy the trip as much as she did
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 06-15-2009 at 09:51 PM.

  5. #5


    Thanks for the quick replies folks!

    @Midwest Michael - thanks for the welcome :)

    @glc - yea, I'm definitely trying to plan the trip to avoid more than ~500 miles on any given day. I also have 1-2 days built in of "reserve" in case things take longer than expected - that is, it would be ok to arrive at Stanford as late as September 3rd.

    @Lifemagician - thanks for the info. We'll definitely check out the hostels, Wall Drug and the Corn Palace.

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