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  1. #1

    Default My ultimate RT: Bos to Seattle, Phoenix and home.

    Hi! I'm Kris, an experienced short-trip (a week or less) road-tripper, about to leave on my first-ever longer trip. I have driven cross-country before, however, I was young and dumb and drove 16 hours a day, multiple days in a row at that point. I'm too old for that stuff now.

    I am embarking in a little over a week and a half (On July 25) on a cross-country, down the coast, and back home road trip that I've been planning for months. As such, I've been lurking around here, reading up what I can (the 55 mile per hour benchmark has helped me plan tremendously), and would like to get some opinions on my trip.

    Days 1 and 2 I am planning on driving 1400 miles total to Minneapolis, where I will spend 4 days. I know this is ambitious, and have planned so if another day is needed, I have it (it also should probably be said that I will have a driving partner the entire trip, so I won't be driving for 12 hours straight two days in a row)

    After I'm done in Minneapolis, I'm planning on heading out through South Dakota to about the Wall area for a night, this is about 500 Miles. I'll spend one night there, then drive for 400 Miles to the middle of Wyoming, where I'll spend another night, before going a couple of hours further into Yellowstone, where I'll spend 3 days. This is the only part of the trip I'm concerned about (as it will be the only part with a few days of long hours driving). Am I being too ambitious?

    After Yellowstone, we're going to drive to Seattle (stopping for the night if we need to, but hoping to push on through - I should note that we are picking up a friend in Missoula MT. who will be able to help drive just to Seattle as well). We'll spend 4 days in Seattle (leaving the friend behind) before driving somewhere on the Oregon Coast to camp for a night, and on to the Bay Area in California. (This is another long day, at 600 Miles). 3 nights in San Fran, then a 6 hour drive to Santa Barbara for a two night stay, onto Vegas for two nights, then hitting up Zion, and the Grand Canyon, at a night each (Only about 4 hours from Vegas to Zion and 5 from Zion to GCNP South Rim). We'll then take a 4 hour drive to Phoenix, where we'll stay for 3 days before starting the long 2700 mile drive home. I've allotted a full week for the drive, so I think I'm safe there.

    Now, if you've managed to get through this, I apologize for the overly detailed analysis of my route. But my major question: Am I pressing too hard, or is it viable to drive hard for one day and rest for a few, as outlined above? I'm planning on taking 90 most of the way out to Seattle (with the exception of getting to Yellowstone). Are there any roads I should avoid? Though I'm familiar with mountain driving in the Appellations, I'm not familiar with the west coast. Are there any roads you would recommend?

    Lastly (I promise) we are spending our time camping and with friends, so any suggestions for camping along the way would be appreciated (AAA has sites listed in their guidebooks, but personal experiences are always better!).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I'd stick a few more days in there. Specifically:

    1. You aren't allowing time to see the Badlands and Mt. Rushmore - you will be right there, why just see Wall Drug?

    2. Add another day to get from Seattle to SF if you go down the coast.

    3. Add at least a day from SF to SB, and take the coast road. Take a Hearst Castle tour. Alternatively, go inland and see Yosemite and skip the coast, go over Tioga Pass then through Death valley to LV.

    4. Add a day between SB and LV so you can see Death Valley if you go down the coast.

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

    Default agreed

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The major concerns I have with your plan were all hit in order by GLC. I'd think you'd want at least a day to spend exploring the Black Hills, you could certainly finish in Eastern Wyoming perhaps around Devils Tower, that would at least allow you to put a little scratch in the surface of the Badlands and Black Hills.

    Your coastal legs simply aren't possible There is no way you can cover 600 miles while driving down the Oregon Coast, this isn't a freeway, its a busy but incredibly scenic 2 lane road where you'll likely average 40 mph or less. There you have to make a choice, take more time (at least 3, but more likely 4 or 5 days) down the coast to SF or get on I-5. The same is true with the trip down to Santa Barbara, where you'll only possibly make that trip in 6 hours if you take US 101 and skip the coast.

    One other comment just in general, for a trip that is focusing on camping, you are planning to spend a large portion of your trip in cities. You might simply want to spend less time at each stop, and be a little less eager about the amount of miles you want to drive in a day.

  4. #4


    Thank you both for your quick responses and feedback!

    Regarding seeing the Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore, Eastern Wyoming etc: I somewhat grew up in the Dakotas (military family), and have seen them enough to satisfy myself this lifetime (though the tower area is beautiful, so perhaps I'll work that in), but thank you for the suggestion!

    I will factor in some more time for driving down the coast. I obviously had no idea that 101 was so small in Oregon. That's exactly what I needed to know, thank you. Perhaps you would know, is there a particular part that is more "must see" than another? I will do some further calculating tonight and think I can swing a the extra days there (in addition to some of your other suggestions), but if for some reason I need to cut some of it out and take I-5...I guess I'd like to see at least a little of the Oregon coast.

    RE: Focusing on camping, I wouldn't really say that is the focus of the trip (more a means to the end), it's more to see my friends/family that are spread across the country (and they live in the cities we're staying in), and take in the views. The southeastern National Parks (Grand Canyon and Zion) are really so I can get a glimpse (and I do realize that a glimpse is all I'm going to get) of what they are all about, and perhaps spark my interest in planning a more explorative (is that a word?) trip to that area in the near future.

    Thank you again, I really appreciate your input!

  5. Default Oregon coast

    I recently drove from Coos Bay to Crescent City CA, my first trip to the southern Oregon coast. One of my favorite stops was Cape Blanco State Park north of Port Orford--turn right after the village of Sixes. There's a great lighthouse at the westernmost point in the continental US (I love places like that) and an amazing monolith on the beach. Not as big as Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach in the northern part of the state, but still incredible. Further south near the California border, the town of Brookings has some great views where the ocean is visible from the highway. But just about anywhere along this stretch you'll find something worth stopping for.

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