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  1. Default 3 weeks June 2010- Coast to coast

    This summer we did a mini-loop around the country- 13 days from Buffalo, NY to St. Louis, Amarillo, Grand Canyon, Zion, and Yellowstone (and a variety of other interesting places) and back. It was absolutely amazing.

    This year:
    This next summer I'm aiming higher. Will be starting in Buffalo again- I want to get deeper into the southwest. I want to see the real sandy desert, get farther west and drive up the pacific highway, go to yosemite, up through the oregon and washington coasts, and take a more northern route back- through glacier national park and the states bordering canada. I'm thinking 3 weeks total.

    Again, I don't know where to start!

    My favorite places this summer were the national parks- just seeing so much wildlife and landscape that I had never seen before- The elk in the GC and bison in Yellowstone were really neat, and hiking Angel's landing in Zion was amazing.

    The novelty things- like ghost towns, the Cadillac ranch, and funky hotels like the Big Texan, and the Wigwam motel were also tons of fun.

    The only thing I definitely want to return to is the GC to camp for a couple nights. Everything else I want to be different.

    I have "Road Trip America" which I love, but I'm looking for more resources and tips on what to see in the southwest, and along the pacific coast. We're looking to avoid big cities (Driving in them is scary!!)

    I figure around 7000 miles, $7000 budget, 3 people
    This summer we did 5000 miles on $3000 easily

    So, send your recommendations this way! Ready, set, go!
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 10-01-2009 at 04:25 AM. Reason: linked to trip report

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

    Default starting

    I will say that you saying you don't know where to start, just can't be true. The fact that you planned a trip last year, and the fact that your original plan last year included many of these same places and you've were given advice means you've got a ton of things to start with. You need to start taking that experience and working with it to start.

    Personally, I think you are going to be trying to do too much with 3 weeks. You've got a week more for this trip than last year, but you've quite easily got more than an extra weeks worth of just driving based on what you say you want to do. Just driving up the coast from LA to Washington State is something that will take you a pretty solid week all by itself.

    The "sandy desert" national parks would largely include Saguaro NP and Organ Pipe NM in Arizona and Joshua Tree and Death Valley in California. Throw in just the California Coast, Yosemite, and Sequoia, plus your return trip to the Grand Canyon and you've got a trip that could very easily take up 3 weeks, before you factored in the nearly cross country drive.

    If it were me, I would skip the Pacific Northwest/Glacier and save that for another day. Doing a loop out to Arizona and California and then coming back more directly via Wyoming or Colorado would make for a great trip, that would still keep you quite busy during 3 weeks.

  3. Default

    Thankyou, Michael- there's a good idea if I ever heard one. Glacier is quite out of the way.

    I was browsing the NPS website, and listed out my must dos (at this point). These are the ones I listed:

    Big bend national park- Southwest texas
    White Sands national monument- New Mexico
    Channel Islands National Park, CA
    (up the pacific coast from there)
    San Francisco Golden Gate, CA

    With all that, plus Glacier and some other things I'd originally planned, it totals to a whopping 8000 miles!

    If I can give up the Redwoods, Glacier, and the GC, it will cut out over 1500 miles.

    That brings us down to 6500. NY to South Texas, and almost right along the border to L.A. and the Channel Islands. Then up the coast to San Francisco, and back towards home through Yosemite and the Rocky mountains.

    Sounds like a plan. This will definitely satisfy my craving for seeing the diversity of landscape in this country.

    Now the fun part.. researching every little place and really planning it out!

    Again, if anyone has resources to share on the deep southwest or pacific coast, I'd appreciate it.

    Thanks again, Michael.

  4. Default layout

    Here's my first basic layout of the day-by-day:

    Day 1-5, NY to Big Bend, Texas- 40 hours total (8 hours/day)

    Day 6, stay at Big Bend

    Day 7, drive to New Mexico, 5 hours

    Day 8, drive to White Sands, NM, 5 hours

    Day 9-11, drive to Channel Islands, CA-19 hours total (6-7 hours/day)

    Day 12, stay at Channel Islands

    Day 13, drive to San Francisco, 9 hours

    Day 14, drive to Yosemite, 4 hours

    Day 15, stay at Yosemite

    Day 16, start driving towards home- 50 hours over 3-5 days (not sure where we'll be stopping on this portion- probably just make those decisions on the road)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Hiccups

    Your plan looks relatively reasonable for the most part, just a couple of things that still need to be ironed out:

    1) You cannot, of course, drive to the Channel Islands, and boats leave for them only before noon, so your plan to reach them on the second day after departing White Sands won't work, you'd have to wait until the morning after you arrive in the Oxnard/Ventura area.

    2) Yosemite to New York is nearly 3,000 miles and cannot be done in three days. Even doing it in 5 would likely be pushing too hard at the end of a long and tiring vacation. You really should try to find a sixth day for this drive.


  6. Default Thanks.

    Especially for that tidbit about the Channel Islands- that's an important consideration.

    As for the end of the trip, we're in Western New York near the PA border, not NYC. Yosemite to WNY is only 2300 miles.. or about 50 hours. Yes, 3 days would be pushing it, still, I agree. It would even out to about 17 hours/day- 7am to midnight. Yuck.

    We did Yellowstone-home (1800 miles) in an 8 hour afternoon and a couple 15 hour days, which surprisingly wasn't bad, and we still managed to make a few fun stops. You are right though, this will be a longer trip and we are bound to be more tired. I'll see if a 6th day is a possibility there.

  7. #7

    Default Day 12 & 13

    If you arrive in the Ventura area by Day 11 evening and go out to the Channel Islands on day 12 - since you are looking to make more time for your return - is it really important to go to San Fran on Day 13? It doesn't seem like you will have much time to look around. One option would be to go straight to Yosemite from Ventura on Day 13 and that would bump your whole schedule up a day and give you more time to make it home.

    I'm probably stating the obvious but staying on Channel Islands involves camping - to me the boat ride there in am and back in the afternoon with chance of seeing dolphin and maybe whales is best part.


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