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  1. #1

    Default Need advice on r/t x-country trip from/to NC


    I am in the beginning stages of planning a "soul-searching" adventurous cross country trip.

    I live in Wilmington, NC and will be returning home when done.

    I would like to take no more than 5 weeks max, but would love to complete it during the month of August, 2010.

    The vehicle I will probably drive is a Jeep Wrangler 4wd. I would also consider renting a vehicle, but want that "open" feeling I get with my Jeep.

    I will probably be rolling solo, although I may have a friend or two fly in and join me for a small portion (3 days???) through the mid-west open roads, which I am asking what portion of this trip would be best for someone to join me on if they only had a 3 day window? They will fly in to one airport and fly home from another.

    I do not have an open check-book, but I also don't mind "splurging". I always thought that taking a helicopter ride into the Grand Canyon would be exhilarating and would "splurge" on that!

    The main purpose of this trip is to stimulate all of my senses and enjoy as many of the breath-taking places this great country has to offer. I also want to document my trip if only for reliving purposes, through video and still photos.

    I want to camp and stay in hotels, a mixture of both. I am definitely more "city-kid" than rugged outdoors-man, but am not afraid to get my hands dirty at all.

    I really just want to get out on the open road with the top down and soak the sun in and explore!

    I have enough time to get everything in order and I am really looking for those: "You MUST see __________" kind of advice. And all of the must-do's!

    I know I want to see the Grand Canyon, and I have friends in So. Cal and Seattle I would like to see. I also have an interest in Yellowstone and/or Jackson Hole, Wy.

    I grew up in Mass. so the north East is very low on the priority list for me (with the exception of Niagara Falls which I can leave or take depending on my routes), as well as the South East which I live in now and have seen and will see later I'm sure.

    Thank you in advance for any and all advice you may have for me as I will continually post and monitor this thread!

    PS: I am an experienced and confident driver and have driven 18 hours on a trip with brief stops in between, so I do not mind driving long distances during any "boring" or down times within the trip.
    Last edited by seabags; 11-14-2009 at 07:35 PM. Reason: add info

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

    Default its all worth it

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Simply put "everything" in the US is worth seeing, so it really isn't possible to tell you what is a "must" see. Really, there are a million great things to see in the US, and with 5 weeks, you can see a lot, but you can't see everything (of course, you couldn't see everything with 5 years either!)

    As far as a friend joining you, again, that depends upon what you and your friends are interested in, and how that person's schedule will fit into what you want to do. Remember, when you are traveling solo, you can just go whereever you want and have it really be your trip, if someone is joining you for a few legs, then you'll have to take into account what they want too, so I'd simply have them join you in places they want to see most.

    One other detail, helicopters and other aircraft are not allowed to fly "into" the Grand Canyon within the National Park. Most of those trips center around the west rim areas, which are on Indian Tribal lands. It doesn't mean you shouldn't do that, just know that there is a difference.

    Right now, I'd just encourage you to keep looking at maps and at books and at other threads on this forum and just start making lists of things you might want to see and places you might want to go. A lot of what will make your trip really special is what you find when you get out there, but right now it seems like you are in the wishlist stage of your planning, which can be a lot of fun in its on right.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Please note that our recommendation is to drive no more than about 550 miles a day. If you try to drive 18 hours in a stretch, it's going to catch up with you over the duration of the trip. I personally make sure I'm off the road before sunset without fail. It really does make a difference. If you are planning on camping, I'd be doubly sure to get into the campground with enough time to set up when it's still light.

    I mention this for planning purposes, so you don't run out of time on your trip. If you use mapping software to plan your trip, add 20% to the predicted drive times.

  4. #4

    Default August Jeeping

    Hello seabags,

    If you've driven your Jeep in and around Wilmington during summertime, you're aware that being in an open vehicle can take a bit out of you. I'd definitely take the Jeep, but strongly consider keeping at least a "bimini" style top up to shelter you from the mid-day sun.

    If this were my trip, in August, I'd trend west-northwest across TN and KY in order to get to the midsection of the US and possibly into a bit cooler days. I'd then head west for CO, WY, MT, ID, and UT and enjoy some higher-elevation coolness. You can plan your route down to AZ for the Grand Canyon in such a manner as to maintain elevation (and cooler temps) for much of the way.

    As to "where to go, what to do" the possibilities are endless. If I were to plan on some camping for overnights along the way, I'd get a campground guidebook such as a Woodalls. There you'll find pertinent info as to facilities, costs, and tent sites available. I'd largely stay away from the large commercial campgrounds close to the Interstates simply because of the large RV crowds there. I'd also carry a standard-issue US Highway Atlas such as the Rand-McNalley. The Atlas will give you detail on State and Local highways and even some county and Forest Service roads. Be aware that the great majority of the Mountain West which is NOT in a National Park is within National Forest (NF) or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, and that campgrounds are in the hundreds, and cheap (if not free). Also be aware of the inexpensive rental rates on NF cabins and fire towers. Yes, particularly in ID and MT, NF fire towers are rented out by the night as they're no longer used for fire spotting. Most are fairly remote and some require 4WD for access. You'll have to truck in your water to the ridgetop tower locations for the most part, while the other "crew cabins" usually have a well available. Mr. Google is your best friend in terms of finding out more about NF cabin and lookout rentals in the various NF units in the West. Generally speaking, some advance planning is needed to secure the booking since the NF district offices can be dozens of miles from the cabins and lookouts.

    For the largest dose of local flavor, plan some parts of your trip out and back for routes paralleling the Interstates. Stop in town for some American Legion or minor league baseball, a rodeo, or similar activities. Eat breakfast at a local diner or two. Walk into the local county museum.

    Sounds like a fine trip. I should have just returned from an "out and back" trip to Southwest Montana by late July, my first XC RoadTrip since November 2007 and my first out and back since 2002. Can't wait!

    Have fun planning and taking your RoadTrip!


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