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  1. Default North Carolina to Arkansas: Suggestions Please

    My wife and I had to take an unexpected road trip down to Florida from our home in Raleigh last year due to a family emergency. It's the first time we haven't flown anywhere when traveling outside of the state or immediately surrounding states. We loved the expereince of the road trip so much that we decided to make that our summer vacation this year. I'm looking for suggestions for great routes, destinations, restaurants, scenic spots, or anything else that would make for a great American adventure off the beaten path for the summer time from Raleigh to Hot Springs, AR. I'm trying to avoid Interstate 40 as much as possible and as this is only my second road trip ever I'm finding that planning one spanning 3 states is a bit daunting. We're looking to make the round trip in 10 days. Thanks folks for the advice and suggestions!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Next Step in the Plan

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You've already taken the first major step in planning your RoadTrip, setting the major parameters. You have a destination, a timeframe, and a 'theme' - avoiding I-40. Next up is determining the basic framework of roads and major stops that fit within those parameters. As a general rule, I like to make such out-and-back trips into loops, taking different roads each way to maximize what I get to see and the sense of adventure. On your case with roughly 3-3½ days each way plus 3-4 days at your destination, this should work quite well, even using the 'back roads'. As just one suggestion, to give you an idea of what's possible, have a look at basically following US-64/US-70 which pretty much run parallel to I-40 with occasional side trips on US-441 through the Great Smoky Mountains and US-411/US-11 alongside I-75 to Chattanooga and then US-64 again across southern Tennessee to Memphis then US-70 again to Hot Springs. Major highlights of this route, besides the Smokies, would be Civil War battlefields at Chattanooga and Shiloh, and Memphis. For a possible return drive, consider a route that stays a good bit north of I-40 by starting out on US-67 northeast from Little Rock to US-412 and across the Mississippi in the boot heel of Missouri, then US-45, US-68,KY-80 and US-25 across southern Kentucky to Cumberland Gap and finishing up on US-58 across southern Virginal to Danville before heading south on NC-86 to (roughly) home. Major highlights of that route would be Land Between the Lakes, Mammoth Caves and Cumberland Gap National Historic Park.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    How many days do you want to stay in Hot Springs? What are your interests?

    The drive from Raleigh to Hot Springs via I-40 is 950 miles, which is 2 full days of driving. This gives you 6 days to play with for sightseeing and your stay in Hot Springs. You could spend 8 days traveling off the beaten path and in Hot Springs, taking the direct route home - or take a "loop" trip staying off the beaten path both ways.

    Grab a good road atlas or set of paper maps and see what's in between. This will give you a good start in your planning. If you've never been there, you would be able to see quite a bit of the Smokies and travel part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. For city life, you have Atlanta, Nashville, and Memphis.

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