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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,092

    Default The Essential Point

    Almost every response you've gotten so far has pointed out that you're trying to do too much in too little time. This is another such response. When we tell you that you need to cut back that means that in our opinion you need to drive fewer miles and try to fit in fewer stops. It does NOT mean that you cut out one or two stops and then add several others thousands of miles away. What we are suggesting is that if you want to see the 'West' you MUST make A choice of which part of that vast area, far from your home, that you want to see. You cannot see the northern Rockies AND the Pacific northwest. You cannot see the northern Rockies AND the desert southwest. You can see ONE of those three areas. The sooner you make that choice, the sooner you can start making realistic plans for an enjoyable and memorable vacation, and the sooner we can start helping you make the best use of your time in that one area.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 08-08-2015 at 12:28 PM. Reason: Typos

  2. Default

    Thanks for your response AZBuck, that is why I asked if the plan was feasible. I know people who have done these types of trips so I'm trying to figure out if that's what I want to do or if I want to spend more time in some of my destinations... hence why I'm on this forum asking all these questions and asking for advice.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,648

    Default

    AZBuck has a big point.

    Days 1-4: spent driving from Philadelphia to Glacier NP - about 2400 miles, depending on exactly where in the Phila. area you begin. These will be 550 mile days, plus set up and tear down of camping equipment. Some days you may be out of reach of a decent public campground when you end your day.

    Days 5-6: Glacier NP

    Day 7: Drive from Glacier to Yellowstone -- almost 400 miles, set up camp.

    Days 8-9-10: See Yellowstone.

    Day 11-12: Drive to Grand Teton, see Grand Teton.

    Day 13: Drive Grand Teton to Rapid City, stopping for quick visit at Devils Tower (520 miles plus stop at DTNM).

    Day 14: Mt Rushmore, Custer State Park

    Day 15: Badlands National Park

    Day 16-19: Drive home.

    Without adding MORE driving, you have an extra 2 days to add into seeing something while you're on vacation, instead of waving to things as they fly by your window. You could add another day in the Black Hills area. (I'd recommend it, as there is also Custer State Park with its Wildlife Loop, Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument in the area). You could add a day in the Cody, WY area, or take two days to get from Grand Teton to Mt Rushmore and take more time at the Devils Tower. (If you've ever seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind, THAT is Devils Tower there.)

    Sometimes Less is More, despite what your math lessons tell you -- seeing less makes you enjoy what you are seeing, a lot more.


    Donna

  4. Default

    Thanks DonnaR57!! Yeah I am just destination happy right now - once I sit down and figure out driving times I will want to cut the destinations and leave time to just enjoy what's around me. I appreciate all the advice everyone!

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    10,103

    Default

    I think you need to decide right now whether you can add another week to your trip or not. With the things you want to see and do, you really do need it.

  6. #16

    Default

    During the past twenty years I made several trips to the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Northwest and California. Most of the camping trips were to the "Rocky Mountains" area, specifically South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah (and Idaho). I have also traveled around Oregon, Washington and British Columbia some but most of that was not camping. Flying to a Rocky Mountain city (usually Salt Lake City or Denver) saved at least 3 days, each way, of boring driving from the Mid-Atlantic region. We would target a start/end launch city for a "loop trip" due to the cost of drop-off fees with rental cars. That worked out fine. Our trips were usually 2 weeks in duration.

    Looking at your desired destinations, all great, really adds up to 4 separate loop trips: Northern Rocky Mountain states; the Great Southwest; California; and the Pacific Northwest. It would be a stretch to justly do two of those "loops" in a 3-week trip driving from Philadelphia. Several people have stressed the time/distance calculations of programs such as Google Maps and suggest dividing distance by 55 mph. IMO, that is fine for sprints from Philly to Denver, but then it is game over if you are interested in camping or sightseeing. For the most part, great portions of those regions favor traveling along the US highways, not the interstates (it is not like driving from PHL to Orlando on US 1 or US 15). For example, from Denver to Black Canyon of the Gunnison (camping!) to Durango on your way to Mesa Verde. Or Denver to the west slope of Rocky Mountain NP (camping) to Gunnison (campout) to Mesa Verde.

    If you were to fly, then Southwest Airlines is probably a good choice with their 2 free bags per person plus a personal item (e.g., a backpack). SWA also tends to be more supportive in your baggage situation then other airlines these days. You need to keep your bags within a 62 inch total (Length+Width+Depth) and under 50 lbs. Bag #1: Cooler packed with camp stove (propane powered, but no propane cannisters whatsoever), utensils, table spread, plates, cooking pans, skewers, etc.). Bag #2: duffel bag with tent, sleeping bags ground cover (wrap hatchet/ax in a blanket). Bag #3: Clothing. Bag #4: More clothing and/or camp supplies.

    One excursion plan that worked well for us was flying into Salt Lake City and then driving to Pocatello for camping out provisioning (fresh food, dry ice, matches, propane for camp stove, etc.) and a night in a hotel. Early in the morning we'd drive to the West Entrance to Yellowstone to secure a campsite for the next few days. From Yellowstone to Glacier NP, a beautiful route is via the NE gate to Red Lodge and on to Missoula for a provisioning night-over on the way to Glacier NP; or, to Custer State Park (camping) for the Badlands, Wind Cave area. The Yellowstone to Red Lodge route is one not to miss... tons of switch back, snow and ice at the pass and allow plenty of time. Scenic and slow :) Anyway, digressing... we would usually camp for a few nights, then break camp early and drive to a gateway town for provisioning, touristing and sleepover and then get an early start for obtaining a campsite at the next destination. We provisioned in Missoula for driving up to Glacier NP.

    For the Southwest: Denver, SLC, Albuquerque and Phoenix are all good loop cities -- whichever has reasonable rates non-stop and affordable rental cars (airport cities can vary due to competition and fee structures + extra taxes). Speaking of rental cars, a larger sedan is much easier than a smaller sedan if you are camping; a station wagon style vehicle is easier than a sedan; and a minivan is easier than all of the above!

    Have fun... and dig into your AAA USA and regional maps with pins and highlighters. There is more to do than you can imagine in any of the "four circles" I mentioned above.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,169

    Default Great Post.

    Hi Landmariner, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    Thank you for jumping in with your first post to give advice to this member. In particular your method of bringing your camping gear on fly/drive roadtrips. It sounds like you have had many great trips, so feel free any time to jump in with your experience.. It is always appreciated.

    Lifey

  8. Default Revised Plans - Still need help!

    Hello again -

    So I have taken everyones advice and I am trying to be more realistic. I am using the website roadtrippers.com to plan my trip (my AAA maps are on their way). I have narrowed my destinations to
    1. Badlands
    2. Mount Rushmore
    3. Devils Tower
    4. Glacier NP
    5. Yellowstone NP
    6. Grand Teton NP
    7. Jackson, WY

    With this trip, roadtrippers.com says it is just over 5,000 miles. I feel like that is a lot for 3 weeks. Once I get my maps I'm sure I'll be able to plan out driving routes better but I guess what I'm asking is.. is this possible? I know I have been overly ambitious in past posts and am wondering if I still am. It just still seems like a lot of miles for the time frame.

    Thanks for you patience with me roadtrippers :)

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by LiGlee View Post
    Hello again -

    So I have taken everyones advice and I am trying to be more realistic. I am using the website roadtrippers.com to plan my trip (my AAA maps are on their way). I have narrowed my destinations to
    1. Badlands
    2. Mount Rushmore
    3. Devils Tower
    4. Glacier NP
    5. Yellowstone NP
    6. Grand Teton NP
    7. Jackson, WY

    With this trip, roadtrippers.com says it is just over 5,000 miles. I feel like that is a lot for 3 weeks. Once I get my maps I'm sure I'll be able to plan out driving routes better but I guess what I'm asking is.. is this possible? I know I have been overly ambitious in past posts and am wondering if I still am. It just still seems like a lot of miles for the time frame.

    Thanks for you patience with me roadtrippers :)
    That is SO much better and do-able with time at each place. Once you get your maps, check out going to Theodore Roosevelt National Park on the way there, then you could do the rest in this order: Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Devil's Tower, Mt. Rushmore and Badlands. The mileage is the same but it would give you something to see on the way there. You don't need a lot of time at Roosevelt.

    Utahtea

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,169

    Default To each his own.

    Some folk like to limit their driving time to no more than 50% of the trip time. This gives a good balance of time to see and explore vs driving.

    For me, though my trips are normally considerably longer, I prefer to limit my miles to around 1000 a week.

    Lifey

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