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  1. #11

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    Just eyeballing your routes it appears you will be missing Glacier NP on the trip west and Yellowstone NP on the trip east.

    For Portland, you could bend over to the mouth of the Columbia River (Astoria, OR) from Longview/Kelso, a drive that parallels the river. It is worthwhile driving the coast at least as far south as Lincoln City, OR, and then move on to Portland. There are some state and private campgrounds along the coast. Ecoloa State Park (near Cannon Beach) and Oswald State Park (Short Sands) are worth visiting and hiking. Short walk down from Short Sands parking area down to a beautiful pocket cove through old growth forest. The beach towns are nice as well.
    Last edited by landmariner; 12-01-2015 at 08:56 AM.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,169

    Default Be careful not to crowd that itinerary.

    Mindy, as you can see from the responses so far, there is much to see between Chicago and Portland. Over the months, until your departure, there are bound to be more added. as well as the ones you find yourself. There will be points of interest along a northern route, and along the southern route.... and the many routes in between.

    Don't be overwhelmed, but choose carefully which you will include, lest you should not leave yourself sufficient time to really enjoy each one. Sometimes less is more! This of course also leads to the comments above about not just crossing off States. There is so much to see everywhere, and you'll want some flexibility for those surprise spots along the way. Sometimes it takes several visits to see all you want to along any given route, or in any State.

    For example, next year I hope to be driving to and through Alaska for the fourth time. Want to see it all just one more time, in case I never get back there.

    Lifey

  3. #13

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    I decided during my lunch to make a list of all the places recommended here and that I've seen elsewhere. Yeah. I can see why you say not to get overwhelmed. There's so much! Maybe I should have a national park checklist, not a state checklist. (Though again, I do want to go to every state but that doesn't mean my plan is to go to each state only once.)

    Though I do have a route that I laid out here, nothing is set in stone. I'm just feeling things out. I liked the idea of picking places that I want to go and planning my route around that. I know there are certain states that I definitely want to see, like Montana (I've heard so many wonderful things about Montana), but I'm open to route changes as well. I want to be as flexible as possible - in the planning stages as well as on the trip.

    In fact, I guess based on how many places I want to go, I may have to save Portland itself for another trip, go a shorter distance this time, and have more time to spend at each place. We'll see, though. When planning the last trip, I made a list of all the places that sounded great but picked 3 that I knew I absolutely wanted to see. I had the list in mind, though, if I found I had time or wanted to change course. I agree completely - I would rather spend more time in fewer places and actually be able to truly experience those places. I just have to figure out which places to spend my time on this trip. : )

    I also have to decide about Yellowstone... It seems like a shame to go all that way and *not* go there. But then, I know I could always go back another time. From what I've heard, I would want to dedicate a decent amount of time there, so going for this trip would likely mean having to nix Portland. Decisions, decisions...

    Thanks for that info about the hostels, too. That's fantastic! I particularly love the 96 year old woman traveling with her daughter. I hope that's me someday. : ) I'm a very social person, so I'm sure being someplace where I can meet and talk to others will be pretty important for me. Solitude is great, but it is a long trip, so I'm really happy to hear about the many upsides of hostels. I tried to suggest staying at some on the last trip, but again...

  4. #14

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    Mindy, Yellowstone NP is a special place, no doubt about that. I have been there a couple of times. Grand Teton NP is just to the south.

    South Dakota was on your list as a state, but I am not sure how it figured into your trip planning. The Badlands NP plus the Custer State Park / Wind Cave NP greater area has several scenic drives, sites, etc. A good few days easily! A good AAA map and a couple of travel guides will open up many avenues of adventure.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,651

    Default

    Here's some more ideas, based on our summer 2014 trip: Leave Chicago, head northwest. Lake Superior is beautiful, especially around Ashland, WI. We went on the Washburn/Bayfield Loop just north of Ashland. We headed west on US-2 over to Bemidji, MN, where we went to the Headwaters of the Mississippi River near there (Itasca State Park).

    From there we headed to I-94, west through North Dakota over to Bismarck and north to Washburn, ND, to Fort Mandan (Lewis & Clark). Then headed south into South Dakota, west to Badlands National Park and the Black Hills area. Landmariner suggested that you could spend a few days in the Black Hills, and that's not a joke! We drove through Badlands on the way, not really interested in doing too much stopping there (as both of us had been there as children). In the Black Hills, we spent one day seeing Mount Rushmore and the Iron Mountain/Needles Scenic Drives in Custer State Park, and the next day doing one of the tours at Wind Cave and doing the Wildlife Loop in Custer. We headed west again, seeing Devil's Tower on the way to Billings, MT, then southwest into Yellowstone where we spent two more long days seeing YNP and another day in Grand Teton.


    Donna

  6. #16

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    Hi Again Mindy,

    Now that Donna has suggested a route over to YNP and Teton, may I suggest a return route?

    When finished at Grand Teton, you could go back up to the Moran Junction and turn there to go through the Wind River Mountains and Reservation. You intersect with I-80 at Rawlins and then take that all the way back to Chicago. There is lots to see along that route, too, and plan on a nice rest stop at the Archway at North Platte, Nebraska.

    Harry
    Roadhawk

  7. #17

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    Wow! So many ideas! This is so fantastic (and boy am I glad I decided to start planning now!). It's hard for me to really comprehend the suggested routes just yet. However, AAA maps have been ordered and hopefully I will have them soon! Then I think I will be much better able to see what you guys are talking about. (I had to order them online - there don't seem to be any AAA offices nearby that I could go to in person that are open when I can get there!)

    This is so hard - there are just so many amazing places to see, and I know I won't be able to see them all. Of course, so many on my list as of now (before even seeing some of these other options!) are all so far from each other. Glacier NP looks amazing. Olympic NP. Ecola SP. Oswald SP. Multnomah Falls. Craters of the Moon NM. Grand Teton NP. Mount Rushmore. Badlands... I mean, this isn't even everything, but this is some of what I had narrowed down to so far (and again, I hadn't even heard of some of the places you guys mentioned!).

    I need more vacation days...

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,169

    Default You've got lots of time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Challenge Accepted View Post
    I need more vacation days...
    Mindy, don't panic. I was retired and a senior citizen before I ever took my first road trip. You are young, and have your whole life ahead of you. Just make sure you don't spend all your money along the way, so you too can hit the road when you are ready.

    Lifey

  9. #19

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    In my head, I know I have time and I don't need to see it all now. But the rest of me says, "See it all now now NOW!" : )

    I was thinking about it last night and decided that I should limit this trip to things east of Portland. (I can't tell you how many times I changed this sentence... it started out as "maybe I might not possibly be able to probably should limit maybe..."). But I realized it's the only way I can realistically do this trip in 2 weeks. I just have to keep reminding myself, as you've said, that I'm still young and there's time to see those places to the west another time. I know that I won't be disappointed, and I have to have to draw the line somewhere, but I just wish I hadn't looked at all those pictures of Olympic NP, Ecola SP and Oswald West SP. : P

    Seriously, though, I think it will be for the best. I may even decide to stop the trip at Montana and not go all the way to Portland. It will depend on what I discover when I get all the tools to research (the AAA maps, for example). I had built my trip on roadtrippers (I still haven't figured out how to do it here), but I just broke it up into two separate trips. I took all those places west of Portland and saved them as a new trip... for later. I don't know why, but that made it so much easier for me to decide to stick to east of Portland for this one. Maybe seeing it mapped out like that helped to remind me that I can still go there another time. (Trying to shake that "now now NOW!" mentality.)

    I'm so antsy waiting for those maps. It will be like opening a present once they arrive. : P

  10. #20

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    It seems that I used to always start big and ambitious but as I started planning a trip out it would dawn on me that it was waaaay too ambitious. So, I would lop off huge parts until a nice tight trip emerged (still covering a lot of ground!). Realistically, for a two-week period, Montana maybe should be the extent of your wandering on this trip. Think "regional."

    Maybe 2017, for the Pacific Northwest and then you can take in, maybe, Vancouver and Victoria, BC; Seattle; Portland; and the Oregon Coast. Hmmm... still a big chunk!

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