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  1. Default Six week wedding/honeymoon road trip

    Hello road trippers!

    My fiancee and I are planning a six-week road trip through the Western part of Canada and most of the USA, with the basic intent to skip the fancy and expensive wedding day in order to do the things we love and visit the people we love in their own cities. I've been planning the trip, and my biggest challenge is how much I want to see - and how big America is! We're more interested in hiking/camping/photographing wilderness areas, and eating incredible food, and less interested in the typical sights (i.e. Vegas, Mount Rushmore, etc).

    We love road trips and have done quite a few, but those have been 3-4 day ones down the coast. I'm a little concerned that I'm being too ambitious, and that we'll be sick of driving and sick of each other by the end of the proposed trip. What do you think? We also will have a young dog, so need to plan enough time to get her out and about.

    Here is my planned itinerary, and the questions I have about it. I bolded the things I'm most excited about, and italicized the things I'm questioning/less keen on. We're leaving at the end of August and will be back mid-October.

    Tofino - 3 nights
    Vancouver - 2 nights
    Okanagan (somewhere) - 1 night
    Canadian Rockies - 2 nights
    Edmonton - 1 night (visiting friends)
    St Mary/Glacier National Park - 1 night - to drive the Going to the Sun Road
    West Yellowstone - 1 night
    Pinedale - 3 nights (spending the morning checking out Yellowstone geysers, then two nights in the backcountry in the Wind River Range)
    Salt Lake City - 1 night
    Zion NP - 2 nights (second day doing Angel's Landing, leaving the puppy in doggy daycare)
    Durango - 1 night
    Crested Butte - 2 nights (really want to do an overnight hike near Maroon Pass - any suggestions?)
    Now we need to get to Kansas City... Is there anywhere good to stop? Should we just power through? We could do an overnight, but that reduces the amount of time we can spend in places I'm more keen on going.
    Kansas City - 2 nights
    St Louis - 1 night (do we need to bother stopping? Or should we just drive straight through to...)
    Louisville - 1 night
    Asheville - 2 nights
    I really want to go see the Low Country/Savannah & Charleston... but with all the driving we're doing, it's an additional distance. Should we just do it?
    New Orleans - 2 or 3 nights
    Mid-Texas - 2 nights (visiting friends)
    Marfa - 2 nights (or should we just do 1?)
    White Sands National Monument - 1 night
    Tuscon - 1 night (really just set to break up the drive... should we just power through to Phoenix? It would mean a 7.5 hour drive one day instead of a 5 and 2.25)
    Phoenix - 2 nights (visiting friends)
    Stopping somewhere on the way to the coast.. San Bernadino National Forest?
    San Luis Obispo - 1 night
    Drive the coast up to San Francisco - 2 nights

    Somewhere to stop between SF and Portland?
    Portland - 1 night

    And then back home.

    Is this too ambitious? Just right? I included some stops that I'm less excited about because I was trying to break up the drive, but the other option is to have really long driving days 8-10 hours driving, and then stop somewhere for a few nights. Which in your experience is better?

    Really appreciate your advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Trying to do it all at once rarely makes for a great trip.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrtip Forum.

    Congratulations on your upcoming wedding.

    For a honeymoon roadtrip this is going to be very rushed. Do you really want to spend your honeymoon cooped up in a car for up to 12 hours a day? If I were you, I would concentrate on the areas where you have planned some great wilderness hikes.

    As I read through the rest of your rushing around, it is hard to remember that this is a honeymoon trip, with all the romance that that implies.

    So often less is more. Back to the drawing board!

    Why not have a good chat with your fiance. Focus on one area and design a trip which you will remember for a lifetime..... for all the right reasons.

    The best of luck.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Have to Agree

    Your honeymoon is a time to relax, enjoy, and really get to know your new life's partner rather than a time to put stress on the relationship. That's not to say you can't have adventures, indeed you should. But day after day of almost non-stop driving, changing rooms, living out of your suitcases (or backpacks), and caring for the needs of a puppy is not an adventure its a slog through hell. I'd really encourage you to look instead at far fewer places that define the top of your own list of must-see areas, plan on spending a week in each one, and doing day trips from a central location. It is often possible to rent small houses for a week for about the same cost as motel rooms. Good sites to check for such rentals include VRBO, HomeAway, and RedWeek. A generic search for 'vacation rentals' and the town name will yield other options. This has become my wife and my preferred lodging choice. It is immeasurably more enjoyable, more relaxing, and more romantic than a constant pack/drive/unpack/repeat cycle. And you typically get a full kitchen, free wi-fi, some sort of yard or patio, and a host to answer your questions.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Tighten the loop perhaps.

    You were right to be concerned and I would echo what has been said, cut back and enjoy this special time in fewer special places. For example, Yellowstone. You would barely have time to drive through the park with one night between travelling from Glacier to Pinedale. Yellowstone really needs [and deserves] a minimum of 3-4 days, especially when combined with the wonder of the Grand Tetons just south of the park. Instead of adding all those miles in the car heading east and south, you could be enjoying other parks in the west, Bryce canyon, Grand canyon and one of my favourites Yosemite.

    If you are planning on dropping the car rental off in a different country to where you collected it, then you can expect it to be very expensive. Completing a loop and dropping off the car and flying in and out of the same city could save you quite a bit of cash.

  5. Default

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I guess I got a little bit excited by how much amazing stuff there was to do, but you're right we do need this to be a little more relaxed and more about spending time together and experiencing beautiful places. The biggest challenge is that we will have to start and end in Vancouver, go to Edmonton and go to Texas.

    The accommodation plan is to AirBnB where it makes sense (because I agree on the nicety of having a kitchen), camp where that's the best choice, and do backcountry camping when we hike. Our vehicle is a 4x4 van with a bed in the back, so we're able to get almost anywhere and sleep almost anywhere, which is a bonus.

    Southwest Dave, re: Yellowstone... The reason I minimized time in National Parks is because we have the dog. Everything I've read says that with a dog you can't get off the parking lots or parked roads, and that is not the way I like to travel. We're spending more time in wilderness areas near the NPs in order to get the same scenery, but with freedom for the dog and fewer crowds. The only hike in a NP I'm set on is Angel's Landing in Zion, and I've found a doggy daycare nearby that can take care of the pup.

    Here is an updated itinerary. Still some long drives, but a more relaxed pace. What do you think of this? And because we do spend a lot of time going to wilderness areas near our home, we're used to 4-6 hour drives to get somewhere as long as we have a night or two to enjoy that destination.

    Tofino - 3 nights (6 hour ferry/drive)
    Vancouver - 2 nights (6 hour drive)
    Kamloops - 1 night (4 hour drive)
    Jasper NP - 2 nights (5 hour drive)
    Edmonton - 1 night (3.5 hour drive)
    Canmore - 1 night (3.5 hour drive)
    Whitefish (Glacier NP) - 2 nights (5.5 hour drive)
    West Yellowstone (Yellowstone NP) - 2 nights (6.5 hour drive)
    Pinedale (Wind River Range) - 3 nights - including 1 night in backcountry (4 hour drive)
    Aspen - 4 nights - including 3 nights in backcountry on Maroon Bells pass (7 hour drive)
    Montrose - 1 night (3 hour drive, post hike)
    Durango - 2 nights (2.5 hour drive)
    Santa Fe - 2 nights (4 hour drive)
    Pit stop somewhere? - 1 night
    Austin - 3 nights (11 hour drive)
    Marfa - 1 night (6.5 hour drive)
    White Sands NM - 1 night (3.5 hour drive)
    Phoenix - 2 nights (7 hour drive)
    Page - 2 nights (6 hour drive)
    Zion NP - 2 nights (2 hour drive)
    Mojave National Preserve - 1 night (5.5 hour drive)
    San Luis Obispo - 2 nights (6.5 hour drive)
    San Francisco - 1 night (3.5 hour drive) -- only one night because we've been here a lot
    Pit stop along the coast - 1 night
    Portland - 2 nights (13 hour drive, broken up with the coastal stop)
    Back to Vancouver.

    Thoughts on this itinerary?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    While still very busy, this seems like a step in the right direction. The east coast seemed like a huge detour from what you wanted to get out of this trip.

    I will warn you that it appears that you are taking the drive time estimates from an online mapping program and they are usually very optimistic, especially over long distances. The one spot that really stand out in that regard is the idea to head up the coast from San Francisco, and still make it to Portland in 2 days. Following the coast, that's way more than a 13 hour drive and really a section you should be looking at at least 3 or 4 days, even more if you want to do any real exploring of the area.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    I would agree with Michael that it's a step in the right direction. To get to Portland with just one overnight stop you would have to take 101 from SF where you would miss out on the coast along CA1 and you still wouldn't have much time to stop and see the sights. It's your trip and no one knows what appeals to you like you do, but when I look at it Austin, Marfa and White sands that put on a lot of miles and time in the car, time that could be spent enjoying more of SF, the coast and/or at other spots along your route.

  8. Default

    Thank you Michael and Dave!

    Yes, the driving times are from Google Maps so I know they are VERY optimistic.

    I had less time on the coast because we're from Vancouver, and are more familiar with that kind of coastline, but in the attempt to make things more relaxed... I cut out the second night in Page (will skip Antelope canyon) in order to go straight to Zion, and now have two nights to spend between San Francisco and Portland. Do you have a specific route you'd recommend?

    I was thinking maybe taking the 101 from SF to Trinidad (apparently cuter than Eureka) - 5 hours in Google time - and then spending the next day doing the slow cruise along the coast to Bandon. From Bandon, onto the 5 for a 5 hour drive to Portland.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    That would work but where to stay will depend on what you want to see on the way. You really should drive 'The Avenue of Giants' in Humboltd Redwoods SP and you might first want to stop on the Marin Headlands just to the north of the Golden Gate bridge which offers great views of the bridge and city of San Fran from Conzelman road. That would make a full day on the road starting out from SF and ending in Trinidad, but it could be done with an early start. The next day to Bandon and you could visit the lovely grove of Redwoods at Ladybird Johnson grove and then drive the Newton B Drury scenic parkway through Prarie creek. After that there are many scenic pull outs with coastal views to enjoy like Natural bridges and Arch rock in the Samuel H Boardman SP, further up the coast is Sisters rock, Devils Backbone and the Bandon beach loop drive to name but a few.

  10. Default

    Hi everyone,

    I've done even more soul searching, and agree that the reduced distance may still be hectic. While we love road trips and would still get quality time in the car, I do want to have plenty of time to sleep in, go on big hikes, and veer off onto detours.

    New NEW itinerary below, and questions!

    Tofino - 3 nights
    Vancouver - 2 nights (6 hour driving)
    Kamloops - 1 night (4 hours driving)
    Field - 2 nights (4.5 hours driving)
    Edmonton - 2 nights (5 hours driving)
    St Mary/Glacier NP - 2 nights (6 hours driving)
    West Yellowstone - 1 night (6.25 hours driving)
    Jackson (visiting Yellowstone en route) - 1 night (3 hours driving)
    via Pinedale to the Wind River Range - 2 nights in the backcountry (2 hours driving)
    via somewhere (any suggestions?) to Aspen - 1 night pre hike (7 hours driving)
    Maroon Bells hike - 3 nights backcountry
    Boulder - 3 nights (4 hours driving)
    Santa Fe - 2 nights (6 hours driving)
    White Sands National Monument - 1 night (4 hours driving)
    Phoenix - 3 nights (7 hours driving)
    Grand Canyon - 1 night (3.5 hours driving)
    Page - 2 nights (2 hours driving)
    Zion NP - 2 nights (2 hours driving)
    Mojave National Preserve - 1 night (5.5 hours driving)
    San Luis Obispo - 1 night (6.5 hours driving)
    San Francisco - 2 nights (3.5 hours driving)
    via somewhere? Any suggestions on a beautiful sight/beach/campground/beach town?
    Trinidad - 1 night
    Bandon - 1 night
    via somewhere? Any suggestions on another beautiful sight/beach/campground/beach town?
    Portland - 2 nights
    Vancouver - back to reality!

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