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Thread: Detroit to OBX

  1. Default Detroit to OBX

    Hello Everyone,

    Posting here for the first time. This is one of the best portal on the internet providing information about road travel. Thanks to the founder, moderator, admin and everyone who has contributed here.

    Like many of the members I am here for some road trip advice and suggestion. My wife and I are planning a road trip in end of May from Detroit to Outerbanks NC. We have 9 days for the trip. We like nature and history. We plan to camp throughout the trip.

    Our initial thoughts are to start on Saturday drive 400+ miles and stop somewhere near WV/VA state line or George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, camp there. Start next morning and reach OBX by evening. Spend 2-3 days there in one or different campgrounds. I found a bunch of them and are showing available on After that head towards Asheville, cover some breweries and Biltmore Estate. Spend the night in Asheville and start next morning towards Atlanta. Spending the next day and night in Atlanta with friends. Head back to Detroit and drive straight thru probably.

    Looking for inputs on travel routes, places to cover, camping.

    Thank you!

    "The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page" - St Augustine

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    Welcome to RTA! And I love the quote.

    Your trip sounds pretty good overall, with a couple of issues. Since "end of May" is rather general, I'm not sure if you are planning to travel or camp on Memorial Day Weekend. If you are planning to camp, you might want to get a reservation right away. You may also want to check your routing and try to avoid the 95 between Baltimore and Richmond. The traffic is pretty bad there all the time.

    The other problem I see with your plan is the urge to drive from Atlanta back to Detroit in one jump. That's almost 750 miles. A commercially licensed working trucker is only allowed to drive 600 miles or 10 hours, in one sitting, and that includes any time sitting in the passenger seat. By the time you have that much time behind the wheel, you're fatigued, whether you know it or not, and you have the reflexes of a drunk driver. So you'd be best off taking a day and a half to drive that.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Beware the Grim Reaper!

    Thanks for the comments at the start of your posts. Glad you have found the information helpful. It is why we love sharing our experineces.

    Not only Memorial Day, but that whole weekend will be quite busy, and as mentioned you should attend to bookings a.s.a.p. Make sure you allow the time to set up camp and break down the camp when you plan your travel distances. As Donna mentioned, that last leg better be a day and a half, if you want to do it safely. Fatigue is such an insiduous enemy, it creeps up on you without you being aware of it, until it is too late. It kills thousands every year.


  4. Default

    Thank you Donna and Lifey,

    Appreciate the comments. We have not yet decided about the exact week. Memorial Day week will be surely busy but we save a vacation day. Week before cost extra day but comparatively less crowded. You see the big conundrum.

    I agree Atlanta to Detroit will be long for one day, so any suggestion what will be nice place to stop and cover. Similarly we are thinking to take a break before Asheville, spend the night there and head to Biltmore in the morning. What would be a good place just before Asheville to camp.

    Thanks again for the inputs.
    Last edited by Tom_H007; 09-11-2023 at 04:28 PM. Reason: removed unrendered characters

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    Assuming you're going to take the 75 all the way up from Atlanta to Detroit, finding a reasonably priced campground is not going to be easy. I've looked at your halfway point and a little further on. So it seems to me you have a choice to make: stay at a privately owned RV park/campground that night, stay overnight in a motel, or go a bit out of your way to stay at a state park in Ohio.

    For the third choice, after going through or skirting around Cincinnati, keep heading north on I-75 to exit 38. Turn east onto OH-73, and go about 20 miles to Caesar Creek State Park, which has campground. Or you can get there by getting on I-275 going around Cincinnati to the east, get off at US-42 and go east to Waynesville, where you catch OH-73 east to the state park.

    Then to get back to the 75, just head west on OH-73.

    If you don't already have one, you should have a road atlas of the US. Either pick one up locally at a bookstore or Walmart, or order one here at RTA and you'll have it pretty quickly. If you're a member of AAA, pick up a set of maps there -- they're free with your membership.

    Last edited by Tom_H007; 09-11-2023 at 04:29 PM. Reason: updated link

  6. #6


    The trade-off might be whether you want to spend some time in the destinations or mostly on the road. I see at least 5 solid days of driving and Memorial Day weekend driving is not classified as relaxed, leisure driving. Eliminating Atlanta could ease some of the driving stress.

    Campgrounds in Cape Hatteras: The Outer Banks encompasses a long distance of possibly congested 4-lane driving (northern island) or two lane driving (southern island). The two main public campgrounds are near the villages of Buxton (Lighthouse) and Frisco. Both are closer to two hours than one hour from Nags Head. Buxton may not open until Memorial Day Weekend; Frisco is further south but is a more pleasant camping experience (more protected from wind and sun). Frisco is also more remote which means fewer restaurants and grocery stores (which will be very busy on the holiday weekend).

    You mentioned camping near the WV/VA border -- two different options there, the Richmond VA or the Winston-Salem way-point routings.

    Allow some time to enjoy the OBX and Asheville!

  7. Default

    Thanks guys,

    I will check on the road atlas. Staying in a hotel will be good option after a week of camping. That way I can split the driving time evenly too.

    I want to stay in Cape Hatteras. Seems to be a center location in OBX, then drive north one day, go south the next and stay there for a day. Spending more time at the destinatio is primary for us like landmariner mentioned. I will work further on my itinerary.

    Thank you

  8. #8


    Hatteras can be interpreted as the entire Outer Banks by many although Hatteras Island is south of Oregon Inlet and Hatteras village is at the south tip of the island. Pea Island is essentially the northern end of Hatteras Island, north of Rodanthe.

    See map:

    North of Oregon Inlet up to Southern Shores is very dense. There are also some attractions such at Wright Memorial, the largest sand dunes on the East Coast and a light house. North of Southern Shores is made up of huge beach cottages, manicured lawns you could golf on (getting the picture?).

    South of Oregon Inlet, the Pea Island strip is a wild life refuge mostly. Then you find the three Villages of Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo (one no longer see boundaries nor separate speed limits). Lots of beach cottages that are mostly weekly rentals, maybe a few motels, some restaurants, some convenience stores and no real supermarket.

    The next town south is Avon: north of the pier are older beach cottages mostly, south of the pier are mostly larger beach cottages. I used to stay at the Avon Motel on occasion, but doubt I would any more (investigate current reviews). South Avon has a major supermarket and there are a number of restaurants in Avon.

    Buxton features the classic lighthouse and a national park campground (which is open to all the elements). Beautiful beaches, a local grocery store on the south end of town, several restaurants. Several motels but I would highly recommend reservations during the summer of holiday weekend (same of campgrounds). Of course, the beautiful beaches are everywhere but more so on the south island.

    Further down the road is Frisco. More beaches, fewer restaurants, some motels and a national seashore campground (nicer layout than the Buxton one as it has more protections from the elements and a little more "private." A long drive up to Kitty Hawk.

    Hatteras Village is a lot more built up than it was just ten years ago but I really can't comment on motels, etc., as i was trying not to hit the car in front of me last month!

    Ocracoke Island is all beaches until Ocracoke Village at the south tip. Travel by car ferry boat. Has all the amenities and an even more relaxed vibe, maybe more touristy in Ocracoke these days, don't know. It used to be like leaving the USA!

    If you choose to park along side of the road watch carefully for soft sand unless you have 4WD or AWD. There may also be mosquitos and greenheads.

    Hatteras Island always beckons. Only 2 out of 40 years that I have not been to the OBX.

    Note: The water is warmer in Frisco and Hatteras, south of the lighthouse, is warmer than Avon, Rodanthe, and the North Island, due to the Gulf Stream, and the later part of May shifts from a 3/2 full wetsuit to trunks in a week's time.

    P.S. US-64 to/from Manteo/Nags Head/Rt 12, is largely a nice 2-lane hwy, but on weekend travel days to/from can become very congested. Plan around Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon on Memorial Day Weekend. I-95 is equally as bad and quite frankly, all the other choke points. Plan your drive times carefully! I usually leave Buxton/Avon around 7am and then take the VA/MD Eastern Shore US 13 north to avoid Tidewater area congestion and I-95.

  9. Default

    Thank you landmariner for the detailed information. That helps to decide the time to spend and things to do in OBX.

    Asheville and Atlanta are pushing to spend more time on road, I love to drive and want to spend more time on scenic back roads and local highways see old local areas rather than on interstate when on vacation and time is not a constraint. Thats my whole idea of a road trip.

    Having said that I want to include Assateague State Park to the itinerary and drop Asheville and Atlanta (next time). I researched about it on RTA and other sites and find it to be an interesting place. Wild horses, nature, NASA museum in the area and the drive to OBX via U.S. Route 13 bridge and tunnel (an engineering marvel) seems interesting. This route will keep the itinerary mostly in one region and help in spending more time in the destination.

    So, I want to work on this itinerary and am looking for more inputs, suggestions and advice to plan this route. I plan to be in Assateague on a Monday and leave OBX on the following Saturday.

  10. #10


    Pace, it will still be a two day trip from Detroit to Assateague Island, whether you drive the northern Ohio turnpike route to Baltimore and continuing on to Assateague OR drive the Columbus to Morgantown, WV to Baltimore and on route. I prefer I-70/I-68 over the turnpike and I-68 is more scenic during the Morgantown to Hancock, MD stretch. Both travel through Baltimore which complicates working around morning rush hour traveling east from Frederick, MD to Baltimore to Annapolis, MD. Best to time the trip for a 9 to 10am arrival to the Frederick, MD area (rush hour begins around 6am and builds as you go east and continues all the way through Annapolis.

    Annapolis is a nice rest point for lunch -- Chick and Ruth's Delly ( Annapolis has a long proud history in the USA and is also home to the U.S. Naval Academy.

    Assateague National Seashore is south of touristy Ocean City, MD (boardwalk, etc.), and a different world once you cross the inlet and sound onto the barrier island. Assateague (Maryland) and Chincoteague (Virginia) are part of the same National Seashore and a week's entrance fee is good at both. Chincoteague is known for its annual pony swim but the ponies/horses roam all over Assateague in both the northern State Park and the larger southern National Park sections. Chincoteague NS is also a wildlife refuge so not pets are allowed.

    Driving time, without stopovers and traffic, is about 4 hours from Frederick, MD to Assateague. Frederick has two very good brew pubs, Brewer's Alley (in the city adjacent to a city parking garage) and Flying Dog (outside of the city in commercial area). The first has a full restaurant service and the second has food truck service. Go to both if you choose Frederick as your layover city.

    The Cambridge brewery, RAR, has some good IPAs and Hefeweizen beers. It is very popular (but not high on my list). There is another brew pub in Berlin, MD, about a half hour from Assateague. Towards the northern end of the barrier islands, in Rohoboth, DE, are two brew pubs, Dogfish Head (national craft brew reputation and full restaurant service) and a smaller mom-and-pop scale tap room with food truck (or bring your own food), Revelation Brewing. Revelation is doing a great job, so if I am in the area it is my go-to place. Nothing fancy about it but they do a great job across a wide range of beer styles.

    If you are arriving to the OBX from the north, you can check out the Weeping Radish about a half hour before reaching the causeway to the barrier islands. They brew mostly German-influence beers and prepare foods (and meats) on premises, German and American. On the barrier island in Kill Devil Hills is the Outer Banks Brewing Station, another full service sit down pub food site which can also feature some very good beers on tap.

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