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  1. Default Cross Country Road Trip! NJ - SF, CA

    Hi all! My bf and I are moving out to San Fran from NJ and have to bring the car so we will be driving out on Aug 18th. We have no set day that we have to be there by- just trying to make it in one piece and see the most/ have the most fun possible on the way! I was hoping for advice and what other people thought about the plan. Background: we are both in our mid 20s and looking to see some awesome nature! We enjoy good night life but trying to make this more of a scenic trip if anything. Also we are planning in stopping in Denver to visit some friends. We are trying to make it to CO from NJ as quick as possible (2 days?) as there really is nothing between the two that we are interested to see, rather save more time for the West. We have a couple route options after stopping in Denver, but need help deciding. This kind of depends on whether we go to LA or not. We have people to stay with in LA so that wouldnt be an issue, but then again it isn't a must as we wont be too far and can make a trip there another time. All times don't include stopping on the road....


    - Sat Aug 18: Drive half way to Denver and spend the night ~around St. Louis area? Approx. 14.5 hrs ... maybe should make this stop closer? Idk

    - Sun 19: Make it to Denver! Approx 12 hr from St. Louis

    - Mon 20 & Tues 21: Spend some time in Denver!

    Route 1:

    - Wed 22: Leave for Moab, UT ~5.5 hrs

    - Thur 23: Spend day in Moab!

    - Fri 24: Drive to Grand Canyon ~6 hrs? Depends where we go in GC

    - Sat 25: Spend time in GC!

    - Sun 26: Drive to LA ~7.5 hr

    - Mon 27: Spend time in LA and eventually make our way up to SF

    ^^^^ Open to altering this route to maybe see Canyonlands or Antelope Canyon instead, okay with not seeing GC if it will be too busy this time of year? Open to suggestions.

    Route 2:

    - Wed 22: Leave for Yellowstone, WY ~8.5 hrs

    - Thur 23 and Fri 24: Enjoy Yellowstone

    - Sat 25: Leave for SF????

    - Sun 26: stop somewhere cool in-between?

    - Mon 27: Chill?

    - Tues 28: Get to SF?

    Nothing in this trip we HAVE to go to other than Denver and ending up in SF. Open to any and all suggestions - especially driving suggestions for the scenic route. We are open to doing a mix of staying in hotels and camping. Looking to do some cool stuff depending where were going like rafting. I am aware this is very last minute, so anything helps!

    Thanks xx

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Dead in the Water

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Hopefully, the title of this response is nothing more than a figure of speach. But as your plan now stands, the only thing wrong with it is the word 'water'. Anywhere in New Jersey (I chose Trenton to give you the benefit of the doubt) requires a MINIMUM of three and a half days to drive safely. Certainly not 2! That would require you to drive 900 miles each day! Not going to happen. It doesn't help that you have two drivers. The car won't go any faster, and indeed the more people in the car the slower you go, the more stops you have to make, and the longer each of those stops takes. If you are counting on one of you sleeping while the other drives, that too is counter-productive since you simply can't get quality sleep while sitting in a noisy, moving car. And while one of you is sleeping, who's helping the driver and making sure that he/she is not starting to nod off behind the wheel? Fatigue is insidious. By the time you think you're tired, your reflexes have been similar to a drunk driver's for many, many miles.

    Also, It's clear that you're getting your driving time estimates from a computer mapping program. Those times are pure fantasy! They are based on the assumption that you will be driving at or above the speed limit every minute of every hour, that you will never have to stop for gas, never have to stop to eat, never have to visit a bathroom, never see a traffic light or stop sign, never see a construction zone, never get behind a slow moving truck while it passes another, etc., etc., etc. You need to add at least 20% to those estimates to get a realistic idea of how long it will take you to get from Point A to Point B.

    You need to go back to square one and replan this trip with a more realistic vision of what will be possible. No more than 550 miles a day. Plan on taking breaks outside the car every few hours just to walk around and clear your mind, even if there's "nothing...that [you] are interested to see." That is, literally, the only way to meet your primary goal, "to make it in one piece."


  3. Default

    Thank you for the advice! I know that these times are obviously not what it will take (as I wrote above, these time estimates do not include stopping). I was hoping to make it to Colorado in two days and have been told by others that it IS possible, just not easy. I have done NJ --> Chicago in one day in the past which is similar. I guess we will fit in an additional stop if we have to.

    Do you have any other suggestions on the leg of the trip after Denver? Or where to stop b/w NJ and CO? I lived in Pittsburgh, Illinois, and Iowa so thats why were thinking of the route through Missouri and Kansas instead.

  4. #4


    Two days from New Jersey to Denver? No way, and I’m not one of the experts here even saying that who can give you all the really good reasons not to try that. Take three days. Looking at a map go as far as Dayton, Ohio. There may not be “anything interesting” to see but if you have any interest at all in aircraft, space, rockets, etc. go to the Air Force Museum right off of I-70. It puts the Smithsonian Air & Space museums to shame in size. Then stop the next night in Kansas City. There are things there but really, just prep yourself for the long trip across Kansas. You will get into Denver safely. If you have to be in Denver on a weekend due to seeing friends, can you start a day earlier?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    When they say it is"possible" to make it from NJ to Colorado in 2 days, they certainly aren't including the word "safely."

    If you are willing to be a homicidal lunatic, willing to engage in activity every bit as dangerous and deadly as drink driving, not giving any thought at all to your own safety, much less the safety of every other person you will be sharing the road with, then, I guess it's "possible." We can't stop you from doing something so reckless, but will you be about to live with yourself in the very real possiblity the you kill someone along the way?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    As has been said, plan for 3 days to Denver and then spend the evening and following morning with your friends before heading to Moab, it will be safe and much more comfortable. What's the point of gambling in getting there and then finding you are too exhausted to enjoy seeing your friends ?

    We have people to stay with in LA so that wouldnt be an issue, but then again it isn't a must as we wont be too far and can make a trip there another time. All times don't include stopping on the road....
    To have a fun and more relaxed trip I would do exactly this and catch up with these friends once you are settled. As it is you are going to spend most of the 2 days behind the wheel getting in and out of LA and little time with your friends anyway. It would then make sense to consider visiting the North rim of the Grand canyon and visit Capitol Reef NP and Bryce canyon on the way with an overnight stop. The drive on UT24/scenic 12 is memorable !

  7. Default

    Thanks for the advice! I have a place to stay in Pittsburgh so possibly considering driving to Pitt from NJ and then driving to around Columbia, MO and then off to Denver the following day. It will be around 700 miles each day (aside from the 370 miles to Pittsburgh). Although it would of course make sense to drive a little further out that first day, but trying to save money where we can and I can sleep for free in Pittsburgh.
    As for after Denver... I am thinking of nixing the idea of going to LA and just make that a separate idea for another time. So what do you suggest I do/route I take to SF? I definitely would love to visit the parks around Moab, but as said i'm open to anything. I don't HAVE to go to Grand Canyon either. How were you suggesting going about the North Rim/ CRNP / Bryce Park trip? Do all of that while staying in Moab? Or do some Moab parks and then head south and hit those spots along the way to Grand Canyon? I am considering maybe going to Moab area from Denver and spending a few days in Utah and going to Canyonlands and not go to Grand Canyon. And then somehow make it to SF from there, but I would stop in between. So is there anywhere worthwhile stopping in Nevada on that route?
    Just wondering whats the best things I should see on this trip of opportunity! Thank you so much!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    It will be around 700 miles each day
    NO. That's too far. Limit each day to less than 600 miles. If you don't, the lack of rest will creep up on you, causing safety issues.

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

    Default A clearer picture will help.

    I don't HAVE to go to Grand Canyon either. How were you suggesting going about the North Rim/ CRNP / Bryce Park trip? Do all of that while staying in Moab? Or do some Moab parks and then head south and hit those spots along the way to Grand Canyon?
    You can't visit those places while staying in Moab and it would be pointless heading towards SF each day and turning around to go back to Moab. Have a look at your maps and you should be able to plot it out. I think at the moment you need to start over and get a clear picture of how long you want to take and what places are really a 'must see' for you. Once you have a clearer picture then we can help with meaningful suggestions. For example, there is no mention of Yellowstone in your latest post which would cut out a lot of miles and free up time that you could dedicate in Colorado and Utah. For example you could visit Rocky mountain NP between Denver and Moab, but there are literally a 1001 things you could see.

  10. Default

    UPDATE: We are leaving tomorrow morning! For better or for worse lol. So we planned to make it to Denver in three days. Leaving Saturday morning and planning on arriving Monday evening. Approx. 600 miles/ day. We dont have planned where were stopping exactly just gonna drive (as said) approx 600 miles a day and find a hotel where we end up. Not the best plan, but doable!

    Arriving in Denver on Monday 8/20 evening and staying until Thursday 8/23 morning when we leave for Moab. Might stop at hanging lake on the way there. Staying in Moab until Sunday 8/26 morning- during our time there we plan to definitely visit Arches and Canyonlands, maybe Zion and Bryce. Sunday morning we leave for San Fransisco and plan on making it there Monday 8/27 night, so stopping somewhere in Nevada in between.

    If anyone has suggestions on places to stop between Jersey and Denver, or Moab and SF i'm open! Thanks!

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