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  1. Default Cross Country VA to LA

    I'm working on planning a 2 - 3 week cross country road trip and I am looking for suggestions on how to work in everything I want to do. Being a group of 4 with previous experience with long drives non-stop (15 - 20 hours) I dont believe that long drives will be an issue. Does anyone have suggestions of places that would help complete a loop that goes through Banff NP, Glacier NP, Yosemite NP, Big Bear Lake CA, Zion NP, Grand Canyon NP, and Arches NP? Also any tips on lesser known things to go and do in any of the places listed? Also looking for cheap/ free camping along the route. Thanks in advanced

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default More bacon than the pan can handle

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Let me start by saying that if your expectations are to drive 15-20 hours at a time, then you absolutely have a major problem with long drives. Doing that in a single shot is dangerous enough, but trying to do it as part of a long distance trip, where you need to be on the road for multiple days at a time is down right homicidal. By day two, you'll be every bit as dangerous as a drunk driver, a problem that would only get worse as you continue moving forward. Having multiple drivers doesn't change the reality of fatigue, and even if you manged to not kill someone else with your car, I assure you, the 4 of you will be more than ready to kill each other from the combination of fatigue and close quarters. 600 miles a day should be the upper limit of what you try to cover in a day, from both a safety and enjoyment perspective.

    The reality is with 2 weeks, you don't have enough time to hit all the places on your list - even if you were just going one way (and based on stating you want to do this as a loop, I assume you need to return to VA). If you were at a full 3 weeks, you could theoretically drive to all those places, but even there, that's all you would be doing, is driving from place to place, without time to stop and see anything.

    Unless you can get significantly more time, I'd strongly recommend cutting your list in half - either do the southern things, like Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, and Arches - or the northern locations like Banff, Glacier, and Yosemite. Frankly, even there, trying to fit either of those in those with less than 3 weeks would be a pretty rushed trip, but at least it would within the realm of reasonable.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Yes, Issue

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    I'm sorry, but successfully getting through a few rounds of Russian Roulette does not mean that I get to say "I don't believe that...will be an issue" for any and all subsequent rounds. The FACT is that drowsy driving is every bit as dangerous as drunk driving, and there are legal restrictions on professional long-haul drivers for just that reason. You're proposing to do twice what those limits are. We can not and will not condone any plan that relies on such ill-considered expectations of what's possible.

    The fact is that you would need two full weeks just to do the driving entailed in the itinerary you've set out. And that's if you plan to use motels where you pull off the highway and directly into their parking lot, go to bed, sleep eight hours, get up, and hop in the car and go. If you plan on camping, you'll have to add the time to get to the campsite, set up, strike the camp the next morning and get back to the highway. So at best, if you have three full weeks for the loop, you might have seven days to visit seven sites, each of which is worthy of several days' exploration.

    If all you have is two weeks, then this trip is a non-starter. You might as well just lock yourselves in the car on your driveway and run the engine. If you can make it three weeks, it becomes 'possible' but you'll be spending the vast majority of your time sitting in the car or asleep, not visiting scenic locales. And no, having multiple drivers does not help. The legal limits cited above count ANY time in the cabin as time behind the wheel, and in any event, having more drivers does not mean the car will go faster or that there will be more hours in the day. Quite the opposite. You'll be spending more time at each food/fuel/restroom break, always constrained to wait for whoever is slowest at that stop.

    Please reconsider the scope of this trip, add more time, or both. But tips on other places to see would just be a waste of both our time and yours. You simply do not have enough time to safely do what you are already proposing to do.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-29-2020 at 01:03 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Also looking for cheap/ free camping along the route.
    While I understand that you are excited and really seem to want to see the things you've outlined, Buck and Michael have both done a super job of letting you know about the problems you're up against with this plan. They also spoke of the time that it takes to set up a campsite, and tear down, and that has to fit into your day.

    If you can get this into a more workable plan (as suggested above), then you can look at our special forum, Camping Road Trips. We have threads about camping along most of the Interstate highways and the US highways, and much more. These threads are all concerned with the least expensive camping, which is usually city, county, and state parks, along with national forests and national parks.

    Free campsites do exist, but they are often hard to locate, definitely not on the easily beaten path, and very few and far between. Where they are, you won't have water (so plan to tote your own water for cooking, washing dishes and bathing), picnic tables, or fire pit. The lower priced campsites vary in price, but start at $10 and move on up. If you're interested, here is a link to the Interstate Campgrounds. This is another post about the costs involved in tent camping.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default The price you pay for free camping.

    As mentioned above, fatigue is a huge issue with long distance drives. Unfortunately it sneaks up on you without your being aware of it. By the time you become aware, you have already been driving for hours in a fatigued state. You may feel OK, and not tired, but then I have never heard drunk driver say/admit that he was not fit to drive. Worse still on a multi day trip fatigue is cumulative, each day adding to the previous. [I recently took a day trip locally, and there were numerous roadside billboards telling me - and all other drivers - that only sleep cures fatigue.]

    Furthermore, a recent email which came into my inbox was headed the 20 best free camp spots in the US. The bit that struck me in particular is that it emphasized that roads in (and out) were not the sort of roads you want to drive in the dark or when you are tired, they were usually long and slow. No reason to think that most other free sites are any different. It is the nature of those sites that they are mostly isolated. The price you pay for free camping Neither are these spots ever near the highways or an urban area, nor a tourist attraction, such as the parks.

    In other words, you'd need to arrive in daylight, leave in daylight and drive a fair distance to the attractions. Beter off camping inside the parks, at least you can enjoy it from he moment you wake to the moment you go to sleep. If that is beyond your budget, you may have to delay this trip till funds are available to enjoy all of it SAFELY!


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