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  1. Default Baltimore to California July/August

    Helping my son relocate from his active duty base in Dayton, OH, to Baltimore, MD, and he has a car and a truck, he no longer needs the truck, so I'm going to bring it home to California. So, cross-country I will be going, and the goal is to stay in the northern part of the country. On the east coast, probably make my way to Philadelphia (about as far north as I'll go), drive through southern Pennsylvania, check out civil war battlegrounds in the region, and then turn south through West Virginia and Kentucky, to Kansas City, go north, and make my way through South Dakota, Mt. Rushmore continuing to Montana...down to Yellowstone...eventually back to Northern California.

    Any "must see" spots? Recommendations for the route? I read the thread about civil war grounds, but thought I'd toss out an inquiry to get some additional input for the overall trip. I have the luxury of taking my time so no particular rush.

    Any places I should avoid? Any routes preferred over any other because of monotonous scenery, or danger, or difficult roads?

    Look forward to hearing from anyone.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Just an idea -- you could commit to driving as much of the Lincoln Highway --

    Please thank your son for his service on our behalf.

    These are weird times for most of us -- not even thinking about road trips is pretty odd for most of the Advisors on this forum. Donna has done most of the work on the Civil War thread and we have created maps showing all of the campgrounds adjacent to the Civil War sites.

    Do you like Bourbon? If you can stay a night or two in Louisville, you can walk to some of the more famous distilleries right in town. At least I think they are open, (again, weird times). And I would certainly recommend a "Hot Brown" while in Louisville.

    For those of stuck in inside these days because of Stay-at-Home orders, I don't think we know of any monotonous scenery -- other than the shape of our monitors.

    You could actually drive one of the roads on my bucket list -- The Lincoln Highway -- It was the first transcontinental highway and dates from the early 1900's.

    I am sure you'll hear from others soon. It is beautiful country you'll be driving through.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    Welcome to RTA!

    It sounds to me like there will be no monotonous viewing out your windshield at all, except maybe in South Dakota. But as I go through those areas, I think about the history that the area has, and that makes it less monotonous.

    One person's "must see" is another person's "must avoid", but there's more to some of the areas that you've listed. For instance, in the Mt Rushmore area, there is Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument, Custer State Park with its two scenic drives (Needles Highway and the Wildlife Loop), and about 50 miles west is America's first National Monument, Devil's Tower.

    At this point, it's hard to tell just what services in the national parks might be open. If you're going to Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton, Devil's Tower, etc., you might want to consider either a regular annual pass ($80) or (if you're eligible) the lifetime pass ($80 for life). At this time, the parks have a lot of buildings and most of the cave places have the caves closed. But by late July and into August, who knows????

    I've been recommending that travelers take their own disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting toiletries with them, along with their own pillows if using hotels. Be sure to bring a mask as other states are like us in California, requiring them. Plus gloves of some sort for fueling that truck. The most difficult is eating out. There are a few states that are still on "take out" and "drive through" only, though most are starting to open up dining rooms.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Since your route from PA to South Dakota is already going to take you as far south as Kentucky, you might consider going even farther south and head all the way to Vicksburg. Presumably Gettysburg is a primary stop in PA (don't underestimate how big Gettysburg is, and consider hiring a guide who will ride with you in your car if that's still available this year), and as such, hitting the sites of the 2 major civil war battles that took place on the same day would be a unique way to bookend the trip.

    If not, Fort Donaldson is another significant site that was a major turning point for General Grant, and just south of the KY border and the also worthwhile Land Between the Lakes Recreation area.

    As far as danger, your single biggest danger will the Pandemic. Obviously, you'll need to take extra precaution to avoid becoming infect and even more importantly avoid spreading the virus. As with everything this year, flexibility will be king, as no one can say what kind of COVID restrictions will be in place 2 months from now. Even for National Parks, the restrictions are different from place to place and are changing frequently.

  5. Default

    Thanks for all the input. I do intend to make my way through Louisville - was there once and there are still a couple of bourbon types I need to try...just a couple more left on the list! I picked up some books on civil war battlegrounds and will definitely take a look. Lots of things to see for sure.

    Most of the parks are closed still...hopefully that will change. There is an interactive site about Gettysburg, and the visitor center looks very interesting.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default More History and Scenery

    Taking you at your word about your choice of route (i.e. assuming Kansas City is a 'must see' stop for you) and interests (history and scenery) I've got a few suggestions for you. But as always the final choice of what to see and which routes to take to those sites will be up to you. That's the whole point of RoadTrips, the freedom to do what you want at your own pace.

    Let's start with the very first leg, Baltimore to Philadelphia. Every mapping routine that exists will send you up I-95. That section, except for crossing the Susquehanna, is about as boring, unscenic, and stressful as any road I've ever driven. For the record, I grew up in Delaware, went to high school outside Baltimore, and worked for several years in south Philly so I've driven that bit of I-95 more times than I care to remember or even think about. So what's an alternative? Unfortunately, there's really only one, US-1, but it is just a very long suburban strip-mall-lined thoroughfare at least to Bel Air MD. So that's where I'd start. Take I-95 to MD-24 north at Exit 77A. Head on up to US-1 (NOT Business-US-1 which will take you through downtown Bel Air) north around Bel Air and follow that for a while. Besides being a more relaxing and scenic route, US-1 will take you by a couple of possibly worthwhile locations. First, there's Longwood Gardens which if open - it's currently not - would provide a refreshing chance to get some exercise. Then there's Brandywine Battlefield where a British sniper had Gen. Washington in his sights but decided not to fire. Unfortunately, US-1 is not a great way to enter Philly for the same reason it wasn't a great way to leave Baltimore. So look at using US-322 east from just past Brandywine Battlefield to reconnect with I-95 north into the city. At least that portion of I-95 is toll free.

    In Philadelphia itself, there are many historic sites including Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House, the USS Olympia (Commodore Perry's Flagship), and for just a breath of fresh air Fairmount Park. Once again, leaving Philly means using some very unrelaxing roads, but your goal is to get out of the city and onto open highway as quickly as possible. To that end your best choice is the Schuylkill Expressway to the Pennsylvania Turnpike (both marked as I-76). Exit 320 from the Turnpike would put you on PA-29 south to US-202 west to US-30 west and on to Gettysburg. Also don't overlook Chambersburg just down the road.

    As you next head down I-81 to I-70/I-68 west through Maryland, you might want to make a stop along America's first interstate road, the National Road at the LaVale Toll Gate House. Next up, south of I-79 near Charleston WV, would be New River Gorge. As you then head into and through Kentucky on I-64, there are a number of Civil War battle sites along with Mammoth Cave, of course. Just a note there, try to arrive at the cave early as the first tours of the day tend to be the least crowded. Also Kentucky has built a fairly extensive system of Parkways and while I haven't driven them all, I have found those that I have used to be good alternatives to the Interstates. In western Kentucky there are two early Civil War battle sites you might want to check out, Paducha, Fort Henry and Fort Donelson.

    Well, I can see that if I keep going at this level of detail, this is going to turn into an epistle, so just a few scattered suggestion for the rest of your trip... North of Kansas City is the town of St. Joseph, home to the start of both the Pony Express Route and the Oregon Trail which basically follows I-80/US-30/the Platte River and would organically (and scenically) take you through Nebraska and on into Wyoming. You could also use US-26 west from Ogallala and US-385 north from Bridgeport up into the Rapid City SD area where, besides Mount Rushmore, there's also Wind and Jewel Caves, the Badlands and Devils Tower.

    Similar adventures can be found between Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons and wherever you're ultimately headed in northern California, but we'd need to know a bit more about your specific destination and whether any of our suggestions have proven useful so far.


  7. Default

    AZ Buck - that's EXACTLY the input I was hoping to find. THANKS!

    KC/St. Louis just happen to be on the way to getting to Mt. Rushmore...absolutely incidental since they look on the map to be towards my ultimate direction. No particular reason to go there. So I'm wide open after Gettysburg area...planning to go through WVA and KY...already went through Ohio on the way to the question is the route from, say, Louisville to Black Hills.

    At this point I'm just looking for some bucket list stuff. My ultimate destination is Sacramento. I know that northern Nevada is pretty dismal and uneventful...but not sure I can avoid it.

  8. #8

    Default Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

    If you are going through South Dakota on I-90 and have any interest in the Cold War the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is just off the interstate by The Badlands. It can be a short visit at the Visitors Center or plan ahead and actually visit a Missile silo. Check the website for more information as the Visitors Center is still closed and like so many places are doing a slow reopening.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-11-2020 at 06:12 PM. Reason: added the article that Michael Roth wrote about his visit

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Classic Basin and Ridge scenery.

    Quote Originally Posted by lanzador49 View Post
    I know that northern Nevada is pretty dismal and uneventful...but not sure I can avoid it.
    What! Are you kidding me? Northern Nevada has some of the most spectacular driving roads in America! Classic Basin and Ridge scenery. Have you actually driven there? You could go right through the Basin and Ridge National Monument.

    If you have never driven NV-317 from Caliente to Elgin -- you have to do it! It's like being in Zion NP with no one there. And Kane Springs Road to US 93 is one of my favorite roads. Actually, I guess you might think that is too far south if you are heading to Sacramento. But you could certainly drive US-50 (Again along the old Lincoln Highway) to Carson City and thence to Sacramento.

    And there is all sorts of cool stuff along I-80 if you want to stay north.


  10. Default

    Thanks for the insights...all of that is probably a little too far south for me for this trip.

    I did hang out in Black Rock one week for Burning week was enough. But the stillness was spectacular.

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