I have some friends coming from abroad (japan) that want to trip it from the East Coast to the West Coast... we have only 2 weeks... any suggestions for a fabulously scenic and yet fast trip with major sites???
How about trying something like this...
Assuming you're starting from NYC, take Interstate Highway 80 West (I-80) through New Jersey and Pennsylvania, into Ohio. Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland (and check out the city's underrated nightlife!)
From there, I'd at least stop through Chicago and take in some of the sites.
I'd take I-90 West from there, through the very pretty state of Wisconsin, on through the southern tier of Minnesota, into South Dakota. Spend some time exploring Badlands National Park, and the Black Hills region, in the western part of the state. The Badlands is one of the most mysterious looking places in the entire country, and the Black Hills are stunningly beautiful, particularly in the spring and summer months (not to mention how sacred the land is to the indigenous peoples of the region)
From there, I'd head southwest into the Rocky Mountains. My best advice is to get individual state maps of Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah and just take mountain pass roads through the Rockies. From there, consider heading southwest towards the southern tier of Utah. There you will find four true treasures of our National Park system (Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks) All of them are beautiful, and in stark contrast to each other.
Consider Yosemite in eastern California, a stop in San Francisco (which might be the most beautiful city in the entire country), and a drive down Highway One (the coastal route) to Los Angeles, and perhaps down to San Diego as well.
Good luck and safe driving.
I agree with Angus. I would plan on spending a greater part of the time in the Northern Rockies and in Utah as it is like no other place.
If you'd like a really unusual camping spot, try Goblin Valley in Utah.
Oddly enough, we're doing this exact trip as descibed by Angus. I've never been to the Badlands or South Dakota, so I'm really looking forward to it. I've read alot of good advice here that I'm sure will be helpful.
Hope your trip is unforgettable !