CA to MN with Kids - RT
We are looking at a 3-4 week trip from California to Duluth Minnesota and back. We do not have the highly acclaimed Microsoft software and the "local" software store is over sixty miles away. There will be two to three adults and four children ages 4 thru 11 in a motorhome. Our goal is to see as much of America as we can while not driving each other mad. Our agenda will include a couple of days in the California Redwoods, Montana (Bitterroots), and a stop in Durango to visit friends. Other areas of interest include: Oregon (what to see and do?), Mt. St. Helens, Couer d'lene, some of Utah's splendor and ??? The plan is to travel between 300-450 miles at a time. Suggestions/ideas as to what to hit and miss are appeciated. Also campground ideas both public and private are needed. It is unlikely that we will be pulling into any spots early in the day, so please mention if these fill rapidly.
I plugged your destinations into MS Streets & Trips to see what I could come up with. I figured you would be traveling at about 55mph in a motorhome although you might be going slower through some of the passes. Depends on your motorhome, I guess. I also plugged in going the scenic routes, not the quickest ones. For example, I have you going up the Oregon coast which is fairly slow driving in a motor home. That 460 miles from the Redwoods to Mt. St. Helens can easily take 2 days on the coast...or more if you enjoy some stops. It is a quick 1-day shot up I-5.
If I remember reading here on another thread, you're from San Diego, right? So I calculated it from there.
Total driving time is about 103 hours at 55mph.
San Diego to Redwoods: about 975 miles
Redwoods to Mt. St. Helens: about 460 miles.
Mt. St. Helens to Coeur d'Alene, ID: about 400 miles. .
Coeur d'Alene to Duluth: about 1300 miles
Duluth to Durango: about 1500 miles
Durango to San Diego: about 800 miles
Hopefully this will give you some ideas of timeframes from place to place to plan your stops, sightseeing, etc.
Things to see and do is hard to advise as we all have different tastes. What I am suggesting is really just some of the minimum things you should see if time allows.
Oregon Coast: Bandon, Oregon Dunes, Oregon Caves, Newport, Tillamook, Seaside, Astoria, Fort Clatsop. Lots of neat lighthouses are along the coast.
Oregon up I-5: Crater Lake, Oregon Gardens, lots of various fun stuff in Portland, Mt. Hood, veer to the east in Portland to enjoy the beautiful Columbia River Gorge area
Washington: Mt. Rainier, San Juan Islands, Olympic National Park, North Cascades Scenic Highway, Washington side of Columbia River Gorge, Seattle, Winthrop, Leavenworth, Grand Coulee Dam
Colorado: Dinosaur Park, Leadville, Rocky Mountain National Park, Mesa Verde
Utah: Arches, Canyonlands, Needles...actually, all the parks there are very cool and worth stops at if time allows. Beautiful!
Hope this helps a bit!
First I would not even go unless you have 4 weeks. If you only have 3 weeks you are going to spend all your time driving there and back and won't have any time for sight seeing.
I also plugged in your points of interest and mine below and I came up with a total of about 5,700 miles. That's at least 12 days of driving right there. Driving the coast of California is going to be SLOW!
If you had more time I would suggest going to Yellowstone but that would take at least 2 to 3 days to really see the park. I would suggest Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota on the way out.
On the way back check out Rocky Mountain National Park just norht of Denver. From Denver I would take Interstate 70 to Grand Junction and then go south on Hwy 50 and 550 to Durango. From Ouray to Durango is the Million Dollar Highway and it's beautiful. East of Durango is Mesa Verde National Park.
From Mesa Verde work you way over to Monument Valley on the AZ-Utah border just above Kayenta, AZ, then on to Page, AZ and the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area (Lake Powell), Bryce and Zion National Parks before heading home.
We have a motorhome and go on long trips. We usually like to keep the driving around 200 - 350 miles a day to keep it relaxing. Once in a while when we want to make time we will do up to a 500 mile trip. We only have one driver so if you have more than one driver you can do the longer days.
Borg software is not necessary
First of all, the Microsoft software is hardly necessary. We have driven thousands (and thousands) of miles around North America without the need to purchase that program. On the other hand, Microsoft has purchased the best on-line mapping program available to consumers (for free) and it relys on a database that is superior to Mapquest and several others. To get your own routing assistance, go to http://mappoint.msn.com and select the "Directions" tab (which results in turn-by-turn directions and a map).
The tips offered by the posters to this forum are superb and well worth considering.
My personal choice is to use a paper map (actually laminated and spiral bound) such as the Rand McNally map I reviewed in the Maps section of this site. I choose routes, based on the whim of the moment, as long as they are headed in the general direction I am going.
450 miles/day in a motorhome that you are not completely familiar with will be exhausting. Doable, but I hope you are intending considerable R&R periods. Four weeks to see America is pushing the envelope a bit.
There are plenty of suggestions of places to visit on this forum (use the Grey Search button -- enter names of states) and on the larger RTA site (use the Search box found on each page).
RT CA to MN with kids
Thank you to those of you who have responded thus far. All the suggestions sound great and we will consider those which will best suit our needs!
For additional information, it is our mtrhome, not a rental, so we are familiar with it and we do have two drivers. Although I had previously posted that I hailed from San Diego, we no longer live there. We are now located in the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains, so that will shave half a day off the commute!
Since my spouse and kids have seen little of America's splendor, we will no doubt plan to take in as much grandeur as possible. I had somewhat figured that we would likely travel between 250-400 miles daily, with some days remaining in one location to take it all in. Another option (depending on locale) is driving at night for long stretchs as it is easier on the rig. Since we have experienced California's magnificent coastal routes, we plan to traverse inland until we hit the Redwood Coast.
I plan to hit the maps tonight and will keep posting as I no doubt will have further travel questions. Thanks again!!
Since you now live near "the loop" I hope you have checked it out, it is one of the wonders of modern engineering. I like it best on foggy days though.
OK, so you are comfortable with your motorhome -- still traveling 400 miles in a day is tiring. Still suggest you build in some miminal or no driving days. I am a veteran of long night drives -- just remember to keep it safe.
For another (weekend) trip, you are very close to one of our all-time favorite hot springs destinations -- near the village of Mono Hot Springs is a secluded, cliff-side hot pool called "Little Eden" If you go ask a local for directions. You will not be disappointed.
National Park Inquiries
Thanks, Mark, we'll consider your wknd idea at a future time. We love the loop and with all the RR traffic, it is constantly in use, so visitors seldom have to wait long to see this man-made marvel in action! For those of you reading this log, we are referring to a series of railroad track which takes trains from one elevation to a higher one by utilizing a circular track similar in structure to some freeway transition ramps (without the cement). The kids love watching long trains "cross-over" themselves as they ascend/descend the mountain to the pass.
We will be pushing the travel plans on our road trip on several days, then kicking back for a day or two at selected locations to visit friends/relatives along the way, so we do plan spurts or R&R to prevent road rage!!
As far as the Natl Parks go, I've been told by sev. friends not to miss Grand Teton, Teddy Roosevelt and Badlands. I know very little about these destinations and am looking for input from other travelers. If I can only visit one of these, which should I select and why? What types of scenic wonders does each park offer? Will the kids enjoy one over another? Any input is appreciated!
Another consideration, if we end up traversing into Canada a little, does each member of our group require a passport?
You don't need passports to get into Canada. You do need photo ID. Your driver's license will work fine. For kids, I know some folks who have taken their kids across the border with school ASB cards with photos. However, I have always gone to our DMV and gotten official photo ID from the state for them. I just feel more comfortable with that if there are any questions.
You should also have a birth certificate for each person going over. It may not be necessary as they don't always ask for stuff like that but they can...so better to be safe than sorry, right?
If any children who are with you have a parent not with them, you MUST have a notarized letter from the parent not with you stating that it is OK to take your child across the border. Again, they may not ask for this but, if they do and you don't have it, you could be denied entry.
Photos of a loop trip at http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/tehachap.htm
Personally, I love the harshness of the Badlands, but doing it in August might push the envelope beyond rationality. If you only have time for one (?) Tetons for sheer, magnificent beauty is hard to pass up.
The Grand Tetons are beautiful jagged mountains peaks that tower above a beautiful valley. Yes it is beautiful but I would choose between going there or the Bitterroot Mountains. Also if you choose the Grand Tetons you will be right at Yellowstone National Park which is really worth a day or two.
Theordore Roosevelt is a badlands type scenery in North Dakota. There is also Badlands National Park in South Dakota near Mt. Rushmore. You should choose between one or the other because it would mean a lot of driving for the short time you have.
We have crossed into Canada many times and all you need is your drivers license and birth certificates. We've never had to show birth certificates but they say to carry them.
Warning!!! If you have California plates and cross into Canada your chances of having your motorhome search is more likely....been there and had our RV searched! The reason they said was Californians are smuggling guns across the border.