Driving from Atlanta to San Francisco
I am planning for a first road trip from Atlanta to San Francisco by end of June and I have to complete the trip within 8 to 10 days. I was wondering whether someone could suggest some good scenic route to get there. I am willing to stop and spend some time at interesting places. I am also thinking about getting some camping gear and sleeping outside, but I am concerned about safety.
It would be very nice if I can plan the trip in such a way that I arrive to a national park around afternoon, have time to look around, and camp for the night there, and leave the next morning.
This will be a first for me (and my friend) so do not assume I know anything about road trips/camping. Any advice is deeply appreciated...
The scenic route
I'd take the following route, at first glance, although I often change my mind and go a different way on a moment's notice. There are no BAD routes!
Atlanta - Nashville - Lake of the Ozarks (MO) -- to central/southern Colorado (Colorado Spgs, Gunnison, Montrose, Durango) then into southern Utah -- see the Utah parks (as many as you have time for) -- exit to Las Vegas and then take US95 from Las Vegas and work your way over to US395, north to Lee Vining and across SR120 (Tioga Pass) and into San Francisco from Yosemite National Park.
If you want to know how to "camp" on a road trip where covering miles is more important than kicking back and relaxing, there's a fairly good description in this article on cheap road trips here on RTA. I have never had a "safety" problem and I have been camping for about 35 years.
On a road trip, you can nearly always find a site in a private campground (always includes showers, which is a plus), or in state or county parks, national parks, or on BLM or forest service lands almost everywhere in the west. Keep in mind that in summer, National Park camps will fill up by mid-day, and most sites are often pre-reserved, so these are not always your best bet. Sometimes in the back country, I just find a place off the road somewhere and throw my sleeping bag on a cot (or in the back of my truck), put my sling-shot under my pillow (critters, you know) and no worries until dawn! If it is raining you can even sleep in a car (given enough space and/or reclining seats). Bob