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American road trip - big summer holiday of a lifetime(12 Posts)
Hi. DH and I fancy taking our 2 kids off on a road trip in the US. We think we might hire a motorhome and then head off..... we probably want to see natural landscapes and would want to avoid places like Las Vegas. Any suggestions for where we should start/finish/head for? We would love to spend 4 weeks on tour so could cover a reasonable amount of ground, but don't want to exlusively see the USA through a windscreen! TIA
We spent July there. National Parks a go-go, many bucket list items ticked off! Will PM you from a PC later, it'll be too long for phone keyboard !
the western USA has enough natural wonders for a lifetime. Yosemite, Zion, Bryce, Monument Valley etc etc. (not Death Valley in high summer though?)
fly into San Francisco where a car isnt' needed. 2 days at least to head off jetlag. Then off you go.
www.nps.gov gives you all the park info. Be aware that if it is July/August campgrounds can be booked solid and roads busy.
For natural wonders there are loads of loop route variations you could do in the South West: California, Nevada, Arizona & Utah, ie around Mojave, Death Valley, Grand Canyon (North and/or South), Zion National Park, Utah national parks, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley & Yosemite National Park. You can start/finish from San Francisco/LA/Las Vegas. If you have not been to Las Vegas before it is worth it for a night or two to see how mad it is, esp. in contrast to the natural surroundings & it is conveniently located for the areas mentioned above, unless you are dead against it of course.
I would recommend including some Native American sites & staying in a national park itself. Look at the National Parks websites - they are very detailed. If visiting more than one a pass is best value. Each park runs different activities so you can actually do things whilst experiencing the park rather than just effectively sight-seeing the whole time.
Don't stay just one night in a place unless it is on the way somewhere, aim for 2-3nights with a longer stay somewhere along the way to break it up.
Thanks everyone. Plenty to get me thinking. A giant sequoia is definitely on my list so I need to work on what else to add!
Yellowstone National Park. You will never see anything like it anywhere. You can easily spend 2 weeks just in Yellowstone, there is so much to see as well as the fact that it is HUGE (over 300 miles of paved roads). Natural wonders? It's got geysers, fumaroles, hot pots as well as valleys, mountains, rivers, meadows. Wildlife? How about Bison, wolves, bears, elk, deer (and that's just to start with!). My DH and I pull a caravan from California and have been 5 times in all seasons including spending a full month there last fall. We are already wanting to return. There is just something magical about Yellowstone.
You can start a road trip at the Grand Canyon and head north hitting Bryce, Zion, and Grand Teton National Parks along the way, ending up in Yellowstone. It will take you from the southwestern desert to high in the Rocky Mountains.
There are so many places to start that trip from. As a US RV'er I have to stop and think about someone flying in. I think I'd fly in to Las Vegas & pick up the RV there & head out for Grand Canyon. It's around 1000 miles one way (give or take) from GC to YNP. Drive time is about 18-20 hours (nonstop) depending on your speed.
A good place to look for information is on Tripadvisor's Road Trips forum.
wanted to add; I see a lot of recommendations for Yosemite.I'm a native Californian and, while beautiful, Yosemite is crowded and 'touristy'. Think 'Disneyland in the Pines' as far as crowds go. You will need to make camping reservations FAR in advance (6 mos to a year) if you want to stay in the Valley during the summer. Unless you're an avid hiker, you can see it in a day and a half.
A few west coast ideas.
If you went from south to north along the Pacific coast with a few zig zags inland, you might consider heading east across the northern plains all the way to Chicago. It would be a really long trip but the mountains, the Dakotas/Badlands and general vastness of the northern plains are impressive. If you had any time, you could do a scenic drive along the Mississippi in Wisconsin and mosey around Door County - very different from California and the Plains. Or do a circuit of the very wild Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Trailfinders are good for this type of trip. We did 2 weeks in California this summer - SF, Sacramento (white water rafting), Yosemite, Sequoia then back to the coast and up highway 1 back to SF staying at Pismo Beach and monterey on the way.
I loved the East coast when I did it. Flights to Ft lauderdale are relatively cheap and there is lots to explore in Alligator country. From there you can do Deep South and South Carolina which are completely different from anything you get elsewhere and not such a long drive.
I would want to see places rather than same type of scenery for days on end. However I am very jealous of wherever you go...it'll be a blast.
I was also thinking you could fly to Boston, then do a coastal loop north to explore Maine, then swing westish through Vermont and back eastish through Hew Hampshire, then southwards and into the very attractive Hudson Valley to New York City, maybe see a bit of Long Island (the Hamptons), then south again -- you could look at historic Philadelphia and swing southwest to DC, see the sights, explore the Chesapeake Bay area and even drive over the terrifying Chesapeake Bay Bridge [horror] just to say you've done it. Maybe swing into the mountains west of DC and see Gettysburg along the way. The George Washington National Forest and Monongaheela National Forest are west-southwest of DC, mountainous and of course forested.. You could continue through the mountains/forests southwestwards on Route 81 to North Carolina and the lovely city of Asheville, and then turn east towards to the Outer Banks and Atlantic beaches. Then you could turn west again and see a good deal of the old South as you proceed to Atlanta via Augusta. Or alternatively, go south along the coast to historic Charleston and Savannah and then turn west to Atlanta. Or skip Atlanta altogether and end up in Florida via Charleston and Savannah. You might even take in an Atlantic hurricane .
We've done several road trips in the US. The South West National Parks are great - (Grand Canyon, Bryce, Mesa Verde, Zion, Arches, Monument Valley), but in Summer unless you are high up it is very hot. Its easy to get carried away with a list of "must sees" which mean you drive too much and don't spend enough time anywhere, we are very bad at this. The low humidity makes the heat more bearable and everything is air conditioned. We usually combine camping in a tent and staying in motels, the motor home thing has never appealed to me, they are expensive to hire and you are stuck with driving around in a huge vehicle all the time unless you tow a car which is what a lot of Americans do.
Yellowstone is amazing, lots to see and do, we have been twice and still haven't seen it all. It is also cooler there (I hate heat). You need to be aware that accommodation, including campsites, in the park books up very quickly and it is large so staying outside does sometimes mean a long drive to get to the sights.
My favourite was Seattle and Washington state, much less crowded, we went to the North Cascades National park which is remote and beautiful and full of huge trees, a fantastic experience (and the polar opposite of Las Vegas which we hated). We also went out onto the islands to Olympic National Park and some of the little towns, including Forks which is now famous for one of those vampire series and therefore may not be as unspoiled as when we went there. You can easily combine Seattle with Vancouver as well. Both are nice cities to spend time in, particularly Seattle.
Next I would like to do New England...
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