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3 Week Road Trip - Chicago to Vegas (via TN and TX) Help please!~!!

3 Week Road Trip - Chicago to Vegas (via TN and TX) Help please!~!!

Mar 24th, 2013, 08:40 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 10
3 Week Road Trip - Chicago to Vegas (via TN and TX) Help please!~!!

Hi Everyone

A friend and I (both 22) have 3 weeks to Roadtrip USA! Just a taster - I wish we had longer... after doing a bit of research there is just so much to see.

We will have both done New York and L.A/San Diego area and will begin from Chicago.

Would really really appreciate any advice or recommendations on the below itinerary.. This is only a rough itinerary so open to suggestions... This includes the places we would love to see.

This trip will be from 10 - 31 August

10 August- Chicago (arriving PM)

11 August- Chicago

12 August -Chicago or Gattlinburg

13 August- Gattlinburg (possibly fly from Chicago to Knoxville to save time? and drive to Gattlingburg) - Would like to take in a bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Smokey Mountains (drive to NC and travel the BRP to Asheville)

14 August-Asheville... BRP and back to Gattlinburg??

15 August-Drive to Memphis ---- going to be a long day of driving... Lunch at Nashville?

16 August- Memphis

17 August -Afternoon drive to New Orleans

18 August- New Orleans

19 August- New Orleans

20 August- Houston

21 August- Houston or San Antonio --- dont know much about things to see/do in Houston?

22 August- San Antonio

23 August -San Antonio

24 August - Fly to Pheonix early morning - pick up car hire and travel to Grand Canyon - Evening to see Gran Canyon sunset.

25 August - Day at Grand Canyon - Evening drive to Page, AZ

26 August - Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend

27 August - Drive Page to Vegas

28 August - Vegas

29 August - Vegas

30 August - Vegas

31 August - Depart 6AM for Cancun (to relax after the crazy 3 weeks above )

I appreciate this is a lot of ground to cover in 3 weeks... Is this do-able? Or utterly ridiculous?

Our 4 nights in Vegas are confirmed 27 - 31 August... so this cannot change... the rest is flexible.

Thank you in advance.
melissarose is offline  
Mar 24th, 2013, 09:08 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 4,248
Welcome to Fodor's!

First - you're spelling Gatlinburg incorrectly, which I mention because you'll have more luck finding information online if you use the correct spelling.

What is it about Gatlinburg that interests you? If your main interest is the Blue Ridge, you might as well head straight to Asheville. You could fly to Asheville or you might have better luck finding a direct flight to Charlotte. I'm from East Tennessee and love it, but Gatlinburg is very touristy and not the best place to base for the Blue Ridge Parkway. Then you could drive through the Smokies on your way west.
jent103 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2013, 09:11 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 10
Hi jent103.

Thank you Yes, that may help haha.

No reason to visit Gatlinburg really... We are just really interested in seeing a bit of Smokies and driving the Blue Ridge for a bit... You're right - it does make sense to start at the other end and make our way west through Smokies on our way to Memphis.

I will look into flights into Charlotte rather than Knoxville. May have better luck getting a car hire from there too.

Much appreciated.
melissarose is offline  
Mar 24th, 2013, 09:23 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 4,248
The Knoxville airport is pretty small (as is Asheville, I believe). Charlotte is a hub for USAir, so that's why you might have a better shot at a good deal, even if it would add a bit of drive time. Getting a car shouldn't be a problem at any of them, though.

If for whatever reason you cut out the mountain part of the trip, you can fly direct from Chicago to Nashville via Southwest, usually for a good price. They're both hub cities for that airline.
jent103 is offline  
Mar 25th, 2013, 03:17 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 5,899
On your drive from Page to Vegas, plan for a stop at Bryce and Zion NPs, They are much more interesting than Vegas and worth a couple of days.
emalloy is online now  
Mar 27th, 2013, 03:22 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 10
Thanks very much everyone

I forgot that my friend really wants to see Santa Fe, Which I'm not too fussed on.... so we have made a few adjustments and this is our itinerary that we can both agree on Still rushed - yes I know! But we are prepared for it. Next time Im back in the U.S will return to my favourite spots and spend more time there.

10 Chicago
11 Chicago
12 Fly to Asheville 7:30pm - stay the night
13 Asheville through BRP to Cherokee - On to Gatlinburg to spend the night.
14 Half day explore Gatlinburg - Drive to Nashville then fly to Memphis that evening
15 Memphis
16 Afternoon drive to New Orleans (the day that wont be much fun)
17 New Orleans
18 New Orleans
19 Afternoon flight to San Antonio
20 San Antonio
21 San Antonio
22 Fly to Albuquerque early morning... Train to Santa Fe in the afternoon
23 Santa Fe
24 Fly to Phoenix 10:00am. Drive via Sedona to Grand Canyon - stay in National Park
25 Full day at the Grand Canyon
26 Drive to Horseshoe Bend and possibly see Antelope Canyon - Can this be done in a day? - Overnight in Page, Arizona.
27 Drive to Vegas via Zion NP
28 Vegas
29 Vegas
30 Vegas
31 Fly out 6:00am

Hopefully this doesnt seem too ridiculous. Flights are saving us a lot of time and one way fees

Thanks for all the tips.
melissarose is offline  
Mar 27th, 2013, 03:41 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,305
To avoid a flight might I suggest that you take the Amtrak train "The City of New Orleans" from Chicago to Memphis. It leaves Chicago at 8PM every night and arrives in Memphis in the morning. Rent your car in Memphis to see everything you want to see in Tennessee and North Carolina and then drive back to Memphis and then take the CONO on south to New Orleans.
Rent another car in New Orleans to go see the parts of Texas that you want to see.
I do agree with flying to Albuquerque from San Antonio. There's not much to see in west Texas.
See Hoover Dam while in Las Vegas. Rental cars are cheap in LV
tomfuller is offline  
Mar 27th, 2013, 03:53 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 4,248
14 Half day explore Gatlinburg - Drive to Nashville then fly to Memphis that evening

Why are you flying to Memphis if you're already in Nashville? They're only three hours apart driving. Not worth flying even on a direct flight (which would also be expensive). If you explore Gatlinburg for half a day and then stay in Memphis that night, what you'll basically be doing is skipping Nashville except to wave hi as you drive through.

It *is* possible to fly direct from Knoxville (near Gatlinburg) to Memphis, but it's quite expensive and since you'll need a car in Memphis anyway I don't really see the point.
jent103 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2013, 07:08 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,304
Have you priced out all the flights and car rentals? It's my understanding that foreign travellers can often avoid the one-way dropoff fees with rental cars (depending on how you book the rental).

I agree with jent103 on the flight from Nashville to Memphis. 3 hour drive is nothing, you'll spend more time than that flying when you factor getting to the airport 1.5 hours prior to your flight to return the car, then flying and getting your bags plus renting a new car.

Same thing with the flight from Santa Fe to Phoenix?? I just looked on travelocity.com and didn't see any direct flights between those 2 cities. There are direct flights from Albuquerque to Phoenix that take an hour and 15 minutes...but you'd have to get back to ABQ and that eats us some time. The drive from Santa Fe to the Grand Canyon is 7 hours. Drive time from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon is 3 hours 45 minutes, but when you add in at least 45 minutes to get your luggage and rent a car, plus time to get from Santa Fe to ABQ and flight time, you are just not saving any time on that plan.

Drive to the Grand Canyon from Santa Fe, you can stay at Page that night, go to Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon the next day and then drive to the Grand Canyon. It's a bit of backtracking but I don't see any reason to go from Page to Las Vegas via Zion - you aren't really allowing any time to stop and hike. Zion isn't a drive-thru kind of park, you have to take more time and get out to hike or there's no point in going there.
WhereAreWe is offline  
Apr 1st, 2013, 05:25 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 10
Thank you Jent103 - I dont know how I didnt realise Nashville and Memphis are only 3 hours drive apart.. We are going to keep our car hire and drive from Gatlinburg to Memphis in a day.

WhereArewe - Thank you, we realised we couldnt get out of Santa Fe so are going to return to Albuquerque... The reason we are flying to Phoenix is that we do not have to pay a one way car hire fee(USD500)if we collect the car in Arizona and drop off in Nevada... I think we can also pick up in Utah free of charge also... but not from New Mexico. A flight from ABQ to PHX is USD98 per person, and we would like to drive via Sedona to Grand Canyon so this works out well for us
melissarose is offline  
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