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-   -   Cross Country Drive From CA to NY. Suggestions? (https://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/cross-country-drive-from-ca-to-ny-suggestions-540378/)

christine79 Jun 29th, 2005 08:55 AM

Cross Country Drive From CA to NY. Suggestions?
 
Me and my husband are going to pick up a car in CA and then drive it back to NY, and we're excited to do the cross country trip. Any suggestions of where we should stop? There's a lot I want to see, but I have to see what I can fit in. We will basically have 6 or 7 days. Anyone ever done this before?

GoTravel Jun 29th, 2005 09:06 AM

Decide whether you want to drive the southern route or the northern route.


msackton Jun 29th, 2005 09:06 AM

I haven't done a cross-country drive, but I know people who have, and unless you are planning on driving through the night, you are pretty much going to be seeing highway if you only have 7 days. Even if you are planning on driving through the night there really isn't much time to see anything.

Is this a vacation, or is there some reason why you have to drive a car across the country? If its a vacation, I'd strongly suggest you plan something else. It's ~3000 miles CA to NY (depending on where in CA you are leaving from), which means at an average speed of 65 MPH, you'll need to be driving for almost 8 hours a day if you have 7 days. That doesn't leave much time for sightseeing.

HowardR Jun 29th, 2005 09:18 AM

I'll totally agree with the previous poster. You say, "There's a lot I want to see, but I have to see what I can fit in." If you're only planning on 7 days for the trip, just about the only thing you're going to see is the highway. I sure wouldn't be excited about driving 3,000 miles in 7 days!

GoTravel Jun 29th, 2005 09:25 AM

I'm guessing they are flying out to CA since they pick up the car there and have a week to get it home.

christine79 Jun 29th, 2005 09:56 AM

My brother-in-law is buying his uncle's car who livesi n CA, so me and my husband volunteered to fly out and get it and to drive it back. We thought a drive across the country would be fun. I know I won't get to see a lot, but we thought it'd be something different considering we really won't be going anywhere else this year.

I went on the AAA site, and if I wanted to stop by Grand Canyon, Vegas, Santa Fe, and Bryce Canyon, it would be about a 50-hour drive? I just don't know what route is best to see things that are more on the way. We don't plan on having a lot of time to spend at each place.

christine79 Jun 29th, 2005 09:58 AM

And yeah, we're flying one way out there. I just love driving places. We drove 9 hours the other day coming back from VA to NY because there was horrible traffic, but it wasn't the driving that annoyed us, it was the Sunday evening, everyone coming back from the weekend, traffic.

Matty_NYC Jun 29th, 2005 11:31 AM

It really depends on your ability to drive straight through the night, and how long you feel you need to spend someplace to really feel like you saw it.

When I did NYC to San Diego a few years ago, we did it in 9 days and got to visit, in order, Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Dinosaur National Park, Mesa Verde, and various other small tourist traps. But to do that, we drove straight from NYC to South Dakota (25 hours), and often drove past midnight.

If you really want to make the trip in 6 days, pick two places you really want to see and spend a day each, or plan on driving through the night each night.

ceb1222 Jun 29th, 2005 12:10 PM

I drove PA to Vegas in November in three days. We started around 7:30/8 each morning and stopped driving shortly after dark each night. However, we had the help of a time change in our favor each night. Even driving straight through like that, I felt like I got to see a lot, highway or not.

Where in CA are you starting? There are three major routes across the country: northern, middle, and southern. The southern route parallels some of old Route 66, which is why I chose it. If Vegas, the GC, and Bryce are on your list, however, I would head to Vegas,up to the GC, and then north to Bryce and/or Zion (Zion is on the way and also a beautiful, drivable park). The route from the GC to Bryce/Zion is beautiful, and if you're pressed for time, you really can hop out, see the GC, and drive through the other two parks. Just try to get back there some time! From Bryce, I guess you'd be stuck heading up to the middle route, which takes you through part of Colorado, but then includes 10 hours straight of flat cornfields in Kansas. Maybe you could try the next route up and drive through Nebraska, although I'm not sure how much different from Kansas it is on the highway!

Anyway, that should get you started...

rkkwan Jun 29th, 2005 12:32 PM

Grand Canyon's North Rim, Bryce Canyon and the other beautiful National parks in Utah are north of the Grand Canyon along the I-15/I-70 route east. South Rim GC, Santa Fe are to the south, along the I-40 route. To do both groups would mean long distance on slower non-freeways. Pick one group only.

And I'm assuming you're leaving from Southern California. California is a big state, and it'd be a pretty long detour to do Las Vegas and Grand Canyon if you're starting from the Bay Area or other parts of Northern California.


christine79 Jun 29th, 2005 12:38 PM

I am starting from around the LA area, Southern California. I kind of just have to plan too like if we don't plan on driving through the night, what places should we set for ourselves to get to, to stay in a hotel each night?

christine79 Jun 29th, 2005 12:46 PM

Also, Vegas being the exception, if I stop and see anything, it will only be for 2 hours or something. I don't expect to spend a whole day anywhere. I know we will have to drive a lot everyday. It's just when we pass the places we are interested in, we can stop and see it, and if it's still the middle of the day, go on and drive some more. I don't expect to have a whole day of sightseeing.

janis Jun 29th, 2005 12:54 PM

W/o any detours you will have to drive approx 500 miles every day for 6 days. Since presumeably you will want to stop for meals and stretch breaks, count on at least 9 hours drive time every day.

So I don't see how you have ANY time to see anything but roadside motels.

If you stretch it out to 7 days you will still be on the road at least 8 hours a day.

You say that 9 hour drive was fun -- but how fun would it be every day for 6 straight days??

You basically have 3 choices: 1) just drive straight through w/o planning on any sightseeing 2) resign yourselves to driving through the nights or at least being on the road 11 or 12 hours a day to give you time for side trips/sightseeing OR 3) add 3 or 4 days to the trip.

christine79 Jun 29th, 2005 01:06 PM

Yes. We understand the concept that we will have to drive 8 hours a day. We plan on getting up early and starting to drive each day.

ceb1222 Jun 29th, 2005 01:08 PM

From LA to Vegas alone will take about 4 hours, provided you don't hit major traffic. To avoid that, I suggest leaving early in the morning on a Saturday or mid-morning on a weekday. From there, it depends what your focus is - I would just drive down the strip and check out the sites. Flights to and hotels in Vegas are cheap, and you'll probably be back. The parks are harder to get to, so you should devote more time to them... You could conceivably make it from LA, through Vegas, to the Grand Canyon in a day. There are pretty many options around the canyon for lodging. You could make it up around the canyon, through Zion and Bryce, and probably into Colorado on the next day, but I'm not sure about lodging there... After that, I'm no good for advice!

ronkala Jun 29th, 2005 01:12 PM

Christine,
First get an Atlas and then go to Freetip.com to get routes, milage and time. Freetrip shows LA to NYC as 2785 miles, 40:37 hours driving time, so it can be driven in five days.
Less if if you lengthen the daily drives.

That would give you the opportunity to at least see in Utah, Zion NP, get back on the interstate, and stop in Moab to visit Arches NP. You might also be able to squeeze in Bryce NP after Zion. If I had to choose between seeing Bryce or Arches, I would pick Arches.
Like Zion, Moab is fairly close to the interstae.

Last September we drove VA to San Diego, and on the return trip stopped at all the NPs in Utah. Even without stopping, just seeing the countryside as you drive through it is very rewarding. That's why we are driving to Glacier NP and the Canadian Rockies in two weeks.

While at freetip.com you can click on hotels at your preferred rate to find out what is out there. That can also help you determine how far to drive per day.

Have a great trip!!

christine79 Jun 29th, 2005 01:17 PM

Thank you for the advice! I'll check that site out.

doug_stallings Jun 29th, 2005 01:19 PM

I'd recommend I-40, from which you can make brief detours to the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest National Park, The Big Texan restaurant in Amarillo, and the memorial in Oklahoma City. You'll also go through Albuquerque, Little Rock, Memphis, and Nashville. I prefer this route over I--70 because I prefer the desert over the Rocky Mountains, but you can also go through Colorado if you prefer. The stretch through Kansas is a killer though (on the plus side, there's very little to stop and see). If you make a couple of decent stops each day, you can still do it in 7 days whichever route you take, but it may be exhausting.

ceb1222 Jun 29th, 2005 01:26 PM

Christine, as I said, I made it from eastern Pennsylvania to Las Vegas in three days, plus three hours on the fourth day. We drove a pretty steady 80 mph, and drove during the week, which may have contributed to little or no traffic.

To give you an idea: we left eastern PA around 7:00 am and made it to St. Louis on the first day. We stopped on the west side of St. Louis, probably around 8:00pm, so we put in a hard first day. Day 2 we left around 7:30 and made it to Amarillo, TX about an hour after dark, with probably a two hour detour getting lost on Route 66 at lunchtime! Day 3 we made it to Flagstaff, with an hour stop at the Meteor Crater. And then we were in Vegas before noon on Day 4.

Maybe some of the northern routes are slower, but even if it takes you 5 days total driving time, that leaves you with about 2 days' worth of little stops. Also, since it's you and your husband, you may not mind driving later at night during the "boring" stretches... We wanted to be off the road shortly after dark, since we were two females driving separately.

ElendilPickle Jun 29th, 2005 03:06 PM

>>I prefer this route over I--70 because I prefer the desert over the Rocky Mountains<<

Doug, you sick, twisted, freak! :-D I live in the desert and prefer the mountains, myself.

I agree with your I-40 suggestion, though.

If you're leaving from southern CA, make the Grand Canyon your first stop. Spend the night in Williams or Flagstaff. You could stop in Tucumcari, about 2 1/2 hours or so east of Albuquerque, the next night. Then stay on I-40 until you get to Oklahoma City; get on I-44 through Missouri and continue heading northeast from there.

You could swing through Santa Fe from Albuquerque if you like; it's an hour north. If you do that, you might want to stay on I-25, which will take you northeast. Eventually you'd hook up with I-70.

Lee Ann


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