First time traveling West

Nov 29th, 2017, 08:28 PM
  #1  
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First time traveling West

Hi everyone,

People are going to think I'm crazy after reading this but that's ok.
I live in South suburbs of Chicago. I want to cover some serious ground in 7 days on my school break in July.
I would really like some advice regarding my trip on places to see very very briefly and on a very tight budget.
I plan to take 90 West. My primary destinations are Wyoming, Texas and Tennessee and then make my way back home to Illinois.
I have planned to stop at Sioux Falls, SD, Mt Rushmore, Guernsey State Park, WY, Rocky Mt National Park, CO, Dallas, TX, Nashville and then I will visit Knoxville,TN (where I lived recently for 5 years). I'm planning on spending one night in SD, one night in CO, one night in TX, and 2 nights in my old home town in Tennessee. So yes, I will only be driving through Sioux falls,SD, WY, and Nashville but I am open and welcome to suggestions.
Hblm2890 is offline  
Nov 30th, 2017, 06:19 AM
  #2  
 
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Sure--have at it. Denver would be my suggestion for CO.

It won't matter a whole lot actually. By the time you drive these distances the only thing to look for is a motel--maybe one that has breakfast open by 6AM so you can leave early for your next state.
Gretchen is offline  
Nov 30th, 2017, 07:18 AM
  #3  
 
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The drive times are so extreme you don’t have time to see anything.
Since you seem happy to drive 15 hrs per day, why stop in Sioux Falls? Why not drive farther on your first day so you have a very very small window of actually being able to get out of the car.
bjgchi is offline  
Nov 30th, 2017, 07:52 AM
  #4  
 
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Good luck. Seems like big waste of money to me.
Dayle is offline  
Nov 30th, 2017, 07:56 AM
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That's a minimum of 46 hours of driving to get to Knoxville in 4 days. Factor in some time at Mt Rushmore, Guernsey and Rocky Mountain and you're looking at 13+ hours each day. There's no time to stop anywhere else.
WhereAreWe is offline  
Nov 30th, 2017, 08:06 AM
  #6  
 
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This has to be a joke. Someone just run up this flag to see the responses. It is a really stupid plan. Apologize for being so blunt but it makes absolutely no sense.
fmpden is offline  
Nov 30th, 2017, 10:58 AM
  #7  
 
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> People are going to think I'm crazy
That part made sense.
Nelson is online now  
Nov 30th, 2017, 11:07 AM
  #8  
 
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Since your biggest expense will be gas, would you consider narrowing the radius of your trip? Even with long summer daylight hours, you are mostly going to see highways, and that doesn't seem worth the money.
NewbE is offline  
Dec 18th, 2017, 06:22 PM
  #9  
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I have calculated the time and cost for travel. I fully understand that I am going to be driving long hours everyday, that doesn't bother me. This isn't necessarily a destination trip. I'm setting a plan that I may or may not deviate from. I don't mind if I only have time to just drive through a town I'd like to see. People have doubted my ideas before and I always proved them wrong. I'm single with no kids and very high ambition for life, NOW is the time to live out these extravagant ideas. I appreciate genuine comments of advice and to the others, go take your negative and judgemental comments elsewhere.

Hblm_fitness_motivation is my Instagram account on which I will be posting my travel updates in June, 2018. Follow to support\be proven wrong.
Thank you all.
Hblm2890 is offline  
Dec 21st, 2017, 12:51 PM
  #10  
 
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< I appreciate genuine comments of advice and to the others, go take your negative and judgemental comments elsewhere. >

So anyone who thinks your plan is ok is giving genuine comments of advice (whatever that means) and anyone else is negative and judgmental? While you're touting a plan that will entail more than 2000 miles of driving over a short period of time and all on a "tight budget"?

Hoo boy.

This isn't your amen-chorus board, you came looking for advice. Those who think you're off your head are advising you not to do such a ridiculous trip driving all over the bloody country. If you can't take the criticism even though you acknowledge "People are going to think I'm crazy after reading this but that's ok" then either you're thin-skinned and really should do what you want and waste your own time, or it's not really "ok" for people to think you're crazy and you're just lying.
BigRuss is offline  
Dec 21st, 2017, 02:15 PM
  #11  
 
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You might be able to do your trip, but it looks like a "been there" type trip where you have very little time to actually do anything meaningful (no meeting the locals, hiking, museums, seeing the fantastic country you are going through)at the places you go. For example on 90 I wouldn't drive by Badlands NP without a stop. You could even do a quick drive through Yellowstone and Grand Teton NPs if you then headed back to Chicago. Save TX and TN for another trip.
emalloy is offline  
Dec 21st, 2017, 02:31 PM
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You might want to read my trip report from 2015 including how many miles I drove in 7 days. https://www.fodors.com/community/uni...via-amtrak.cfm
Earlier this year I found geocaches in the 6 states NE of New York. Last year I got some geocaches found in Alaska.
In May of 2018, We will be flying to Maui where we will complete our 50th state (plus DC).
In February DW and I go to a geocaching event in Yuma AZ and on the way back on Monday we walk over into Los Algodones for an event and a couple more Mexico caches.
tomfuller is offline  
Dec 21st, 2017, 07:13 PM
  #13  
 
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One thing I have learned after years of road trips..
you can always change as you go along.....
I had a trip planned all across Interstate 10 California to Florida..
my time restraints were not as tight as yours but budget was..
By the time i got 1/2 way across Texas. I was so bored..
So I changed plan, went south to Galveston ..along Gulf...thru title towns (motels much cheaper ) on to New Orleans...on way stopped i small town ..Thibodaux and had the best shrimp Étouffée I have ever had....still remember and it has been years ago..
Also when you are young is the time to do things...
Go for it....
traveler24 is offline  
Dec 21st, 2017, 09:31 PM
  #14  
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tomfuller
Wow! I really enjoyed reading that.

My plan was just to stop at as many, very diverse, locations as possible in 7 days. A lot of the stops would be to get a great picture or just hike a couple miles and get back on the road to the next location. The only time i would stop for a long period of time would be to sleep for a bit. I don't have to do anything big to get enjoyment out of it. In fact, just driving through God's beautiful creation and getting some awesome pictures, is enough for me.
I'm the type of person that would sell everything and live in a camper van. If you can wrap your head around that idea then I'd say you'd have some pretty great advice to give.
Hblm2890 is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2017, 02:49 AM
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I don't have to do anything big to get enjoyment out of it. In fact, just driving through God's beautiful creation and getting some awesome pictures, is enough for me.

Then do what Emalloy suggested and REALLY get a load of beauty.
Gretchen is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2017, 06:27 AM
  #16  
 
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>>My plan was just to stop at as many, very diverse, locations as possible in 7 days. A lot of the stops would be to get a great picture or just hike a couple miles and get back on the road to the next location.<<

As I mentioned in my first reply, that's a minimum of 46 hours of driving to get to Knoxville in 4 days. Factor in some time at Mt Rushmore, Guernsey and Rocky Mountain and you're looking at 13+ hours each day.

Any deviation from the shortest route (like going through Badlands NP, or driving through Custer State Park) will add even more time for photo ops. Plan on a bare minimum of 30 minutes at Mt. Rushmore, and that will only give you time to park, walk in and take a pic and leave. You'll be dealing with hordes of tourists in summer at Mt. Rushmore and Rocky Mountain.

Rocky Mountain and Estes Park are insanely busy in July. If you visit mid-day, it can take 30 minutes just to drive through town and get into the entrance. I've seen lines of upwards of 20 cars waiting at the entrance stations. The Moraine Park/Bear Lake section has little parking and between 9 am and 4 pm you'll have to use the park shuttle, so that will add a couple of hours just waiting and riding the shuttle (unless you completely skip that section or arrive early morning or late afternoon). Driving Trail Ridge Road can be quick or it can take a couple hours, especially if you run into a traffic jam due to animal sightings on the side of the road.

You'll need to factor all that into your planning and may have to skip something if the crowds get in the way of your timeline.
WhereAreWe is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2017, 05:53 PM
  #17  
 
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So, 7 days...

The last day is entirely the drive home from Knoxville,

The 2nd-last day is entirely in Knoxville.


So to cover all of the spots you've named... just merely passing them by...


entails more than 10 hours of driving each and every day among the remaining (first) five days.

How (why?) does Dallas fit into this equation anyway?


(The sad part is, to cut-out Dallas, saves only 6 1/2 hours from the whole trip, as shown in online mapping)

But that 6 1/2 hours would be much better spent by driving 3 hours into the Rockies and back.

Mount Rushmore makes sense... RMNP makes sense... but the path from CO to Dallas will be boring, and possibly pointless, where once you're in Colorado, you should afford yourself some time to indulge a bit.

Going west for the first time, and not getting a lot out of the Rockies is probably wrong.


I can see maybe sightseeing at that pace for 2 or 3 days, but 5 days at such a pace is (banking on a lot).

I have done a 3-day trip from Anchorage to Calgary (2100 miles, 40 hours) but there is a whole LOT less going on between Anchorage and Jasper, Alberta than there will be along much of your path. (you won't be as lucky as I was when seeing 3 cars in my lane during nine hours of driving)


The picture would be better if you omitted Tennessee as well, and instead went

Chicago
Mt. Rushmore
Yellowstone
Jackson, WY
Salt Lake City
Aspen
Denver
Omaha
Chicago


Then you'd know a MUCH better representation of (some of) the west.


This wouldn't be far from your original plan in mere time and miles, yet it would be (slightly?) less hectic for not saving two nights for Knoxville.

Plus the typical scenery would be muuuuuuuuuuuuuuch better when mixing the highs and lows of both options.

On the bright side (if there is one), this would be July, so the daylight lasts long.


When you returned from such a vacation you'd need a vacation to recover from your vacation.
NorthwestMale is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2017, 06:03 AM
  #18  
 
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I like NorthwestMale's itinerary a lot.

Denver to Dallas and Dallas to Knoxville are pretty boring, especially if you drive via Memphis and Nashville. Save it for next year: Chicago, Nashville, Knoxville, Outer Banks, US 17 to Fredericksburg, West Virginia, Ohio, home.

Another way: a friend would take a cheap flight wherever on Friday night, then drive 500-1000 mikes over the weekend before flying home. You get the driving high but you don't waste time on what are advisedly known as the flyover states.
Ackislander is offline  
Dec 24th, 2017, 08:13 AM
  #19  
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All great advice, thank you. Yes, the trip down to Texas was just to see something new. The route from Texas to Knoxville sounded a lot more interesting than taking a shortcut and go through Kansas and probably having to stop near Colombia MO for a rest\nap. But I wouldn't really know, just an assumption.
That part of my trip is all going to depend on how south Dakota and Colorado works out. I know it would be better to skip Tennessee but I just can't let it go or wait for it to be a separate trip BC in reality, my next trip is not going to be soon at all. Due to financial and transportation issues, I had to give my horse away in Tennessee before moving back to Chicago. It breaks my heart and I am really looking forward to go see him.
Thank you for the tip on rocky mountain and Estes park, I'll try to work it out to where I can get there early morning.
Hblm2890 is offline  
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