Loop around the country

May 8th, 2019, 04:19 AM
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Join Date: May 2019
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Loop around the country

Heading on a loop around the country in an RV for about 8 weeks (through July 4th) and looking (a) for feedback on amount of time (if I'm trying to do way too much) and (b) any must visits along the potential route with a bias for national parks and outdoors.

Ideally going to spend more time on the west coast and north west, but was initially thinking of starting from the south given its still a bit chilly in the north. If I am trying to pack too much in, a variation of the route below, would be to drive straight to LA (perhaps on 66 or another route) and then pick up the planned route from there. Not too much different in length but would have the benefit of trying to pack in a tad less so there was more time for the west and north. Interested in gut reactions from those who have been around longer.

General idea would be..

> Connecticut (Going to move quickly south in the interest of time)
> BlueRidge Parkway (NC Section)
> New Orleans (Plantations, Swamp)
> Houston / Austin (Moving through this section, again for time)
> Carlsbad Caverns
> Phoenix (Have been to the parks in Utah / Sedona / Grand Canyon so keeping on the outside loop to visit new places)
> Kofa National Wildlife
> Joshua Tree
.> San Deigo
> Big Sur
> Sequoia
> Yosemite (Been before but want to spend more time)
> Redwoods
> Portland
> Mt. Rainer
> Olympic national park
> Calgary / Banf
> Glacier (Skip Yosemite)
> Montana
> South Dakota (mt rushmore, Badlands, Wind Cave)
> Potential stops in midwest time permitting
> Connecticut
travelcrosscountry is offline  
May 8th, 2019, 04:44 AM
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You do have a very quick paced trip and will probably be adjusting as you go. Are you planning to camp/tent or get lodging as you go? Some areas are filled, even camping areas from May till September.

Why would you skip Yellowstone at that time of year it should be full of baby animals, elk, bison, wolves, moose, bears, etc? Even if you've been there or plan to go soon, a quick drive through would be worth it IMHO.

I would make the Canada sites and Glacier the last major park on the loop as some of the major roads and trails may not be open until July. Then speed home on one of the interstates.

I would tuck Yosemite in before or after Big Sur depending on when I could get lodging in/near the park.
emalloy is offline  
May 8th, 2019, 06:51 AM
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Thanks Emalloy for your feedback - Agree I will definitely be adjusting along the way and trying to figure out now if it makes sense to pull some things out to make more manageable.

Planning to go in rv/ camper van.
travelcrosscountry is offline  
May 8th, 2019, 06:58 AM
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This is not a holiday/vacation -- it is Cannonball Run

>>Yosemite (Been before but want to spend more time)<<

what 'more time? Just the New Mexico through Glacier bits (without venturing in to Canada) would more than fill 8 weeks.
janisj is online now  
May 8th, 2019, 02:10 PM
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You need a couple of stops in between San Diego and Big Sur, that stretch is not drivable in one day in an RV unless you take I5 most of the way, cutting over to Highway 1 around Cambria or so.
Also if you are driving Highway 1 in an RV, there is a law you must pull over as soon as safe if there are 5 or more cars behind you.
jamie99 is online now  
May 9th, 2019, 07:07 AM
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Leave out Canada.
Gretchen is offline  
May 11th, 2019, 08:05 AM
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I think your loop should be smaller. I guess the question is, what are you hoping to see MOST that's far away on your loop. A lot of RVers don't drive clear cross country often for a reason. 3,000 miles is long.

Since you have that long of a time period, this time, cut the closer things and see them on a shorter trip. I think you should cut out your New Orleans section and do that at a separate time.

So I would go straight across the middle of the country to get out West. I would either take 80 and go through Chicago, switching in Nebraska on I-76 to Denver. Or, I would go 70 and go through St. Louis and Kansas City, again arriving in Denver.

So now it's decision time:
Take 70 to 15 to San Diego, angling down through Utah.
Go straight south from Denver on I-25, and see Colorado Springs, Albuquerque; then straight West on 40. That adds theoretically 3 hours of driving time. Knowing Google it's probably more.

Then do the rest of your route as you've laid it out, and if you find you don't have time, cut out parts of the Canada stops.
5alive is offline  
May 11th, 2019, 09:56 AM
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We did a trip similar to this 5-6 years back although we started in Seattle went down to LA then back up through Utah and took I-70 through Colorado and on to NYC. We had an event to attend in NYC and had to do that part of the loop in about 25 days-so it was rushed. After that we came back to Seattle via Niagara Falls and basically I-90 and had about 45 days for the total trip. So I think 8 weeks, especially having your hotel with you since you are using an RV doesn't sound too bad....

A couple thoughts-We didn't like the I-70 stretch through CO that takes you high up through Aspen etc. only because it is a hard haul up to almost 12K ft. I know you aren't looking at I-70 for now but I see someone mentioned it....

If you get a chance to see Chiricahua National Monument make the detour to do so-it is really extraordinary! It is between Las Cruces and Tucson but you have detour south to see-but we have been twice and loved it!

The part of the SoCal to northwest drive we hate is the I-5 grapevine area, so hopefully you can avoid that on the drive from San Diego to Big Sur portion by taking the 101 instead.

jpie is online now  
May 11th, 2019, 07:39 PM
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Is this a solo trip? If so, buy a 45 day USA Railpass ($899). Take a Northeast Regional to New York Penn. From NYP, take the Amtrak Crescent to Greensboro NC. Rent a car and drive the section of the Blue Ridge that you want to see. Return the car and take the Crescent all the way to New Orleans. See what you want to see of the New Orleans area (swamp tour , food, music etc.) From New Orleans take the Sunset Limited (leaves at 9AM 2 or 3 days a week) to Houston. Spend a night in Houston and then rent a car to see what you want to see in the area.
From Houston, take the Sunset Limited to El Paso. Rent a car in El Paso to visit Carlsbad and maybe Big Bend. Return the car in El Paso and then take the train to Tucson. Spend a night in Tucson and then rent a car to go to Phoenix and Kofa NWA and anything else you want to visit in Arizona. Take the train to Palm Springs to rent a car to go see Joshua Tree and Yosemite (Death Valley, Sequoia?)
You do not want to have a RV/camper to visit San Diego. Leaving San Diego, take a Pacific Surfliner north through Los Angeles to Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo. Rent a car to see all of the coast that you want to see as far north as Monterey/Big Sur. Skip Redwoods NP. If you want to see Coast Redwoods, visit Big Basin south of San Francisco.
From SLO or Santa Barbara take the Coast Starlight north to Portland. Rent a car to go see Mt.Rainier and or Olympic NP and anything else you want to see in Washington and Oregon.
Take the Amtrak Empire Builder from Portland to Whitefish Montana to see Glacier and anything else you want to see in Western Montana.
Skip Calgary and Banff. They are beautiful but quite similar to the northern US Rockies.
Take the daily Empire Builder to Williston North Dakota. Rent a car from there to go south to see Mt. Rushmore/Badlands Wind Cave etc. Return the car in Williston and take the Empire Builder either to Minneapolis or to Chicago. From Chicago or MSP you can fly home to CT.
tomfuller is offline  
May 12th, 2019, 02:23 AM
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Ummmm, this is an RV trip, Tom.
Gretchen is offline  
May 12th, 2019, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Gretchen View Post
Ummmm, this is an RV trip, Tom.
RV trip will cost at least $92/day. (about $4000 for 6 weeks). The cost for a 45 day railpass plus about 30 days of car rentals will be considerably less. Any night that you sleep on the train moving toward your next destination is one that you are not paying for a hotel or a camping fee.
tomfuller is offline  
May 12th, 2019, 08:59 AM
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>>RV trip will cost at least $92/day. (about $4000 for 6 weeks).<<

I'm pretty sure the OP owns the RV . . .

. . . more than sure actually.
janisj is online now  
May 12th, 2019, 11:24 AM
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He wants an RV trip, even if he is renting. It isn't all about money. It is about seeing the highways and byways for some of us.
It's about stopping in a little diner or getting a picnic. Staying in a campground. It's fun.
Gretchen is offline  
May 12th, 2019, 01:06 PM
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​​​​​​RVing is a way of life. Just like train travel is for others.

​​​​​​Yes, there is an incline on I-70. And it is a long steep slough going Eastbound. That's not what I advised, however. I advised you go West on I-70 or I-80. So if you took I-70 and stayed on it after Denver, your route would be downhill. And I also suggested they consider going south from Denver to Albuquerque, so they wouldn't see that section of 70 at all.
But this brings up a really good point. If you are somewhat new to RVing, you should take an inaugural trip up to the mountains of New Hampshire or the Great Smokies, etc and see how it goes. How does the engine hold out? How many miles of challenging routes do you want to drive per day?

I encourage you to pair the advice you get here with the RV forums. Here's a good list of them:


And here is a conversation on an RV forum about I-70 as an example.

steep grades on I-70

5alive is offline  
May 13th, 2019, 03:05 AM
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That grade eastbound on I70 coming down into Denver was the site of that awful pileup last week by a semi (hauling lumber of all things) losing his brakes (maybe) and ignoring the runaway truck ramp.
Gretchen is offline  
May 13th, 2019, 10:13 PM
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Yes I did see that. I watched the dashcam of when he shot past a motorist before the crash. It was horrific.

​​​​​Perhaps the OP would prefer to go south to Albuquerque and avoid that section. But I do want to point out that there are steep grades all over the West. ​​​​​​Mountain ranges tend to fo that.
5alive is offline  
May 14th, 2019, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by 5alive View Post
Since you have that long of a time period, this time, cut the closer things and see them on a shorter trip. I think you should cut out your New Orleans section and do that at a separate time.
That's always my general thought as well. Unfortunately the OP hasn't been back and has likely alread started the trip (8 weeks ending the 4th of July) so he/she may not skip the close stuff.
WhereAreWe is offline  
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