Road trip around America help

Jun 24th, 2018, 04:10 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2018
Posts: 5
Road trip around America help

Hi guys,

My boyfriend and I are planning to live in a toy hauler with our dog for a year as we travel around the United States. We are both in our 20s, very active, and love being outdoors. We are from California and want to leave in the Spring of next year.
I need help planning/scheduling where we should go at what time of the year..
We like to do a little bit of everything. He rides dirt bikes, we kayak, fish, hike, walk our dog, love to eat new foods, like to party, love the ocean. My basic plan right now is to start in Oregon and every couple of weeks we move on to the next place. Does anyone have any advice/suggestions on reservations and how to schedule your trip& How to find good campsites?

Crater Lake - Oregon Dunes - Portland - Cannon Beach - Seattle - Glacier National Park - Bozeman - Yellowstone National Park - Mount Rushmore - Chicago - Traverse City, Michigan - Newton Falls, Ohio - Columbus, Ohio - Cincinnati - Mammoth Caves, Kentucky - Nashville, Tennessee - Middlebourne, West Virginia

That's what I have so far. I like to be prepared and have somewhat of an itinerary and plan but also like to be spontaneous. I do not know how much to have planned and how detailed I need to be. Any advice would be wonderful
kelsiellamas is offline  
Jun 24th, 2018, 04:29 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I have no idea what a "toy hauler" is, but I'm guessing some kind of camper or trailer. Be aware that you will need reservations for camping spots in all parks (national, state, local) and that there are restrictions for dogs in parks. You will need to research each park for whether your dog is allowed in (on a leash) or not allowed at all.

This is quite an ambitious itinerary and you have a lot of research to do before your trip. Good luck to you.
Kathie is offline  
Jun 24th, 2018, 04:45 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,246
>>I have no idea what a "toy hauler" is, . . .<<

Basically a small motorhome or RV with space and large access door for all the toys (dirt bikes, kayaks, whatever)

Just wanted to add to what Kathie mentioned - having a dog along will complicate things. We love our pets -- but the national (and many state) parks don't. In many parks dogs are only allowed on very limited trails -- often only on the 'accessible'/boardwalk/paved sorts of paths. They have to always be on leash - AND can never be left unattended. So you won't be able to hike with him and won't be able to go off and hike without him. Same in many commercial camp grounds.

Also if you are starting in Spring, doing the northern route first will be a problem. Crater Lake will be snowed in, and large parts of Yellowstone, Glacier will have snow.
janisj is offline  
Jun 24th, 2018, 08:47 PM
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I suggest you start with Joshua Tree and work east from there to Grand Canyon (south Rim), White Sands, Big Bend (Texas) all the way east to The Everglades (Florida).
By he time you get back to Oregon, the snow should be melted in Crater Lake NP. The last road in Crater Lake (Pinnacles) opened on May 16 this year. Most of the rest were open by June 1.
tomfuller is offline  
Jun 25th, 2018, 04:25 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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My old saw is "get a paper map and stick pins in it where you want to go". And let me say, I think this is a terrific thing for you all to do!!
You can do a lot of searching on the internet for rules and regulations concerning your dog.
You'll want to go north first with warm weather and then loop back south, of course, with fall and winter. If you are skiers, along with your other outdoor interests, then Maine and Vermont in December and January will be fine.
I don't know your budget but even parks charge overnight fees which will mount up over a year's time.
Gretchen is offline  
Jun 25th, 2018, 07:14 AM
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>>You'll want to go north first with warm weather<<

That needs some clarification - Spring is still snow season in some of the northern bits.
janisj is offline  
Jun 25th, 2018, 08:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Some general climate/geography guidelines....

If you're starting in the spring from California, I'd plan on a big counter-clockwise loop. Cross the desert southwest rapidly and visit the southern tier in the spring before it gets so hot and humid, then work your way north. The Rockies and Pacific Northwest mountains have late springs and summers because of snow pack, so I'd head west in the middle or late summer, and finally back down the Pacific coast in the autumn. End with the desert southwest in late fall or winter.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jun 25th, 2018, 08:52 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,251
What kind of dog? A large or young dog will need to get out and exercise more since it will be cooped up in a trailer all the time. You can generally take dogs on trails in national forests but not in national parks, so that will be an issue to consider. Once you get an idea of which parks you want to visit and when, you can start looking into campgrounds and figure out the various options. You'll want to look at commercial campgrounds in some areas, other areas you can camp on BLM or national forest land without a reservation, but in some parks you'll need reservations well in advance.

My route would be somewhat convoluted but you have a year so it works.

Head to the desert southwest first - spring is the best time to visit that region. Arizona, possibly Moab and Zion, southern New Mexico and west Texas (specifically the Big Bend region). By early May it will be heating up too much so you'll need to head north. Visit the midwest/Rockies and Pacific Northwest from May through September. Arkansas/Missouri in early May, then get to Colorado by June. Spend that month in Colorado, make it to Portland by 4th of July and start heading north along the coast for a month. Once you've made it all the way to Seattle, start heading east again and visit Idaho, Glacier/Yellowstone in August and continue through the upper Midwest in September - a route along the Great Lakes would be awesome. From there, head east so you hit Maine by October, then follow the fall colors south. That puts you in the southeast around November/December - meander around Florida and the Gulf Coast for a couple months and then slowly head back to California in February.

I would avoid PNW in fall unless you like rain.
WhereAreWe is offline  
Jun 25th, 2018, 04:51 PM
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Awesome thanks for the help!

Our dog is a one year old Belgian Malinois that requires ALOT of exercise. Ideally I would like to camp places he could hike/kayak with us..

I was thinking about getting a Thousand Trails camping membership but the reviews online were all very negative so my next idea is a KOA pass.
kelsiellamas is offline  
Jun 27th, 2018, 02:36 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,414
My inlaws had 1000 Trails for many years and were full-time RVers. My understanding is that you can buy a membership used, but I don't know how that works and how to confirm it is legitimate. But my FIL greatly regretted not doing so and talked to many people who had become members that route.

You also can stay at many 1000 trails as a non member, but you pay more a night and the date you can reserve by is probably after the members. The parks really vary in quality. In Oregon, the Bend one was excellent, and the Pacific City one, not quite as good for amenities but really a nice setting. I'm sick of the Seaside one, stayed there way too much and hardly any trees between most of the campsites. One good strip of trees half way back in the park. And always very crowded and popular. Newport was so-so with a crappy pool that was very very cold. They liked some of the parks down near Palm Springs, and it was an affordable way to experience that area during the winter/early spring.

To answer other comments on this board: We have found Oregon State Parks especially friendly for our dog. Specific yurt units even allow pets, but you need to tell them and I think pay a deposit. Here is a link with tips:


My in-laws' trailer has A/C. There were a couple of occasions that we left the dog in there with the A/C on while we were gone. I don't believe we were breaking any rules. But without A/C your trailer could overheat and kill your pet.
5alive is offline  
Jun 27th, 2018, 07:50 PM
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To plan such a journey might even be more fun than is the actual journey itself.

Common sense suggests covering the southern climes first after departing at a point on the calendar most suitable to the challenge of completing the mission.

You don't want too much summer in the southern climes and you don't want too much winter in the northern parts.

I suspect that I would first want to be leaving the New England area as mid-June rolls around (that after ideally having covered the southern border and the eastern seaboard (after {completely guessing } how long it may take to get there ) ).

Then you'd still have to go across the top of the map while hoping to stay north of tornadoes and the like.

Once you reached Washington State on such a path, you'd have the option to keep going (back, toward the east again) or cutting it short and returning to California. Much of middle America might be left untouched on such a path, but at least you might know the most hospitable weather this way, while preserving your will to press on for later.

So who knows? Maybe you start on a Cali-toward-Florida trajectory and then anticipate a Florida-toward-Maine path to follow, wildly guessing what it will take to experience everything from DC to Maine by perhaps the middle of June. A lot of guesswork is involved, surely.

If you still have any get-up-and-go by the time you circle around to WA or OR then maybe you need only travel toward the middle of the continent to pick-up part/much of the Rockies before winter threatens to make a wreck of further plans.

Places like Nashville or the like might be worth bending that perimeter path just a bit so that you don't leave them completely uncovered, and then won't feel as much need to get back and cover evvvvery little bump in the road you hadn't touched earlier.

A lot of the appeal to such a trip, too, is NOT having it as planned-out as are most vacations. Whimsically pointing yourselves toward some city that some waiter described to you while passing through Baton Rouge might be just the ticket for the most memorable journey.

It would be so fun to hear the results of such plans... but the chances of your taking just such a journey (over 60% of what you imply wanting to do here)... and retaining the coordination we here at Fodors need to draw you back here for a full, detailed journal of your travels, remain too slim to bank on.

I hope it all works, and happens, and that you have the time of your lives!!
NorthwestMale is offline  
Jun 28th, 2018, 05:13 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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A niece and her husband did something like this (w/o a dog) one year before they settled down to jobs and starting a family.
For an itinerary, have you researched things like dirt bike events? King of the Hammers in Johnson Valley, CA late January is a big event with dirt bikes, ATVs, and Ultra4 race cars. A desert lake bed is turned into a small town for about 2 weeks and carefully coordinated with Bureau of Land Management, etc. There will be a lot of toy haulers there and people have to be set up for camping without the luxury of hook ups. There are different races and competitions throughout the country but KOH is a mega event.

My husband is a fan of "old iron" and John Deere tractors so for a time he visited those kind of events including Meeting of the Green where they toured the factory as well as alternate years in Canandaigua NY. If you start looking into different associations for dirt bikes, kayaking, etc. you'll probably find a lot of events you never heard of before. If you find the right websites, there are calendars of events. If you enjoy kayaking, it is very popular in New England both freshwater and ocean. I believe there's a kayaking/camping trail along Maine's coastal islands. Probably not appropriate for a dog but something to check into although New England is not on your list.

We no longer camp but when we did we tended to prefer small campgrounds some of which did not have many amenities. But you might want larger campgrounds with pull thru spaces depending on the size of your toy hauler. KOA campgrounds were usually reliable but also usually with a lot of amenities, noise and people. For the past two summers, our son and his family caravanned with others (truck campers) and did a combination of free WalMart parking lot camping (not allowed at all WalMarts) and much nicer campgrounds at places where they wanted to spend a few days when they went cross country (last year also included Lake Banff). Also check into truck stops. When you are just passing thru a free overnight helps the budget and you don't always need fancy.

Agree with NorthWest Male that not having strict plans should be an option. It's been years since we camped for an entire summer. We stayed in a place as long as we wanted and never had reservations. It would be even easier now having cell phones and internet access. We figured if we could get to a campground by around 3pm, there was always a space. Recently followed someone's month long trip with a toy hauler and two very large dogs. She was able to find some good places for the dogs to get some exercise including a few swims.

Best wishes for a fun adventure.
dfrostnh is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2018, 08:56 PM
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,260
The order is wrong after the Black Hills. You should head north and east to find trees after leaving Great Plains in north central MN then east across the UP, then down to Traverse City, then Chicago. Black Hills direct to Chicago will have grim camping choices.
tom_mn is offline  
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