Road Trip From Philadelphia

Old Jul 10th, 2020, 01:34 PM
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Road Trip From Philadelphia

Hi all,

My wife and I are from Philadelphia and after having to cancel two vacation flights due to COVID, we are trying a safer, more 'grounded' vacation idea in September. We are thinking about a 2-3 week road trip from here, but I'm unsure of what is realistic.

We want to take our time and enjoy ourselves, but also want to see some sights we're been hoping to see for a while. The things on our list are: Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Voyageurs NP, Theodore Roosevelt NP, Badlands NP and Arches NP. Obviously we would be taking a northern route, but haven't thought much about the route back yet. Is this doable in 2-3 weeks? Both working from home we can be a bit flexible and work on the road can happen as long as there is wifi, so we're not super concerned about a hard return date. We're sticking to natural sights to keep it safe from COVID and have been taking it seriously. We will also have our pup with us! Some notes: we'll be renting a large car and sleeping in it to avoid hotels and Airbnbs, and we travel quite a bit so are fairly used to long drives! Used to travel from Maine to Buffalo, NY fairly frequently (about 12 hours).

Any thoughts or tips are appreciated! Thanks!
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Old Jul 11th, 2020, 07:39 AM
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My impression is that Voyageur NP is not a drive by park:

That makes it a long detour just because it is there. It takes a while to get to the Rockies from Philadelphia, and three weeks is not a long time. It might be better to fly to Denver and then figure out a circular trip that would cover the Dakotas, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. Arches is the outlier that you might have to give up. The same thing might be true of Roosevelt NP: Between the Badlands in South Dakota and Yellowstone you should have a combination of its sight. I do not mean to downgrade the NP, but am simply thinking of the time and distances that are involved in visiting these two geographical outliers.
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Old Jul 11th, 2020, 08:20 AM
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Thanks for the thought on Voyageurs. Any alternative suggestion in Northern Minnesota?

As mentioned, flying isn't an option, given the circumstances, which is the whole reason for this trip.

Based on your thoughts, maybe our trip goal should end at the Badlands so we aren't strained.

Last edited by lostoros34; Jul 11th, 2020 at 08:37 AM.
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Old Jul 11th, 2020, 11:09 AM
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One state to the south would have you visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin. If a fan of Wright, you could go via Oak Park (on the edge of Chicago) and then travel north through Wisconsin.
I forgot. You could make it a Frank Lloyd Wright trip on the way to the Plains and Rockies by visiting Falling Water and other sites in western Pennsylvania. We saw three different sites while staying in an AirB&B in Confluence, PA.

Last edited by Michael; Jul 11th, 2020 at 11:14 AM.
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Old Jul 13th, 2020, 11:04 AM
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I don't know about sleeping in the car, why not tent camp?

It's a ways up to the UP and northern Minnesota, so in 2 weeks it would be reasonable to hit the 2 badlands parks and the Black Hills then head home. And skipping the Rockies and parks farther west/south.

Gooseberry Falls SP in northern MN, if you can get a camping spot, isn't too far up the shore, things to see and do around there. Then it's US 2 all the way across to the west side of North Dakota. The source of the Mississippi at Itasca SP is a nice diversion nearly on the way.

People always say to fly and then hit the most popular things, but that choice means you will only hit crowds, and gives no sense of what the USA is all about the way that a cross country drive does.

I posted UP advice on a nearby topic.
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Old Jul 13th, 2020, 03:15 PM
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Sleeping in the car sounds uncomfortable, and potentially unsafe, particularly for a trip of that length. Tent camping does sound like a viable option if you are uncomfortable with the idea of hotels or rentals, but you could also rent something like a camper van, which would be set up as living quarters and a lot more comfortable than even a large car, but should be a lot easier to travel with than a full size camper.
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Old Jul 14th, 2020, 11:06 AM
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A few things to keep in mind when you get to Utah - you'll be in remote areas, it will be HOT, and national park trails don't allow pets. Arches National Park is beautiful, but it is far from any major city. You probably won't be able to find wifi unless you are staying at a hotel, and you may have trouble with mobile reception if you are planning to work using a mobile hotspot. If you are bringing pets, remember that it'll be over 100 degrees most days and you will not be allowed to take your pets on some of the hiking trails. You won't be able to leave them in the car, so a hotel might be a good idea in this area. There are very few hotels in Moab, UT, and they fill up fast, so make sure to book a place in advance.

That said, I think with some planning you'll be able to figure something out, and you definitely should see Arches NP. It's one of the most amazing places on planet earth.

One more thing to note, Arches can get VERY busy, and if you don't get there early, the park will fill to capacity and you won't be allowed in until others leave. An alternative to Arches would be some of the places around Monticello, UT. Monticello is less than an hour away from Moab but doesn't attract huge crowds. You can go to the Southern end of Canyonlands National Park (Needles District) and almost have the place all to yourself some days.
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Old Jul 18th, 2020, 09:55 AM
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Minnesota- Lake Superior-drive from Duluth north along the shoreline, beautiful
Wisconsin- Apostle Islands, can be added to MN trip.
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Old Jul 18th, 2020, 11:13 AM
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Sleeping in a car in the summer? REally. I think that is the first thing to rethink. There is this thing of showers and air conditioning. While tent camping doesn't have air conditioning it does have air.
LOTS of articles about people renting RVs. But at one time we had a conversion van that had a fold out bed in the back.

I haven't really seen any data about how crowded camp grounds and NPs are these days when folks are trying to stay outside. Might be interesting to know before you go.
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