Roadtrip from NE Ohio to Portland, OR

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Jan 9th, 2018, 10:06 AM
  #1
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Roadtrip from NE Ohio to Portland, OR

My wife and I are planning a trip from NE Ohio finishing in Portland, OR. We'll be traveling in June of this year and have approximately a month of free time.

Below is a rough idea of itinerary we have thought up that includes some areas we'd like to visit. We are open to suggestions on alternative routes, places to see, things to do, and ideas for lodging.

From NE Ohio head south towards Atlanta, either through Kentucky/Nashville or through WV and the Carolinas. From Atlanta we'd like to visit Montgomery/Birmingham, AL and head to New Orleans.

New Orleans into TX, Houston, Austin, Waco then north into Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah areas.
The places we think we want to hit are the Grand Canyon, Slide Rock, Antelope Canyon, Salt Lake City, Rocky Mountains.

From here we'd travel through Las Vegas to Los Angeles and then North on HW 1 to San Francisco up to Portland, OR.

Things we enjoy when visiting areas:
Breweries/bars
Distilleries
Outdoor activities (hiking, swimming, beaches)
Walking through cities
History, mainly Monuments and not so much Museums
Zoo and Aquariums

Thanks!
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Jan 9th, 2018, 10:39 AM
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Looks like your first post on Fodor's; welcome!

Are you moving to Portland or do you plan to drive back to Ohio?

If the latter, then you're looking at something like 7,000 - 8,000 road miles. Over a month that's close to 250 miles per day, so every stopover day means a 500-mile day to compensate. And that doesn't even begin to count roads where you can't go that fast, or road construction, or weather delays, or things you might want to detour to experience.

In short, it's pretty ambitious for a month; many experienced road trippers would say it's too ambitious, but much depends on your traveling style. I've driven coast to coast (Philly to Seattle) in 4 1/2 days, but I wouldn't recommend that if you wanted to stop and actually see things.

And a couple of questions... Do you really want to experience the heat and humidity of New Orleans or Houston in the summer? Do you want to see any national parks in particular? If so, booking accommodations in places like Yellowstone must be a top priority, and you may need to alter your plans, or make firm commitments for dates, possibly sooner than you'd like.

If it was me (and it's not, it's you) I'd probably look at a loop that excludes the south for this trip, and save the Carolinas or the Mississippi basin or Texas for another time, possibly spring or fall some year, and focus instead on the Rockies, southwest and Pacific coast. Even doing that you're still going to have to edit your plans big time; it's just too big an area to include in the time you have available.
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Jan 9th, 2018, 11:06 AM
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We're driving an old vehicle and plan on selling it in Portland area and flying back home.

As far as national parks we want to see we are fairly open to see different ones time dependent. Yellowstone, Yosemite, Redwoods, Grand Canyon have all looked attractive but we are early in our planning and open to different ideas.

As far as driving let's say a 2,500 mile route is it reasonable to imagine being able to drive an average of 400 miles per day?
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Jan 9th, 2018, 12:59 PM
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No you really don't have enough time -- Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, Yosemite, SF, the Coast/Redwoods, Portland, -- driving out from Ohio -- would just about fill a month.

In summer I'd definitely skip the whole southern loop and Las Vegas

>>As far as driving let's say a 2,500 mile route is it reasonable to imagine being able to drive an average of 400 miles per day?<<

There is a WHOLE lot of difference between your first post and 2500 miles. But you won't get to the 4 national parks you list in anywhere near 2500 miles. OH > Yellowstone > the GC > Yosemite > SF > Portland would be closer to 4500 miles.
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Jan 9th, 2018, 04:14 PM
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I would choose either Yosemite or Yellowstone - not both.
My suggested route - Pick up I-70 west near Columbus OH. Set a goal of St. Louis the first day. See the Gateway Arch, the Mississippi River and the Busch brewery.
Continuing west on I-70, set a goal of Salina Kansas.
Continuing west on I-70, set a goal of Denver. Things to see in Denver include the US mint and the Capitol Building. Maybe you want to visit Golden Colorado to see Coors.
The town you don't want to miss along I-70 is Glenwood Springs. There is a cavern to see there and the world's largest hot spring fed swimming pool.
Continuing west on I-70 into Utah, turn south on US 191 and go to Moab. See Arches NP and maybe the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands. Whether you want to spend more time in southern Utah seeing more of the "Big 5" is up to you.
Leaving southern Utah head for SLC on I-15.
In SLC you can decide whether you want to go to Yellowstone or head west on I-80 for California and Yosemite.
If you go for Yellowstone, continue on I-15 north into Idaho and turn off near Idaho Falls onto US 20 east into West Yellowstone Montana.
You can easily spend 5 days seeing the wonders and wildlife of Yellowstone.
If you go the I-80 route west, spend a night in Reno and then head for Yosemite the next day.
The coastal route through northern California and Oregon is US 101.
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Jan 9th, 2018, 04:56 PM
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But you won't get to the 4 national parks you list in anywhere near 2500 miles. OH > Yellowstone > the GC > Yosemite > SF > Portland would be closer to 4500 miles.

4300 to be specific. https://goo.gl/maps/7GwCeKreuZs
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Jan 9th, 2018, 05:54 PM
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Ah . . . but that doesn't include driving around IN those parks and cities . . . so back to the 4500 mile quesstimate
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Jan 10th, 2018, 06:52 AM
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Thanks for all the suggestions, my initial route was almost 6,000 miles which I realize now didn't actually give us time to explore different location along the way in an adequate manner.

I think we'll cut out Yosemite so we can stay close to the coast on our Northward drive and want to go through the LA area. Therefore using HW 1 and hitting the coastal towns along the way.

This has definitely helped to take some of our dreams and made them a reachable tour idea.
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Jan 10th, 2018, 07:06 AM
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We've never been to any of these National Parks before, I've read some things about getting a pass for access to the parks? As well we are somewhat experienced campers and plan to bring gear to help keep lodging costs lower.

Do all of the parks have camping access? Any need to get early reservations for space?
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Jan 10th, 2018, 07:27 AM
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Cutting Yosemite saves you very little time or mileage. In fact driving all the way up the coast would take longer than partially up the middle of CA/OR.

Yes, you definitely need to pre-book camp sites in the National Parks and some state parks.



You are taking camping gear and then selling your car in Portland? Selling the car isn't a given -- buying an out-of-state car is not as straight forward as a local one. Especially an old/high mileage one.
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Jan 10th, 2018, 08:26 AM
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Omitting Yosemite is like cutting off an arm!! Omit Los Angeles!! Driving there is a PIA in the first place, just for one thing.

Camping in the parks is usually on a reservation system a long time in advance. It is also often in their permanent tents. Echo above. But there are campgrounds near parks usually/often.

Yes, a pass would be good to get.

I think people often think the coast of california is not so long--LA and SF are "so close". Not.

I think there is a lot more planning that is needed--my mantra (and sorry fodorites) is to get a paper map, stick pins in it and see what connecting those dots does.
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Jan 10th, 2018, 04:02 PM
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Yes you can get an annual USA Recreational Pass at any National Park and many Forest Service offices. If you don't want to follow my suggested route I outlined above, the next best would be to sell the car online before the trip and use the money to either fly to Portland or take the trains to Portland (Lake Shore Limited and Empire Builder from Chicago). Rent a car in Portland and drive south on US 101 at least as far as Monterey. (including San Francisco).
Cut across California and go to see Yosemite. If you still have time (and money), go through Death Valley and Las Vegas on the way to Zion, Bryce and maybe one of the other "Big 5" National Parks.
Drive north through SLC and go to see Yellowstone.
The best of the Pacific coast IMO is anything north of Big Sur along US 101.
Return the car in Portland and fly home or take the Coast Starlight south to Sacramento and the California Zephyr east to Chicago. Either the Capitol Limited or the Lake Shore Limited will take you back to Cleveland.
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