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Three Week Road-trip:

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Mar 18th, 2013, 09:05 AM
  #1
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Join Date: Feb 2012
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Three Week Road-trip:

Hello!
Next July my family (45, 43, 18, 15, and 13) are hoping to take a road trip out west. We have about three weeks - 24 days maximum. We're leaving from Southern Ontario and want to hit Banff National Park in Alberta, Washington State, San Francisco and San Diego, Grand Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park and a few other places in Utah, and California. I've worked out a [extremely rough] itinerary and I was wondering if it is at all feasible, or if it is just too much? We haven't had a lot of experience taking actual roadtrips...We've driven long-distances but always with an end in sight; where we'd stay for several days. Also, does anyone have any tips of what to see/do in these places? We're all pretty active and up for an adventure...Open to any and all suggestions!
Thanks so much!


Day 1: Depart Ontario at 7:30am on Friday morning. Drive to Minneapolis Minnesota (1,566km 14h 35m) where we’ll stay overnight at the Country Inn & Suites (breakfast included in the morning). States visited in day 1: Ontario, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Costs for day 1: $170 (gas) $110 (hotel)
Day 2: Depart from Minneapolis by 8:30am. Drive to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (1,228km, 12h 5m) where we will stay overnight at a local campground. States visited on day 2: Minnesota, North Dakota, and Saskatchewan. Costs for day 2: $133 (gas) $28 (campground site)
Day 3: Depart from Moose Jaw by 8:30am. Drive to Banff, Alberta (810km, 8h 0m) where we will stay overnight in the national park at a Lake Louise campground. States visited today: Saskatchewan and Alberta. Costs for day 3: $86 (gas) $32 (camp site)
Day 4: Spend the day experiencing and exploring Banff National Park. Costs for day 4: $32 (camp site)
Day 5: Depart Banff by 8:30am. Drive to Whistler, BC (800km, 9h 45m) where we will stay overnight at a local campground. States visited today: British Columbia and Alberta. Costs for day 5: $90 (gas) $30 (camp site)
Day 6: Depart Whistler around 10:30am and drive to Vancouver BC (180km, 2h 25m) and spend a few hours visiting Uncle Brian & Aunt Deb. Depart Vancouver then drive to Seattle, Washington (227km, 2h 25m) where we will spend the night camping at Olympic National Park. States Visited on day 6: British Columbia and Washington. Costs: $70 (gas) $18 (camp site)
Day 7: Spend the morning exploring the coast of Olympic National Park before leaving for San Francisco (1,300km, 12h 0m). Stay overnight at the Cartwright Hotel downtown. States visited in day 7: Washington, Oregon, and California. Costs: $140 (Gas) $150 (hotel)
Day 8: Spend the day exploring San Francisco; Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, drive to Yosemite National Park for a few hours. States visited: California; Costs: $140 (Hotel)
Day 9: Drive from San Francisco to San Diego; stopping along the way in Los Angeles (810km, 7h 20m). Spend a few hours in LA experiencing the city and viewing famous sites before continuing to hotel in San Diego. States visited: California. Costs: $90 (gas) $125 (hotel)
Day 10: Tour San Diego. States visited: California. Costs: $125 (hotel)
Day 11: Tour San Diego and surrounding area. States visited: California. Costs: $125 (hotel)
Day 12: Drive from San Diego to Grand Canyon National Park (888km, 8h 15m). Stay overnight at campground in park. States visited: California, Arizona. Costs: $100 (gas) $34 (camp site)
Day 13: Explore the Grand Canyon. States visited: Arizona. Costs: $34 (camp site)
Day 14: Depart Grand Canyon National Park in the morning and drive to Arches National Park in Utah (531km, 5h 30m). Spend the afternoon exploring Arches. States visited: Arizona and Utah. Costs: $60 (gas) $20 (campground)
Day 15: Explore Arches National Park. States visited: Utah. Costs: $20 campground
Day 16: Depart Arches National Park and drive to Yellowstone National Park (900km, 8h 50m). Stay overnight at Old Faithful Inn. States visited: Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. Costs: $100 (gas) $140 (room)
Day 17: Explore Yellowstone National Park. States visited: Wyoming. Costs: $140 (Room)
Day 18: Explore Yellowstone National Park. States visited: Wyoming. Costs: $140 (room)
Day 19: Depart Yellowstone in the morning and drive to Kearney, Nebraska (1,240km, 12h 30m). Stay overnight at campground in Kearney. States visited: Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska. Costs: $135 (Gas) $30 (campground)
Day 20: Depart Kearney, Nebraska and drive to Chicago, Illinois (1,044km, 9h 35m) Stay overnight at Holiday Inn Express in the city. States visited: Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. Costs: $115 (gas), $140 (hotel)
Day 21: Depart Chicago, and drive til we hit home. States visited: Illinois, Michigan, and Ontario. Costs: $100 (gas)

Total costs: $3,183 + food
Gas: $1,350 (assuming MPG of 23 and gas prices of $4)
Lodging: $1,753
Food: $
Other: $80 (Annual National Park Pass)
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Mar 18th, 2013, 09:28 AM
  #2
 
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>>Day 7: Spend the morning exploring the coast of Olympic National Park before leaving for San Francisco . . . Stay overnight at the Cartwright Hotel downtown.

Day 8: Spend the day exploring San Francisco; Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, drive to Yosemite National Park for a few hours.

Day 9: Drive from San Francisco to San Diego; stopping along the way in Los Angeles (810km, 7h 20m). Spend a few hours in LA experiencing the city and viewing famous sites before continuing to hotel in San Diego.

This is a joke-right?

Just to get you started . . . From the coast of ONP to San Francisco is a 14 hours drive w/o a single stop of any sort.

SF to Yosemite is a 4+ hour drive- and you think you can sight see several hours in SF then drive to Yosemite and back in the same day

This is simply a crazy plan . . . . ..
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Mar 18th, 2013, 09:35 AM
  #3
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Thanks for the response!
The times I have from ONP to San Fran are just what I got from my mapping application on my phone. I figured it was fairly accurate for my estimate but I will add another day into there I suppose.
Day 8 is worded incorrectly here. I was listing options - I'd love to see Yosemite for the day, but I know my brothers won't want to sit in the car any longer - so they'd probably stick around the city and do the things listed there while I'd probably take a solo trip to Yosemite.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 10:22 AM
  #4
 
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I stopped reading after days 1 & 2. Five people in a car together for 27 hours in 2 days? Yikes. I'd rethink this, half the distance, twice the fun.

Or liken it to building a house, figure out what it will cost, then double it. In this case, figure out how long it will take to do this trip well, then double it.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 12:11 PM
  #5
 
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First thing I would do is look at those drive times. I have found the first day, when everyone is fresh and excited, is the best day for a long drive. Sometimes the last day, too, if everyone is ready to get home. Those 12-hour days make me shudder!
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Mar 18th, 2013, 12:32 PM
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I would suggest trying to reduce the number of one-night stays, and build in more two- or three-nighters. This will mean reducing the total number of places you get to see, but at least you will really be able to explore and enjoy the places you do visit. And if your family is anything like mine, you will appreciate having as many non-driving days as possible sprinkled between your days on the road.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 12:33 PM
  #7
 
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Wow this is way too rushed. You have to take into consideration that Google maps takes the distance and divides it by something like 50 or 55mph which is not always possible on some roads, like Highway 1 thru Big Sur which is more like 25mph or 40mph max IF you do not get stuck behind a truck or RV. Google does not allow for stops for food, restrooms, or gas either.

Drop half your destinations or more and concentrate on one or two areas like Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Glacier or coast of California and maybe parts of Oregon, or the SW USA Parks. You will have a much more enjoyable trip this way.

(Now watch TOMsd say sure it can be done)
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Mar 18th, 2013, 12:43 PM
  #8
 
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"(Now watch TOMsd say sure it can be done)"

Of course it can be done, if you spend a few days in beautiful San Diego. And only then.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 12:57 PM
  #9
 
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Just add up the miles/km you are driving &/or the amount of time you are driving...I was going to do that but my calculator doesn't have enough digits...You are going to spend 70% of your time driving or sleeping - THAT is no vacation. & w/3 teenagers no less....no way. That is about 12500km/70 km per hour (and that is way generous) = 7.5 full days of driving !! + you are camping a good bit of the time - how long is it going to take to put up tents & take them down & pack them almost every day ? That is another 2 hours every day you stop to camp. Also, some of the places you plan to visit you have to have rooms booked months in advance to even get in. You can't/won't just pull up & have a room waiting...
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Mar 18th, 2013, 01:03 PM
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I agree with the others-way too rushed. Once you get to Minneapolis don't go back into Canada. Gas prices are far too high in Canada. Glacier NP is just as beautiful as Banff IMO.
Also drop San Diego. I don't understand day 8-9. Don't go back to SF if you are at Yosemite. Get a reservation in or near Yosemite if you can.
What do you need to see in Los Angeles?
Gas prices are better in Oregon than in California
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Mar 18th, 2013, 06:17 PM
  #11
 
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If your goal is to get to as many states and provinces and National parks as you can in three weeks I think you will have achieved it. If you had any other goal it will be lost in the drive.

Otherwise the only thing I can see that will really be impossible is "Drive to Yosemite for a few hours" after having spent the day touring SF.

Also the drive from Arches to Old Faithful will take much longer than 8 hrs. It is 4 hrs from Moab to SLC. It takes us about 5 hrs from SLC to either West Yellowstone or Jackson. And then you have the drive into the park where you never go fast. Expect that to be at least 10 hrs.

If the rest of the times are that far off you won't be able to get to everything you expect.
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Mar 18th, 2013, 07:20 PM
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Tom: >>Once you get to Minneapolis don't go back into Canada. Gas prices are far too high in Canada<<

That may be but since they live in Canada, they probably do want to go back . . .


. . . But that really doesn't matter, since the whole trip really isn't doable . . .
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Mar 18th, 2013, 08:43 PM
  #13
 
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Since you are from Ontario - suggest you save visiting parts of the Midwest (US) and Canada for another - closer to home trip.

Once you get to SF - consider stopping for a night on your drive from SF to LA - maybe at a campground in Big Sur?

From there - you can drive on to LA nd whize through there - to San Diego.

Will come back and check again if you have added more time to the West Coast - and then add a few more thoughts.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 05:01 AM
  #14
 
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BTW - also guessing you haven't traveled a lot on a road trip? - as any estimates one usually makes re: costs are usually low.

If you have more budget flexibility - consider taking the beautiful train ride from where you live across Canada - hopping off in Banff, etc - and winding up in Vancouver.

Then - rent a car there and travel down the West Coast. Much easier.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 05:30 AM
  #15
 
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For the life of me, I cannot figure out where you get those time estimates. For example, best case - best case - for driving from the Olympic National Park to San Francisco is about 15 hours. And that does not take into account any traffic, no stops at all, and assumes you use I-5. That is not a pretty road, you'll miss most of the scenic beauty.

Ditto for getting from San Francisco to San Diego. The traffic in LA will cost you hours right there. And again, you are stuck with I-5.

This part just made me laugh out loud: "Day 8: Spend the day exploring San Francisco; Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, drive to Yosemite National Park for a few hours." What are you thinking???

Please heed Tomsd's warning about expenses, your estimates seem quite low. Add in an allowance for parking, especially in San Francisco.

I'm tempted to say "just go for it, and let us know how that went for you," but it would be unkind to subject your family to that without fair warning. I do understand wanting to see all that you can, but can you rework the itinerary and repost it?
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Mar 19th, 2013, 06:10 AM
  #16
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As I initially said, it was a really rough itinerary with times grabbed from Google Maps...We haven't done a roadtrip such as this before but we have driven from Ontario to Florida in 20 hours (with minimal stops...3-4 10 minute stops) several times before.
I am thinking it may be a better idea to fly to Calgary - or even Vancouver - then continue down the western states. We can add like 3-4 days to the trip.
I will clearly have to add in a few more stops. I am thinking I will add another day to San Francisco, cut Yosemite (unless I go by myself which is possible), add another day or two to Utah - either Bryce Canyon or Arches-, and add another day to Vancouver/Washington. That would bring me to 24 days total which is as many days as I can be away for..better?
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Mar 19th, 2013, 06:24 AM
  #17
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Day 1: Toronto to Minneapolis: 1,566km, 14h 35m
Day 2: Minneapolis to Moose Jaw: 1,228km, 12h 5m
Day 3: Moose Jaw to Banff: 810km, 8h 0m
Day 4: Banff
Day 5: Banff
Day 6: Banff to Whistler: 800km, 9h 0m
Day 7: Whistler to Vancouver, Vancouver to Olympic: 407km, 4h 50m
Day 8: Olympic National Park
Day 9: Olympic to San Francisco: 1,392km, 13h 38m
Day 10: San Francisco
Day 11: San Francisco
Day 12: San Francisco to San Diego: 810km, 7h 25m
Day 13: San Diego
Day 14: San Diego
Day 15: San Diego to Grand Canyon National Park: 888km, 8h 15m
Day 16: Grnad Canyon
Day 17: Grand Canyon to Arches National Park: 531km, 5h 30m
Day 18: Arches
Day 19: Arches
Day 20: Arches to Yellowstone National Park:900km, 8h 50m
Day 21: Yellowstone
Day 22: Yellowstone
Day 23: Yellowstone
Day 24: Yellowstone to Kearney: 1,240km, 12h 30m
Day 25: Kearney to Chicago: 1,044km, 9h 35m
Day 26: Chicago to Toronto: 910km, 8h 25m
I had to leave long days of driving on either end of the trip to cover as much land as possible..I really don't care about seeing what is in those places on this trip.
We're still considering flying out west then renting a car from there which would cut the majority of the painfully long days.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 06:26 AM
  #18
 
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Yes, flying across Canada to start your trip is a great idea. Consider then flying home from Utah or Wyoming (or even Denver, which is a hub for several airlines), by using the "multi-city" option on the airline website. Planning a trip like this can be a lot of fun. Enjoy!
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Mar 19th, 2013, 08:06 AM
  #19
 
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This trip looks more like a job than a vacation...to each their own though.
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Mar 19th, 2013, 08:16 AM
  #20
 
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Forget about Olympic National Park. First, it deserves at least two days; second, you can't drive to Seattle and visit ONP...it takes several hours to drive from Seattle to the easternmost place you would want to visit, which is Hurricane Ridge.
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