Travel advice from Cincinnati to West Coast

Old Apr 11th, 2016, 03:27 PM
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Travel advice from Cincinnati to West Coast

Me and a couple of friends are planning out a trip to San Fransisco and want to drive the entire way. Now we would like to camp pretty much the entire time as long as the weather allows, we have never traveled this far and are looking forward to the experience! Any advice on destinations along the way, camping tips, best routes, and any other general advice that might seem necessary would be great. Thanks!
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Old Apr 11th, 2016, 03:41 PM
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More info: Banking on mid july or early august.
Hoping to be on the road for a couple months at least.(No designated time frame)
Have places to stay in San Fransisco, Portland, Washington, and also British Colombia in Canada.
We are considering renting a car as well.
Any questions feel free to ask.
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Old Apr 11th, 2016, 05:40 PM
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Are you old enough to rent a car? Will there be a surcharge based on your ages? Are you aware that you have to pay for extra drivers and can't take rental cars off paved roads or it voids the insurance? If taking the car into Canada be sure the rental agency knows so you can get the papers to take it across the border.

Are you planning on driving both ways - or will you fly back?

How long do you have for the trip if both ways?

Suggest as a start you get a couple of guide books about road trips to help you pick out where you want to stop/visit. For July and August you can find some campgrounds - esp in national parks - that are full (reserved months in advance).

You need to locate a web site specifically for camping that can give you a lot of details on cities/parks to stop and specific places to camp.
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Old Apr 12th, 2016, 08:28 AM
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If renting a car, make certain you are permitted to take it into Canada. This shouldn't be a problem -- I've done this more than once -- but this is something to check BEFORE you have a minor scrape (or a major wreck) in a place where the car rental company can point out that you weren't allowed to go to.

> You need to locate a web site specifically for camping

For info on camping areas, go to
Completely free URL that allows you to search for campgrounds in or near a specific city or ZIP code, filtering out camps that have (or don't have) tenting sites. Listings also include camp amenities (showers? laundry rooms?); as well as user ratings of these sites, helping you avoid a dump.
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Old Apr 12th, 2016, 09:15 AM
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The closest I come to "camping" is sleeping in coach seats on Amtrak and a few nights in HI Hostels.
Since what you want to see is west of Denver, you can take the Amtrak Cardinal 3 days/week) from Cincinnati to Chicago.
Spend at least 24 hours in Chicago before taking the California Zephyr overnight to Denver.
Rent a car or camper van in Denver for about 2 weeks.
See what you want to see in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico and then return the vehicle.
Take the California Zephyr again overnight to Sacramento CA. Rent a car or van in Sacramento or at the airport (SMF).
See what you want to see in California and Oregon. Return the car in Sacramento and take the Coast Starlight north to Portland. See whatever you missed of Oregon and southern Washington.
Take an Amtrak Cascades train to Seattle. See the city.
With Passports in hand, take either the early Amtrak bus or train to Vancouver BC. I really enjoyed Stanley Park in the west end of Vancouver. I have not been back since before the Olympics were there.
There are two HI Hostels in Vancouver.
The largest HI hostel in the US is the one on Congress in Chicago.
My favorite HI Hostel is the one at 10 & H in Sacramento.
It is a Victorian mansion across the street from City Hall.
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Old Apr 30th, 2016, 07:07 PM
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Hi Momo, Perhaps I can help you with some routing...In summer, I'd suggest taking the "northern" route. It is really scenic and offers lots of great places for camping, hiking, and seeing a great part of the country. Also, its not deathly hot!

There's lots of ways to do it. My last out-west trip, I drove I-74 West to I-80 West (Davenport) to I-29 North (north of Omaha) to I-90 West (Sioux City) to Custer State Park (not quite on I-90).

Alternatively, you could take 74 West to 65 (Indianapolis) North to 90 West (Chicago) to Custer State Park. That way, you go through Wisconsin Dells.

From there you can continue on to Yellowstone or to Denver (or do extra routing to go to both. Or better yet, stay on the north routing and visit your friends in Portland and Washington, then drop down to San Fran. You could take the "middle route" I-80 back to get more into the Rockies, veer into Yellowstone, etc. Utah is also a fantastic state for national parks, camping, etc.

If you have at least a couple of drivers, I'd try to do the leg from Cincinnati to Sioux City in one very long day (done it before, but it takes more than one alert driver). Then relax the trip as you go through South Dakota (stops: Corn Palace, Wall Drugs, Badlands, Custer State Park). I'd camp in CSP since there are several campgrounds there and they are nice. The park offers a lot to do and see (be sure to drive the Wildlife Loop and Needles Highway - both are something you'll not see anywhere else!). There are beautiful lakes to swim/boat, incredible hikes from easy to difficult, and so much wildlife. You could pop up to Sturgess and Deadwood (great old towns) on your way out before turning west.

As far as camping goes, you will not have any issues in finding great camping in the west. Some National Park campgrounds may require reservations, I'm guessing they sell out early (the lodges are probably already sold out for this year).

TIPS: Keep your gas tank at half full at minimum in the west. You will come along very long stretches without gas stations. Same goes with keeping plenty of water aboard for you and your pals. The air is arid in the west and you need to keep hydrated. And have some water JIC for the car. Buy a US map and map out your route in advance - you may not always have cell service. Bring layers of clothes for varying temperatures. (Custer was in the 90's during the day and near 50 some nights). And know your iPhone has a does not need wifi to work. (Do I sound like a mom?)

Hopefully I've given you a start in your planning. You have a lot more work to do. Once you outline your trip, hit searches for national and state parks, scenic byways, and off the beaten path to make your trip awesome!

Have fun and be safe
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