Wisconsin to California

Old Jan 13th, 2014, 11:45 AM
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Wisconsin to California

Myself and 3 of my friends are planning on road tripping out to California for Spring Break. We have about 11 days to make the trip. We would like some input for the "must see" attractions and where we should actually go! We are really up for anything! One of the girls traveling with us has never been out west or seen the ocean so she really wants to see the ocean and mountains.

One option we were thinking was to drive from Madison, WI to Laguna Beach, CA. Making sure to stop in Denver and Vegas.

The second option we were thinking on doing was to drive from Madison, WI to Portland, OR (have family that we can stay with there) and then driving down the coast to San Francisco before coming home. This route gives us the most coverage and two very different routes traveling, but we aren't sure we will have enough time.

Suggestions would be greatly appreciated. We don't want to spend a whole lot and are planning on staying in cheap hotels, motels, or hostels. A night or two might also be spent in the car.
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Old Jan 13th, 2014, 12:46 PM
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Looks like it'll take you around 30 hours of driving time to either destination If spring break is in March, I'd do the Laguna Beach route because snow and ice is more likely to make the northern route impassible (although driving over the Rockies west of Denver isn't going to be a piece of cake either). Also because Laguna Beach and surrounding areas are more what I'd consider to be "spring break."
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Old Jan 13th, 2014, 01:38 PM
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When I was your age - undergrad - we used to "burger up" - as in have one of us drive for six hours or so - stop for burgers/snack - and then rotate - with somebody riding "shotgun" and the others sleeping in the back seat. Usually four to a car (sometimes in a 3 car caravan) - and we would go from San Francisco to Denver/vice versa in 24 hours straight, sometimes less.

If the weather is not a problem - you can make good time across the northern route - as in Montana - the limit is 75 on freeways - and you can probably be following traffic at 80?.

Driving down the Oregon Coast and at least part of the Northern California Coast would be a great trip - and then to save time - use I-5 down to the Bay Area - and pick it up again along the central California Coast - from Carmel/Monterrey down to LA.
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Old Jan 13th, 2014, 01:49 PM
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>>When I was your age - undergrad -
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Old Jan 13th, 2014, 03:04 PM
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If you did the Denver/Vegas/LA route out and then took the Flagstaff/Albuquerque/Kansas City route back you would see something different and only add a few hours of driving time. Good luck with cheap accommodations, I mean that in the most sincere way
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Old Jan 13th, 2014, 03:25 PM
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If you take the Northern route - once you get to Portland - you usually don't have to worry that much about running into snow down the Coast. You can hit some rain - but rarely snow. http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...3163800AAi0Ke9

Again, if there is heavy snowfall projected across the West - take the best/least affected route you can from WI - but otherwise - they keep the freeways in pretty good condition - unless of course - it's a major storm.

IMO - assuming you possess youthful energy/zest - you could be in Portland in two days, or less - hanging there for a couple of nights with relatives - and then drive down the Oregon Coast - say as far as Florence - or even to say Bandon Dunes/Gold Beach.

5th/6th day - head down to the Redwoods across the Cal border - just south of Crescent City - Jedediah Smith State Park - http://www.yelp.com/biz/jedediah-smi...-crescent-city - and then head over to I-5 and down to San Francisco - arrving there late but there at some point.

While in SF - if you still want to see more Cal Coastline - get an early start heading down to Carmel/Monterrey (two hours if you beat the traffic) - and a little further down to see Big Sur - and then back to SF that night.

From SF - depending on weather reports - decide on how/when to head back home.
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Old Jan 13th, 2014, 04:02 PM
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Las Vegas is really an adult destination. If you're under 21, I wouldn't bother to stop there.

With four of you, you should be able to stay at places like Motel 6 pretty cheaply. There aren't tons of hostels in the US, but try http://www.hiusa.org and see what you can find. The HI membership is worthwhile if you're going to be staying in hostels more than once or twice.

Lee Ann
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Old Jan 13th, 2014, 05:10 PM
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There are 2 HI hostels in Portland (Glisan St. is better). My favorite HI hostel is the one at 10th & H St. in Sacramento (Victorian mansion).
Another of my favorites is the Pigeon Point Lighthouse about 50 miles south of San Francisco. There is also a fair HI hostel in Monterey.
You'll see enough of the West without going to Las Vegas.
Another method to get to California is to ride Amtrak on either the Empire Builder to Portland and the Coast Starlight south from Portland or the California Zephyr from
Chicago to either Sacramento or Emeryville.
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Old Jan 13th, 2014, 06:48 PM
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They can stay with family in Portland...

Man, the weather can be anything in March, but since you're driving, you don't have to commit yourself with reservations.

So maybe it would make sense to bet heavily on the weather and plan to expedite the path to Portland, Oregon (29 hours from Madison to Portland, via I-90).

Maybe switch drivers around the clock, and drive straight through, and stay with your family in Portland for two nights (to recover?... and then drive down the coast (won't be snow enough to stop you on that path). Revel in the Pacific Coast (for the one friend).

Get to San Fran... and from there you either choose to dip farther down to the south, and not see much of anything, or start your path home (already) with some time to use along the way.

From San Fran, maybe you go through Reno, and Salt Lake City, then maybe south to Interstate 70, and home through Denver, Omaha, Des Moines, and on up.

Night #1 Driving
Night #2 Portland
Night #3 Portland
Night #4 N. California Coast?
Night #5 San Fran
(Portland - San Fran 720mi/14hrs via coast and Highway 101
Night #6 San Fran
(maybe STAY in an outlying area (cheaper) and day-trip into S.F.)

Night #7 Reno
Night #8 Salt Lake City
(note: SLC-Denver = faster via Wyoming, but perhaps more scenery if first go south to I-70 the mountains there could bring ANYthing in the way of weather)

(might be nice to have a 24-hour period built-in as a comfort zone against waiting for weather)

Night #9 Denver (but if pressed for time, take I-80 from SLC and skip Denver all together)

Night #10 Omaha, NE

It really does make sense to haul-*ss to get to Portland A.S.A.P., especially since you have free lodging there, for a couple of nights, as needed, to recover. but it is nearly 2000 miles, so be aware...

Just my impulsive idea...
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Old Jan 13th, 2014, 06:52 PM
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oh, and PS- The Mountains come with the territory!
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Old Jan 13th, 2014, 07:47 PM
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Southern California will have the warmer weather. Instead of pricey Laguna Beach (Orange County), I would head to the San Diego area. I know you can make SoCal in two days if the weather gods are with you. My cousin and uncle from Janesville, WI drove to Orange County in that time to attend my wedding (driving nonstop). Granted it was in decent weather taking the southern most route.
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Old Jan 13th, 2014, 08:33 PM
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Hmmmmmmmmm, it is only about 90 miles farther to go to San Diego than to Portland.

The weather would be a better bet in general, though by no means a sure thing... and if you went absolutely crazy in hurrying along to get to So Cal, you could spend several days doing all of the L.A. stuff which people are really envisioning when talking about seeing California and the ocean for the first time.

Perhaps if Portland, Oregon, weren't actually farther NORTH than is Madison, the equation would be easier to decide.

And I guess you need to be honest ... if money were no object for this endeavor, wouldn't you reeeeeeally go and see the So Cal beaches, and all of the stuff to see in and around L.A.???

Maybe you can afford to drive like mad to reach Denver (cuz most of it is flat) and only then monitor conditions with regard to weather. (trouble is, you'd still have 1000 miles until San Diego or LA) (and maybe you'd drive through Vegas and never leave.

I'm sure somebody in your group thought of going to LA... so maybe it isn't that much more difficult than the other Pacific Coast options.

Just being there... with friends... might be just about all you need. Lots of the things that would mean so much, would be fairly inexpensive... the ocean, the beaches, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the many sights you've always read about (Rodeo Drive, etc. - just to SEE it).

So when you really consider... you can do LA if you are so inclined.

With four people to vote on the possibilities, maybe that (voting) won't even work.
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Old Jan 14th, 2014, 07:13 AM
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Allegiant airline flies from Green Bay to Las Vegas. https://www2.allegiantair.com/interactive-routemap
Rental cars are cheap in Las Vegas.
The airline also sells show tickets, tours etc.
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Old Jan 14th, 2014, 08:31 AM
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6 of us road tripped from Madison to LA for the Rose Bowl when I was in college. We headed south to Oklahoma City, then west to LA with a stop at the Grand Canyon. On the way back we went through Vegas, stopped in Beaver Creek to ski and then continued home through Nebraska and Iowa. The only bad roads we ran into were in Colorado between Beaver Creek and the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70. First we hit an icy patch which put is in the median along with at least a dozen other cars, then when we finally pushed ourselves out it started snowing and it was really slow going. We finally pulled off and stopped for the night once we got through the tunnel.

That was in January, I believe March is snowier in the mountains. But most of your route is much lower elevation and not a problem. I would keep an eye on the weather and right before you leave, decide which route looks clearest and go that way on the way out, then take the other route on the way back. If the route through Colorado looks clear and dry, go that way first and get it over with.

We did drive straight through the first night. We didn't stop for much until we got to Tulsa the next morning, so its doable to have a couple nights where everyone takes turns driving and napping. Just split them up because it gets old.

I would pick the southern California route myself, it just seems like a spring break destination more than Portland. Motel 6 is anywhere from $40 to $60 or so a night, so you aren't saving that much by staying with family in Portland. Really you would only be there maybe 4 nights, that's $40 - $60 per person you save.

I'd make stops at the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Arches National Park, Glenwood Canyon in Colorado and Vegas. Even if you aren't all over 21 you can still drive through and see the Strip.
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