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Old 11-17-2014, 12:48 PM   #1
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Cross Country in the Spring

I am in the very beginning stage of planning a cross country trip in the early spring. We will be leaving from Eastern North Carolina hoping to get to Yellowstone and then come down through Utah and Arizona. From there we'll probably head through Texas on to NC. Am open for suggestions for routes, POI's, helpful hints, things/places to avoid, anything you can add to help me with the planning. There is so much to see that I know we can't possibly take it all in but we do want to see as much as possible. With that being said I don't want to be so exhausted by traveling that we can't enjoy the sites. Thanks so much for your help!
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Old 11-17-2014, 01:54 PM   #2
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Sounds like a great trip shaping up. You are going to cover many areas and there will be so much to see. A person could spent months doing this trip, but, one IMHO must stop is Carlsbad Caverns, Carlsbad, NM. Of course Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Moab, Sedona, Mesa Verde, Aztec Ruins, Pikes Peak, Palo Duro Canyon, and many many others are must stops.

You have your work cut out trying to choose what to see if you can not stop at them all. Tuff job but someone has to do it.
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Old 11-17-2014, 06:21 PM   #3
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Since you're leaving early spring I would suggest to do the southern route first and end up at Yellowstone.

The south (Texas/Arizona) heats up faster than the Yellowstone area and spring is lovely then. From Arizona work up into Utah and Wyoming and then return home.

It also depends how much time you have.

Definitely try to work in the major national parks: Big Bend, TX, Grand Canyon, AZ, Zion, Bryce, Arches, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, UT, Grand Teton, WY before entering Yellowstone.

Sedona, AZ is beautiful and has nice hikes if you're interested. We stay at Dead Horse Ranch State Park for visiting Sedona.

There are just so many attractions along your route that you'll probably have to pick and choose. Buy a atlas and highlight the places that interest you and prepare your route from it.

Planning is a fun part of the trip!
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Old 11-17-2014, 06:29 PM   #4
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Put all of the interesting POI in a GPS and have it optimize a route to all of them.

Some I would see:
Zion National Park
Crazy Horse Memorial
Mt Rushmore
Devils Tower
Grand Canyon
Las Vegas
Hwy 101
Going to the Sun Highway (use the toad)

Not all of them but a start. These are spaced out. The drive between them is worthwhile as well because there is always something to see if you look for it.
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Old 11-17-2014, 06:33 PM   #5
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X2, on southern route first, March and April in Yellowstone ,( most of the area is 6,000 feet plus) you'll need a snowmobile; we winter in the south of California and don't think about going north before April, and even then the weather can turn nasty.
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Old 11-18-2014, 07:47 AM   #6
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Cross Country in the Spring

What great ideas! I will definitely reverse my route. I "think" we need to be home by Memorial Day thus the mid April departure date but things could change. You're right - planning is fun. I do all of it and my husband just trusts my judgment - not sure that's always wise. Planning is definitely addictive but the more I research the more I see that I want to do. Six weeks is probably the limit of our time away from home but am tempted by the first two weeks in June!

Thanks so much for your help. I'm already working on your ideas.
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Old 11-18-2014, 08:19 AM   #7
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Sounds like an adventure! The most important part of our traveling plans during the spring is to watch the weather and be able to change plans accordingly. We try to have a plan "A" and a plan "B", and simply follow the weather, or avoid it sometimes! Most states have good DOT websites to monitor the roadways and weather. Here is a link to the Colorado CDOT site:

Road Conditions, Speeds, Travel Times, Traffic Cameras, Live Streaming Traffic Cameras, Road Closures and Road Work Information provided by Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) a branch of Colorado Department of Transportation

Enjoy your adventure,

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Old 11-18-2014, 08:58 AM   #8
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Could be a 4,000 mile[or more] round trip. 6 weeks/42days means about a 100 miles a day. When stopped for a day, the next day is 200 Miles. Plan accordingly. There is way too much to cram in to 6 weeks, so you will have to choose which to by-pass. Also, interstate hwy out and back, and state hwy while sightseeing. This impacts your speed and daily mileage. Most important is to have fun and enjoy. DO NOT make it a chore.
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Old 11-19-2014, 02:50 PM   #9
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Looks like 2400 miles to Vegas, straight shot. Would guess trip will be nearer 6000 miles. I did a similar trip in 2011 from central Texas to Palo Duro Canyon, Albuquerque, Pikes Peak, thru Denver to pick up I70 over the mountain, thru Bryce and Zion, Las Vegas, Yosemite, a week in San Francisco, up coast half way thru Oregon, Portland, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore, home. It was right at 6000 miles and 6 weeks. Really needed to spend more time at each location. Going on a similar trip starting in April of next year and like you we are planning. I am this time hoping for at least 3 nights at each destination. Have fun on the planning and the trip.

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Old 11-19-2014, 03:33 PM   #10
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Cross Country in the Spring

I suggest you make the Journey Your Destination so that most of your stops are not a blur:
pick 4 target areas for exploration and relaxation, take 2 weeks to get to and fro, and 1 week at each target area. You will have time to see the really nifty stuff at each target area, catch your breath, and move on.....and arrive home relaxed (not tense), satisfied (not fried), and better prepared to go back to work and pay your "vacation penalty".
Target areas? Selections from your original list will do fine. Some suggestions:?Northern AZ (Grand Canyon, North and South rims)), Southern Utah (could easily be 2 weeks), and some Colorado as you turn back East.
Best wishes!
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Old 11-19-2014, 04:22 PM   #11
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I did that trip and loved every minute. But you should definetly take the expected weather into account when timing your trip. I had to take a southern route at the end of May because of tornado season. When I got to the Tetons in the first week of June there was still lots of snow on the ground and the lakes were still frozen over. However the bears had just come out of hibernation and were coming into the valleys to look for food. June got warm enough to melt the snow and the waterfalls in Yellowstone were spectacular.
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Old 11-19-2014, 05:08 PM   #12
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We left Tennessee in early April this year, drove down the Natchez Trace then west on some US highways and some interstates. Mostly US highways. After bypassing Dallas on the north, we finally connected to I-40 with a long stop at Santa Fe, NM. We stayed there for 5 days and went thru a snow event, but really enjoyed the area. The Mexican food is the best we ever had. Then to Grand Canyon and finally arriving at Seal Beach, CA, where we stayed for 30 days on the navy base.

From there it was out thru the desert and up to Zion NP where we spent several days. Our next stop was Salt Lake City where my DW did genealogy research for nearly a week. The next stop, for seven days was at West Yellowstone, MT where we enjoyed Yellowstone NP for a week. There was snow in many parts of the park but all the roads were open. Next stop was the Black Hills of SD where we met our son and his family for five days. It took us a week to get back to Tennessee from Rapid City.

As Denis related in a previous post, you should take into account possible weather events. The wind driving west on I-40 was very bad which limited the number of hours that I drove each day. We got snowed in for one extra day in Santa Fe, which I enjoyed because all I did was rest and hang out. There were some nasty thunderstorms driving across the northern plains after leaving Rapid City, but other than wanting to get home, I was in no big hurry.

Next to taking the trip, planning it is a lot of fun.
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