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Road trip cross country and back again over 3 weeks

washington dc
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Road trip cross country and back again over 3 weeks

We are 2 adults, 3 girls (ages 10, 12, 14) traveling by minivan from the Washington DC area to the San Diego area and back again, leaving 15 June and returning approximately 3 weeks later.

We're driving like hell at the beginning, until the Durango/Four Corners area (2 stops, 2 days, staying in cheapo hotels/motels where ever we drop) and plan to spend about 3-4 days camping around Four Corners.

We have to be in San Diego for a family event 21-27 June. Then we want to take the northern route back, over about 10-11 days. Adults have been cross country a few times before, but the kids haven't seen much other than cities (but they are used to traveling). Never been to the Badlands, and this is pretty much my only 'must.'

We like hiking (but the kids aren't really interested in more than 4-5 miles a day), love anything on the water, and have NO desire to see things like Mt Rushmore, although we do like eclectic and land art. We don't mind driving lots and then hanging around in one place.

Moderate budget.

So here are my questions.

* Where to camp in/around the Badlands?

* Worth it to stop off in Bryce and/or Yellowstone or would it take too much time?

* Worth it to ferry across Lake Michigan and stay a night in northern Michigan or better to just head south through Chicago at that point?

We've spent a lot of time in Ohio and Pennsylvania, so our goal is to just book through that area on our way back home.

Thanks for your comments!

evie

Edited: 17 May 2013, 22:55
Uden, The...
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1. Re: Road trip cross country and back again over 3 weeks

Hi

If I read correctly you'll have 7 days to cover the 3000 miles between DC and SD. In my book that's already at least 5 days of driving but you plan to drive like hell. That's what you must do because you want to cover 2000 miles in 2 days (DC-Durango). Have you been to places like Grand Canyon, Zion Bryce and Page before? Suggest to drive from Durango to Monument Valley, to Page (Lake Powell, Antelope Canyons, Horseshoe bend etc and relax for 2 nights. Then drive to Bryce and Zion and via Las vegas to San Diego but I don't see how you can do all of this in 7 days. You also can decide to drive from Durango to Grand Canyon NP and from GC to San Diego (another long drive).

On the way back you can hit Zion and Bryce if you want to go to Yellowstone NP but Yellowstone is a place you really need your time. 2 full days already are short. Count on 4 days of driving from San Diego to Yellowstone if you want to see Zion and Bryce on the way. 2 days for Yellowstone and I won't mention Grand tetin NP south of Yell now.

Maybe consider to add Cody between Yell and Badlands NP. Cody has the great Buffalo Bill museums and a nite rodeo. Another long drive from Cody to Badlands NP and Devils Tower NM is more or less on your way. East of Badlands you'll find Corn Palace in Mitchell worth a short stop.

Northern MI is beautiful esp Sleeping Bear Dunes but I doubt if you have the time for it. The ferry is pretty expensive if I remember correctly. Cleveland has the unmissable Roll and Rock Hall of fame.

You are packing a lot but you already knew. I really would not want to drive 2000 miles in 2 days with kids in tow. Better safe than sorry

Tet.

Park City, Utah
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2. Re: Road trip cross country and back again over 3 weeks

A few general thoughts. As Tet noted, that's a ton of driving in a short time. Can you pull a few days from Cali to give you more time on the road?

- What is your particular interest in Durango? It's not on the fastest route from DC to San Diego. That route will give you a good cruise through mountains of southern Colorado. To me, immediate Four Corners area isn't that interesting. Some nearby destinations such as Mesa Verde and Monument Valley are spectacular. Durango is nice town between mountains and desert. But the attractions are around the region and you don't really have time to do that on your schedule.

- Also on that route, you will go pretty close to the Grand Canyon South Rim

- That route is probably 45 hours of ACTUAL driving not including any stops.

- Similar question on badlands. Great place but significantly off the route of travel and, in my opinion, hardly worth going THAT far out of the way if you don't really have the time. There are far better sites to see (Bryce, Zion, etc.) that are much closer to a meaningful route.

- Same thing with Upper Peninsula of Michigan or the Lake Michigan Ferry. The UP will DRAMATICALLY extend your trip and the Lake Michigan Ferry won't save you any time as you'll still have to get south.

- Suggest a return route that takes in Las Vegas, Bryce, Zion then heads east on I-70 through Colorado Rockies. Still, you won't realistically be able to do this in a week.

Hope that helps.

Sedona, AZ
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3. Re: Road trip cross country and back again over 3 weeks

I expect that the girls will remember this as the worst vacation ever. Way too much driving in way too little time. The good news is that you'll probably be relieved of vacation planning assignments forever.

Seriously, the miles and the time just don't fit. If you really have three weeks, that is hardly enough time just to tour the southwest and maybe up as far as South Dakota. If you actually do get to Badlands NP, be sure to give a day to the even more enjoyable Custer SP, and of course, go to an evening at Mt Rushmore. Upper Michigan is beautiful but it needs a week alone.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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4. Re: Road trip cross country and back again over 3 weeks

Simply, given the high fares and slow roads the ferry should await a different trip... At Sioux Falls ... start working your way down to the I-70 and,quickly,home ... carracar

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5. Re: Road trip cross country and back again over 3 weeks

Could you fly to an airport near Durango, hire a car, then travel slowly, via National Parks to San Diego?

washington dc
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6. Re: Road trip cross country and back again over 3 weeks

thank you everyone for your replies. i'll let you know how we decide to move forward.

7. Re: Road trip cross country and back again over 3 weeks

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Moorestown, New...
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8. Re: Road trip cross country and back again over 3 weeks

Sounds like a lot of Debbie Downers on here. How about instead of being negative, be positive that this family is road tripping across America! The all American Dream. It's all in your perspective and attitude. Good attitude=good time, bad attitude=bad time, very simple.

How about this one...We are a family of 4 and 2 dogs. Two kids, 15 & 11, one Saint Bernard (who has weekly seizures) and one Shih Tzu, traveling from NJ across the country and back. WooHoo! Road Trip!

We are going to make it to Lake Coeur D'Alene in 4 days, then traveling to Seattle, N.Oregon, Redwoods and Lake Tahoe. My kids are going to remember it as their best vacation ever! 4 days out, 4 days back. We rented Pet Friendly homes all along the coast and an Alpaca Farm in Idaho, 3 nights everywhere except Lake Tahoe, 5 nights there! Can't wait, counting the days!

Cleveland
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9. Re: Road trip cross country and back again over 3 weeks

Driving 1,000 miles per day, even if you share driving is scary, especially with kids.

That's likely 20 hours of driving, including stops. The heat and sun also will take its toll in summer. I would be terrified about staying awake after sunset, partially because I've done some long, crazy dawn-to-night drives and I know first-hand how tough it gets to stay awake in the dark after many hours on the road. My trips were single day drives, and I was able to load myself with coffee.

Have you ever done anything like this before? If not, do a test drive somewhere where you have the flexibility of stopping short to see something, and see if you really want to do this.

It only takes a few minutes of drowsiness to have a catastrophe, and perhaps not just for your family, but for others.

Uden, The...
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10. Re: Road trip cross country and back again over 3 weeks

Welcome to the forum Pearljam. If you have more question please open e new topic for yourself. And please post a tripreport after your roadtrip.