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Old 04-10-2013, 12:28 PM   #1
MouseEarsJenny
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Road Trip Plan, with Questions

We are planning a major road trip for this summer. I have written and re-written, planned and re-planned. I could really use some outside advice, because my laid back family is willing to go along with whatever, but I'm concerned I'm going to mess this up.

Just for background, we're a family of four (two adults, 16 year old daughter, 13 year old son). We live about 6 hours from my mom, and make that trip about 4-5 times a year, so we're used to being in the car. We have taken several road trips down the east coast, with a maximum of about 10 hours per day driving. I have a great deal of camping experience, but we've only been camping as a family for about 3 years (it took that long for me to convince DH he would like it, which he did). None of us have been farther west than Wisconsin, and my kids haven't been farther west than Ohio. We have a moderate budget.

Here's our plan. Questions are in bold:

July 7 - Leave east coast-ish home, travel 8 hours to Pokagon State Park in Indiana. Camp overnight. Has anyone been here? Is it a nice campsite?

July 8 - Travel 7 hours to LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Ride a Mississippi River paddleboat. Travel another 40 minutes to Great Bluffs State Park in Minnesota. Camp overnight. Opinions on this campsite? Anything else inexpensive to do in LaCrosse?

July 9 - Travel 9 hours to the Mount Rushmore KOA. Visit Mount Rushmore. Stay in a Kamper Kabin. I have heard that Mount Rushmore is always fogged in. How accurate is that? Will we have better luck with the evening lighting ceremony? Has anyone stayed at this KOA? Are the cabins well screened against bugs?

July 10 - Stay at the KOA. Use the pool, laundry room, mini-golf, trail rides, and other amenities. Are there inexpensive sights to be seen in the area? Anything that would be cool for east-coasters to check out?

July 11 - Travel 8.5 hours to Grant Campground at Yellowstone National Park. Explore Yellowstone Lake area. Camp overnight. Can I just say, "Oh, help?" Will we be eaten by bears? I have camping experience, but not with GRIZZLIES. We are planning to use all of our food by this point and ONLY eat at the cafeterias, so there will be NO food at our campsite. What about sunscreen? I am very fair skinned, so I have to wear it always. Does sunscreen attract bears? What are the most important things to see at Yellowstone? Will a 30 degree rated sleeping bag be warm enough in July? Get the idea? I want to see this park, but it scares me witless.

July 12 - Travel the Grand Loop Road. See Old Faithful, the Grand Prismatic Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Fall, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and Hayden Valley. Camp overnight, if not eaten by bears already. What am I missing?

July 13 - Travel 8 hours to Missoula, Montana, by way of Grand Teton National Park. Stop at Jenny Lake Overlook for a rest break. Stay in a hotel with room service and order pizza. (Yes, we'll be sick of camping...) What are the best pull-off spots to see a bit of Grand Teton on a pass-through?

July 14 - Travel 8 hours to my sister's house in Bremerton, WA. Non-negotiable, as we can't wait to see her! We'll be staying here until July 16.

July 16 - Travel 9.5 hours to Patrick's Point State Park in Trinidad, CA via the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway through Redwood National Forest. See the forest, for the trees. ;-) Camp overnight, and listen to seals and/or sea lions! I heard this park may be frequented by, hmm... People who enjoy alternate recreational pharmaceuticals. Truth or rumor? Travelling with kids, here.

July 17 - Travel 10.5 hours (Yeah, crazy time, but we're going to Disney. We do it ALL the time, east coast style.) to Anaheim. Stop in Cesar Chavez Park across the bay from the Golden Gate Bridge to take a picture and thank God we made it across the evil, evil, two decker earthquake prone bridge across the bay. Stop again at the Hollywood and Highland center for cheesy tourist picture with Hollywood sign and in front of Graumann's. Stay at hotel near Anaheim convention center. Is this too crazy? Also, will we die on the 1-580 Richmond Bridge? I have this bridge phobia. To go with my grizzly phobia, apparently.

July 18, 19, 20 - Stay at hotel. See Disneyland and California Adventure. It may be not quite normal for us WDW vets, but I bet it still feels like home. I think we'll be okay here, but I'll take food suggestions. Low cost, please, my wallet is screaming at this point...

July 21 - Drive 1.5 hours (very, very early in the morning) to San Diego Convention Center. ATTEND COMIC CON!! (Yes, we got badges.) Can we get in line for Hall H before we have our badges, then head in pairs to the registration desk when it opens? Stay in a hotel in Kearny Mesa (Booked before prices jumped for Comic Con, would rather not change).

July 22 - Stay in San Diego. Visit the zoo. I've heard I may be disappointed after all the hype. Is it worth the exorbitant admission price? We have been Philly zoo members for years, and have seen the Pandas at the National Zoo. Will this really be so much better?

July 23 - Drive 8 hours to Grand Canyon National Park. I believe this is a big ditch. My husband longs to see it. Whatcha gonna do? Drive 1.5 hours to Flagstaff, AZ and stay in a hotel. Will 2-3 hours be enough to just SEE the canyon from the rim, maybe check out the visitor center?

July 24 - Drive 8 hours to Amarillo, Texas. See the TEXAS! Outdoor Musical at Palo Duro State Park. Eat at the Chuckwagon Dinner there. Stay in a hotel. Anyone seen this? Is it worth it?

July 25 - Drive 11 hours(I know, I know, something had to give, and we need to get back home, as DH does have to work...) to a hotel in Collinsville, Illinois. Stop to see the Gateway Arch and Museum of Westward Expansion. Is it worth giving up something on the trip to pay an extra night's hotel and shorten these last two days, or should two adults with two mellow teenagers be able to tough it out? I'm conflicted...

July 26 - Scary, scary, 13 hours home.

So, laughing at me yet? Have I lost my marbles?
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Old 04-10-2013, 12:36 PM   #2
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Love it No advice as we are in SE and have only been as far as Central yet your trip is a dream :-)
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Old 04-10-2013, 06:24 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MouseEarsJenny View Post


July 18, 19, 20 - Stay at hotel. See Disneyland and California Adventure. It may be not quite normal for us WDW vets, but I bet it still feels like home. I think we'll be okay here, but I'll take food suggestions. Low cost, please, my wallet is screaming at this point...

July 21 - Drive 1.5 hours (very, very early in the morning) to San Diego Convention Center. ATTEND COMIC CON!! (Yes, we got badges.) Can we get in line for Hall H before we have our badges, then head in pairs to the registration desk when it opens? Stay in a hotel in Kearny Mesa (Booked before prices jumped for Comic Con, would rather not change).

July 22 - Stay in San Diego. Visit the zoo. I've heard I may be disappointed after all the hype. Is it worth the exorbitant admission price? We have been Philly zoo members for years, and have seen the Pandas at the National Zoo. Will this really be so much better?

July 23 - Drive 8 hours to Grand Canyon National Park. I believe this is a big ditch. My husband longs to see it. Whatcha gonna do? Drive 1.5 hours to Flagstaff, AZ and stay in a hotel. Will 2-3 hours be enough to just SEE the canyon from the rim, maybe check out the visitor center?
I love the idea of road trips. Too bad my family thinks I'm a little nuts.

Hotel near Disneyland - I really liked the Park Vue Inn. They have a room that is small and simple, not too expensive and has a queen bed for parents and well built bunk beds so kids don't have to share! Free breakfast was good too and had better variety than others. If I convince them to go west again, I would go back there in a heartbeat. Again - room is SMALL but better space than most. Oh - and there is a Cold Stone Creamery in front. YUM.

I have not done the zoo in San Diego, but... If I had one day to be a tourist there I would go to the harbor and either take the harbor cruise and have lunch at Anthonys or take the ferry across to Coronado and explore over there. Tour the USS Midway. I love animals, but I feel like a zoo is a zoo, there are a lot of cool ones and I would not miss visiting the bay and doing the cruise and USS Midway. My kids LOVED it and they were too little to really get how cool it even was. They still talk about it 3 years later and the youngest was only in Kinder when we went.

If your DH wants to see the Grand Canyon - I suggest... Drive from San Diego through through Sedona (just pass through town and up 89A out Oak Creek Canyon) and get to Williams for the night. Take "The Train" on a single day trip to see the canyon - they take you to the village area with shops and info and great overlooks and then back to Williams in time for dinner. It is the most relaxing way I know of to see the canyon, and it gives you a break from driving for a day. However - if you really want to drive there - there is a KOA in Williams that I've heard nice things about.

The trip sounds like a blast but like it is planned down to the minute. Make sure to leave time to relax and if the whole family decides to deviate from the plan - so be it for a day!
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:58 PM   #4
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I think you are seriously short changing Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Grand Canyon. Our trip there was three days in Jackson/Grand Teton and eight days in Yellowstone.

Take a look at this map and calculate the mileage you will do on July 12 . . . http://www.nps.gov/features/yell/interactivemap/ . . . Then figure that you will be lucky to average 20 mph. Even slower if you encounter any critter jams (almost certain).
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Old 04-10-2013, 10:02 PM   #5
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[QUOTE=MouseEarsJenny;48066069]We are planning a major road trip for this summer. I have written and re-written, planned and re-planned. I could really use some outside advice, because my laid back family is willing to go along with whatever, but I'm concerned I'm going to mess this up.

Just for background, we're a family of four (two adults, 16 year old daughter, 13 year old son). We live about 6 hours from my mom, and make that trip about 4-5 times a year, so we're used to being in the car. We have taken several road trips down the east coast, with a maximum of about 10 hours per day driving. I have a great deal of camping experience, but we've only been camping as a family for about 3 years (it took that long for me to convince DH he would like it, which he did). None of us have been farther west than Wisconsin, and my kids haven't been farther west than Ohio. We have a moderate budget.

Here's our plan. Questions are in bold:


July 9 - Travel 9 hours to the Mount Rushmore KOA. Visit Mount Rushmore. Stay in a Kamper Kabin. I have heard that Mount Rushmore is always fogged in. How accurate is that? Will we have better luck with the evening lighting ceremony? Has anyone stayed at this KOA? Are the cabins well screened against bugs? If it's the one at Hill City then it's a resort and very nice. There is a resort fee in case you didn't know. Lots to do in the campground, there's a big lake a few miles up the road to Mt Rushmore. We were in a tent so not sure about the cabins. It was cold maybe because we were camped right beside the pond, maybe because it's in the hills, maybe I didn't have enough blankets, it was early July.July 10 - Stay at the KOA. Use the pool, laundry room, mini-golf, trail rides, and other amenities. Are there inexpensive sights to be seen in the area?

Anything that would be cool for east-coasters to check out?
There's lots to do in the area. Crazy Horse, gold mine tours, train ride. I believe in Hill City there were lots of cool little shops. Bear World or Country is a drive thru park that we really enjoyed and the gator place was fun. My ds would have been 13 or 14 when we went. We spent 5 days here and I can't remember what else we did.
July 11 - Travel 8.5 hours to Grant Campground at Yellowstone National Park. Explore Yellowstone Lake area. Camp overnight. Can I just say, "Oh, help?" Will we be eaten by bears? I have camping experience, but not with GRIZZLIES. We are planning to use all of our food by this point and ONLY eat at the cafeterias, so there will be NO food at our campsite. What about sunscreen? I am very fair skinned, so I have to wear it always. Does sunscreen attract bears? What are the most important things to see at Yellowstone? Will a 30 degree rated sleeping bag be warm enough in July? Get the idea? I want to see this park, but it scares me witless.

July 12 - Travel the Grand Loop Road. See Old Faithful, the Grand Prismatic Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Fall, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and Hayden Valley. Camp overnight, if not eaten by bears already. What am I missing?

July 13 - Travel 8 hours to Missoula, Montana, by way of Grand Teton National Park. Stop at Jenny Lake Overlook for a rest break. Stay in a hotel with room service and order pizza. (Yes, we'll be sick of camping...) What are the best pull-off spots to see a bit of Grand Teton on a pass-through? Tetons are in the opposite direction of Missoula, maybe not opposite but not really on the way. As PP mentioned driving in Yellowstone is more like crawling. Take time to smell the geysers, don't worry about the bears - all the people that stop and get out of their cars for a bear sighting will be more interesting to the bears. I've been to Yellowstone 3 or 4 times and don't remember seeing bears, elk, buffalo yes. Until you get back up to the interstate the driving will be slow.
July 14 - Travel 8 hours to my sister's house in Bremerton, WA. Non-negotiable, as we can't wait to see her! We'll be staying here until July 16.

July 16 - Travel 9.5 hours to Patrick's Point State Park in Trinidad, CA via the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway through Redwood National Forest. See the forest, for the trees. ;-) Camp overnight, and listen to seals and/or sea lions! I heard this park may be frequented by, hmm... People who enjoy alternate recreational pharmaceuticals. Truth or rumor? Travelling with kids, here.

July 17 - Travel 10.5 hours (Yeah, crazy time, but we're going to Disney. We do it ALL the time, east coast style.) to Anaheim. Stop in Cesar Chavez Park across the bay from the Golden Gate Bridge to take a picture and thank God we made it across the evil, evil, two decker earthquake prone bridge across the bay. Stop again at the Hollywood and Highland center for cheesy tourist picture with Hollywood sign and in front of Graumann's. Stay at hotel near Anaheim convention center. Is this too crazy? Also, will we die on the 1-580 Richmond Bridge? I have this bridge phobia. To go with my grizzly phobia, apparently.

July 18, 19, 20 - Stay at hotel. See Disneyland and California Adventure. It may be not quite normal for us WDW vets, but I bet it still feels like home. I think we'll be okay here, but I'll take food suggestions. Low cost, please, my wallet is screaming at this point... If you're still into camping there is a campground just up Harbor from DL. This will save you a few dollars. Stayed here a few times, it's nice enough, you can watch the fireworks from the pool/hottub, do laundry, relax a bit. No bears here.
July 21 - Drive 1.5 hours (very, very early in the morning) to San Diego Convention Center. ATTEND COMIC CON!! (Yes, we got badges.) Can we get in line for Hall H before we have our badges, then head in pairs to the registration desk when it opens? Stay in a hotel in Kearny Mesa (Booked before prices jumped for Comic Con, would rather not change).

July 22 - Stay in San Diego. Visit the zoo. I've heard I may be disappointed after all the hype. Is it worth the exorbitant admission price? We have been Philly zoo members for years, and have seen the Pandas at the National Zoo. Will this really be so much better? Also agree with PP. Skip the zoo, go to the beach, Coronado, harbor cruise, SeaWorld, Midway. Nothing wrong with the zoo but if you only have a day you could do all of the above and more in a day except SeaWorld is a day by itself.

July 23 - Drive 8 hours to Grand Canyon National Park. I believe this is a big ditch. My husband longs to see it. Whatcha gonna do? Drive 1.5 hours to Flagstaff, AZ and stay in a hotel. Will 2-3 hours be enough to just SEE the canyon from the rim, maybe check out the visitor center?


Wow this sounds like a great trip. I love road trips and camping. I also agree with the PP about maybe a bit too organized. You never know what kind of cool things you'll see along the way. Do you need to see Texas or could you use that day in Yellowstone or your sisters or SoCal? Could you head home from Grand Canyon area or detour over to Vegas for a day?
Sometimes that 8 hour drive may turn into 12 by the time you stop for gas, stretch your legs and feed the teenagers. Speaking from my own experiences, oh yeah I have to stop and pee every 3-4 hours.

Since you're staying at a few KOA's it may be worth it to have the KOA card for the 10% discount.
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Old 04-11-2013, 12:20 AM   #6
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Having lived in LaCrosse, WI with my parents living in SD, I think you will be lucky to make it from LaCrosse to Mt. Rushmore in 9 hours unless you guys are speed demons. Even then, the highway patrol really likes to grab speeders along that stretch of road, so be careful. It's been 10 years since I lived there, so I don't know what all is around anymore. My favorite coffee shop, Jules, is/was just up the street from Riverside park (where the paddleboats dock), and there was a great ice cream parlor near there as well. We did a lot of hiking in the bluffs. A lot of people drive/hike/bike up Grandad's Bluff for the view over the river valley. It is very pretty, although I think the best time is in the fall when the leaves change.

You should plan on stopping at Wall Drug on the way to Rushmore. You'll see signs for it and it's hard to miss! It's famous for being a tourist trap, but it's still a good place to get out and take a break. There's not much else along that highway, so you might as well stop there.

I agree with PP - you will be driving very slowly in Yellowstone, and it's a lot bigger than it seems on first look. When we visited, I was amazed at how long it took for us to drive from place to place. We saw no evidence of bears at Yellowstone - mostly just bison and elk when we were there. I saw a black bear when we camped near Rushmore once, but we were in the car at the time. Again, I mostly saw bison in the Black Hills. Even had one come into our campsite one morning and scare the daylights out of my brother! It just ignored us and munched on grass until a park ranger came to scare it off.


Traffic will be your biggest obstacle on your July 17 day. Good luck making it through the Bay Area and LA - those two sections alone can take 4+ hours during rush hour, especially since you are coming from the North Bay and heading through. What route are you taking to get from Trinidad to Anaheim? And you really will be fine on the bridge!
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Old 04-11-2013, 07:42 AM   #7
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Wow, lots to process.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crystal Brewer View Post
Love it No advice as we are in SE and have only been as far as Central yet your trip is a dream :-)
Thanks, it's a dream of mine as well, and since our daughter is starting her senior year, it feels like we should get to it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ahutton View Post
Hotel near Disneyland - I really liked the Park Vue Inn.
We are booked at the Doubletree Convention Center, but I'll check the Park Vue out, as I can still cancel! Thanks for the suggestion!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ahutton View Post
I have not done the zoo in San Diego, but... If I had one day to be a tourist there I would go to the harbor and either take the harbor cruise and have lunch at Anthonys or take the ferry across to Coronado and explore over there. Tour the USS Midway.
My DH was very interested in the Midway when I told him your suggestion this morning. We may do that, thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CPT Tripss View Post
I think you are seriously short changing Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Grand Canyon. Our trip there was three days in Jackson/Grand Teton and eight days in Yellowstone.

Take a look at this map and calculate the mileage you will do on July 12 . . . http://www.nps.gov/features/yell/interactivemap/ . . . Then figure that you will be lucky to average 20 mph. Even slower if you encounter any critter jams (almost certain).
I do realize how slow the trip around the Grand Loop Road will be. Our overall itinerary is pretty booked, but we're pretty laid back in terms of actual touring time. We figure we'll see what we see, and if we don't see everything, so be it. As to short changing Yellowstone, I do feel that way, too, but I guess we're thinking of it more as a stop along the way rather than a destination. Our actual destination is the west coast - my sister's house and California, and anything we see along the way is a bonus. Still, we leave on a Sunday, so I will see about adjusting our plans to leave Saturday and adding a day at Yellowstone. Unless you think we should take away a Mt. Rushmore day and give it to Yellowstone instead?



Quote:
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If it's the one at Hill City then it's a resort and very nice. There is a resort fee in case you didn't know. Lots to do in the campground, there's a big lake a few miles up the road to Mt Rushmore. We were in a tent so not sure about the cabins. It was cold maybe because we were camped right beside the pond, maybe because it's in the hills, maybe I didn't have enough blankets, it was early July.

There's lots to do in the area. Crazy Horse, gold mine tours, train ride. I believe in Hill City there were lots of cool little shops. Bear World or Country is a drive thru park that we really enjoyed and the gator place was fun. My ds would have been 13 or 14 when we went. We spent 5 days here and I can't remember what else we did.
Awesome, thanks. There are mixed reviews on TripAdvisor. I will bring extra blankets, and I'll check out Hill City!


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Tetons are in the opposite direction of Missoula, maybe not opposite but not really on the way. As PP mentioned driving in Yellowstone is more like crawling. Take time to smell the geysers, don't worry about the bears - all the people that stop and get out of their cars for a bear sighting will be more interesting to the bears. I've been to Yellowstone 3 or 4 times and don't remember seeing bears, elk, buffalo yes. Until you get back up to the interstate the driving will be slow.
Hmm. That's odd. We're at Grant Campground, and inputting the GPS coordinates of the campground with Missoula as the end destination took me through Grand Teton. Maybe because we're in the southeast corner of Yellowstone, and that gets us back on the highway faster? I wasn't actually even considering Grand Teton until Google Maps took us right through it. I'll calculate again.

Thanks for the reassurance on the bears - I spent far too much research time reading horror stories about a bear attacking some tents. *shudder*

Quote:
Originally Posted by endy View Post
If you're still into camping there is a campground just up Harbor from DL. This will save you a few dollars. Stayed here a few times, it's nice enough, you can watch the fireworks from the pool/hottub, do laundry, relax a bit. No bears here.
LOL - no SoCal bears? It's not in walking distance of DL, though, right? We'd have to drive in each morning?

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Also agree with PP. Skip the zoo, go to the beach, Coronado, harbor cruise, SeaWorld, Midway. Nothing wrong with the zoo but if you only have a day you could do all of the above and more in a day except SeaWorld is a day by itself.
Thanks, I think we'll take this advice! I'll research more about San Diego.

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Wow this sounds like a great trip. I love road trips and camping. I also agree with the PP about maybe a bit too organized. You never know what kind of cool things you'll see along the way.
Thanks! We tend to take that approach when travelling - plan all the days, but then take them as they go.

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Originally Posted by ahutton View Post
If your DH wants to see the Grand Canyon - I suggest... Drive from San Diego through through Sedona (just pass through town and up 89A out Oak Creek Canyon) and get to Williams for the night. Take "The Train" on a single day trip to see the canyon - they take you to the village area with shops and info and great overlooks and then back to Williams in time for dinner.
Quote:
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Do you need to see Texas or could you use that day in Yellowstone or your sisters or SoCal? Could you head home from Grand Canyon area or detour over to Vegas for a day?
I don't need to see Texas, and I would love to take the train... but I do need to get back home! We bought a crossover last summer with this trip specifically in mind, and renting a car and flying home would CRUSH our budget. So we need to return east (we live 2 hours from the Atlantic) somehow, and the Grand Canyon and Texas break up the trip a bit.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ImarriedGrumpy View Post
Having lived in LaCrosse, WI with my parents living in SD, I think you will be lucky to make it from LaCrosse to Mt. Rushmore in 9 hours unless you guys are speed demons. Even then, the highway patrol really likes to grab speeders along that stretch of road, so be careful. It's been 10 years since I lived there, so I don't know what all is around anymore. My favorite coffee shop, Jules, is/was just up the street from Riverside park (where the paddleboats dock), and there was a great ice cream parlor near there as well. We did a lot of hiking in the bluffs. A lot of people drive/hike/bike up Grandad's Bluff for the view over the river valley. It is very pretty, although I think the best time is in the fall when the leaves change.
We are definitely not speed demons. I was going by Google Map times from Winona, MN where we are sleeping to Rushmore, but I will definitely budget extra travel time, thanks. We are staying at Great Bluffs State Park - is that where Grandad's Bluff is? Thanks for the local tips - I'll look for Jules!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ImarriedGrumpy View Post
You should plan on stopping at Wall Drug on the way to Rushmore. You'll see signs for it and it's hard to miss! It's famous for being a tourist trap, but it's still a good place to get out and take a break. There's not much else along that highway, so you might as well stop there.
I'm getting the impression that it's the "South of the Border" of South Dakota. We'll plan on a stop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ImarriedGrumpy View Post
I agree with PP - you will be driving very slowly in Yellowstone, and it's a lot bigger than it seems on first look. When we visited, I was amazed at how long it took for us to drive from place to place. We saw no evidence of bears at Yellowstone - mostly just bison and elk when we were there. I saw a black bear when we camped near Rushmore once, but we were in the car at the time. Again, I mostly saw bison in the Black Hills. Even had one come into our campsite one morning and scare the daylights out of my brother! It just ignored us and munched on grass until a park ranger came to scare it off.
Sounds like a great adventure to me! I hope I see no evidence of bears, too, but I wouldn't mind a bison! (I know to stay far away from them, too, no worries!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ImarriedGrumpy View Post
Traffic will be your biggest obstacle on your July 17 day. Good luck making it through the Bay Area and LA - those two sections alone can take 4+ hours during rush hour, especially since you are coming from the North Bay and heading through. What route are you taking to get from Trinidad to Anaheim? And you really will be fine on the bridge!
Lessee... Google Maps has us taking US-101 to I-580 to I-5, across the Richmond Bridge. I am a bit scared of California traffic, but then, I've driven in Philly, Baltimore, Washington, and Newark, so how bad can it be, right?

Thanks all!! I have lots to process, and will keep tweaking.
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Old 04-11-2013, 08:51 AM   #8
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Seriously, having a road trip is not east thing to do you always have to consider all the things. If you are planning to take a look the beauty of Grand Canyon it is better you are going to San Diego. Also, make sure that you have an itinerary or you have a plan of your road trip.
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Old 04-11-2013, 12:51 PM   #9
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I can't really answer a "do this instead of that" kind of question. My bias, particularly,in a National Park is to get out of the car and then walk the unpaved trails. Honestly, I can not envision doing your schedule, we spent early morning until almost dark in the Old Faithful Basin area.

We did not see any bear, but we did see pretty fresh scat while hiking with a ranger. They are around, so take precautions. Use sun block . . . I got a wicked burn on the back of my hands. It was cool so I was wearing a long sleeve shirt, and at times a fleece, sun blocked face and neck, but forgot the back of my hands.
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Old 04-11-2013, 05:23 PM   #10
ImarriedGrumpy
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Originally Posted by MouseEarsJenny View Post
We are definitely not speed demons. I was going by Google Map times from Winona, MN where we are sleeping to Rushmore, but I will definitely budget extra travel time, thanks. We are staying at Great Bluffs State Park - is that where Grandad's Bluff is? Thanks for the local tips - I'll look for Jules!

I'm getting the impression that it's the "South of the Border" of South Dakota. We'll plan on a stop.

Sounds like a great adventure to me! I hope I see no evidence of bears, too, but I wouldn't mind a bison! (I know to stay far away from them, too, no worries!)

Lessee... Google Maps has us taking US-101 to I-580 to I-5, across the Richmond Bridge. I am a bit scared of California traffic, but then, I've driven in Philly, Baltimore, Washington, and Newark, so how bad can it be, right?

Thanks all!! I have lots to process, and will keep tweaking.
Great Bluffs is on the MN side, and Grandad Bluff is on the WI side in LaCrosse. If you're looking for it, pretty much anyone can point you to it! I haven't been camping in MN in a decade, but I did a lot of camping in the state parks as a kid, and they were always very nice. I know I've camped in Great Bluffs, but honestly I don't remember much other than going for really cool hikes overlooking the Mississippi.

As for your route in CA, that's the path I'd recommend, so sounds like Google is giving you good directions. It's not the pretty route, but it will get you there faster than the other options. www.511.org will give you real-time traffic updates for the Bay Area, so you might want to check that before you head out. It will alert you if there's an accident or other problem that might make planning an alternate route a good option.
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Old 04-11-2013, 08:25 PM   #11
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If you're still into camping there is a campground just up Harbor from DL. This will save you a few dollars. Stayed here a few times, it's nice enough, you can watch the fireworks from the pool/hottub, do laundry, relax a bit. No bears here.

LOL - no SoCal bears? It's not in walking distance of DL, though, right? We'd have to drive in each morning?

The campground is kitty corner from the Hotel Menage. You could probably walk, it's likely 15-20 minutes. The campground has a van shuttle. You book ahead of time, I think it was $3 or 4 each. Here's their website: http://www.anaheimrvvillage.com/home.html
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Old 04-15-2013, 06:31 PM   #12
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Thanks, Endy! We decided to book at the campground you suggested instead of the more expensive hotel, which freed us up to add a day to the end of the trip and make the last few days more manageable to drive.

Now my DH won't spend his birthday driving 13 hours - he'll spend it at the Dayton Celtic Festival watching Gaelic Storm, one of our favorite bands!

It looks like the campground is mostly RVs, but they do have tent sites.

Now we're just deciding if we should try and rebook our stay at Mount Rushmore so that we can add a Yellowstone day. I understand what you are saying about getting out of the car, CPT, but I'm not sure how to do both sides of Yellowstone without moving camp or going around the loop anyway. Appreciate the sunblock advice!

Thanks for the traffic link, Bethany!

This is all coming together. I'm getting excited!
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Old 04-15-2013, 09:29 PM   #13
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That's good news Jenny. Can't go wrong camping in SoCal and you don't have to worry about rain. (well in my 13 summer vacations spent in SD and/or Anaheim I've never seen it rain.)The tent sites are just grass up against a tall cement wall, behind the wall are houses. Bathrooms at each end of the tent sites and the showers are in the middle of campground right beside the pool.
My thinking is the money I don't have to spend on motels frees up to spend on other stuff. My kid is really good at spending money.

Now it could rain at Rushmore or Yellowstone.
You could do Yellowstone from one campsite, do the north loop one day, the south the next day. I think it's the north loop that's got the most sights. There's a boring stretch along the south loop along the lake. Is Grant campground the one right in the middle of the park? No I just looked it up, it's at the bottom. There go doing the loops each day without backtracking. It will be fun whatever you do.

Your trip sounds like a blast.
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