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Old 07-14-2017, 02:47 PM   #1
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Trip Out West Questions

Hey All,

We live in East Tennessee. We're talking about leaving around August 15th and heading out west.

We're not sure of our route yet, but we'll probably be going from TN into MO, then across MO and into NE and then WY. After that we're not sure. We want to hit MT, Crater Lake, OR, and the Redwood NP.

So, what kind of timeline are we looking at? We have people telling us we need to have 6 weeks.

Can we get by without reservations?

Any tips or suggestions? Thank you!

Lisa
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Old 07-14-2017, 04:39 PM   #2
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Sounds like a fun trip and I think your looking at about 6,000 + miles = a good 15 days just for driving if you do 400 per day. Being summer time you'll encounter road construction here & there so allow for that. For me 3 1/2- 4 weeks wouldn't be quite enough time, there are tons of places & things to see on this journey that your taking so don't cut yourself short. At every stop you'll be talking to fellow travelers that will give you suggestions of what's around the next bend that are a must see so allow for some of these stop overs.
While the kids are out of school camp grounds can be full and if you have a TT or FW you'll most likely need a RV park but if you have a class B or class C it gives you a little more flexibility. I'm not one for winging it during the summer but fall and spring I don't have a problem finding a spot. Check out the App ( Allstays.com) its popular with many of us.
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Old 07-14-2017, 07:39 PM   #3
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First suggestion is get a plan!! Winging it is one thing for instance you are going to the Smokey Mtn area and you just want to roam the area. Can't go wrong with winging that one. On the other hand the lower 48 is a pretty big place and unless you simply want to put on miles I would suggest a bit more modest list of places to visit. A typical trip might be to head out thru Neb/S D visiting Mt rushmore, on to the yellowstone, down to the Teton NP and then loop back taking a more southernly route back to Tn. Three or 4weeks would allow a lot of time to enjoy each of those destinations.

Crater Lake Oregon is for all practical purpose on the other side of the lower 48. There is a lot to see in that area including the Cascade mountain range and the Columbia River Gorge but getting there is a very long pull even if you are starting from Yellowstone.

Without a plan and you will likely not make it to many of the locations that you mentioned. Take a deep breath and make a plan. You will have a much better time.
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Old 07-14-2017, 08:03 PM   #4
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Old 07-14-2017, 09:00 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Campin'_Nana View Post
Hey All,

We live in East Tennessee. We're talking about leaving around August 15th and heading out west.

We're not sure of our route yet, but we'll probably be going from TN into MO, then across MO and into NE and then WY. After that we're not sure. We want to hit MT, Crater Lake, OR, and the Redwood NP.

So, what kind of timeline are we looking at? We have people telling us we need to have 6 weeks.

Can we get by without reservations?

Any tips or suggestions? Thank you!

Lisa
I would say a month for that trip would be a good guess. A lot depends on how much you stop. You might want to reverse the order, go north first and then loop to the south and follow the weather. Regarding reservations, remember the eclipse is Aug 21st, and it goes right over Oregon. If you are in the path of totality, make reservations if you need to stay overnight.
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Old 07-15-2017, 08:45 AM   #6
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Tunce, We pull a FW. Thank you for all the great info.

Bassdogs, thanks. We're trying to put a plan together. This will be our first big trip away from home. We only have 6 trips under our belts, currently. We did go 3 weeks to MN last year, but that was to visit family, so a straight shot there and back and reservations for only one CG. Thank you for all the tips and suggestions.

Thank you Murff and DanNJanice! Oh my word, I forgot about the eclipse! Thanks for the reminder.
Dan, your comment brought up another question I had and forgot to ask. I'll try and revise my original post if possible.

One of us thinks it's better to travel to Oregon and stop along the way, seeing sites and making the trip out, part of the vacation. The other thinks we should head straight for OR and then vacation, seeing the sites, on the way back. Is there a better way to do this? Does it matter? Thanks again!
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Old 07-15-2017, 11:11 AM   #7
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Keep some flexibility in your plan because of fire season.
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Old 07-15-2017, 11:14 AM   #8
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Where is that and when?
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Old 07-15-2017, 11:45 AM   #9
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We made a similar trip several years ago and we looked at our route and decided what attractions we wanted to see and estimated how much time we would spend at each. Those locations, times and the miles between pretty much dictated where we needed to stop. Then we made reservations for campsites in advance so we knew we had a spot each night. I can't imagine driving all day and then having to look for a place to park for the night while towing a camper. I did a Walmart parking lot one night and the only good part was that it didn't cost anything. It was hot and noisey pretty much all night with trucks delivering, garbage collection, street sweeper, etc.
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Old 07-15-2017, 11:47 AM   #10
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All throughout the western states, depending on the weather, lightning strikes, and careless campers. The biggest effect on travel is the smoke that can drift for hundreds of miles. It doesn't usually close highways, but it can affect the vistas and the air you breathe. Just follow the news and weather channels.
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Old 07-15-2017, 11:54 AM   #11
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Thank you, Us71. That's very helpful!
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Old 07-15-2017, 11:57 AM   #12
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Thanks, Lee!
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Old 07-15-2017, 12:03 PM   #13
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We did Oregon/Washington state by flying out and renting a M Home for 10 days out of Eugene where our son lives. We did Crater Lake, a loop thru the mountains to Bend and N past Mt Hood on the way to the Columbia River gorge. Then up to Mt St Helens etc in Wash state and then back over to the coast and followed that down and cut over to Eugene.

At least a month for your driving trip to the coast and the sights you mentioned. If you're not familiar with the West, let me suggest that it is BIG, and distances between things are huge. A straight shot from E Tn to the Oregon coast is probably a good 5 or 6 long days.

Have to ask, why are you intent on cramming all this into one trip?
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Old 07-15-2017, 12:15 PM   #14
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We did Oregon/Washington state by flying out and renting a M Home for 10 days out of Eugene where our son lives. We did Crater Lake, a loop thru the mountains to Bend and N past Mt Hood on the way to the Columbia River gorge. Then up to Mt St Helens etc in Wash state and then back over to the coast and followed that down and cut over to Eugene.

At least a month for your driving trip to the coast and the sights you mentioned. If you're not familiar with the West, let me suggest that it is BIG, and distances between things are huge. A straight shot from E Tn to the Oregon coast is probably a good 5 or 6 long days.

Have to ask, why are you intent on cramming all this into one trip?
Well, we don't have to cram it all into one trip. We're retired and can go whenever we want, but I was just thinking that since we were driving that far, why not see it all? I mean, I know we could go out there 100 times and not see everything. There's always something to see. We can stay gone for as long as we want. My only reservation is missing our grandson's. lol

What do you suggest? We're definitely open to opinions. I would never want to fly and rent, though, since we have our own 5er.
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Old 07-15-2017, 04:22 PM   #15
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Well, we don't have to cram it all into one trip. We're retired and can go whenever we want, but I was just thinking that since we were driving that far, why not see it all? I mean, I know we could go out there 100 times and not see everything. There's always something to see. We can stay gone for as long as we want. My only reservation is missing our grandson's. lol

What do you suggest? We're definitely open to opinions. I would never want to fly and rent, though, since we have our own 5er.
Sounds like what you are thinking is a multi month outing. If you have all the time in the world I would start by prioritizing the biggies you want to visit. Then look at other sites in the general areas you want to visit and maybe those on the route you choose.

I understand the own and rent thing. We own as well, but have rented 3 times in the last 6 years; 1 in Oregon and 2 in Alaska. We are also retired but spending hundreds of hours on the road vs getting to the section of the country fast is where we make our decision. What ever floats your boat.

If you really want to do Oregon, I would suggest heading out on northern route and make stops at Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone then on thru Idaho and on into Oregon. Then north into Washington state [mt St Helens is a must visit] Breath taking after you sit thru the video in the visitors center. Also recommend the area of the Columbia river gorge and stops around Mt Hood etc. Lots of state parks in the area. Or you can swing first down into northern Calif and do the redwoods etc. If you end up in Washington state I would work back east and hit Glacier NP. Yosemite is great but over crowded this time of year. Oh you mentioned Crater lake. Its worth a visit but it is a one day kind of a thing. Not much to do other than look over the rim down into the lake. If you want to make a 2nd day you can get tickets on the tour boat that takes you around the lake. Lots of state parks in the general area. Oregon is full of state parks in there wilderness areas.

Lots to choose from but I wouldn't want to try to do them all in one trip. I mentioned Alaska. Put it on your bucket list. NO place like it anywhere. The whole state [2X the size of tx] is like a giant National Park.
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Old 07-15-2017, 06:23 PM   #16
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Bassdogs, thank you so much for all your help. It's so kind of you to offer up so much of your time and help. My husband and I both appreciate your posts and all the information you gave us.
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Old 07-15-2017, 07:18 PM   #17
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One place that is worth the side trip is the Golden Spike National Monument where the Transcontinental RR meeting ceremony was performed in 1869. Itís in northern Utah but not hard to get to. They re-enact the ceremony daily with period dress costumes and two full sized Civil War era locomotive working replicas that meet each other fully steamed up - the ĎJupiterí and the í119í. The building of this RR was one of those watershed events that forever changed the direction of our history and culture.

I accidentally found the massive Walmart distribution center nearby and was astonished at itís size and scale. Out in the middle of nowhere and it seems to underscore what the RR accomplished in the distribution of our stuff.

Another nearby discovery was the Theickel Rocket testing facility where they were testing the motor that NASA is planning to use to send us to Mars. You could hear this thing in Seattle.
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Old 07-16-2017, 03:55 AM   #18
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Thank you for all the great info, Lee! Very much appreciated!
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Old 07-17-2017, 05:40 AM   #19
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Ok, so first, you can make the trip as long as you want and you still won't see everything.

Reservations. If you plan on staying in campgounds with hookups then you probably will need reservations near any of the attractions. Call ahead and find out. School may start the end of Aug, but, that is prime tourist season out west.

Now, see if there are things that you MUST see. I won't list mine cause they are different than yours. But, eg, if you want to see Yellowstone. It takes two or three full days to see most of the park. It is BIG.

Plan your trip around those, but, be flexible. It is a LOT of driving to get anywhere. We usually plan 300-400mi per day, but, we have done 500-600mi per day if pressed. Be sure you are up for that kind of travel. On long trips you can suffer what we call the 2nd day depression. On the 2nd or 3rd day of a 5 day trip it can seem like you will never get there.

The important part is to enjoy the journey. It is tempting to plan on a blast across the country to get someplace. We used to do that when time was at a premium. Now that we are retired we take it slower and stop for a day or two during the trip, even if it is just to relax a bit.

Please note that most trailer tires are rated for 65mph. Out west the speed limits can be 75 or 80mph. Yes, even the semis will run 80 or 90mph. And it will be hot. Do not be tempted to exceed your tire's limits. You wil regret it
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Old 07-17-2017, 06:08 PM   #20
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Thank you, vcbice. I was thinking since school was back in session that it would have slowed down and picked back up late September for fall colors. Thanks for the info.
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