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From Boston to LA - july - aug 2008

Travel Forums North America From Boston to LA - july - aug 2008

1. Posted by Dutch-Dimi (Budding Member 15 posts) 8y

Dutch-Dimi has indicated that this thread is about USA

Hi all,

We're planning a trip across the USA. Leaving the Netherlands (probably through Belgium) early July and returning about 4 weeks later. (Dates still depending on the cheapest tickets)

The idea is to fly in from Brussels to Boston. Stay here for 2-3 days. Rent a car here and start the long long drive to LA.

One sure stop on the route will be visiting some family members of one. Somewhere near Colorado Springs.

At the moment the list of stops is:

  • Boston
  • Niagara Falls
  • Chicago
  • Badlands National par
  • Custer State Park (Mt Rushmore / Crazy Horse Memorial)
  • Family near Colorado Springs
  • Grand Canyon
  • Hoover dam
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles

I've been scanning through the forums for some nice other places to visit only I noticed most do not quite match with the route we intended to take.

Personally I've always wanted to go to a theme park in the US since I was a child. Since this year this could become true I'm wondering which one would be the best. I found 2 Six flags parks somewhere near our concept route. One in Springfield and the one in Los Angeles (magic mountain).

Some additional information: We're University students all with a technical background (could explain the urge to see Hoover dam). Apart from this common like, we have someone with a thing for history. And we don't want to miss the beautiful creations of nature.

I noticed VegasMike has a list with cheap Charlie’s things to do. and since we sadly also have to take some care of our budget this might come in useful.

So if someone has some suggestions or feels like telling one of the stops is truly not worth visiting, please do so.

thanks

2. Posted by Wonkerer (Respected Member 592 posts) 8y

In my opinion, with what you want to do this doesn't seem like bad route at all. Would have to say that I haven't driven this particular route past Gallup, NM. Between Mount Rushmore and Colorado will be some fairly boring driving, but way better than driving the whole width of Texas. If I'm remembering correctly between Albuquerque and the Grand Canyon might be a little boring too. I might flip the trip around. The weather won't be great further south in any part of July, but I think it would be better earlier on. Late July to early August can be pretty miserable some places, but you might want some more opinions on that. If you do go this route, I would most definitely stop in Santa Fe. Good luck!

3. Posted by Dutch-Dimi (Budding Member 15 posts) 8y

Thanks,

About turning the whole trip around. It has crossed my mind, but for some reason I think doing it the other way round some things might be a bit less exiting if we've already seen things like the Grand Canyon etc. (Surely a lot of you probably wouldn't agree on this)

  • The drive from Chicago to the Badlands area is now the longest driving part in our trip. Does anyone know some nice place to visit to breakup this at least 13h drive?

  • Also another question. We're planning on taking a tent with us (maybe buy one in Boston) and use that to spent the night in between the cities. But I it seems most people take a Campervan to travel instead. Are the accommodations for tents as widely available as for campervans?

  • I noticed some interstates are toll roads, can someone give an indication of the prices?

[ Edit: Edited on Mar 31, 2008, at 2:31 AM by Dutch-Dimi ]

4. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 8y

Quoting Dutch-Dimi

The drive from Chicago to the Badlands area is now the longest driving part in our trip. Does anyone know some nice place to visit to breakup this at least 13h drive?

The drive along I-90 through Wisconsin becomes quite scenic as you get farther north/west of Madison, Wisconsin. The best stretch (though short in duration comparatively) is the Mississippi River Valley area at LaCrosse, WI/LeCresent, MN. The Mississippi River lock and dam #7 is located at that juncture (LeCresent, MN) so you may be lucky and catch a barge or two going through. It's a very nice rest stop too. Minnesota will be agricultural land but you will pass through a few small towns such as Albert Lea and Austin (home of the Hormel Spam Museum).

At 500 miles out, you will begin to see billboards for Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota. It's kitchy as hell but you'll be ready for the stop and it's fun to take a look around. (Blink and you'll miss the town but not the Wall Drug.) Wall Drug is on the outskirts of the Badlands. An interesting site for finding the strange and unusual sights in the states you will pass through is Roadside America.

Also another question. We're planning on taking a tent with us (maybe buy one in Boston) and use that to spent the night in between the cities. But I it seems most people take a Campervan to travel instead. Are the accommodations for tents as widely available as for campervans?

Both state parks and private campgrounds can be found throughout each state though you will probably have to leave the interstate to get to them. Usually they can be found around the small towns just off the major routes. During the summer months, state parks do fill up quickly and some do require a reservation even for tent camping. As examples of what can be found, here are camping sites around the Badlands/Blackhills, S. Dakota state parks and a directory of public and private grounds. (I searched tent camping South Dakota)

I noticed some interstates are toll roads, can someone give an indication of the prices?

Here is the Illinois Tollway Rate Information page for their site. (The Interstate designation number is listed after the name of the tollway - ie: Jane Addams Memorial Tollway, Interstate 90, etc.) Forgot to mention that all Illinois Tollways are now "open road tollways". When looking at the toll rates, it is the second column labeled "Autos" and the second column under that heading labeled "All Times CASH". Only vehicles with a transponder do not have to stop to pay the toll. All others have to use the toll booths which will be located on the righthand side of the interstate. Tolls are well marked ahead of time but it's best to be paying attention also.

[ Edit: Edited on Mar 31, 2008, at 4:39 AM by Isadora ]

5. Posted by Dutch-Dimi (Budding Member 15 posts) 8y

..toll

So this system is different from the one commonly used in Europe. (Where you get a ticket at the point of entry and pay at the point where you leave the toll road)

If I've understood correctly, for us it would mean, stopping and paying at every booth we encounter along the route.
Good to know.

6. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 8y

Quoting Dutch-Dimi

..toll

So this system is different from the one commonly used in Europe. (Where you get a ticket at the point of entry and pay at the point where you leave the toll road)

If I've understood correctly, for us it would mean, stopping and paying at every booth we encounter along the route.
Good to know.

The link I gave in my first postwas for the Illinois tollway system only. Each state has their own system of collecting tolls. Indiana's system is similar to the European system of buying a ticket for the distance you will be traveling. The current rate for crossing Indiana via the toll road is $4.15 for 2-axle vehicles. Indiana also has the "open road tolling" (w/transponders which is called I-Zoom) so be aware you do have to stop at the entrance booth for a ticket, not just follow the crowd. Here are the links for Indiana's Toll Road information (including the entrance/exit map).

Indiana Toll Road Rates
Indiana Toll Road Entrance/Exit Map (PDF format)

I believe the Ohio Turnpike also works the same as Indiana looking at their fare schedule and map. Hopefully, other members will have additional information about the toll roads father east to help you out.

7. Posted by Wonkerer (Respected Member 592 posts) 8y

Tolls in the U.S. are basically determined state to state, so they work in a variety. There is "open-tolling" (which in my opinion is annoying), there are ticketed sections, and other possibilities as well. If they are ticketed you will always pay at each state border and get a new ticket in the next state. Sometimes there are also tolls for particular bridges and such. As far as the cost of tolls, this also varies greatly from state to state. Some can be fairly cheap, but others are quite expensive. When travelling in, near, or around large cities it is good to consider tolls when planning a route. Partially because of cost and also because of time. Tolls for bridges, etc. can greatly slow down traffic as it all bottlenecks to a particular point. Also bear in mind that on some tollroads/turnpikes there are service plazas that you can exit to without paying to get off of the road. However, things can be more pricey here and options can be limited. Unfortunately the other option is to pay to get off and then get back on. Because less people choose to do this, there tends to be less variety near the exits. Hope this is a bit of help.

8. Posted by Dutch-Dimi (Budding Member 15 posts) 8y

thanks Wonkerer, Isadora,

We've made some progress on the possible route to take. Only it is hard to choose between different sites. Maybe try and to add an extra week to the trip.

We spoke to an American from Boston (sometimes they are closer than they appear) And he gave us some comments on the 'first' route. (for those interested its roughly this

The latest edition of our route is found here

Some explanation of the 'stops'
A) Boston
B) Niagara falls
C) Chicago
D) Badlands
E+F) Rocky mountain Nat. Park & Boulder (city)
G) Ford Garland (the stop at the Family)
H) Santa Fé
I) Grand Canyon
J+K) Hoover dam & Las Vegas
L) Death Valley ('just' a Drive trough)
M) Yosemite Nat. Park.
N) San Fransico
Head back south on Ca route 1 (along the coast)
O) Six Flags
P) Los Angeles

this is quite some extra stops, we kicked Mount Rushmore, maybe a quick drive by if possible. But almost everyone seems to suggest to spent the time at a better place.

As you can see on the route google takes us trough a small part of Canada. Only I've heard it is risky leaving the US and to return a while later? Is it wiser to take the route south of lake Erie?

To get back on the toll, thanks for the work you put in. I'll do some more research and try to fit it in a nice little addition to the USA travel Guide here on TP.

Of course comments on the route etc. are more than welcome.

9. Posted by travelus88 (Budding Member 20 posts) 8y

I have a few more suggestions that should not be much out of the way.

On the drive on I-90 West near Syracuse, you are not to far from Chittenango Falls State Park. Closer to Rochester, NY you can get off and drive south and you are in Letchworth State Park which is beautuiful. The Chautauqua Institution (www.ciweb.org) is about 2 hours southwest of Niagara Falls and that may interest you to.

The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, Ohio and you may like Holland, Mi which has many Dutch attractions. Mall of America and Minehaha Falls are among the attractions in Minneapolis and Colorado Springs, Co. has Garden of the Gods, The US Air Force Academy, and Pikes Peak.

Hope you enjoy your trip and you may enjoy some of these suggestions.