yes, im in highschool and after i graduate i plan to travel to the west with a friend or two. Im starting in Columbus, Ga and plan to travel up to colorado, down through Utah and then to the Grand Canyon. Then im going to make my way to LA and up the coast to San Fran. Then im planning on going to Yosemite and then up to redwood and maybe up the Oregon Coast. After this i plan to go to Yellowstone and then over to Mt. Roushmore. The idea is to hit all the major national parks. Right now im in the process of getting another vehicle, either an SUV or a pick up truck. And also, working on the money. I should be able to get a reasonable amount so i can make this journey enjoyable. I plan to be gone for about 4-6 months. I was wondering if anyone has any tips on where to go besides what i have planned or just any other advice. Thanks a lot.
Sounds like a great trip!! I did the same thing a year after high school and took three months. Since you will be taking even longer, you have the luxury of planning your trip as you go along. You've already got some of the 'hot spots' planned. I would just bring along a Lonely Planet or other travel guide (maybe a parks guide, if that is your theme) and talk to people along the way. Since you're still so young you will probably meet lots of other young people travelling and you will be happy to leave your options somewhat open. If you overplan your trip there is the danger of not being relaxed enough to enjoy it!!
If you want to save money, bring a tent so you can camp in the parks and really get to enjoy them in all their glory (or even just sleeping bags for the back of your pick up truck). You can visit the national parks' website at www.nps.gov. For state parks you would have to go to the individual state's website, such as for California: http://www.parks.ca.gov. There you can find out about making reservations, what times of year the park is open, and if you are camping, what are the rules (e.g. campfires allowed, lock up food from bears, etc.)
The most important thing to do is have fun!! And you may want to bring a journal or a camera to record of a few of your experiences.
P.S. Don't forget the Redwoods!
If you're going through Utah don't miss Zion Nat'l Park, it's very beautiful. Like a more 'user-friendly' Gran Canyon
Don't forget... the Virgin Islands are part of the United States.
[ Edit: Sorry, no promos in the forum please ]
If you're starting in Georgia, you might want to hit the Outer Banks in NC (I believe Ocracoke Island is a National Park). From there you can cross the states on I-40 and hit the Great Smokey Mountains. What the heck, hit Graceland 8 hours after that (Memphis).
Yosemite is a must. Grand Canyon, people like to knock it because it's a huge tourist attraction but it's one of a kind. Don't skip it! Cut through Death Valley on your way from Grand Canyon to Yosemite.
If you're from the southeast, you might have been to the spots recommended above. Otherwise, hope it helps.
Nathan - Congratulations for being so wise to plan a trip like this around the USA. You will be mighty appreciative of the fact that you made this decision. Nothing wrong with any of your ideas as to where to stop, but don't aim just for the most famous parks - aim for the lesser known ones such as Great Sand Dunes and Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado. There are many state parks, which while usually not as spectacular as Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, can provide for a pleasant night's stay. I too suggest that you camp, at least most of the time. You could sleep in your vehicle, although my minivan is so crammed full of gear it is a little hard to stretch out inside, so I usually stay in the tent. Have at least some rudimentary cooking equipment and a cooler. PAtronize supermarkets more than restaurants, camp most of the time and you and your friends should have a fabulous time. There may be times when a motel room will suit you, but make that the excpetion. Last year I drove, by myself, a 78 night, 16,000 mile rountrip camping out from North Carolina to Alaska - greatest thing I've ever done. Feel free to send me an Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since you have me going on one of my favorite topics, here are some more ideas. Private, commercial campgrounds like KOA's are sometimes convenient to stay in, but they cater more to the motor home set ( retired folks ) and are more expensive than public campgrounds, and are usually less aesthetic. In my opinion, the more primitive the campground, the better. Now I have accumulated a lot of equipment over the years and have develped a system that works, but just beacause I said primitive I do not mean being grubby. I carried two solar shower bags which are meant to be set out in the sun to warm up the water ( this would be the case if one was backpacking ) but i just heat up water on the stove and pour it in. I have a tent for privacy to be used when showering if privacy is necessary, but never used it on my trip to Alaska last year. I took many showers late in the evening with the shower bag hanging off the liftgate of the van, or behind a tree, etc. You could still bathe by just pouring hot water in a dishpan over your head. The more you camp, the more resourceful you will become. You and one or two friends for several months together on the road - fantastic. SInce you have all that time, you might want to consider going to Alaska - the road is long, but perfectly driveable and a wonderful experience. Just to go as far as the Yukon is worth it - how I loved that trip. I hope to hear from you. Eric
Nathan - I was not supposed to include my Email address. Feel free to send me a private message.
In San Francisco, park on Haight (it won't be easy) walk west to GG park, buy some bud and smoke the park (its like the 60's) -- at least you can say you did...
Ignore aj415's suggestion--unless you plan to spend some time in our local jails. (Doing what he suggests could get you a minimum one-year sentence in a state of federal prison.)
He must be too stoned to realize that it's still illegal to smoke dope in every place in the US unless it's your home and it's medicinal marajuana prescribed by your doctor. Then it's still illegal--but the cops will look the other way in certain localities (like SF and Santa Cruz).
Get high on travel, not drugs. Enjoy