I'm on a road trip from Florida to Seattle, and I wanted to ask travellerspoint people for shouts about good things that we might otherwise miss on our way. This is our route:
FLORIDA-NEW ORLEANS (Mississippi)-AUSTIN (Texas)-DENVER-ASPEN (Colorado)-SALT LAKE CITY (Utah)-Death valley-LAS VEGAS (Nevada)-LAKE TAHOE (California)-PORTLAND (Oregon)-SEATTLE.
Okay, so I'm looking for some help along this route. If you know of anywhere that'd be great to visit along the way, please let me know, especially things that might be on the drives between places that we would ordinarily miss.
DO suggest detours, we can consider them all, and even the route is not set in stone, but if there's things close to our route, so much the better. Right now you can see there's large gaps between Salt Lake City and Vegas, and Tahoe and Portland, so some stuff there would be great.
Also, I will be travelling down after Seattle to California proper, and San Francisco, so any suggestions for there are welcomed as well.
Right now we're trying to figure out a decent way to go from Austin, Texas to Denver, Colorado. It would be a 16 hour drive straight, which is easily 18 hours if you factor in breaks, so we're not doing that, but there don't seem to be many great places to stop on the route or camp along the way. We looked at maybe detouring via New Mexico, whaddya think? Camping, hostel, something besides farmland and oil-fields... Here's a map of our route:
This is the kind of thing I need you for TP, help me in my hour of need!
Sounds like fun!
The route you've chosen from the Crater Lake area (you are planning on visiting Crater Lake, weather-permitting, I assume?) to Portland is fast and logical, but a little dull, IMO, especially the stretch along the I-5. I don't know how much detouring you're interested in, but I can think of a number of routes which, while they'd take longer, would be more attractive and interesting. It all depends on what most interests you, and on how much time you want to spend.
If you like coastline, you might consider leaving the I-5 at Eugene and taking Route 126 to the coast at Florence, then driving up the coast road 101, either to Newport, to Cannon Beach, or all the way to Astoria, before turning east again for Portland. The Oregon coast is very beautiful and might be a good place to break your journey and spend a night. (Great sunsets!) If you don't take in some of the coast on your way from Reno to Portland, I certainly hope you'll consider it for your trip back down to San Francisco from Seattle.
If the high desert is more your style, on the other hand, then you might want to consider an eastern route from Reno, visiting Lake Abert, Summer Lake, and Fort Rock before rejoining your original route at Route 97. And unless you're in a big hurry, instead of taking the I-5, I would recommend instead heading north to Bend, and then to Portland by way of either the Mount Hood National Forest (with a visit to Timberline Lodge up on Mount Hood) or the I-87 through the Columbia Gorge (with visits to some of the Gorge's many waterfalls). Either route would be slower than your original plan to join the I-5, but would also be far more scenically varied and interesting, taking in high desert, rangeland, forest, and either big ole Mount Hood or the Columbia Gorge. You would also get the pleasure of watching the landscape turn from very, very dry to very, very wet as you cross the Cascades - a transition that I always find rather striking, myself.
If you have a few days to spare and really want to see some wilderness, I could recommend a route for you that would take you through what I've been told is some the most remote land in all the continental US, on the border of Oregon and Nevada, through the obscure but wonderful Sheldon Wildlife Reserve, and into the gorgeous Steen's Mountain area before heading west again for Portland. It's a stunning circuit, but I don't know if you have that much time to spare, nor do I know if genuinely empty and rather desolate high desert regions are your thing. Because so much of the land out here is BLM land, camping would be free so long as you are okay with truly primitive sites: no toilets, no amenities, and often no water.
I can provide more details on any of the above routes, if you're interested in any of them. Just let me know.
And of course, when you reach Portland, be sure to visit Powell's City of Books. I used to work there, and I still think it's one of the best things about this city.
Thinking of things to do on the Aspen, Colorado to Salt Lake City, Utah route.
Since I was just in Park City, Utah over the 4th of July weekend, I can recommend a few great things to do there (and before getting there on the route).
First, head slightly south after crossing over the Utah state line and go down to Moab. You will find the Arches National Park there, as well as lots of great biking trails. Just south of town is Dead Horse Point, which was featured in the movie "Mission Impossible 2" where Tom Cruise arrives at the top of a bluff and is "shot" a pair of sunglasses with his next assignment.
Once you get up to Park City, turn off where it says "The Canyons" and you can ride the gondola from where you exit all the way up to the resort (and back) for free. For a fee, you can ride another one to the top of the mountain.
Then for the most fun, head to the Olympic Park. There you will find seven different things to do (five of them cost money, though).
1- Practice the moves you will need on your skis or snowboard to jump down the mountain by training (by jumping into a swimming pool), or
2 - Take the small zip line down the lower hill, or
3 - Take the larger zip line down the big hill, or
4 - Take the summer toboggan run down the hill (a blast for everybody no matter their age), or
5 - Take a ride down the bobsled run (in summer or winter) piloted by drivers who are either practicing for future Olympics or who have been in past Olympics, or
6 - Watch current Olympians train on the ski jumps for the upcoming winter Olympics, or
7 - Visit their museum on Winter Olympics (both the 2002 one at Salt Lake City as well as other ones).
Back on July 3rd of this year, I was in the bobsled that set the summer record (for this year) for fastest time down the track (73 miles per hour). I thought that was fast until my friend told me about his trip down the mountain in the winter (85 miles per hour). Note: the winning 2002 Olympic time was 88 miles per hour, so obviously he was in one of the fastest sleds ever. If you are in good shape, this is a super exciting experience and something I'd like to do again (although at $40-$50 per ride it is not cheap).
Also, right in the downtown area of Park City is an old western main street with lots of small shops and restaurants. Enjoy this part of your trip.
I forgot to also mention that in Heber City, UT (just before Park City, UT), there are bison (buffaloes) being raised on farms that are right alongside the main road, so keep your eyes out for them (as well as llamas and other unusual animals, such as ostriches, in this area.
Also, just north of Aspen is Glenwood Springs, where they have one of the largest outdoor spas in the world. It has been a stopping point for thousands of people from the early 1800s until today.
[ Edit: Edited on 04-Aug-2011, at 07:10 by Calcruzer ]
Also, I suggest you go first to Las Vegas from Salt Lake City--and then go from Las Vegas to Death Valley and then to Lake Tahoe. Going to Death Valley first and then to Las Vegas will take you a long ways out of the way--especially since this is right on the way from Las Vegas to Lake Tahoe.
On the trip from Salt Lake City, UT to Las Vegas, stop (if you have time) and see a play at the Utah Shakespeare festival in Cedar City which runs from now until September 3rd. Tickets can be found here:
When in Austin, be sure to visit both Lake Travis and the famous Sixth Street in downtown Austin. Also, if you are there in the autumn (fall) on a Saturday, consider taking in a University of Texas football game--and get there early, because the "tailgating" party before the game is as entertaining (if not more entertaining) than the games themselves.
Also, when going from Austin to Denver, consider doing so via the Carlsbad Canyons in New Mexico and then north from there through Albuquerque and Santa Fe before arriving in Denver. Both of these towns have very nice old town sections--and the one in Santa Fe is especially nice and also historic, since Santa Fe is one of the oldest cities in the US (but has some of the nicest shops and restaurants in the country to match its old churches, mansions, and ranches. Even the pottery shops there are extremely interesting.