A few years back I took a road trip across Europe and it was awesome, so... I figured I could do something similar across USA!
I've got an entire month (august 2012) so I was thinking about a full coast-to-coast drive with my girlfriend.
So, in order to do some research, we bought a "USA Road Trips" guidebook covering the different main routes: Route 66, Pacific Highway, Great River Road, Appalachian Trail, etc. You know the drill: local towns along the way, landmarks of interests, cities, natural parks, etc...
Unfortunately, as I was reading through the book, most of the routes seem a bit... uneventful? devoid of interest? dare I say boring?
Of course, I've pinned a few points of interest on the map: the Grand Canyon, the giant redwood tree groove, playing some poker in Las Vegas, the Utah desert landscapes, the Yosemite national park, the San Francisco bay, Chicago, etc. However, as a whole, 90% of the ride would seem rather dull.
The reason as of why I say that is because, no matter what route I pick, most of what I read about in the guidebook describe dozy towns, sparsely populated rural areas, silly tourist traps like "the world's biggest dinosaur-themed fun park" (literally!), etc.
As a result, we're beginning to grow some doubts about the whole thing: is it worth to drive around for 5,000 miles just to find a fistful of interesting hot spots? I mean, Europe was a fantastic place to cruise around, but is the US a suitable country for a long-haul drive?
Has anyone of you taken a coast-to-coast road trip? did you find it "uneventful" after all?
Thank you very much in advance for your feedback!
Boring or Part of the Road Trip Experience???
North America has a big car culture since the 1950's. Dirivng the open road is "the" experience, and, so is stopping in the cheesy attractions!!! They were layed out so that you can give the kids a break from driving 10+ hrs a day.
The open spaces between town is called "the scenery". It is nice to drive for hours out in the middle of nowhere and not get stuck in a traffic jam. Mcuh less fraustrating than trying to navigate in a small town where the road network was layed out in the middle ages.
Enjoy the drive OR take a plane and avoid the boring stuff...
I'll second TeflonCDN.
Road trips in Europe and North America are very different. In Europe it's more about the destination, because everything is so condensed and densely populated there's plenty to see along the way. In North America where everything is more spread out, it's more about the journey.
In North America, road trips have always been about the "call of the open road." It's about driving for two hours through the wilderness and not seeing another living soul, let alone a town.
If you don't enjoy driving just for the sake of driving, then you might want to reconsider.
[ Edit: Edited on 12-Jul-2012, at 06:02 by talesbackpack ]
The problem is the very boring Interstate Highway System in the USA - speedy roads with no scenery that bypass small towns. The problem is that traffic is now so light on other roads that businesses cannot survive the lack of travelers. America's Heartland is dying for several reasons - this year it's the brutally hot weather/fires, the loss of agriculture and those Interstates.
I would say that a coast-to-coast road trip was a wonderful way to see America in the 1950's, but today it's boring boring boring! I believe foreign tourists would be far better off flying into a regional center, renting a car and seeing the sights there, and then flying on to the next region of interest rather than trying to see the entire country by driving across it.
[ Edit: Edited on 12-Jul-2012, at 09:57 by Daawgon ]
It would be helpful if you would explain what type of road experience you are looking for. Do remember the USA is a large country with wide open stretches compared to Europe. I have driven coast-to-coast several times either by car or motorcycle. What you get to see and experience depends upon your time frame and the weather seasons.
The US Interstate highway system was designed in the 1950s to aid the Defense Department in the logistics of moving men and material in times of national conflict. The fact that motorists got to use it was a side benefit. The road system was designed to avoid bottlenecks and therefore bypasses most towns along the way. Speed and efficiency are the operative words here.
If you want to see scenery and attractions, you take the roads less traveled that roughly parallel or leaves the interstates behind . The Harley Owners Group puts out an excellent publication of touring routes that any motorist can take advantage of.
Your trip will be what you make of it.
Interstate Highways are designed to cover long distances fast. Stay off them if you want to get a feel for the local places.
The Interstate system was inspired by the German Autobahn system... It was also built to help move troups around quickly.
Going across the country will take about 50 hours or more depending where you start and end up. You can definitely decide to drive across in a few days/weeks and stop at certain cities and spend the night for the experience. I have driven across the US many times and different ways just because it was too much for our whole family to fly. The landscape of the US is beautiful but certain routes there is really not much to see in the middle.
I like the idea of flying to one region and then to the other so you can spend more time at the places where you really want to visit and see. It will save a lot of time but it is up to you depending what you want from your trip. GOod luck! Either way you will have a great time.
I don't agree with flying to different points of interest. Neither to I agree that its boring to drive all the way across the states. They are so diverse and often it seems like the state line was drawn to accommodate the differing landscapes. I love driving across Texas and seeing the change from lush green rolling hills to desert. One time I drove all night across Texas and watched this magnificent red ball of a setting sun in my rear view mirror, as the moon leapt up from the black tarmac ahead. Then watched all night as the moon tracked over my head and then also disappeared over the horizon behind me as the sun then dawned and rose in front. It was a really moving experience to realize how amazing this spinning planet in space is. So yes i do agree that driving across America is not so much about non stop places of interest, but about the experiences of nature.
Driving over Donna pass, a treacherous mountain pass in the sierra's i pulled over to look at the view and read about the history of the pass. It's a gut wrenching story of the early pioneers and the hardships they endured. There are lots of small landmarks like that to look out for.
[ Edit: Edited on 12-Jul-2012, at 17:12 by Dodger ]
I think you meant Donner Pass. It is certainly a beautiful and historic part of the Sierra Nevada Mts.
Driving over Donna pass, a treacherous mountain pass in the sierra's i pulled over to look at the view and read about the history of the pass. It's a gut wrenching story of the early pioneers and the hardships they endured. There are lots of small landmarks like that to look out for.[/quote]
I am usually struck with similar feelings when I travel in remote areas. I alway wonder how much the pioneers suffered to establish settlements in these areas? What were they running away from that would make the ordeal seem worth it?