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cross country with no time limit, most scenic route possible

Travel Forums North America cross country with no time limit, most scenic route possible

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1. Posted by Paradise13 (Budding Member 4 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

getting out of the military (marine corps) in mid-april, and looking to drive cross country from North Carolina. Want to avoid interstate travel when possible, looking for the most scenic drive I can find.

2. Posted by Kimee129 (Full Member 37 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

First off. Semper Fi. ;) This coming summer will be my 8th cross country trip from Greenville, SC to San Diego, Ca. I have gone the fast route and I have gone the longest route possible. It depends on a few factors. What time of year are you going in? What are you interested in seeing? Will you be travelling alone? Are you camping, staying in hostels, or living out of your car?

I have done all of these options. From NC to San Diego, Ca if you go in the Spring you could take the fastest most direct route. I-10 starts in Florida and goes directly to New Mexico where you would take I-8 up to San Diego or wherever you are going. Be forwarned that the speed limit in Western Texas is 80mph. It suddenly changes when you least expect it and BAM ya get a 400 dollar ticket for speeding. Not that has ever happened to me of course New Orleans is also an awesome site to see. Please drink a cup of java and have a little powdered donut for me on the main street.

The next route I would/have taken is to go from NC. I don't have my atlas in front of me, but if you are coming from Camp Lejune I would drive until I picked up I-75 to I-64 to Saint Louis and pick up I-70. Either route your going to take you have to pass through two huge states. Texas makes you feel like you are driving forever!!! Kansas is also another state I didn't like. It is flat as everything and not much to look at. However, Denver is off the I-70 route. Seeing as they have been hit with a lot of snow you may want to check and see if it is open in the spring. That is only a few weeks away. On the other side of Denver you have an awesome views of the Rockies. You can ski and do a ton of site seeing. The trip down the 15 to Las Vegas is also a site to see. If you haven't been to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas this is only a hop, skip, and a jump away!

I have also taken the I-80/I-90 route, but I wouldn't recommend that in the spring due to them having late snow. I loved staying in hostels all over the US. They are a great resource and you meet so many new people and stay at some unique places. You can go to to research what is along your route. They are often inexpensive to stay in and you can cook your dinners in their kitchen. Trust me you get sick of road food after awhile. I highly recommend bringing along a jar of peanut butter, bread, plates, bottle sodas and so on. I also recommend books on tape, CD's and a few other audio stuff. My CD player in my car burnt out at one point and time. I am not much of a country music fan. That seemed to be the only stations I could pick up enroute. Perhaps Satellite radio would be a better option. If you have any hobbies (like photography, history, or like westerns) I would recommend doing some research on different stuff along the way. (I have a degree in Native American Studies and one of my trips I went to some of the ancient cities in the south west). My next trip this June I am going to retrace the Trail of Tears. (I am a 1/4 Cherokee). Anyway...if seeing the world's biggest ball of yarn or other quirky stuff is your Idea of fun then base your trip on that. I am jealous and can't wait til my next trip. Please feel free to email me if you have other questions. Route 66 is also another great road, but you will find that I-10 and I-20 parallel these roads...sometimes only feet apart from each other.

3. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3579 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Kim covered many parts of your trip. I would hit Memphis if you are an Elvis fan. Also Nashville, Mammoth caves, etc while in the area. You really need a large atlas, got mine from Wal-Mart. Decide what is important to you. The quirky things along the way, national parks? By May, you can hit Yellowstone, Grand Teton, but I do recommend you hit the Utah parks. If you plan it right, you can hit the Mesa Verde, Monument Valley, North Rim of GC, then the Utah parks, Bryce, Arches, Zion, before you hit Vegas. Then Death Valley and up to Yosemite if you want more mountains, parks. Or go back to the GC, south rim this time. Route 66 is on the way from LV to GC. I have some photos of this section in my gallery. Then into Calif and La up to SF. Good luck with your planning.

4. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Vegasmike is absolutely on the mark with this one--Take I-70 into Utah and then immediately get off the main highway and head south towards Moab. Go visit Arches National Park and Dead Horse Point, then go south towards Canyonlands, and take a side trip back east to visit Durango (take the old train from here north to Silverado), then visit Mesa Verde National Park, then go back west and head towards Monticello, Utah (the point where you originally headed east).

Go south to Blanding, then head west on 95 until you get to Lake Powell. Now double-back a few miles and head south on Highway 261 towards Mexican Hat. Make sure you take this road during the day, because you will soon arrive at the most unusual spot in the US--where the road goes straight down--and I mean literally 180 degrees straight down. Fortunately, it winds back and forth doing so, which is the only way you can stay on the road and not end up falling off the edge and plummeting to your death over the side of the cliff on this Mesa.

Now go down to Mexican Hat, then west to Monument Valley. From here head southwest and then north to Page, Arizona. Go over to see the Antelope Valley and the southern tip of Lake Powell--and take the 3-hour boat ride to/from Rainbow Bridge.

Next head south and then west and go to the north rim of the Grand Canyon--you'll have to book your room here ahead of time. Come just before sunset to see the sunset from the "Sun Room" at the lodge--one of the most magnificent sights you will see in your life.

Next head north and west to Kanab--then go north to see Bryce Canyon National Park, then south and west through Zion National Park and into Las Vegas--about another two hour drive away.

This is the best part of the US. Combine this with trips through New York, New Orleans, Washington D.C., New Orleans, Nashville, Great Smoky National Park and Shenandoah Valley in the east, and Yellowstone and Grand Teton in the Rockies--and then go on past Las Vegas to visit Yosemite, the Redwoods, and the California coast and you will have seen the best the lower 48 states can offer--of course then you will have to consider Alaska and Hawaii I suppose?!?


5. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Oh, and being a California guy, I should mention one other road--which many consider the most scenic in the entire US (and which has been used by the car makers in their ads for decades), which is the stretch of California Highway 1 between Cambria and Morro Bay (on the south) and Carmel, Pebble Beach, and Monterey on the north. This road also goes by the famous Hearst Castle and is about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. On both the north and south end are great wineries--but be warned, this is not a road to drive after partaking of the vino. Drink, then sleep, then drive, then drink some more at the other end.

Also be aware that the road can only be driven at about 30 miles per hour--and that the most scenic part is at the far north end where you actually should get off Highway 1 and take the "17 Mile Drive" through Pebble Beach (use the Pebble Beach offramp from the main road--and pay the $8 toll for the private road) to see the most scenic part of the coast.

This road also goes by Pebble Beach, one of the two most famous golf resorts in the country (the other would be Augusta National in Augusta, GA where they hold the Masters tournament every year). Pebble Beach (and its sister courses, Cypress Point, Spyglass Hill and Poppy Hills), are all right here. Pebble Beach will be the site of the US Open Golf Tournament in 2010 (the 100th time this tournament will be held)--and has already hosted this event in 1972, 1982, and in 1992. Houses in the area cost between $7 million and $35 million each (this was prior to the latest economic crash, but I doubt they have gone down much in price).


6. Posted by Paradise13 (Budding Member 4 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

thanks for all the advice, I should probably add some specifics: I crossed once before, used I 40 to PCH at Morro beach and up to San Fran. I took Hwy 50 through nevada into utah until I hit I 70, and followed that back east. This time Im looking for a slower, more deliberate drive, trying to avoid using the Interstates. Does anybody know HWY 90 from florida through Arizona? Any other good non interstates that take you south through LA and Texas? Is it worth driving up north through CA, Oregon and WA?