(this map is not accurate, just a plugin test)
Our absolute last day in Chicago has now been upgraded from April 30 to March 31. (Hooray!) From there, we have 10 weeks until we aim to be at Castle Grenhjeim (also known as Anna’s family’s cabin in Cass Lake, Minnesota). We’ll probably spend about 2 weeks there before beginning our 4 month summer excursion out west.
We may want to immediately head south at the beginning of April, depending on how cold it is. April in Michigan means there is a pretty good chance of continuing cold and possible snow. We may head down to Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia – Somewhere! Anywhere warm!
I am using Nina’s write-up from WheelingIt.US to understand how people pace themselves. I think our ideal will be to stay about a week in each location, and then travel to the next. In summary, we thing we can comfortably cover 2000-3000 miles in the months of July, Aug, Sept and Oct. We have about 10 stops we want to make, including 5 national parks and 4 cities in the Pacific Northwest. We’d like to avoid driving for more than 4 hours a day, or 200 miles, so we can leave our site after breakfast and be settled in at our destination in time for lunch.
Based on a loose understanding of the climate and what I’ve seen others do, we should probably wrap up whatever we’re doing in the Pacific Northwest by Halloween. As winter encroaches, we’ll head south along one of a number of possible routes.
Route Options, July – October
The Great Plains, Rockies, and Pacific Northwest.
Note: Olympic Nat’l Park is included in the “Seattle” destination stop for time and planning purposes, and is not being counted as one of the “additional” parks along the route.
Direct to Seattle
1500 Miles (7-10 travel days)
Parks: Glacier or Yellowstone
Canadian Parks to Seattle
2100 Miles (10-15 travel days)
Parks: Glacier, Banff, Jasper
American National Parks
2500 miles (12-17 Travel Days)
Parks: Yellowstone, Glacier
3000 Miles (15-20 Travel Days)
Parks: Yellowstone, Glacier, Banff, Jasper
Stops: 8 (4 parks, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Bend)
This is the ultimate. We can see 5 national parks and 4 cities while spending about a week at each destination. The longest single leg is the ~1000 miles from Minnesota to Yellowstone. It might be nice to find cheap / free overnight parking for 5-7 days across the northern plains and do this leg as its own week, rather than trying to log 500 miles a day and do it in 48 hours. ( 1 week, of which 7 are leisurely travel days).
The next leg is between Yellowstone and Glacier Parks, about 400 miles. There are plenty of places worth seeing between the 2, so splitting this into at least 2 travel days seems fine. (1 week at Yellowstone, 1 week at Glacier, plus 2 travel days)
Crossing into Canada, it’s about 350 miles to Banff, with very little in between. Can either do a long haul and have more time in the park, or durdle for a few days and boondock for fun. (1 week at Banff, plus 2 travel days)
Jasper is under 200 miles from Banff, so we can simply pick up camp after breakfast and settle in before dinner. (1 week at Jasper, plus 1 travel day)
It’s 500 miles from Jasper to Vancouver, with a smattering of smaller parks in between. Could do this as a single overnight, or stretch it into a few days. (1 week in Vancouver, plus 3 travel days)
The final leg of the summer trip stretches 450 miles from Vancouver through WA and Portland, all the way to Bend. Each of these cities is an afternoon’s drive from one another, so we have a lot of flexibility. We must budget time for Olympic Nat’l Park in Seattle, to be sure. (1 week each in Seattle, Olympic Nat’l Park, Portland, and Bend, plus 3-5 travel days).
Total: 9 destinations, 1 full week at each. 1 “road trip week” across the northern plains plus 13 travel days. Approx. $1000 in RV fuel ( $2.75 – $3.50 / gal @ 10 mpg over 3k miles ), not including fuel for the Honda when we go on errands / exploring.
Route Options for Fall / Winter 2015 TBD much, much later…