My boyfriend and I are planning a road trip across country in the summer of 2015. While I know that it seems early to plan, it gives us something to do and to look forward to while he is away stationed in Germany with the Army. We are starting our road trip close to my home in Pittsburg Pennsylvania and ended it in San Francisco California. During the trip we are going to be travelling through these states as follows: West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and down the California coast to San Francisco. We have already thought of a few stops such as: Chicago, Mount Rushmore, Yellow Stone, and Seattle, but we are trying to think of some different places to stop that would fill in the gaps. If anyone could help us find some amazing sites or things to do that we haven’t thought of that would be great! We are not necessarily restricted to any path, as long as we at least stay in the state. Thank you so much for your help!
Mount Rainier National Park, Devil's Tower, Glaicer National Park, Mount Saint Helens, Crater Lake, Grand Tetons, Vedauwoo. Bascially any national park or national land along the way.
Its not on your list but my favorite state to drive though is Utah. The five national parks in that state are amazing.
Utah and Arizona are amazing, but for a summer road trip I would avoid it due to the extreme heat, and the suggested route seems fine to me. Last summer I drove across the country in a somewhat similar route (from San Francisco to Washington DC) and had a great time. Obviously, the western part of the country is a LOT more scenic, so if that's what you're after, spend as much time as possible there.
Is this a one-way road trip? Is it a rental car, or how do you return the car in the end?
Some of my highlights along your itinerary:
- Mammoth Caves. Largest cave in the world. Actually in Kentucky, but not too far off your route.
- Ford Museum and Factory Tour, Flint. I think this is the best museum in the US, and an absolute must for anyone interested in cars! It is located outside Detroit and might not be on your route either though.
- Chicago. Great city.
- Minneapolis. Another great city with an interesting history.
- Check out the Badlands as well as Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.
- Yellowstone might be my favorite national park in the US. A must see! I'd also recommend the nearby Grand Teton NP.
- Glacier National Park, northern Montana. Another fantastic park.
- Multnomah Falls and the area along the Columbia River in Oregon.
- Crater Lake, Oregon.
- Mt Shasta. If you're into hiking you can hike all the way to the top at 14k+ feet. (Not for first time hikers.)
- Yosemite. Great hiking. Might be a bit out of your way though?
- Driving along the dramatic west coast, e.g. Hwy 1.
If you are going to visit many national parks on your trip, get the national park pass to save some money!
Pittsburgh - Cleveland - visit Cedar point - then travel to Chicago - I have not much idea what to do in Iowa- In South Dakota visit Badlands - Follow I90 to Rapid City - visit Mt Rushmore, Custer state park and wind cave national park - Follow I90 again to Devils tower - If you wish you can go up to Montana and visit Glaciers national park - then drive south through beautiful Gallatin national forest and to Yellowstone and Grand Teton. From here you have two options -
(1) Drive South to Southern Utah and visit Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce, Zion, Page, Lake powell, Grand Canyon north rim then to Las vegas - Death valley - Yosemite - Kings canyon and finally to SFO. This route may be extremely hot in the summer.
(2) From Yellowstone go back to I 90 and drive to Seattle - visit Olympic national park, the city of Seattle - North Cascades - Mt Reinier - Drive down to Portland following I 5 - visit Crater lake - Lava Beds national monument - Lassn Volcanic - then drive to the California coast and visit the amazing Redwood forest national park - then simply follow the Highway 101 down to SFO.
If you are going in late May, early June I would prefer option 2, Otherwise for summer months option 1 is better. Mt Rainier is simply amazing in July with all the wildflower. On the other hand Utah's five national parks and the slot canyons in Page are something you should never miss. It's upto you which one you choose :)
A little late to the game here, but I want to second every one who mentioned Glacier National Park. It's stunning, and driving across the park through Going-to-the-Sun road is awe-inspiring. I am partial because I worked in Glacier for two summers, but it really is spectacular.