Taking the Scenic Route Across the US

Our family is no stranger to scenic road trips across the US. The summer before last, we drove close to 4,000 miles from Long Island, New York to Key West, Florida. We drove round trip in our Subaru Crosstrek making our way along the East Coast with planned stops to visit old friends and explore life. There was no shortage of family antics, mom jokes, and photography along the way. This was the best experience I could have ever planned for our family bonding and now I have the opportunity to do it once more.

2020 is quite possibly the worst year to plan a family trip; but we have a member of our family relocating to California, my daughter. She is grown and working at a high level job with her newly acquired PhD, but the jobs for her field are in California–3,000 miles away. Taking her dog on a plane is not an option and we are suckers for a road trip, so here we go!

Driving from the East Coast to the West Coast is a much bigger endeavor than driving along the same coast. We will be covering close to 4,000 miles just going one way. We want to make the most of our journey and be as comfortable as possible so we rented an RV. We’re super excited to explore more states in the US and enjoy the beauty of what each one has to offer.

I’ll be posting photos daily on Instagram so you can follow along. Our itinerary is intense and it will be an amazing road trip if we can stay on schedule. We’ll be driving through thirteen states in ten days in varying climates and terrains. Going across the country is very different as we leave the East Coast’s lush green forests and head into the desert and mountainous terrain of the West. We also have the added concern for the number of wildfires currently plaguing California. We will have to stay vigilant with any park closures and changes in course; above and beyond the closures along the way for Covid-19 precautions.

Safety and scenery are our primary focuses. We will spend all of our overnights in our RV, prepare and eat the food we bring, and sanitize after venturing in the outdoors and at public stops. The RV helps us prioritize safety by having its own kitchen, toilet, and shower. We’re feeling really good about venturing across the US with our collection of stylish face masks and abundance of cleaning supplies. Our protocols and choices of outdoor stops give us the confidence of staying safe while enjoying the scenic route we designed.

Our Scenic Cross Country Itinerary from New York to California

OVERNIGHT CALENDAR
  • Day 1, Aug 27th- Overnight Cuyahoga National Park, Ohio
  • Day 2, Aug 28th- Overnight Illinois Beach State Park, Illinois
  • Day 3, Aug 29th- Overnight Oasis RV Park, South Dakota
  • Day 4, Aug 30th- Overnight Oasis RV Park, South Dakota
  • Day 5, Aug 31st- Overnight Cody KOA, Yellowstone, Wyoming
  • Day 6, Sept 1st- Overnight Dubois Wind River KOA, Wyoming
  • Day 7, Sept 2nd- Overnight Fort Running Bear, Idaho
  • Day 8, Sept 3rd- Overnight Crater Lake Mazama Village, Oregon
  • Day 9, Sept 4th- Overnight Fort Bragg, California
  • Day 10, Sept 5th- Overnight Berkeley, California
  • Day 11, Sept 6th- Overnight Berkeley, California
  • Day 12, Sept 7th- Flight Home to New York

OHIO
  • We wanted our first stop to get us past the major congestion of the tri-state area (NY, NJ, PA) and the Finger Lakes are on our bucket list.
    • Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Peninsula
      • The Ledges, Beaver Marsh, Brandywine Falls, Blue Hen Falls
    • Columbia Park, Bay Village
      • Hidden waterfall and Lake Erie.
INDIANA

Michael Jackson’s Childhood Home, Gary (How can we resist? I’m seriously looking for my old Michael Jackson Thriller doll from the Grammy’s to bring along!)

We’d love to stay longer in Indiana, but I-90 only passes through a tip of the state. We’ll definitely be back one day soon to explore and spend time with family that reside further into the state.

ILLINOIS
  • Illinois Beach State Park, Zion
    • Lake Michigan (Another Finger Lake for our bucket list!)
  • Chicago
    • The Bean and a Deep Dish pie (New Yorkers can’t resist comparing pizza wherever we go and we hear this is a real contender!) As an added bonus, we’re connecting with a friend of mine from high school. I hope he’s as good a tour guide as my bestie from Georgia!
WISCONSIN
  • We would love to see more of Wisconsin, especially near Lake Superior; but we need to stay on schedule and only drive through enough to stay on I-90.
  • Mars Cheese Castle, Kenosho (Two Words- Cheese Hats)
  • Pinkie the Elephant, Deforest (We cannot resist novelty architecture!)
MINNESOTA

We would also love to explore Minnesota more, especially the northern part; but we need to stay on I-90 and only graze the bottom.

Jolly Green Giant, Blue Earth (More novelty architecture and a great place to stretch our legs.)

SOUTH DAKOTA
  • This is a very long state and we need some driving breaks.
    • Sioux Falls Park, Sioux Falls (You know we cannot resist a waterfall.)
    • Porter Sculpture Park, Montrose (Giant crazy sculptures–right up our alley!)
    • Al’s Oasis, Tacoma (We are also suckers for traditional tourist traps. It seems like a cross country road trip right of passage.)
    • Man Walking Skeleton Dino Sculpture, Murdo (You know we have to take pictures of this! You’ll thank us when you see it on our Instagram.)
    • Oasis RV Park, Interior (We wanted a spot as close to the Badlands as we could get to view the spectacular night skies. This is another bucket list item.)
    • Badlands National Park (We will officially be bad-ass after we drive through the Badlands.)
      • Badlands Loop Rd- 14 Overlooks
      • Sage Creek Rim Rd for wildlife viewing (especially Prairie Dog Town!)
      • If we’re motivated enough, we really want to catch a sunrise and/or sunset in the park.
    • Wall Drug, Wall (They had us at Giant Jackalope, but we’re looking forward to the free ice water and photo with mini Mount Rushmore in this tourist oasis. I’m sure you will find all of us in the arcade enjoying the shooting gallery after we eat some homemade donuts too.)
    • Chapel in the Hill, Rapid City (This is a bucket list item other Instagram accounts have flaunted.The beauty of this chapel is its location, but I am also drawn to its Scandinavian lure. I will definitely be adding to my gnome collection if their gift shop is open!)
    • Dinosaur Park, Rapid City (We might be a little too old for this one, but we added it as an option in case we have extra time and want to take photos with novelty dinosaurs.)
WYOMING
  • Big Horn National Forest, Dayton (We can not pass up on an opportunity to see these mountains even if we just drive the scenic byway.)
  • Devil’s Tower National Monument, Devil’s Tower (It’s so big and famous, we couldn’t miss it. To be honest, I’m just thinking “Close Encounters,” but my kids have no idea.)
  • Cody KOA, Yellowstone, Cody (A nice rest here before we tackle Yellowstone in a single day.)
  • Yellowstone National Park, NE Entrance, Yellowstone (Bucket list park.)
    • Lamar Valley, Mammoth Hot Springs, Midway Geyser Basin, Old Faithful, West Thumb Overlook, and maybe Canyon Village (These stops will be dictated by the amount of traffic we have to endure inside the park. Wish us luck!)
  • Dubois Wind River KOA, Grand Tetons, Dubois (We’ll get to view the Grand Tetons at night and in the morning!)
  • Grand Tetons National Park
IDAHO
  • I would not have guessed that Idaho would have so many spectacular waterfalls, but then no one seems to know that New York has over 2,000!
    • Shoshone Falls Park, Twin Falls (We need to see this “Niagara of the West.”)
      • We would ideally love to see Perrine Coulee Falls in Centennial Park and drive along the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway as well, but time will dictate how much we can do here. It would also be amazing to find a hot spring to soak in!
    • Craters of the Moon National Monument (This sounds like a great place to explore, but it’s only an option if we have more time than we expected.)
    • Fort Running Bear, Mountain Home (It’s a long drive to Oregon so we’ll need to rest. We should be able to see more spectacular night sky views at this location since it is at the edge of Sawtooth National Forest.)
OREGON
  • There are so many places in Oregon we want to explore, but we only have time for one.
    • Crater Lake Mazama Village, 569 Mazama Village Dr
    • Crater Lake National Park (We’ll explore the Rim Drive and the Overlooks.)
CALIFORNIA
  • The beautiful state of California has numerous places we want to experience, but the current fire conditions may send us straight to our final destination. We’re praying that the fires stop before they ravage too much of the rare beauty here. Climate change is real, people. Do your part to minimize the effects on the environment.
    • Redwood National Forest (The Redwoods are a sight my son has never seen. I’m hoping they are still there for him when we arrive. As of this post, the historically old giants at Big Basin Redwoods State Park have already been devastated.)
    • Route 101
    • Westport Union Landing State Beach, Westport
    • Fort Bragg Village (A nice stop to spend time with family living in the area.)
    • MacKerricher State Park Glass Beach, Fort Bragg (Another bucket list item from Instagram and a trifecta of things we can’t resist–seaglass, beach, ocean.)
    • Point Arena Lighthouse, Point Arena (What’s a trip to a coastal town without a lighthouse visit?)
    • Schooner Gulch State Park
      • Bowling Ball Beach (Another Instagram flaunt and trifecta for us, but we need to get here at low tide to see the “bowling ball” rocks.
    • Pt. Reyes National Seashore, Pt. Reyes Station (Currently, this park is closed due to the wildfires. We’ll keep it as an option since it offers a chance to see whales, elephant seals, a lighthouse and even earthquake trails.If we had a full day here we could hike to the secret Alamere Falls and the even more secret Secret Beach!)
    • Berkeley (Our final destination!)

We’ve Skipped Some States!

Yes, we’ve skipped past New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania! We spend a lot of time exploring the Northeast since we live in the area, so we zipped right through these states to reduce our travel days. If you would like to see where we’ve explored and posted from other states, search an area in Categories on the side menu. (States are listed under Long Distance since our blog is focused on New York.)

Van Life Research

If you’ve been following along then you know Van Life has been on the horizon. We are definitely using this experience of living and traveling in an RV for ten days to help with our research in building our own van for longterm travel. Check out the Van Life series in our Categories menu under Tiny Living or start here….

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Wish Us Luck!

We always love hearing from you on our blog, social media, and even “old school” email! Send us a shout out during our trip and let us know how much you like each stop we post. Have more suggestions? We are always looking for more ideas. Road trips can be unpredictable.

Travel Tip to Make the Most of Every Adventure

You can never be too prepared! We always have a base plan with layers when we travel. Our base plan is the bare minimum we need to do to achieve our final goal. Our scenic route across the US is open to several variables including wild fires, social distancing, road construction, business closures, and more. We may encounter some of our itinerary items are no longer an option once we reach the area. Doing additional research and adding more options to our itinerary allows us to divert when needed and keep our days productive.

Author: newyorkfamilyadventures

Momager, New Yorker, Travel Blogger, Actress, Martial Artist, Amateur Photographer, Writer, Conservationist

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