This summer I am undertaking the longest roadtrip I have planned so far. Las Vegas, Nevada to Bar Harbor, Maine in just 9 days. Sounds impossible right? I thought so too...turns out it is possible and, even better, enjoyable!
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right? Whether this is true or not, Vegas is the perfect starting point for a roadtrip and has so much to offer should you choose to spend a few days here before starting your trip like I am.
3 days in Vegas will see me shopping, tanning, taking in the sights, seeing the shows and most likely making use of the 'nightlife' Vegas is so famous for. Once I have exhausted The Strip and my pre-roadtrip budget, I will pick up a hire car from Las Vegas McCarran International Airport and hit the road, Jack.
(Disclaimer: There are many different routes you can take to get from Vegas to BH by road, this is the route I have chosen to take in order to cross off as many unvisited states and landmarks from my bucket list as possible in the allotted time. At the time of writing, this trip is yet to be undertaken and consists of the route I plan to take. I aim to write another post upon completion of this trip to discuss the actual trip in more detail).
Day 1: Las Vegas to Salt Lake City
We will start at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport and this is where we will pick up our hire car. If you want to follow this route it is an easy place to start, either straight off the plane or after a few days exploring Vegas.
Our goal for the day is a friends house just outside Salt Lake City, the drive isn't overly long (roughly 5 hours) compared to some of the others we will undertake on this trip but even so we will aim to leave relatively early in the morning (ie before 9am - that's early for us ok?) to make the most of the drive and still get to Salt Lake in time for dinner and hanging out with friends.
Our first stop of the day will be the Hoover Dam. Only a 45 minute drive outside of Vegas, we aim to get to the Dam in time for opening at 9am to avoid the tourist crowds and get in and out quickly. We don't want to spend the money or time on a tour of the Hoover Dam, though you can if you wish and the prices aren't bad at all. Rather we just want to walk across the Dam so we can get some pictures and add Arizona to our list of states we visit on the trip. The earlier you get to the Dam. the better as it is quite a tourist hotspot and the crowds will descend fast.
After getting our pictures we will get back in the car and head north towards Utah. We want to leave some spontaneity to the trip itself so we don't know exactly where we will be stopping along the way but research has shown me that there is a a Dinosaur Discovery Park about 2.5 hours into the drive in St George that we may well make a detour to (we love dinosaurs!) and then closer to Salt Lake there is Timpanogos Cave National Monument that might be a good place to stretch our legs after a few hours driving.
Once we arrive in Salt Lake we will spend the evening catching up with friends, eating good food and getting a good nights sleep.
Day 2: Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park has been on my bucket list for ages and I'm so excited to finally have a chance to visit. Today's drivetime is roughly 6hours but realistically it will take us a lot longer than that as we will probably make several stops along the way. We get restless sitting still for too long. This route will take us through Idaho - another state we can cross off bringing our total to 4 so far. While we don't yet know where we will stop along the way, there are some lava fields that sound like an interesting place to stop so if we happen to be passing by I'm sure we will take a break for a photo op!
We are estimating to get to Yellowstone in the late afternoon/early evening so our plan is to get ourselves settled at the campsite we have booked to stay at in Montana (State number 5) just outside the West Entrance to Yellowstone. Yellowstone is a very popular place, especially when the weather starts to warm up and places to stay fill up fast! We booked our cabin in early December for a visit in mid-May and a bunch of the places were sold out already! Crazy! Be sure to book in advance if you want to stop by Yellowstone. If we feel up to it we will head into the park to explore around sunset or we might just grab dinner and hit the park in the morning.
Day 3: Yellowstone National Park to Mount Rushmore
This morning we will get up super early (like 6am) and head into the park as early as we can (Yellowstone is in Wyoming - hello state number 6!) to make the most of our morning there. We don't have a lot of time so we need to plan how best to use the few hours we have. At the moment we are thinking pack up and check out before sunrise and spend the morning doing short hikes and driving across the park to exit through the East Entrance to see as much of the park as possible while still covering some ground on the way to our next destination. We will probably have lunch inside the park and aim to leave the East Entrance around 1pm.
This is going to be one of the longest days of our trip, especially after spending the morning hiking etc so we will take it in turns to nap while the other one is driving and hope our GPS doesn't let us down! We don't plan to make many stops on this leg of the journey except for the necessary gas and bathroom breaks. There isn't much to see and with about 8hours of driving ahead of us we just want to get as much ground covered as possible. This day will be a real test of patience I think but I'm sure we will still have a good time.
We have booked another cabin not far from Mount Rushmore (South Dakota = state #7) and our plan is to get there late and just get into bed and sleep ready for an early start the next morning.
Day 4: Mount Rushmore to Mall of America
Our first stop today will be the Crazy Horse Memorial on the way to Mount Rushmore. Although we don't intend to start our day as early as yesterday, we hope to be on the road by about 9am to make the most of the day and we have another long day of driving ahead of us.
After taking all the appropriate photos at Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse we will hit the road towards Minnesota. This drive is about 9 hours long again but there is much more along the way to break it up so we plan to make a short stop every 100 miles or so and see what South Dakota has to offer. Shortly after crossing into Minnesota (state #8) we want to make a quick detour south to cross the border into Iowa and hit state number 9 of the trip. When you're this close to the border it would be rude not to, right?!
We have booked a hotel not far from Mall of America for tonight and plan to get there late at night again. After a long day of driving and sightseeing I expect we will just go to bed, although we might potentially do some laundry, depending on how much we have packed for the roadtrip!
Day 5: Mall of America to Chicago
This morning we will start by hitting the mall. Even though MOA is MASSIVE, we only intend on spending a couple of hours there to save our bank balances from crying and to get on the road as we will be staying with another friend tonight in Chicago so we want to make the most of our time there.
We will probably leave Mall of America around midday and cross into Wisconsin (state #10) before we start driving south. The drivetime is relatively short in comparison to the last couple of days at around 5 and a half hours and we don't plan on stopping much along the way - although there is apparently a giant orange moose and a giant pink elephant statue so we might be persuaded to check those out.
Once we hit Illinois (state #11) we will make a beeline straight for our friends apartment where we will probably spend the night catching up and having a well deserved drink.
Day 6: Chicago to Ohio
Today we plan to leave a little later than we have the last few days as we don't really have anything we want to see in Ohio, it's more just an overnight stop for us en route to stay with more friends in Philadelphia.
We will take the drive at a leisurely pace today as it is only 5 hours from Chicago to our campsite in Dayton. Along the way we might stop at the abandoned Union Station in Indiana (state #12) because I quite like that kind of thing and then maybe we will find a nice park or something in Ohio (state #13) to wander through and have lunch/dinner. We will probably have an earlyish night tonight as we will want to leave early in the morning to get to Philly.
Day 7: Ohio to Philadelphia
Philly is like a second home to us, we spend a lot of time here so we are looking forward to getting back there and seeing some friendly faces. Today's drive is around 7 hours but may take longer as we hope to stop by the Eastern State Penitentiary before getting to our home for the night.
I also heard a rumour about there being a giant quarter somewhere not far from the route we plan to take so that could be a fun little side trip! Today's route will take us briefly through West Virginia (state #14) and into Pennsylvania (state #15).
We hope to get to our friend's house in time for dinner and we will be looking forward to a comfy bed and a chance to relax for a couple of days.
Day 8: REST DAY
We decided that since we like Philly and will probably be burnt out from all the driving that it would be a good idea to schedule ourselves a rest day. Today we don't plan on doing much except watch tv, hang out with our friends, eat good food and enjoy a day of 'normality' before our final stretch. It is important to know yourselves, if you need a rest day take one!
We will probably go to bed early as we need an early start for the long drive to Bar Harbor.
Day 9: Philadelphia to Bar Harbor
Today we start the LONG drive north! We are on the home stretch and this will be the last day of our roadtrip! We will be driving through several states today and probably won't stop much more than we have to.
Maine is my favourite state in the USA and I can't wait to get there! We will get up early, pack up the car and be on the road for around 7am. Firstly, we will cross into our 15th state, New Jersey (although if our last roadtrip is anything to go by, we will get lost and be stuck in Pennsylvania for what seems like forever!). From NJ we will hit New York State (#16) and we will avoid Manhattan traffic as much as possible by crossing into New York via the George Washington Bridge. There is a cute little red lighthouse just after the bridge that we may stop at and eat a picnic lunch before continuing north into Connecticut (state #17). There is another lighthouse in Norwalk that might be an alternative stopping place depending on how we feel when we get to New York (I really like lighthouses).
We are also considering stopping by Yale University while in Connecticut. I visited Harvard when in Boston a few years ago so would be nice to check out another Ivy League but will depend on how much time we have.
Continuing through Connecticut, we will cross into Massachusetts (state #18) and will go around Boston to avoid traffic while we continue north. We will then hit New Hampshire (state #19) before finally crossing the bridge into our 20th and final state, Maine! Bar Harbor is about 4 and a half hours from the bridge which means by the time we get to our accommodation we will have been driving for close to 12 hours. It will definitely be worth it though. We have 2 nights booked in Bar Harbor and hope to arrive in time for dinner. We plan to visit Acadia National Park (another park that has been on my bucket list for a shamefully long time considering how often I go to Maine) and enjoying our last couple of days of relaxation before driving 3 hours south to start work at camp.
And that's it! We will cover around 4,000 miles over 9 days, visit 20 states and hopefully make a ton of memories!
I will be undertaking this trip in mid-late May so keep your eyes peeled for my diary posts about how the roadtrip goes, and keep your fingers crossed I put the right gas in this time and don't break down in the middle of a bridge in Massachusetts!
Do you know of anything on this route I absolutely shouldn't miss? Add them in the contents and I will be sure to check them out!