Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Savannah to Seattle Road Trip

Hello Road Tripper!

I love reading your advice and have long dreamed of making a US road trip. I am from the Southeast (born and raised in Savannah, GA). I have not been west of the Eastern Texas border. Please don’t get me wrong though, I am well-traveled and know what I am getting myself into. I have seen most of the East Coast and have been to Europe a few times, PR, Mexico and Hawaii.

Anywho, I am making a HUGE move to the Northwest (Seattle, WA) this summer. My mom, her best friend and my best friend are going to set out to see some of the spectacular sites the United States has to offer on our way to move me into my new home. As you can imagine, the possibilities are endless and I’m not sure where to even start. I would love to see Texas (Austin in particular), Bourbon Street, the Grand Canyon and Vegas while others yearn to see things in the direction of Yellowstone. Not quite the same travel route! Please help!

-- Ashley


Hello Ashley --

Thank you for writing in to Road Trip USA, and I hope I can help you make a great start in your big Southeast to Northwest move.

(And for what it's worth, in my semi-humble opinion Seattle is a fantastic city -- maybe not quite so utterly and endlessly charming as Savannah, but still pretty nice!)

OK -- on to your trip: I'll do my best to come up with a route that gives everyone something good to remember. I just hope you're not all driving one of those big U-Haul rigs , which are not the most fun, manageable or fuel-efficient vehicles you could drive...

It sounds like you know your way west from Savannah to Bourbon Street (but if you have the inclination to detour, I suspect you will enjoy a visit to Natchez, a Mississippi River gem with almost as many nice homes and gardens as Savannah has).

Next stop: Texas, across which there is no short-cut. It's 1000 miles, any way you go. 2 or 3 days realistically, so stopping off to enjoy Austin (and maybe San Antonio, another civilized city -- and home to the Alamo!) is a good idea. The Hill Country west of Austin is very nice (and hilly, a rarity in Texas). Continuing west, unless you want to detour down to the rugged country around Big Bend, I suggest traveling by way of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and the great caves at Carlsbad Caverns, over the border in New Mexico .

I cover this very scenic region in the "Southern Pacific" chapter of my Road Trip USA book (which has some nice pictures and lot more info than we have squeezed onto the website).

Next stop: a little bit of all-America Route 66, which will carry you to the lovely city of Santa Fe, then on across the spectacular landscapes of the Four Corners region (worth a week on its own), and up to the rim of the Grand Canyon, for an unforgettable vista (hundreds of them, actually). Route 66 is another chapter in Road Trip USA, and I've also done a "mini-book" that covers the road from end to end.

From the Grand Canyon you can head north (thru the amazing red rock landscapes of southern Utah), via Salt Lake City (maybe adding a detour up thru the Grand Tetons to Yellowstone, which is a truly phenomenal place, for sure, and not _that_ far out of your way), before making your way northwest to Seattle.

You'll be able to explore the Pacific Northwest more fully once you get settled, so I won't suggest too many highlights there (though there are many -- Mt Rainier, the Columbia Gorge, the Cascades, and San Juan Islands...).

From the Grand Canyon you could also wind around to Las Vegas, but I sort of think you can do that trip at another time -- flying down from Seattle perhaps, and maybe doing a future Southwest road trip from there.

How's that for a start? I've tried to narrow down some of the truly endless possibilities driving across the country presents. I hope you have a great trip, and that you actually take the chance to have such a great adventure.

Feel free to write me again and let me know what you think -- and in the meantime, good luck and "Happy Trails,"

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA



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