Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rocky Mountains Road Trip

Hi Jamie!

Let me start by saying I love your website and route planners! I live in London and have been obsessed with America for a LONG time!

My brother lives in Portland,OR and I've been lucky enough to come over 4 times in the past 2 yrs to see him. For this reason I am a bit more biased towards the west coast and just think people are so much more chilled and happy on that side of America! I have been to New York twice and Boston and can say the people were not so friendly and helpful! I think living in London too I see the similaritiess between the two bustling, cosmopolitan cities and as much as I love them the feeling I have in me when I think of the west coast leaves me with delight and excitement about my next adventure!

I did a roadtrip in June with my partner and my brother and his partner which was fantastic! we started off in Portland and made out way down towards California going through napa, san fran, big sur, santa cruz, santa barbara towards LA where we did some partying (ending up in Johnny depps old haunt on sunset boulevard) then headed towards Las Vegas and then death valley to yosemite and up to lake was awesome and well, the next adventure is going to be even bigger!!

Basically my next wish is to head for the rockies and then onto the great plains so we were thinking Portland thru idaho,utah,colorado,new mexico,texas, then up thru oklahoma, kansas, nebraska, south dakota and then head back west thru wyoming and back to oregon...its gonna be a long one but I feel these states are all well worth a visit and if I going out that far I should try and see them all! basically I would like your tips on what there is to see in each of these states and highlights..also how long roughly would all this take??

we obv don't want to be driving non stop and want to see the big places ( yellowstone park,badlands,rocky mts...) and we will prob hire a car or maybe take my brothers, and stay in motels, so money wise do u have any idea how much all this could cost??? sorry! lots of questions! but any help or advice from u would be fantastic!!

thank you and can't wait to hear back from you!



Hi Becky --

Thanks for your kind words about my Road Trip USA website, and my fellow West Coasters, and I hope I can help you plan a great trip around the Rockies.

I'm not sure I can replicate hanging out with Johnny Depp on Sunset Strip, but I can recommend a diner in Idaho that was once owned by Bruce Willis...


I cover the areas you want to tour, and a whole lot more -- so if you like route planners and website, let me say there's a lot more info and ideas (and pictures and maps etc) in the book version of Road Trip USA, 40% off with Free Shipping in the UK (or so the website tells me).

But seriously, there are some fabulous places to see. Starting in Portland, you can head east up the Columbia River thru the beautiful Columbia Gorge, where there are lovely waterfalls and a couple of very stylish little hotel/restaurants (the Columbia Gorge hotel, and the landmark Timberline Lodge up on Mount Hood), though I suspect your brother knows more about the ever-trendy, always-enjoyable Portland area than I ever will.

Getting back to your question, I think driving to New Mexico & Texas is more than you'll want to tackle, but that said there are some great destinations closer to Portland that you'll definitely want to see. Heading for the Rockies is a good plan: the northern Rockies have some amazing national parks (most famously Yellowstone and Glacier), and there are also some enjoyable small towns and cities here among the mountains: Whitefish and Missoula in Montana, Sandpoint and tiny Stanley in Idaho, are very fun places to stay while you're exploring the surrounding vastness.

East of the Rockies, it's another 500 or so mile to the Black Hills of South Dakota, where you can pay respects to the famous Presidential Heads of Mount Rushmore, as well as the Badlands and the historic scenes of Wounded Knee. This all might be too much driving -- and the partying possibilities of the Great Plains are pretty limited -- but you will definitely have an unforgettable feel for just how varied and huge the USA really is.

Or if the Great Plains don't appeal quite so much as New Mexico, you could head south from Yellowstone on a gorgeous drive, by way of the red-rock sandstone of Utah's national parks, down Colorado's Million Dollar Highway to Durango and Telluride, and on to Taos and Santa Fe NM. Which are gorgeous, enjoyable, civilized places -- surrounded by stunning wild landscapes of the predominantly Native American "Four Corners" region.

Costs and time to do this is really hard to figure -- you could definitely make Yellowstone from Portland, and have fun doing so, in a week-long round-trip, and if you stay in motels you could do it for less than $1500. Then again, you can spend that much per night on a Ralph Lauren-style "dude ranch" resort in Wyoming, so it's really all up to you. If you went as far as Mt Rushmore or Santa Fe, you'd want more time, for sure -- but you could do it all in a crazy 2-week road trip (especially if you had some downtime in Portland, before and after the road trip, to deal with trans-Atlantic jet lag and highway-induced white-line fever!)

Hope this helps, and "Happy Trails" and happy holidays, too,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


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