Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pennsylvania - Louisiana - Las Vegas Road Trip

Hi Jamie,

Love your books, bought them years ago when I was just a 15 year old dreaming of a USA roadtrip. Now I'm 21 and about to go and stay with a friend in Glen Rock, PA for 3 weeks in June (I'm from the UK). We want to go on a roadtrip to Las Vegas and would love to go through the deep south (Louisiana etc) on the way. Do you think that 3 weeks is a long enough time to see a vast expanse of the south US and Vegas? Also would you say sleeping in motels is the most effective way? My friend has an Audi TT, not the most comfortable car to sleep in. We would like to spend about 3-4 days in each state along the way.

Thanks a lot!



Hi there Emily --

Many thanks for writing to me at Road Trip USA, and I'm very pleased to hear you like my books!

You've got quite an adventure ahead of you -- and a speedy Audi should make your driving a lot of fun. Will your friend let you drive his/her car? That would make it easier to cover all the many miles you are contemplating.

Seeing as you are young and resilient, I think you can definitely manage the long haul cross-country, and back again?, in your 3 week time frame. Especially if you can mix a few leisurely days of driving, eating, and sight-seeing with a few "all-night" drives, for example across the 1000-mile-wide expanses of Texas and the Great Plains.

Motels are definitely the best option, and there are also a few nice hostels (in youthful, energetic, music-loving Austin Texas, for example) that are good places to connect with fellow travelers while you're on the road.

To get you started off from Glen Rock, I'd recommend you head over to Gettysburg then follow the Appalachian Trail south, maybe alternating some scenic portions (like the Blue Ridge Parkway). with faster drives along I-81. Asheville NC is a fun place to linger and explore, then I might suggest you run across Tennessee via Nashville and Memphis. The Mississippi Delta south of Memphis is a mecca for American music fans, and nearby Louisiana is another great place to explore -- I really recommend the cruise along the Great River Road, with as many detours as you can afford thru the lively "Cajun Country" west of New Orleans (which I assume is also on your itinerary)

In July I don't recommend staying very far south when you get to Arizona -- Phoenix can be baking hot, all summer long -- but the mountains around Santa Fe New Mexico are gorgeous, and from there you could head toward Las Vegas via the cliff palaces of Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelley, and a stop at the breathtaking North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Then are you planning to drive all the way back to Pennsylvania? If you can swing north to Yellowstone National Park, that's an amazing part of the world, but it's not really a place you can see, or at least fully appreciate, unless you have a couple of days to spend watching the geysers spout and the buffalo roam. If you are running out of time the Grand Tetons are easier to appreciate in passing, and on your way back east you can also see Mount Rushmore, to add to your checklist of Road Trip icons.

Hope the trip works out, and that you have a great time.

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA

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