Planning our “Great American Road trip”

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Planning our “Great American Road trip”


So this year we are taking what I am calling the “Great American Road trip.” There are four main reasons we picked this trip for this year:
  1. Ali Birth 122It is my goal to get my kids to all 50 states before they leave for college. It may not happen, but I am going to try to get them to as many as we can! I want to wait to do the East Coast until they are older and will remember it (plus it will make a great ‘fieldtrip’ for school!) So being the crazy planner that I am, I have several of these road trips up my sleeve, but this is by far the longest.
  2. My husband’s job announced that they will no longer be rolling over their PTO; from now on you use it or you loose it! But for all the extra we saved up, we have until the end of 2012 to use it up. So – we have a LOT of time to burn =-) This is the longest road trip we will even be taking in the US…. so it seemed appropriate to do it now that we have all this time off.  Did I mention we are spending 3 weeks on the road =-)
  3. FUN!! We are going to place that my hubby and/or I have never been to! We are both excited to see the Grand Canyon, ghost towns, Hoover Dam, caves, beautiful national parks, Aztec ruins, balloon festival, living history museums, and even get to spend a couple days creating memories at Disneyland!
  4. It is actually a pretty inexpensive vacation…. at least the way we are doing it! Money is tight (but what’s new, right?!) and we were looking for a way to get a lot of August 2011 265bang for our buck! We are planning on camping – mostly at state parks that run about $20/night. Most of our sightseeing is in National Parks – did you know you can get an Annual Pass that lets you get into all the parks (for your whole family & vehicle) for an entire year for only $80. A great deal if that IS your vacation!! We plan to stop at a lot of grocery stores along the way & make good old PB&J sandwiches & grill at our campsite so we will just be using our normal grocery bill we would anyhow at home! So really, the bulk of our trip is gas! Granted going 5547 miles is a lot, but again that is the only real expense to our trip.
So where are we going? Check out our preliminary plans!

      Great Sand Dunes National Monument Colorado
    • Rocky Mountains National Park
    • Pikes Peek Pog Railway
    • Silverton (Ghost town, Mine tour, Mayflower Mill)
    • Great Sand Dune National Monument

Delicate Arch Arches National Park Utah   
    • Arches National Park
    • Lehman Ward Charcoal Ovens
    • Salt Lake City

    • Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive
    • Lehman Caves
    • Hoover Dam

    • Grand Canyon
    • Montezuma Castle National Monument
    • Goldfield (western town)
    • Phoenix (zoo)


    Detour to spend 2-3 days at Disneyland) – but shhhh don’t tell the kids; it’s going to be a surprise!

    • Kansas Monument Rocks
    • National Cowboy Museum
    • (I wanted to do Salt Mine tour, but 2 of the kiddos are to young)
    • Old Cowtown Museum (living history museum)
    • Pony Express Original Home Station 1

New Mexico
    • Gia Hot springs
    • Aztec Ruins (Mesa Verde National Park)
Albuquerque -  balloon festival & science museum
  • White sands National Monument
  • Fort Union National Monument

  • I am pretty excited! I even changed what Goofy was going to study in Social Studies so by the end of the year we will cover Westward Expansion!! Plus we are studying about the Aztecs in a month AND we will be doing a Grand Canyon Science unit =-) I LOVE homeschooling!

    So here is the part where I need you! Do you live in one of the states we are visiting? Or have you been on vacation in one of them? Tell me – what places do we need to see, best campgrounds, places that sounded cool but were a bust.  I’d love to hear from you

    And how about your family, are you intentionally planning a fun get-away this year?! It doesn’t have to be expensive or take you far, just as long as it is intentional fun apart form the daily grind with the family you love!


    1. Very cool. My husband and I want to do something like that within a few years. But we talked about doing an RV. And we'll head out west since that's all new to us since we live east of the Mississippi.

    2. I'm sure I can fill in a little bit about Oklahoma...but not as well as Jenny! ;-) However, here I go. The Cowboy Museum is fantastic in OKC. There is an "old town" inside, lots of history, art, etc.

      Depending on where you are going in OK, if you are in the Tulsa area, the Brausen family homestead and ranch, MNOK, is terrific!! :-) Horses, food, family, and fun!

      Will Rogers Museum in Claremore. Woolaroc Wildlife Preserve (summer/getaway home for Mr. Frank Phillips) in Bartlesville is fantastic!

      Just a couple thoughts for you! Have fun! So excited to follow you on your journey!!

    3. I live in the east, so I can't help you, but I'm excited for you! My husband and I also want to do something like this in a few years when our boys are a little older.

    4. Absolutely fun!!! I love road-tripping with my kids. When you're in the Arches area, there are two great recommendations I can give: A few miles outside of Green River there is a BLM campground called Swazey Beach. It's free, first-come first-serve but never busy. The campsites are on the sandy shore of the Green River. Awesome! Also, Goblin Valley State Park is not too much further west from Green River and my absolute favorite place in southern Utah. It looks like Mars and there is complete access-you can crawl over, under, around, the rock formations and really get a hands-on experience. Kids and adults love it! If you wanted a splurge day, they just opened a yurt there that's $60.00/night.

      Also, the Albuquerque balloon fiesta is a MUST!!! We went our first time 2 years ago and are addicted. Just make sure you schedule in several days in case the weather is bad and the balloons can't alight.

      Can't wait to hear more about your planning!

    5. Sounds amazing!! I'm planning on taking a roadtrip from Seattle to the Grand Canyon and back up through Zion and Bruce Canyon this summer! Can't wait to hear more about your trip!

      - Shauna

    6. Very cool!! Sounds like an amazing once in a lifetime type trip!! I am hoping to do a little camping site seeing his year as well!

    7. How exciting! I am trying to plan an RV trip this spring up and down the East Coast (we are in Florida). Look forward to seeing more of your plans!

    8. You guys are going to have a great time, Beth! We love road trips and have a little "summer road trip with Nana" tradition going on here. I think we're doing D.C. this summer. Have fun planning!
      Little Wonders' Days

    9. What a fun trip :) So exciting!!! California is a beautiful state. If you guys get a chance, visit San Francisco... it is by far one of the nicest, coolest cities I have ever visited :) Have a happy road trip.


    10. I live near SLC Utah. There are so many cool things in utah. Some of our favorites are:

      Timpanogos Cave Nation Monument
      A very long set of caves with an amazing hike to the mouth of the cave.

      Goblin Valley state park: Very cool. Your kids would have fun climbing around these amazing formations. They also have camping sites too.

      If your going past St. George I'd recommend Camping in Snow Canyon State park. Beautiful Red sand. Fun easy hikes and sand dunes.

      Here is just a short list. I'll have to give it a thought and send more ideas your way. That sounds like so much fun. I want to do that too. I'd love to see your complete list of destinations and where you are staying when you get it done. Very cool.

      Veronica @

    11. LOVE IT! My Husband and I can't wait to do one of these trips. I did one when I was 10 and have such awesome memories. You will have a BLAST!

      I live in CA, but up north so no advice there. But we just did Disney this summer...Definitely bring your own food and water into the park as it's expensive. Does your husband's company offer discounts on tickets? My husband's company did so we saved there quite a bit!

      We will most likely be going to Hawaii this year with my In Laws. I LOVE TRAVEL and backpacked across Europe in college!

      Have a BLAST!

    12. That looks like fun - I look forward to hearing about all your adventures. I would love to take my kids on a road trip - maybe when the baby is a bit older. You look like you have done a lot of good planning.

    13. Sounds like so much fun! We definitely want to take that kind of trip sometime in the next few years--I have always thought that an RV would be the cheapest, but camping might be even better. I hope it goes really well!

    14. That's awesome, Beth! It's nice you guys figured out a way to make this affordable. It's looks like you guys are going to some beautiful places. Hope you guys have a lot of fun and take lots of pictures to share in blogland. :)

    15. OMG! 2 summers ago (2010) we took a 17 day road trip from CA to NY! (& everything in between) It was the best time EVER! Our last big stop before home was the Grand Canyon for ONE was magnificent! We loved it so much that this past summer (2011) we took our summer vacation JUST @ the Grand Canyon.

      We had a mini-van of 4 kids.
      I am SO glad you are doing this. You will never regret it & will ALWAYS remember it.

      If you'd like some tips or anything, contact me via my blog.

    16. We live in Germany and have been traveling here in Europe. It is so much fun. I just started a blog hop called I Saw it on Vacation. When you make your road trip I hope you will link-up many of your vacation posts. Check it out -

    17. We live in Africa, but we will be returning to the states for a few months in the coming weeks. We are going to be doing lots of traveling. This blog has inspired me to see how many states we can get to in the time we are there. Thanks for the ideas.

    18. Since you posted this nearly a year and a half ago, I'm assuming you've already made your road trip. However, JUST IN CASE, you were holding off until this summer, I recommend getting the National Passport book and have it stamped at everyone of the National Parks and historic sites you visit. It is an awesome souvenir to have!

    19. German campervans are made to the highest specification so you will not breakdown in the middle of your holiday, and enjoy it to its fullest.