Can I drive across the USA in 12 days?
May 10, 2006 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Can I drive across the USA in 12 days? Say a route from LA to Las Vegas to Salt Lake to Denver to Mt Rushmore to St Louis to Nashville and on to New York
posted by A189Nut to Travel & Transportation (23 answers total)
Could you provide more detail? How many people would share the driving? Are you planning to stop/sightsee in any of these places, or are you just driving through?
posted by darsh at 12:20 PM on May 10, 2006


just a basic trip via google maps
posted by killyb at 12:24 PM on May 10, 2006

Assuming you actually want to see some sights, detour through zion & bryce, boulder, and capitol reef on your way to SLC.

Going to denver from SLC, go through vernal UT and Dinosaur National Monument.
posted by Good Brain at 12:39 PM on May 10, 2006

Here's a Yahoo Map of whole the trip with waypoints. Anecdotally speaking I've driven with three other people non-stop from Portland, OR to New Orleans in 44 hours, trips like this are doable and fun, but the trip back is 10x more painful because you know what lies ahead...
posted by togdon at 12:43 PM on May 10, 2006

The trip from Vegas to SLC could easily take 2 weeks by itself; there's so many things to do and see between the two. From Vegas take I-15 to St. George, U-9 east to Zion National Park, US-89/89A/AZ-67 south to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, retrace to US-89 north to U-12 east to Bryce Canyon, U-24 north through Capitol Reef; I-70 east to Moab and Arches, then US-191 to SLC or just keep going on I-70 to Denver and the Rockies.

There's no reason to go out of your way to see Mount Rushmore, especially if you're on a limited time budget. If you want giant sculpture, go to a Richard Serra exhibit.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 1:07 PM on May 10, 2006

Regional map of the area outlined in my comment, here.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 1:08 PM on May 10, 2006

50-odd hours of driving? No problem, you could do it in 3 days if you don't care about stopping or being able to form conscious thought.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:26 PM on May 10, 2006

Sure, easily.
That's only about 70 hours of actual driving sticking to main roads.
If you do 8 hours a day, that's 9 days.
Which'd leave you with 3 days to wander around on your various stops.
posted by madajb at 1:32 PM on May 10, 2006

As a kid, our family drove from NJ to Wyoming and back in 12 days, and saw all the sights.
posted by smackfu at 1:54 PM on May 10, 2006

5 friends of mine and I took two vehicles and did a 16 day, 8000-something mile trip from Arkansas west to LA, north to Vancouver, then back to Arkansas going southeast through the western states. Averaging over 500 miles per day, we camped a couple of times and slept in a hotel once, but other than that we drove through the night, sleeping in shifts. We were mostly about 21 at the time.

From that experience, I'd say that what you're proposing is a bit rough. Certainly not safe if you're doing it alone. I would recommend at least one person go with you, two would be better. Four begins to get a bit unwieldy in one vehicle, depending on what you're driving. Basically, having one extra person gives you someone to switch off with and someone to make sure you're not falling asleep at the wheel. Two extras gives you that, plus someone who can sleep, enabling a proper rotation.

Two vehicles was nice because you weren't always stuck in the same tin can the whole time, but it was a lot of trouble in big cities, where we had to promptly ditch one vehicle and pile into the larger one (a large SUV).

On the whole, I'd say that I wouldn't do it again, not the way we did it. I'd stick with one car, fewer people, and a shorter route or more days. Certainly take the money saved on gas and buy more nights in proper beds. I definitely couldn't do it again even just a few years later; I'm just too old for that much continuous driving.

Anyway, please post more specifics (how important sight-seeing is, number of people, type of vehicle(s), how important sleeping in a bed is, budget, etc).
posted by jedicus at 2:13 PM on May 10, 2006

I did Chicago to San Francisco in five days, when I moved west, and it was easy as pie. I wasn't interested in the sights, though. Two weeks to actually enjoy the trip? Sounds like it's a lot to chew off, although there's something romantic about the notion, non? Caveat: one friend, on a two-month long trek from Boston to LA right after she and her brand spanking new husband got married, had to find an airport midway through so that one of them could jet away, far far away and begin divorce proceedings. YMMV (especially depending on your route)(HA!).
posted by incessant at 3:15 PM on May 10, 2006

I moved from Raleigh, NC to Oakland, CA and made the trip in nearly exactly 3 days (72 hours.) This time was spent driving continuously, with only stops at motels each night to rest and no other distractions.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:48 PM on May 10, 2006

4 days from UConn (northwest CT) to Utah (southern), almost exactly a year ago. Overnight stops in PA, Ohio?, Colorado before landing at Arches. We didn't sightsee anywhere until Arches, though we did have non-fastfood meals at each stop and camped instead of hotels, so it was more pleasant than grinding through. Another day could have gotten us to LA or probably Mexico if we'd been going that way.

Driving was rotated through two people only; there were five full-grown people and all our gear in one station wagon. The road from Arches to the Grand Canyon was still snowed out on May 17th or so. We managed to not kill each other.
posted by cobaltnine at 3:51 PM on May 10, 2006

yes you can. three of us did it in 5/6 days, driving just about continuously. so you can too. of course, the extra 6 days should probably be put to use doing things like sleeping and eating and all those nice things.

we left san francisco and took the I80 East, ended up in New York.
posted by twirlypen at 3:56 PM on May 10, 2006

Huh. Rhomboid, I did the same thing. Greensboro, NC to Berkeley, CA in 3 days. That 40 sure makes things easy. From the stops he's got listed, I'd say he could reasonably do it in 4 days, but I doubt that's the kind of trip he's looking for.
posted by team lowkey at 4:03 PM on May 10, 2006

Yeah. Easy. I've done NYC to LA in 8 days with two drivers.

Will you be driving alone? If so it will make things a lot harder.

You may want to use craigslist or something to offer rides to people, just having someone in the car could improve things. But, of course, be careful.
posted by sien at 4:05 PM on May 10, 2006

Skip Denver.
posted by soiled cowboy at 4:25 PM on May 10, 2006

Easy. My wife and I did San Francisco to Chicago in 32 hours. That was not a fun experience.
posted by cubedweller at 4:34 PM on May 10, 2006

Boston to Portland in 54 hours. Three man rotation. 2001.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:36 PM on May 10, 2006

I did Vermont to NY then NY to Ohio then Ohio to St. Louis

So that was three days. Then my next stop was Denver, where the youth hostel was completely full up. I was told to drive west to the edge of town and I'd find some cheap hotels. I did. And they just kept getting cheaper as I went. So I figured I'd drive till I found the 25 dollar a night places.

Went too far.

By the time I figured it out I was a good ways into the Rockies. So I figured I'd drive to the next town and get a cheap hotel there. The next town turned out to be a ski town...where rooms ran 150 a night. I figured it'd be cheaper in the next town. And the next one. And then I hit Vail. 300 a night.

So I figured, I'd just drive through Colorado and get something when I crossed the line into Utah. By dawn I finally crossed the state line. Utah.

And from that point on it was a hundred miles with nothing but desert. And lot more like that after it. By the time I hit Green River Utah several hours later, coffee was no longer working. I'd taken to jabbing a fork into my leg to stay awake. It was effective in a Guantanamo kind of way.

I was at a hotel in Green River and the manager told me that I couldn't check in till noon or I'd just have to pay for TWO nights. It was 10AM . So that meant I'd have to pay 100 bucks to go to sleep now or sleep in my car for two hours, get neck cramps, and then transfer to the fleabag bed.

The hotel was right by a giant freeway sign that said "Vegas 250 miles."

So I got back in the car. I picked up a hitchiker to talk to so I could stay awake. A nice enough hippie looking to get to Vegas. He seemed pretty reasonable the whole way there and he listened to me ramble sleeplessly about whatever came into my head - from the merits of various actresses posteriors to conspiracy theories about cartoon Herculoids.

When I slowed down at the outskirts of Vegas to get my bearing, he jumped out. And thanked me as he walked away backwards. Quickly.

Anyway there I stayed with a friend of a friend, won 200 bucks in gas money playing roulette and the next day I was in Los Angeles.

So all totalled, I did my trip in about 5 days. You could probably do something similarly stupid in the same time today. So 12 days is probably plenty.

But don't pickup any hitchikers unless you look crazier than they do. Apparently I had that totally covered.
posted by rileyray3000 at 6:54 PM on May 10, 2006

I've driven across the country a couple times (Seattle/Florida), once by myself, once sharing the driving. 12 days should be plenty of time. Say 7 days if you don't push yourself, but mostly stay on larger roads (interstates or state highways), and only do a little sightseeing; adjust as you wish.
posted by hattifattener at 9:20 PM on May 10, 2006

Rochester, NY to LA. Rusted out 1986 Chevy Celebrity that REALLY doesn't like hauling all of my worldly possessions over mountains. Solo. No radio I was asleep in my new apartment on the night of the fourth day.

12 days is plenty.
posted by quite unimportant at 7:59 AM on May 11, 2006

Get your doctor to write a script for Provigil.
posted by exhilaration at 11:56 AM on May 11, 2006

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