Help Us Choose Our Route!

by Christy on

It’s like a “choose your own adventure” book, except you’re choosing ours.  ;)

After traveling 3/4 of a circle around the US, we’re now entering the final stretch of our RV adventure. We’re aiming to return to San Diego in May in order to give us time to sell Mayhem before heading abroad… we’ll talk more about those (exciting!) plans later, but for now we want to make sure we fit everything we can into these last few months!

Basically, we have between now and May to explore the southwestern part of the U.S., and we’d love your suggestions on what to see.

Our (Tentative) Route

Tentative Route

We’re about to arrive in New Orleans and will be there until the end of February (yup, we’re deliberately avoiding Mardi Gras). We’re obviously going to check out the various districts, eat a ton of Cajun cuisine, and get our dance on while we’re there, but what else should we do? Take a ferry ride? A bike tour through the 9th Ward? Find some jazz clubs? There’s so much culture and history in this city, it’s difficult to know where to even begin!

After New Orleans we have ten days to make it over to Austin, TX. We don’t really have a set route; we’re considering driving west and meandering through the Mississippi River delta (and rural parts of Louisiana), or maybe going up through Baton Rouge and then camping for a few days in the Sabine National Forest.

We have to be in Austin by March 10th, though, and we’ll be there until the 26th for the annual South by Southwest conference. The awesome folks at Technomadia have organized a panel and meet-up for digital nomads and travel bloggers, so in addition to other work engagements we’re excited to meet a ton of cool folks while we’re there.

After Austin we’ll drive over to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Other than visiting those two cities (and hopefully some family and friends), New Mexico is sort of a big blank for us. What to see?

Arches National Park

From there we’re going to head north and visit Moab, UT, which we didn’t get around to seeing when we were in Salt Lake City last September. In addition to being a sort of off-road heaven, Moab is home to the famous Arches National Park. We’re also hoping Kali’s family will be able to make it over and camp with us for a few days – it would be the first time we’ve “hosted” anyone in Mayhem!

No road trip through the Southwest would be complete without a stop at the Grand Canyon, and we plan to check out either the north or south rim (or perhaps both?), plus maybe a whitewater rafting tour on the Colorado River. Following the Grand Canyon our next stop will be Sedona, AZ to see Red Rock Country.

After that, we’ll probably either head up to Las Vegas or down further into southern Arizona, but our plans are quite flexible at this point.

Finally, we’d like to visit either Joshua Tree National Park or Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in southeastern California, both places we’ve longed to visit but never made it out to during our two years living in SoCal.

Our last stop will be San Diego, where we’ll end this RVing adventure in the same place it began a year before (how poetic!).

Road Trip

Where You Come In

First, if you live along our tentative route and would like to meet up, please let us know! Drinks, coffee, cheap Indian food, a game of scrabble… we’re open to it all!

Finally, do you have any recommendations for places to eat, national parks to explore, or cities we should add to our list? We would love any and all suggestions of things to add to our itinerary… after all, Google and guidebooks can only get us so far. :)

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Cherie @Technomadia February 21, 2011 at

Oh Oh Oh!! The SW USA is some of our favorite areas to explore.. and I could probably write you a whole travel guide of things to keep you busy there for a few years :)

So.. I’ll try to keep this condensed.

New Mexico: Come in from the south, and stop at Carlsbad Caverns for a day or two (amazing!). From there, you can pop over to White Sands National Monument and/or go up to Roswell. All great things to experience in southern NM. There’s some nice back routes that take you to some ruins on the way into Albuquerque too.

SW Utah: Moab is amazing.. and springtime should be a great time of year to be there, crowdwise. However, Utah just continues to get more amazing as you head west. Doing the entire geological tour of the ‘step’ (by going through Canyonlands, Capitol Reef NP, the Escalante, Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks and Zion) and taking that into Las Vegas (perhaps with a detour to the north rim of Grand Canyon. which is also part of that geological formation).

SE CA: Joshua Tree is a must stop. Would also recommend going down to the Salton Sea from there and stopping in Slab City (if you’re boondock capable for a night or two). It’s an experience not to be missed!
Cherie @Technomadia recently posted: An Introvert’s Guide to Meeting People While Traveling Full-Time

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Christy February 21, 2011 at

Wow, these suggestions are AMAZING! I’d vaguely heard of the Carlsbad Caverns but didn’t look into it much, so I’m glad you mentioned that. And the “step” sounds really cool – the SW just has so many neat geological sites. Thank you!

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Courtney Baker February 21, 2011 at

I’m bookmarking your advice Cherie!

We’re should have an RV party in the middle of Texas after SxSW. I’ll play some scrabble and eat cheap Indian food any day! We’re trying to make it to San Diego by early April though. So we’re moving a bit quicker than you. Hopefully we can meet up at SxSW if nothing else.

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Christy February 21, 2011 at

That would be great (both meeting up at SxSW and having a mid-Texas RV scrabble party :P ).

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Scotttwitter: quirkytravelguy February 21, 2011 at

New Mexico is one of my favorite states. Albuquerque is awesome… so are White Sands, Roswell and Carlsbad Caverns.

I’m jealous of your trip to Moab… that’s on my to-do list!
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Christy February 21, 2011 at

I know, we’re so excited about Moab! Having to skip it during our last trip to UT was devastating, so we’re going to make it epic this time around. :) Thanks for the suggestions!

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Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The Worldtwitter: jacknjilltravel February 21, 2011 at

I’m jealous!! A roadtrip across the continental US is something I’ve always wanted to do (Jack is only somewhat lukewarm to the idea). An idea I’m going to throw out there: How about from Las Vegas you head out north to Reno, cross to Lake Tahoe and drive down 395? It would take you through the heart of the Sierras and is our favorite part of the whole state!

And I second Technomadia’s suggestion on all of the national parks in the southwest. Bryce Canyon is awesome (we actually enjoyed it better than Grand Cayon), Canyonland is breathtaking, Mesa Verde is very interesting… aaargh, this is so exciting. Can I come with you guys?
Jill – Jack and Jill Travel The World recently posted: 10 Tips to Help You Pick Your Next Travel Gear

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Christy February 22, 2011 at

Oooh, interesting idea about going through the Sierras! After San Diego we’ll be heading north to OR, so we might even be able to take 395 north. And all the canyons sound so fun…. we’ll definitely add Bryce Canyon and Canyonland to our list.

I’m bummed you and Jack will have already left on your rtw trip by the time we get to the bay area! It would have been fun to meet up. :)

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Stephanietwitter: Findthefreeway February 22, 2011 at

Hey guys! Your trip so far sounds amazing and the ideas you have about where to go next are perfect! I agree, there are sooooo many things to see in this country, sometimes it is hard to choose!

It’s exciting to think about heading abroad though, I’m sure. Can’t wait to get out there ourselves.

Since you are going to be in Louisiana through the end of this month, you really should try to see Sister Hazel while you’re there. They’re actually playing at the Family Gras in Jefferson Louisiana on the 26th. Read my blog post about their show we just saw this past weekend in Orlando…they’re awesome and definitely highly recommended!

Looking forward to reading about the rest of your adventures in Mayhem!
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Christy February 22, 2011 at

I just looked it up and Jefferson is really close to New Orleans, so I’m definitely going to check it out. The name Sister Hazel sounded familiar, so I listened to All For You and it turns out I love that song! I just always thought it was by Hootie and the Blowfish, lol.

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1Dad1Kid February 22, 2011 at

If you aren’t married to your NM route, I’d change it up a bit and visit Carlsbad Caverns. Maybe White Sands, too.

In Colorado, if you can afford a few extra hours, it would be worthwhile to come north a bit to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The area is quite unique. Make sure to hit Four Corners so you can place a body part in 4 different states at the same time.

Your two options for California desert is easy: Joshua Tree hands down. You might even catch when the ocotillo are blooming which is a phenomenal sight. If you come up from the Palm Springs side (rather than taking the highway and going through Morongo), it’s an extremely scenic drive, and you may get to see more wildlife. Great camping in many places in the park.

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Christy February 22, 2011 at

We’re very flexible on routes, so any and all suggestions are helpful. :) I had completely forgotten about Four Corners, and the San Dunes sound really neat. Thanks for all your suggestions!

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Laureltwitter: ExpatGermany February 22, 2011 at

This looks like so much fun! I love Arches National Park in Utah and if you haven’t been, would also recommend Bryce Canyon, it’s not that far and spectacular, I’ve never seen anything like it. Look forward to hearing more about your adventure.
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Christy February 22, 2011 at

We’ve been wanting to visit Arches for quite some time now, so I’m excited we’ll finally get to visit! Bryce Canyon seems to be popular, so that’s definitely getting added to our list. Thanks for the ideas, Laurel. :)

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Cherie @Technomadia February 22, 2011 at

Bryce Canyon is very popular… so popular, we showed up, took some pictures and left and went further down the road to Cedar Breaks. Same exact geological formation, just as stunningly beautiful and 1/1000th the people :)
Cherie @Technomadia recently posted: An Introvert’s Guide to Meeting People While Traveling Full-Time

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Christy February 22, 2011 at

Good to know! It’s funny how certain locations become so popular that they sort of overwhelm the things around it. These kinds of insider tips are so useful, but difficult to find w/o knowing what to look for.

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Melissann February 22, 2011 at

Wow, it looks like you’ve received some great suggestions, and I’ll be interested to hear what you decide. Randomly, if are in Las Vegas on a weekend when we have some flexibility, maybe Kevin and I can meet you there. We’ve been wanting to go forever but have never made it there. That would be a fun adventure to undertake together. Otherwise, we’ll see you in San Diego!

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Christy February 22, 2011 at

I know, all these suggestions are like road trip christmas! :P

We still haven’t decided if we’re going to head up into Nevada or drive further south into Arizona, but I’ll let you know if it looks like we’ll be going through Las Vegas (it would be really fun to have you and Kevin meet us out there!).

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Akilatwitter: theroadforks February 23, 2011 at

I have no suggestions for y’all but just wanted to say how envious and excited I am because we have always wanted to travel through the Southwest. Hopefully, we’ll do it sometime in the near future. :)

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Christy February 23, 2011 at

Thanks, Akila! Hopefully these suggestions will be helpful for when you’re planning your SW trip. ;)

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Christy @ Ordinary Traveler February 23, 2011 at

This sounds like an awesome trip! I’ve been to New Orleans once and one of the things I remember most is the swamp tour we did. It’s a cool place to see gators and wildlife. Let us know when you get to San Diego in May so we can meet up, name twin!
Christy @ Ordinary Traveler recently posted: Photo of the Week- Light at the End of a Prison Cell 2

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Christy February 23, 2011 at

We’d definitely love to meet up when we get to San Diego – I’ll send you an email when we have a better idea of when we’ll be there!

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Sheryll February 23, 2011 at

What an awesome road trip! I’ve learned about different parts of the SW that I had no idea about. I’d say no trip is complete without a short stop in Vegas. San Diego is one of my favorite places, and I try to go every chance I get. Let me know how long you will me there and maybe Johnny and I (AND Jack!) can meet up!
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Christy February 23, 2011 at

I agree, we should definitely see Vegas…. but we kind of want to go sometime when we can stay in a sweet hotel (instead of an RV park not on the strip). ;) So we’ll see if we put that off for another time. It would be fun to get together, so I’ll let you know when we figure out our dates.

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Phil February 23, 2011 at

Trips sounds awesome! I recently road tripped with a friend from NY to Arizona. Arches was definitely a highlight. Monument valley is also really cool. I posted some pics here that you might have seen:
http://philintheblank.net/2011/01/24/photos-of-the-somewhat-less-phallic-landscape-of-monument-valley-arizona/

Also, antelope canyon is supposed to be incredible. It is also in Northern Arizona. We missed it, but might be heading back up there to have a look around, because so many people have recommended it to us.

Excited to read about your trip!
B well,
Phil
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Christy February 25, 2011 at

Those are really great photos, Phil! We’re really excited about checking out that area, and Antelope Canyon seems like a great spot to visit as well.

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greg urbano February 24, 2011 at

i say try and catch san antonio, see the riverwalk!

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Christy February 25, 2011 at

Will do!

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Abbey Hessertwitter: ahesser February 25, 2011 at

I agree with most of the comments above, especially the entering of NM from the south.

Ok, so I’ve been all over this hood, lived in Austin and LA and driven back and forth between the two of them SEVERAL times. Being the veteran that I am, I will put it out here now that the drive from Austin up to Lubbock is WRETCHED. If you can avoid it, do. Instead, heading west out of Austin, take Hwy 290 through the Texas Hillcountry (which will be absolutely beautiful and littered with bluebonnets at this time of year) through Johnson City and Fredericksburg until it meets up with I-10. Take I-10 all the way to El Paso and after you cross into New Mexico, THEN head north up to Albuquerque and hit Santa Fe also. Most of I-10 is pretty bad also, but the speed limits out there are super high and there’s never any traffic – which is good. Also, having a stop to make in a town like El Paso is a hell of a lot better than ending up in Lubbock. Not that I don’t love Lubbock! But it has it’s charms mainly in the fall. Seeing Juarez across the river there in El Paso is pretty cool especially if you arrive early morning when all the workers are lined up at the pedestrian bridge to get across the border. And hello! Amazing and authentic Mexican food!!

I think that’s the biggest deviation I would make to your plan. Otherwise, it’s a pretty solid route. I think you can see all the Northern Cali mountains when you head up N. 395 (one of the most beautiful highways in the country… hands down) and Oregon. God is that a beautiful place.

Oh I’m just so giddy about this tour. Never thought I would get this jealous of someone touring around the US but alas, I am.
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Christy February 25, 2011 at

Ew, good to know about the drive between Austin and Lubbock. We really haven’t had a whole lot of ideas for the section of our trip between Austin and Albuquerque, so we’ll definitely take your advice and head west after SXSW. Thanks! :)

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Nina February 26, 2011 at

Hey there! Lovely to discover your blog. Are you guys still in New Orleans? We’re heading there today and will stay at Bayou Segnette. Nina, Paul, Polly, Taggart & Rand
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Christy February 26, 2011 at

Yep, we’re currently in New Orleans and leave on Tuesday. I’ll send you an email; it would be fun to get together!

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Erica February 26, 2011 at

New Mexico:
I think it is a bit late in the season but I know that I went snowboarding there at Ski Apache for Spring Break one year. We also like to spend time in Gila National Forest. I highly suggest the Gila Cliff Dwellings along with hiking to the hot springs.

See you soon!
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Christy February 27, 2011 at

We LOVE hot springs! My favorite kind of hikes are those that lead you to water, so the Gila National Forest will definitely get added to our list. Thanks so much!

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Ayngelina March 1, 2011 at

I’m Canadian but I’ve always wanted to do this kind of road trip in the Southern US. Just subscribed to your RSS so I can keep tabs – please say you’ll show us the Southern food you eat!
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Christy March 1, 2011 at

We definitely love to blog about food! Finding delicious cuisine is our favorite past-time and consumes much of our spare time, so it’s a big focus of ours. ;) Thanks for commenting and following!

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Kristy March 3, 2011 at

Hey – sure enjoy the blog. I wish you were going to continue the journey! I would definitely recommend southern AZ over Vegas. Montezuma Castle National Monument is pretty cool (NE of Phoenix), and the dessert between Phoenix and Tucson is beautiful, especially in March/April. There would be endless boondocking opportunities. Also a great botanical park in Phoenix and I could see you two really enjoying Tempe. So much to do!

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Christy March 3, 2011 at

Thanks for the suggestions, Kristy. One of our goals for the next few months is to travel more slowly and boondock more frequently (ok, I guess those are technically two goals!), and the Southwest seems like a great place to do both.

The journey will still continue – just in a different form! We really enjoy RVing, though, so we’ve tossed around the idea of coming back to an RV after we travel abroad for a bit.

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Blars March 6, 2011 at

There are a bunch of hot springs off of 395 in eastern california. Traverteen is milky white from the desolved minerals. If you make it to Oregon, Crater Lake is worth seeing, and there are a bunch of nice waterfalls (and another hot spring) on the rogue-umpqua scenic byway.

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Christy March 6, 2011 at

Kali and I both grew up in the Rogue Valley, so seeing your comment made me smile. I had no idea there was a hot spring on the Rogue-Umpqua scenic byway, though…. and I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never visited Crater Lake. Such a bad Oregonian! :) I’d definitely like to go this summer while we’re in OR for a few weeks.

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Camels & Chocolatetwitter: LunaticAtLarge March 8, 2011 at

BUMMER. We’re *just* missing each other. Moab is the first big stop on our route, but we don’t leave until mid-May (holding out hope you arrive in SF before then).

Moving on…

I spent my summers in college working on a ranch in Arizona and as a backpacking guide in Southern Utah. It’s been awhile now, so I don’t remember specifics, but here’s what I would recommend if you can swing it.

UTAH
-Canyonlands
-Moab/Arches
-Bryce Canyon
-Zion

ARIZONA
-Monument Valley
-Grand Canyon (duh)
-Sedona
-Tombstone
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Christy March 8, 2011 at

Working on a ranch as a summer job sounds like a lot of fun! :) These are great suggestions… and I really hope timing works out in May to meet up. It depends on how long it takes us to sell Mayhem in So. Cal. – I’m crossing my fingers that it will be quick and painless, but that might be too optimistic. :P

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Ruth March 29, 2011 at

What is the farthest north that you think that you will get to?
any idea when?
R

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Christy March 29, 2011 at

I think Arches National Park in UT, which will probably be about a week and a half to two weeks from now? Kali and I were just chatting about it and he said he’d give you a call soon. :)

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