Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Boston to California Road Trip
Left: Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, Boston
Boston to California, are you nuts? Driving from Mass to California will take roughly five days of continuous 8 hour driving per day, but more comfortably, will take about a week. If you live in Massachusetts or California, you're in luck, because you're in the perfect area to drive to via road trip. You'll get to see the best the country has to offer and you can switch up your driving route on the way back to see a whole new set of destinations.
So what will you see along this route?
Starting in Boston, you'll see the Berkshires of Massachusetts along I-90, the upstate part of New York, which is close to the Hudson River Valley, the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, and Niagara Falls, and you'll have the option to either drive through Canada above Lake Ontario or south of it. Go south and you'll drive through the Cleveland, Ohio, and right underneath Michigan into Indiana (be sure to stop at the Indiana Sand Dunes!). This should take two days, or more if you're planning on spending some time in any of the local areas (which you should).
Further west, you'll drive through the city of Chicago and into the heartland. This is where the trip might get a little bit boring. From a few miles outside of Chicago to South Dakota and Nebraska, you'll drive through endless corn fields and farmlands. My suggestion would be to make these long driving days if you can handle it, since there's not much to do around (sorry Nebraska and Iowa) these areas.
After much driving, you'll approach a recognizable crinkle in the earth. The land will start to slope upwards as you head up I-90 towards the Badlands area of the United States. The Badlands is kind of like a dividing line between the grassy, flat farmlands and the wide open, dusty, hilly, yet interesting terrain of the west. Progressively the landscape gets more mountainous as you head further west. Consider it a foreshadowing of the western scenery to come.
Further to the west in South Dakota lies Mount Rushmore, along with the Black Hills region. This area is very close to the Wyoming border, and again the elevation starts to rise up from the flat lands to the east. As you cross over to Wyoming, you'll be near the famous Devil's Tower National Monument. This monument you would recognize from Close Encounter's of the Third Kind. It's slightly off the main path, but worth the drive out. The famous biker rally, Sturgis, is also nearby.
Grand Teton with Barn
Head west again and you'll find Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. These two parks are amongst the best in the United States, known for their geysers, amazing mountain scenery, bison herds, and spectacular landscape of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. If you're staying in the area, Jackson Hole is a nice town to spend a few days and enjoy the scenery. It's also central to many of the attractions nearby.
You're getting close to California at this point, but you've still got a few more states to pass through. Heading southwest, you'll pass through Utah. This state is a road trip in itself, so you'll have to decide whether you have more time to spend in this incredible state.
Last stop before California: Nevada. Don't let the state fool you, it's one of the biggest in the country and can take a sizable amount of time to travel through. On the north side of the state, you'll find Lake Tahoe and Reno, to the south, Death Valley, Las Vegas, and Great Basin National Park. Like Utah, there's a lot to see in this state, but they are very spread out. Plan accordingly!
Finally, last stop, California. California is an easy vacation, with vineyards, sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, beautiful National Parks, desert cities, Disneyland, Hollywood, the list goes on and on. The best approach to seeing the most in California is to break it down into two mini road trips. Start in the northern section and pinpoint what you'd like to see. Make a circular tour arcing back towards the coast, and travel south. In the southern portion of the state, also take the arc approach. Once you pass below Santa Barbara, you can plan to head southeast towards Palm Springs, then back to the southwest towards San Diego, and back north to Los Angeles. Then, if you have time, you can take the southern road trip route home to see a whole new set of destinations.