Seeking Suggestions for "Photo Stops" During Cross-Country Roadtrip

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Glens Falls, NY
In a separate thread, I received many useful suggestions for places to stay in and around Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Glacier National Parks. We've made lodging reservations in those areas during the time period 8/28 to 9/13/13, but now I'm looking for suggestions of places to visit/photograph during the rest of our trip.

In a nutshell, we're making an 8-10 week roadtrip across the US and back, from about mid-August to mid/late October. As I said, we're starting off at Grand Teton, then Yellowstone, then Glacier National Parks, and that brings us to 9/13 ... and after that our plans are pretty wide open. Our general thought right now is to continue west from Glacier NP thru Idaho all the way to the west coast, with stops along the Columbia River Gorge, and then spend a few days at Olympic National Park in Washington State. From there, we would start our way down the Pacific coast (Route 101?) thru Oregon into Northern California and make our way to the Yosemite/Mono Lake/Bodie area. And then start heading back east --- Our thoughts includine driving thru Death Valley, then possibly make stops in Sedona, and/or Sante Fe before making the final push home. If we have any energy left (and autumn timing is right) we might take a route thru Great Smoky Mountain NP in Tennessee/North Carolina on the last leg of our trip.

I know that's it's lots of ground to cover, but it's a once-in-a-lifetime trip for us and we have time/flexibility. So, we'd like to see as much of this beautiful country as possible.

I'm looking for any suggestions of specific places to visit or see along this general route. Or...if I'm overlooking other must-see areas, the general route can be modified. (Note: We've already been to the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zio National Parks and would prefer to see new-to-us places.) We like natural scenery/landscapes and plan to do lots of photography, of course. Light to moderate hiking (we're in our 60's) is also do-able.

So...any thoughts on places to see?

Thanks!
 
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Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota is well worth visiting in route. Preferably on the way west, before October. Bison, deer, prairie dogs, coyotes, badgers, wild horses, long-horned cattle (north unit). Badlands topography, petrified trees.... a beautiful place all in all.
 
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If you are driving out, stop an see the corn palace, The Badlands, Mt, Rushmore, and the Big Horns. On the way west stop in Cour de laine ID too. Lots of places but you are driving a lot. Zion s great too if you get that far. I have been traveling out there for twelve years covering over 300k miles and have nt seen it all yet.
 
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Wow what a trip Bert ….
fantastic --- I've dreamed of doing something like this for years ..…

I'd definitely figure on a day or 2 in the area around Rapid City, SD … Mt.Rushmore and Custer State Park are fantastic and gorgeous scenery ….
Devils Tower is also on the way to Yellowstone …..
I did a 9 day trip to the Pacific NW 2 years ago and hit Mt.Rainier, Mount St.Helens , Leavenworth, WA , North Cascades NP , Olympic NP -- Hurricane Ridge is a must stop … the beautiful Olympic beaches , the HOH Rainforest and then down to several different Oregon coast stops and the fantastic River Gorge waterfalls …… I'd do just that trip again in an instant ….
You've got Pt. Reyes and around the Monterey Peninsula in northern California …. 17 mile drive in Monterey is beautiful ….
Death Valley is a definite stop and if you've already seen Zion etc. then Sedona is a wonderful stop and you could continue down into the beautiful Tucson area into New Mexico and then Texas ….
The problem you're gonna have is that there's so much to see that even in a long trip you still can't see it all or have enough time … but it always gives you something to look forward to again ….
one thing to keep in mind is the elevations you'll be at in many of these parks and the variations in temperatures especially in the fall …. I hit Yellowstone in mid-Sept and few years ago and it was 24 in the morning but warmed nicely to 65-70 …. 2 weeks ago at Grand Canyon it was also below 30 and some snow in the early morning but 3 hours later at noon it was 85 in Sedona ...

But you never know -- 2 years ago on Labor Day it was 75 at Mt.Rainier ….

and of course I've kind of just hit on the scenery aspect --- maybe other things are attractive to you or your family …. San Francisco is a gorgeous city … maybe Las Vegas is of interest … maybe a few zoo stops are options …. Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, SF, Tucson have wonderful zoos …
maybe old barns for example are of interest --- maybe historic stops ….

Boy you've got a lot of planning and pouring over maps ahead of you --- personally I love doing that :smile:

ron
 
Joined
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Marysville, WA
Well, for crying out loud, if you are going to be in Washington, My House of course!!!!!

What kinds of things are you looking for? A ferry ride or whale watch trip in the San Juan Islands for the Orca's is always good. You have a lot of choices if you are going to the Olympic Nat'l Forest. Hurricane Ridge is always good. Driving South you could stay on the coast to see Long Beach, Westport and the Lighthouses. The coast around Neah Bay at the north end has some great seascapes. If you stick to the coast all the way South and keep going through Oregon, my favorite route much prettier that way, there are a lot of seascapes and lighthoues to see.

Main thing is, what kinds of things do you want to photograph, what are your interests and how much time will you have on the West Coast? And we haven't even gotten to California yet. Redwoods, Big Sur, Monterey, Fort Bragg, those are along the Coast in the North.

Sheesh, you could spend the whole trip here in Washington and not have enough time :biggrin:
 
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..... and of course I've kind of just hit on the scenery aspect --- maybe other things are attractive to you or your family …. San Francisco is a gorgeous city … maybe Las Vegas is of interest … maybe a few zoo stops are options …. Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, SF, Tucson have wonderful zoos …
maybe old barns for example are of interest --- maybe historic stops ….

Boy you've got a lot of planning and pouring over maps ahead of you --- personally I love doing that :smile:

ron

Ron, Thanks for all the suggestions! The "scenery aspect" is what we're most interested in. Not so much cities, but rural/nature/seascapes, etc. Old barns and historic stops are definitely of interest to us as well.

You might like pouring over maps, but I find it daunting. :biggrin: The more places of interest I find, the more I see that even 8-10 weeks is too short! :smile:

...What kinds of things are you looking for? A ferry ride or whale watch trip in the San Juan Islands for the Orca's is always good. You have a lot of choices if you are going to the Olympic Nat'l Forest. Hurricane Ridge is always good. Driving South you could stay on the coast to see Long Beach, Westport and the Lighthouses. The coast around Neah Bay at the north end has some great seascapes. If you stick to the coast all the way South and keep going through Oregon, my favorite route much prettier that way, there are a lot of seascapes and lighthoues to see.

Main thing is, what kinds of things do you want to photograph, what are your interests and how much time will you have on the West Coast? ....... Sheesh, you could spend the whole trip here in Washington and not have enough time :biggrin:

Thanks, Bill. Our main purpose to going all the way to the coast are seascapes, lighthouses, etc. The trip planning has sort of gone like this: If we 're already out there (ie - Yellowstone/Glacier), why not just continue to there (ie - West Coast)? So we end up with general plans, but now I need specifics so we don't just meander aimlessly. We've already been down Highway 1 in California (Monterey/Big Sur, etc) and we've been to Zion/Bryce/Grand Canyon. Although we've also been to Yosemite, we plan to make a stop there since I wasn't into photography at the time.

How much time do we have on the West Coast? .... The limiting factor is more budget than time. We have a lot of flexibility time-wise since we're retired, but the budget (as always) has a limit (unfortunately).
 
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Thanks, Bill. Our main purpose to going all the way to the coast are seascapes, lighthouses, etc.

I just can't believe you are going to bypass our house, chance of a lifetime .... :tongue:

Here is a link to a bunch of photographic spots and infomation:
Great Photo Locations. It is a bit dated, but look at all the info on the coast and Olympic Rain Forest.

Some at the top of this Washington Photo Locations Guide might be of help.

Lighthouses of Washington, many on the way traveling South to Oregon.

Lighthouses of Oregon as well.

See the Top Ones here for Oregon Seascapes, this should keep you busy for the entire trip :eek:

The problem with trying to also get to Mt. Rainier and St. Helens is that you have to come back East inland, so you will waste the better part of a day just in travel time. It it were me I'd stick to the coast, and come all the way down through Oregon into California. If you want to see the Columbia River Gorge and Waterfalls, you would probably want to come East from the coast along the Columbia, and then retrace back to the coast.
 
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.... If it were me I'd stick to the coast, and come all the way down through Oregon into California. If you want to see the Columbia River Gorge and Waterfalls, you would probably want to come East from the coast along the Columbia, and then retrace back to the coast.

Bill,

Thanks for all these links! Lots to consider!

We DO want to see the Columbia River Gorge and waterfalls. I'm just wondering whether it might be best to approach it from the east (since we'll be coming from Glacier NP)? And then head north once we get near the coast (to spend some time on the Olympic Peninsula). And only then head down the coast thru Washington and Oregon? -- Would that be a better plan?
 
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You may want to rethink any midday excursions into or through Death Valley between 8 am and 6 pm even in September, temperatures are typically above 100.

101 is beautiful north of San Francisco , much more scenic than Big Sur or Monterey.
 
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Glens Falls, NY
You may want to rethink any midday excursions into or through Death Valley between 8 am and 6 pm even in September, temperatures are typically above 100.

101 is beautiful north of San Francisco , much more scenic than Big Sur or Monterey.

Thanks for the tip, Clint. I think that, by the time we reach Death Valley, it will be more like early/mid October. Any idea on what daytime temps to expect around that time?
 
Joined
Jun 15, 2008
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Bellingham, WA
When I moved to Washington from NY, I stopped at the Lakota Reservation in South Dakota. They have a wonderful museum there. I also stopped at Mount Rushmore, and Devil's Tower in Wyoming. That's the place in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

When I got to Washington, I went to Grand Coulee Dam on my way to Seattle. You can also stop at Snoqualmie Falls, which is incredible.

All great places to shoot :)

Carole
 

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