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Amazing Stops for a Cross Country Trip from Boston to Arizona!

Where to stop on a Cross Country Road Trip across the USA in an RV!

Notch Trail Badlands South Dakota


Our 9 day, 3200 mile Adventure from Boston MA to Scottsdale AZ including:


And Frontier Days in Cheyenne Wyoming!


Enjoy!

Wyoming

Relationship milestones. First Date, first weekend away, moving in together, and let’s not forget RV trip across the United States.


Nothing can test your relationship bonds like having to sleep, eat, work, and drive with someone for over a week while traveling in a vehicle/ home that has over 100 things that can go wrong and or break.


What’s even crazier, you’ll love it.


Planning


Our 3200 mile, 50 hour drive from Dre’s house near Boston Massachusetts, to our home in Scottsdale Arizona, could be achieved through 2, nearly identical routes in terms of duration, but very different in what we would see and do.


A Northern route through Ohio, Chicago, and Minnesota would take US past scenic pit stops like Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore, and the Rocky Mountains. This was the scenic route.


A more southern route could take us through larger urban areas like New York City, Ocean City Maryland, Nashville, Atlanta, and travel the historic Route 66. This was the party route.


As tempting as Route 66 was for scenery, stopping and partying while driving an RV across the US seemed too exhausting. Besides, we wanted to drive our RV to natural wonders, and that’s exactly what we found.


Our Route:


Costs:


The largest cost by far is gas. During this trip, national gas prices were around $5 a gallon, and on a full 40 gallon tank, we could drive about 500 miles. So yeah, we spent over $1200 on gas.


Camping was much more affordable. Generally speaking, we paid about $55 - $80 per night for campsites with RV hookups. There was also that one night we just pulled over and slept in a parking lot, which was free, although not entirely safe.


Day 1: Niagara Falls


On our 1st day we drove for 8 hours, nearly 500 miles from the suburbs around Boston MA to a KOA campsite in upstate New York, along lake Erie. Along the way we stopped at Niagara Falls, and took some amazing drone footage from the US side.

If you’re just passing through, the view on the US side of the falls is not as impressive as they are just across the border in Canada, but still worth a stop if you don’t plan on crossing the border. If you plan on getting a full experience, and stay for the weekend, the Canadian side is much more developed with hotels and entertainment.


DAYS 2: Wisconsin


We arrived at our Westfield / Lake Erie KOA about midnight, so had no idea what the area looked like until the morning.

Westfield / Lake Erie Koa: Website & Rates


T decided we should get some exercise in, so we went on a short hike to explore the Lake Erie shore, along the Barcelona beach and surrounding vineyards.

Lake Erie

If you’ve never visited the Great Lakes, they are bodies of fresh water so large, standing on the shore feels like the ocean but so calm, almost no waves.


Picturesque fields filled with grapes from over 35 different countries dotted the region.

We front loaded our trip to drive without stopping for the 1st few days until we got to the more scenic parts of the route in South Dakota.


Today's itinerary would be our most grueling. 12 hours, 760 miles, with the promise that the next day we’d rest a day before our next leg.


We’d travel from New York, through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, past Chicago, into Wisconsin, and finally camping on the shore of the Mississippi river, on the easter border of South Dakota. In one day we traveled through 6 states, and was only a few 100 feet from our 7th.


We stayed that night and the next at the Pettibone Resort campground. Quiet and peaceful, we were able to catch up on our day jobs, and explore the sleepy town of La Crosse.


Pettibone Resort: Website & Rates


If you like drinking, La Crosse is your mecca. Ranked 6th drunkest city in the US, with an astounding 6.9 bars per 10k people.


La Crosse actually held the Guinness World record of the most bars per capita so we bar hopped and had some ice cream at the famous The Pearl Ice Cream Parlor


T made a REEL of our trip up to this point.


Day 3


The best part of RVing, imo, are the days we didn’t drive. Day 3 was magnificently relaxing, but we were back on our grind the day after.


The next day we traveled 9.5 hours, nearly 600 miles. This was our last long drive day, and surprisingly, it was our hardest, because of all things, wind.


Although driving across Minnesota and then South Dakota is almost completely flat through the northern plains of the US, cross winds made driving very difficult, and a real struggle to keep the RV in its lane.


At one point a huge gust of wind blew our RV’s slide top (kinda like an awning) to billow out like a parachute, causing us to make an emergency stop and Dre to climb on top of the RV to hold the tarp down with electrical tape.


South Dakota Prairies (REEL)


Definitely a lesson learned moment, this is a real issue one should know when driving a large RV. We found this helpful link on the topic.


IG Story for entire trip


Along the day's journey, we stopped in Sioux Falls, SD, almost at the halfway point, 300 miles into the drive.

Falls Park

Beautifully quaint, we walked around Sioux Falls Park and headed to Phillips Ave to check out the street art and have a delicious dinner at Crave.

Street Art

We even had a celebrity sighting, Chris Daughtry was in town staying at the Country Inn which shares the same address as Crave.

Craft Cocktails at Crave

After dinner we pushed on into the evening, arriving late at our campsite for the next nights, Badlands Motel & Campground


Day 4 & 5: The Badlands South Dakota


5 days into the road trip the “scenic” route really started to pay off.

Badlands Motel & Campground was perfectly located less than 2 miles from the Badlands National Park's Interior Entrance Station.


Badlands Interior Campground: Website & Rates

Badlands PARK INFO

We spent our day driving through the post-apocalyptic landscape, and took some amazing pictures and drone videos. For an easy yet stunning hike, we recommend Notch Trail which has easily accessible parking. Our (REEL)

We also decided to see about Wall Drug Store

See what? If you live in South Dakota, then you know the most famous drugstore in the state is Wall Drug Store. As a matter of fact, we felt compelled to see this place, because during our 300 mile drive across the state on interstate 90, we must have seen 50 signs for the place, starting at the border. 300 miles of advertising, it was very compelling.


“Wall Drug, is a roadside attraction and tourist stop located in the town of Wall, South Dakota, consists of a collection of cowboy-themed stores, including a drug store, gift shop, several restaurants, and various other stores, as well as an art gallery and an 80-foot brontosaurus sculpture, and draws some two million annual visitors to a remote town” - Wikipedia


Our last stop in the region was at Roberts Prairie Dog Town. We found this spot right outside of Badland South Dakota! Just pull into the parking lot and find yourself in the middle of a prairie dog colony!


They even provide snacks for you to give to the cute little critters. They scamper right up to you!


Prairie Dog (REEL)


Day 6: Mount Rushmore and Cheyenne Frontier Days


The next day would be our busiest of the entire trip. We woke up in The Badlands, and ended up that night on the eve of the largest annual rodeo in the town of Cheyenne Wyoming.

Along the way we would see bears, and the iconic Mount Rushmore.


Before Rushmore, we made a stop at the drive through animal enclosure, Bear Country USA

Brown and black bears, bobcat and buffalo, elks, wolves and mountain lions were the stars of the show, and except for the wolves and wild cats, all the animals would walk right up to your car, or in our case, RV.

Some places that you visit, see in your travels, really stick the moment you see them, Mount Rushmore is one of those places. Not since I saw the Taj Mahal, have I been in awe finally seeing something I've known about my whole life, and to have it be even more stunning than in pictures.

It only takes an hour to explore the best parts of the park. We recommend not planning a day around the visit, but make it a stop if you are passing through.

Mount Rushmore PARK INFO


We drove about 6 hours that day, 360 miles until we finally arrived at our campsite, A.B. Camping, 5 mile, 9 minutes from downtown Cheyenne Wyoming .


We knew we arrived when we smelled the sweet bar-b-q aroma from the most popular BBQ joint around, AB BBQ.


A.B. Camping: Website & Rates


The largest city in the state but with a population under 70,000 people, Cheyenne seemed more like a large town. It was about to get larger, however, about 200,000 people larger.


That night we went bar hopping and quickly realized we were legit in cowboy country. Bars hopped included; Crown Bar, the massive The Outlaw Saloon, which doubled as a small concert venue, and the local favorite, Cadillac Ranch Bar.

Cows Grazing near the Badlands

There was also an energy in the air, and we found out why, the next day would be the start of Frontier Days.


“Cheyenne Frontier Days is an outdoor rodeo and western celebration in the United States, held annually since 1897 in Cheyenne, Wyoming and draws nearly 200,000 annually.” - Wikipedia

We had a fun night in the town, but decided we just didn’t have time to spend a day experiencing this massive event.


Day 7 Rocky Mountains Colorado


We left Cheyenne and spent the entire next day driving through the Rocky Mountains in Rocky Mountains National Park.

Elk Grazing at 12,000 feet

There’s really no way to experience the 5th most popular National Park in a day, but there is an amazing drive through its heart that takes you up to 12,000 feet. On this road you will see some amazing large wildlife including Moose and Elks.

Marmot Selfie

Our poor RV struggled that day, and we may have taken a few years off its life, but the views and wildlife was worth it.

Lesson learned:


The park has timed entry, meaning you need a timed entry permit reservation + a valid Park Entrance Pass to Drive Over Trail Ridge Road between 9AM and 3PM. After 3PM, anyone can enter after paying the entrance fee.


Park Entrance fee:

  • 1-Day Vehicle Entrance Pass - $30.00

    • Valid for date of purchase. Covers single, non-commercial vehicles with capacity of less than 16 passengers.

  • 1-Day Per Person Entrance Pass - $15.00

  • Valid for date of purchase. Applies to walk-ins, bicycles, and non-commercial groups.

  • 1-Day Motorcycle Entrance Pass - $25.00

    • Valid for date of purchase. Covers one motorcycle.

  • 7-Day Vehicle Entrance Pass - $35.00

    • Rocky Entrance Fee - vehicle entrance pass valid for 7 consecutive days

  • 7-Day Motorcycle Entrance Pass - $30.00

We arrived about 1:30PM at the Fall River Visitor Center entrance, so to kill some time, we had a wonderful lunch at the Trailhead Restaurant

Bison Stew

Trail Ridge Road (Hwy 34) is the highest paved road in any national park in the United States, cresting at 12,183 feet above sea level. This is the highest continuous paved road in North America.

Be prepared for quickly changing weather conditions driving through the mountain peaks. When we arrived at the park it was sunny and 85°F. At one point on the way up, a storm blew through and the temperature dropped to 59°F and it started raining. When it passed, it was sunny and 75°.


That happened over the course of about 45 minutes.


Rocky Mountain PARK INFO

Moose

We originally planned on staying the night in Denver, about 70 miles away, but decided we wanted our next day to be all about Santa Fe, so pushed on through the night towards New Mexico.


We drove until we couldn’t anymore. After 5 hours, 260 miles, we stopped in the small town of Alamosa, Colorado and slept in a parking lot.


Day 8: Sante Fe New Mexico


Saturday! After about 4 hours of sleep, we woke up safe and sound, and drove to Sante Fe New Mexico!


On the way, we stopped for a well deserved recharge at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort. Like a gourmet meal on an empty stomach, stopping at a spa after 9 days of driving and 4 hours of sleep was magical.

We got a private soaking session in pure mineral water straight from natural hot springs.

Spa INFO


It was amazing. (REEL)


We spent the rest of the day in Sante Fe NM. There is a wonderful historic park in the town's center, Santa Fe Plaza, surrounded by shops and restaurants all in walking distance.


Our first stop was Coyote Cafe & Rooftop Cantina for a rooftop drink! For dinner, we ended up at Los Magueyes because they had this charming Brazilian guitarist playing outside, drawing in pedestrian traffic.


We ended our day at Hervé Wine Bar for dessert and more live music from our guitarist friend from Los Magueyes who we swore was stalking us. 😂


We camped that final night at Trailer Ranch RV Resort, about a 5 mile, 15 minute Uber from downtown.


Trailer Ranch RV Resort: Website & Rates


Day 9: Scottsdale Arizona


The final stretch! The last 460 miles were a lot tougher on our RV than expected due to the White Mountains in easter Arizona. Steep winding roads reminded us of the Rocky Mountains.


Along the way, a massive storm front that just missed us. We took some amazing pictures from the road that day of the ever changing landscape, buttes, mountains, and finally the familiar desert topography surrounding Phoenix.

After 50 hours of driving, 3200 miles, we safely arrived at our brand new Scottsdale home, and without any major mechanical issues!


Scottsdale


5PM that Sunday evening, we had only one final task before we could sleep in a real bed for the 1st time in over a week. We had to put a new house together that night!


Thankfully, we’re never short of helping family and friends. After a few hours putting furniture together, unpacking the house, and of course unpacking the RV, our bed was literally made, and we got to rest.



Our Dope Life Continues.

 

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