Part 1 – All American cross country road trip – 56 days, 22 states and 8,200mi

All American Cross Country Road Trip - 56 days, 22 states and 8,200 miles

See part 2 of the All American road trip
See part 3 of the All American road trip (coming soon)

Going on a cross country road trip has been a dream of mine ever since I could remember. I’ve been fortunate enough to see a good amount of this country throughout my life but never in the way of a 8,200 mi round trip, road trip. As I loaded up my car on a Saturday, it didn’t take long to fill up my trunk and back seat knowing I had to prepare for conditions that would range from -35 windchill in the Colorado Rockies to low 90s in the Arizona desert. Seeing how I would be gone for roughly two months, I stopped by my parents house for some dinner with my family before starting my trip out west later that night.

Trip Itinerary

Part 1

  • New Jersey
  • Niagara Falls, ON
  • Chicago,IL
  • Mount Rushmore, SD
  • Crazy Horse, SD
  • Jackson Hole, WY
  • Moab, UT
  • Mesa Verde NP, CO
  • Telluride, CO
  • Hanging Lake, CO
  • Boulder, CO
  • Breckenridge, CO
  • San Diego, CA

Part 3 (coming soon!)

  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Grand Canyon, AZ
  • Horseshoe Bend, AZ
  • Lake Powell, AZ
  • Monument Valley, AZ/UT
  • White Sands, NM
  • Hawksbill Crag, AR
  • New Jersey

Niagara Falls

I started my drive around 10pm on Saturday night making my way through rain, snow and sleet that didn’t stop for the next 4 days. Two hours out from Niagara I pulled into a rest stop to catch a quick power nap then continued my drive through the Canadian border (where they inspected my car for 15 mins) and then onto the falls shortly after sunrise. I was hoping to spend more time here but the conditions were pretty rough so I snapped a few pictures and hit the road again.

Border patrol hates me…and their dogs

Just a couple hours after entering Ontario, I was coming out the other side of Canada and into eastern Michigan which meant another meet and greet with border patrol. Having just completed a road trip to Nova Scotia a few weeks earlier I had become accustom to them searching my car despite not carrying any illegal substances. These searches usually lasted 15 mins and weren’t all too invasive…. until now. As per usual, BP asked me to park my car, leave my phone with them and walk inside while they inspected my vehicle. As I sat there for over an hour I had a good feeling my car was going to be an absolute mess by the time they were done with the amount of crap that was packed in there and the fact that they have zero respect for your belongings. Although I wasn’t happy about it, it was something I was anticipating so it didn’t bother me that much when they finally released me and the car was torn apart. The part that bothered me was finding several articles of my clothing were now covered in blood.  Confused at first it took a few minutes before I realized their search dogs were in frigid temperatures without any foot protection. So while the dog assisted in the search of my car, its paws were cracked and bleeding all over. Not cool border patrol, not cool!

Chicago

Before arriving in Chicago I spent a few days with my best friend from high school, Josh, in Plainwell, MI. Our time spent together was relatively low key, but we did manage to go snowboarding one day. Yes, in Michigan, one of the flattest states, which Josh best described the resort as “Someones really cool backyard”. A couple hours from Plainwell I arrived in Chicago for the first time and it was every bit as cold as people described.  After catching some dinner with another good friend from high school, I picked up my travel buddy Dorota from the airport who would join me on the trip for the next two weeks. Chicago is an absolutely gorgeous city and I loved the architecture there. Despite the brutally cold weather we still got out to see some of the sights. I have plans to go back in two weeks and look forward visiting in some warmer weather and catching a Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, SD

The drive from Chicago to Mount Rushmore was relatively uneventful, but we did manage to snap a few pictures with the Jolly Green Giant when we stopped for dinner in Blue Earth, MN. As you might imagine, pretty much the whole drive was completely flat and then out of nowhere you quickly start ascending into the mountains of the Black Hills National Forrest just an hour before Mount Rushmore. The nice thing about road tripping in the middle of winter is you can get these typically crowded monuments all to yourself. Arriving mid day at Mount Rushmore the park ranger told us we were visitors #10 and #11 for the day. Mount Rushmore was just as incredible as every picture I’ve seen but what made it that much more special was the beautiful walkway leading up to the sculpture. While we were taking some pictures of these famous dead guys made of stone, a stranger recommended we check out Crazy Horse just down the road, describing how it absolutely trumps Mount Rushmore in size. You can check out the more in depth blog post about Crazy Horse here.

Jackson Hole, WY

We arrived at Jackson on a Thursday and it didn’t stop snowing for 6 straight days! But we didn’t mind since we were there for what would be the best snowboarding of my life. If you want big mountain snowboarding and skiing, Jackson Hole is the place for you. This was #1 on my bucket list of resorts to snowboard so I’m happy to finally cross it off.

See part 2 of the All American road trip
See part 3 of the All American road trip (coming soon)