Epic US Road Trip 2016 – The Appalachians
The Appalachian Mountains, commonly referred to as simply the Appalachians, are a system of mountains stretching for some 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometres) in a northeast to southwest direction in eastern North America, from Belle Isle in Canada to northern Alabama & northeast Mississippi. Formed some 480 million years ago, they once reached heights similar to those of the Alps and the Rocky Mountains before the onset of natural erosion knocked them down a peg or two. A long series of alternating ridgelines and valleys divided into various mountain subranges, these are ancient lands steeped in history, cool and misty hills carpeted in blue-green hemlock, pine and oak trees, a picturesque ecosystem that is home to an abundance of wildlife including cougars, deer, black bears, wild turkeys and great horned owls. A nirvana for hikers and the outdorsey type, the region is criss-crossed by craggy mountain trails, many of which combine to form the famous Appalachian Trail, the country’s longest amble – measuring 2,150 miles (3,460 kilometres), it traverses no less than 6 National Parks, 8 National Forests and a whopping 14 states. Needless to say, and regardless of the time of year, jaw-dropping photo opportunities present themselves around seemingly every exploratory bend in the road.
It was a long 4-hour-plus, 300 mile drive from Montgomery, Alabama, to Cornelia, Georgia, from the steamy US Deep South to the edge of the cool Appalachian Mountains. Going from one to the other in the same day heightened the already obvious contrasts between the two regions; gone were the cotton fields and the colourful & crumbling blues-lovin’ towns of the South to be replaced by quintessential old-time music-lovin’ Appalachian towns & villages full of flags, thrift stores, antique shops, saw mills, yard sales, farmer’s markets, roadside lemonade stalls & pretty picket-fence houses with rocking-chair-studded wraparound front porches. The whole of Appalachia was idyllic. It was misty, sometimes too misty, but always idyllic. Four days of Appalachia drives started on Epic US Road Trip day 26 in a sleepy & sunny Cornelia, northern Georgia, on the very fringes of yes, The Appalachians.
Image ||Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina.
“The Appalachians didn’t waste any time in leaving an impression. And once they started they didn’t let up. Not on this particular day at least. One National Scenic Byway; one All-American Road, probably the most famous of them all; one national park, definitely the most popular of them all; two state lines separating three Appalachian states; reaching the highest point in Georgia; & a Swiss-German alpine village wannabe on the wrong continent and many thousands of miles from the nearest Alps peak. All this on Epic US Road Trip day 26, the first of 4 days in Appalachia.”
Day 26 || September 22 2016
Route || Cornelia, Georgia to Asheville, North Carolina (via Helen & Brasstown Bald, Georgia & Great Smoky Mountains National Park)
Miles (Kilometres) Driven || 261 (420)
Posted From || Asheville, North Carolina
Today’s Highlight || Newfound Gap of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Wow. The Appalachians didn’t waste any time in leaving an impression. And once they started they didn’t let up. Not on this particular day at least. One National Scenic Byway; one All-American Road, probably the most famous of them all; one national park, definitely the most popular of them all; two state lines separating three Appalachian states; reaching the highest point in Georgia; & a Swiss-German alpine village wannabe on the wrong continent and many thousands of miles from the nearest Alps peak. All this on Epic US Road Trip day 26, the first of 4 days in Appalachia.
Getting underway on this day, a short 20-mile drive from Cornelia saw us approaching Helen. En route we passed the Nacoochee Village Antique Mall. Needless to say one of the region’s prettiest sights stopped us in our tracks and ensured we pulled over to appreciate the scene some more.
A town full of German-spiced eateries, cuckoo clock stores and Bavarian architecture is the last thing you’d expect to find while touring the Appalachians Mountains of northern Georgia. But that’s exactly what the Swiss-German mountain village wannabe of Helen, or Alpine Helen if you’re really getting in the mood, provides.
National Scenic Byways – The Return
I guess mountains mean National Scenic Byways & All-American Roads. Having spent the last 8 days driving the (very flat) Great Plains of the US heartland & via the cotton fields & forests of the steamy Deep South, not since road trip day 17, when high among the passes of the Colorado Rockies, had we driven a National Scenic Byway or an All-American Road. That all changed within a few miles of leaving Helen as we joined Georgia’s Russell-Brasstown National Scenic Byway.
National Scenic Byway #7 – Russell-Brasstown National Scenic Byway
Surrounded by the beauty of the Chattahoochee National Forest, the byway winds through the valleys and mountain gaps of the southern Appalachians. From the vistas atop Brasstown Bald to the cooling mists of waterfalls, scenic wonders fill the region. Hike the Appalachian Trail, fish in a cool mountain stream, or just drive the 41-mile (66-kilometre) scenic loop road.
Continuing north and it wasn’t long before we ran out of Georgia state terra firma by making it to the state line with neighbouring North Carolina. Hello Epic US Road Trip state number 20.
State Nicknames – Old North State; Tar Heel State. State Mottos – Esse Quam Videri (To Be, Rather Than To Seem) (official); First in Flight. Admitted To The Union – November 1789 (12th state). Population – 10 million (9th most populous state). Area – 53,800 sq miles (28th largest state). Capital – Raleigh. National Parks – 1 (Great Smoky Mountains). National Scenic Byways/All-American Roads – 3/1. Famous For – College hoops; the world’s first controlled flight of a powered heavier-than-air aircraft (by the Wright Brothers in December 1903 near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina); banking; hurricanes; the Appalachians (in the west); sandy barrier islands (in the east). State Highlight – Appalachian drives. North Carolina Titbits – The second territory to be colonised by the British, the state is named in memory of King Charles I (Carolus in Latin); natives are called ‘tar heels’, a nickname said to relate to both their tar pine production & their legendary stubbornness; British band Pink Floyd is named, in part, after Floyd Council, a North Carolinian blues guitarist, mandolin player, and singer; the international doughnut chain Krispy Kreme hails from North Carolina; Pepsi was first produced here in 1898; cohabitation of unmarried couples was technically illegal in North Carolina until 2006; the state leads the US in the production of flue-cured tobacco & sweet potatoes, and is second in production of pigs and hogs, trout, turkeys &, emm, Christmas trees.
It was a 50-mile drive north from the Georgia-North Carolina state line to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center at the eastern entrance to America’s most visited, and by some way, protected wilderness area, UNESCO-listed Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Size: 522,426 acres/2,115 km². Founded: 1934. Annual Visitors: 10.8 million (most visited).
Every year here, for a few weeks in late spring, there’s a twinkling light show, courtesy of synchronous fireflies. Also in spring, an annual wildflower pilgrimage showcases blooms so prolific and diverse that this landscape is nicknamed “Wildflower National Park.”
Although this is the most-visited U.S. national park, it retains an enchanted quality, a place where emerald moss carpets boulders and a dreamy, “smoky” mist recalls the region’s Cherokee name, Shaconagay, “land of the blue smoke.”
– Horace Kephart, travel writer, in The Outing magazine (1912)
This area was part of the Cherokee homeland before the tribe was forced west. Some remained in what is now the park, either by hiding or by lobbying the government, and their descendants live in the nearby Qualla Boundary.
Today, visitors hike, bike and drive the history-steeped land. The American Hiking Society says, “Almost every trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park is eligible for your hiking bucket list.” However, the organization’s blog cites the 12-mile Baxter Creek Trail’s “4,000 feet of climbing, sweetly smelling spruce trees and a lush rainforest understory.” The Appalachian Trail also makes a 70-mile appearance here.
Several self-guided car routes are available along the 384 miles of road. An 11-mile, one-way loop road circles the historical Cades Cove, where preserved log cabins, barns and churches highlight the region’s former way of life. Every Saturday and Wednesday morning (from May to September), the car route is open to bicyclists and walkers only.
This is a park rich with stories, such as that of the Walker sisters, from a family of 11 children with a Union-soldier father who farmed the land. Six of them never married and stayed in what became the park, meeting visitors and carrying on with traditional work and crafting well into old age. Their log home remains.
Sightseers encounter place names reflecting southern storytelling tradition. Among them: Place of a Thousand Drips (waterfall), Mouse Creek Falls and Hen Wallow Falls. A rounded rock outcropping is dubbed Charlies Bunion.
Visitors who arrive via Cherokee, N.C., Gatlinburg, Tenn., or Townsend, Tenn., enter an area that’s 95 percent forested with the largest block of virgin red spruce on Earth. And if they visit Clingmans Dome, the highest peak in the Smokies, on a clear and (rare) pollution-free day, they can see for 100 miles and possibly take in seven states.
Great Smoky Mountains, located in North Carolina and Tennessee, is the most-visited U.S. national park. It still retains an enchanted quality, a place where emerald moss carpets boulders and a dreamy, “smoky” mist recalls the region’s Cherokee name, Shaconagay, which means “land of the blue smoke.”
From The Washington Post – The Essential guide to all 59 U.S. national parks.
– UNESCO commenting on Great Smoky Mountains National Park
A 16-mile drive from the park’s eastern entrance via Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s windy Newfound Gap Road – completed in 1932, the road links the states of North Carolina & Tennessee – brought us deep into the park itself, eventually depositing us on Newfound Gap.
Retracing our steps back to the park’s eastern entrance meant we were not far from our introduction to one of the most iconic stretches of roadway in the country, the famed All-American Blue Ridge Parkway.
All-American Road #6 – The Blue Ridge Parkway
Billed as ‘America’s Favourite Drive’, the serpentine All-American Blue Ridge Parkway snakes for 469 miles (262 miles in North Carolina, 207 miles in Virginia) through the southern Appalachians, from the Great Smoky Mountains National park in western North Carolina north to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, although that’s officially doing it backwards – mile postings run from 0-469, north to south. The Parkway provides spectacular mountain and valley vistas, quiet pastoral scenes, sparkling waterfalls and colorful flower and foliage displays as it extends through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Wildflowers bloom in spring but it’s the colours of autumn/fall, the Parkway’s most popular time of year with leaf-peepers, that steals the show – the Parkway is said to be home to Mother Nature’s most breath-taking & longest-lasting show of autumn/fall foliage. A 45 mph speed limit (lower in parts), numerous scenic overlooks, biker conveys & plentiful roadside attractions all combine to ensure the going is slow. That said, one still needs to be alert – foggy days, blind corners & a general absence of guardrails can make for some hairy driving.
Image ||Early Autumnal scenes on the All-American Blue Ridge Parkway outside Asheville, North Carolina.
“It’s not quite autumn/fall just yet, but it’s getting there; sporadic leaves are falling & foliage is slowly turning colour. As pretty as it is now in late September, I can only imagine how pretty this particular stretch of the Parkway, heading northeast just outside Asheville, would be when autumn colours are turned up the max.”
Day 27 || September 23 2016
Route || Asheville, North Carolina to Galax, Virginia (via the Blue Ridge Parkway)
Miles (Kilometres) Driven || 200 (322)
Posted From || Galax, Virginia
Today’s Highlight || Autumnal scenes on the Blue Ridge Parkway
It’s somewhat official; Asheville, in western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, is one of the friendliest towns in the country, so says Conde Nast Traveler who rank it at number 7 on that particular list. So, and although there are seemingly 6 friendlier towns in the land in which to start your day, Asheville proved a nice place in which to wake to kickoff Epic US Road Trip day 27.
– Conde Nast Traveler’s list of the 10 friendliest (& unfriendliest) cities in the US 2015
The Blue Ridge Parkway, Day 2 – Autumnal Delights, Mount Mitchell & Linn Cove Viaduct
After leaving Asheville, it wasn’t long before we were back once again on the region’s All-American Blue Ridge Parkway. And it was glorious, easily the pictorial highlight of the day.
Mount Mitchell & Mount Mitchell State Park
A slow, meandering 30-mile drive along the joys of the Parkway, via a stop to take in some Blue Ridge vistas from the lookout at Craggy Gardens Visitor Center, brought us to the apex of North Carolina’s 1,946-acre Mount Mitchell State Park, an International Biosphere Reserve.
Descending from Mount Mitchell and it’s another 55 miles of Parkway delights, a distance that’ll require some 90 minutes of driving, before reaching a Blue Ridge Parkway must-see and one of the route’s most photographed features, the famous Linn Cove Viaduct.
Continuing in a northeasterly direction, but leaving the actual Parkway itself, things got very rural as we approached the state line with Virginia, approximately 100 miles from the Linn Cove Viaduct.
Not long thereafter, and on a full tank, we reached the North Carolina/Virginia state line. It was quiet & rural here too. Hello Epic US Road Trip state number 21.
State Nicknames – Old Dominion; Mother of Presidents; Mother of States. State Motto – Sic Semper Tyrannis (Thus Always to Tyrants). Admitted To The Union – June 1788 (10th state). Population – 8.4 million (12th most populous state). Area – 42,700 sq miles (35th largest state). Capital – Richmond. National Parks – 1 (Shenandoah). National Scenic Byways/All-American Roads – 2/3. Famous For – History & being the birthplace of America; The Pentagon; tobacco; having a lot of towns & cities that end in ‘burg’; the CIA; bluegrass music. State Highlights – All that birthplace-of-America history; rural Appalachian drives between bluegrass lovin’ towns. Virginia Titbits – Eight US presidents were born in Virginia giving the state the nickname ‘Mother of Presidents’; it’s also nicknamed ‘Old Dominion’ as the first permanent European settlement in the New World was established here at Jamestown in 1607; the Virginia General Assembly is the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World & the state’s government, one of the country’s most effective, is unique in how it treats cities and counties equally, manages local roads, and prohibits its governors from serving consecutive terms; Virginia is the most populous US state to not have a major professional sports league franchise; Virginia spends the highest amount per capita on defence, in large part because the state is home to the Department of Defence headquarters, The Pentagon, the world’s largest office building; the state is armed to the teeth – it boasts the largest concentration of military personnel and assets in the world, including the world’s largest naval base; of the 41 independent cities (cities not in the territory of any county or counties), 38 are in Virginia.
And There’s More – Epic US Road Trip part II, the 2017 Edition
More of Virginia – including Arlington, Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s UNESCO-listed architectural masterpiece & hilltop abode, & the Historic Triangle settlements of Williamsburg & Jamestown – were explored on Days 6 & 7 of Epic US Road Trip 2017.
Historic & Musical Virginia
Make no mistake, there’s history here in Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia. Lots of it. A small Appalachian state which somehow also manages to boast a long Atlantic coastline, this is an historically diverse region that is literally the birthplace of America, where English settlers established the first permanent English-speaking colony in the New World in 1607 at Jamestown, Virginia – Virginia is the oldest of the 13 original colonies & the state boasts many an historic landmark with the state capital of Richmond, one of a whopping 38 independent cities in the state alone, among the country’s oldest cities. The lands here are caked in blood from America’s conception, birth and coming of age; Yorktown in southeastern Virginia was the site of the last battle of the American Revolution and the British surrender of 1781 & as the epicentre of the Civil War there are more historic battlegrounds here than in any other state.
Just one of dozens of regional towns claiming to be a gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Galax, on Virginia’s Crooked Road, is a quiet, quaint & prototypical old-time music-lovin’ Appalachian town of simple living, friendly locals, strong accents and a rich musical heritage – beginning in 1935, the town is home to world’s oldest and largest competition for old-time music musicians, the Old Fiddlers’ Convention. And for one day in August 2016, that day conveniently being tomorrow, it’s also home to Rex Fest, a day-long celebration of regional music & dance.
(For way more on the musical genre that is bluegrass, check out day 32 when we visit the Old Homeplace in the wooded hills above Rosine, Kentucky, the revered home of Bill Monroe, The Father of Bluegrass, and the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky.)
Image ||Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, Rex Fest, Galax, Virginia.
“Galax… is a quiet, quaint & prototypical old-time music-lovin’ Appalachian town of simple living, friendly locals, strong accents and a rich musical heritage… and for one day in August 2016 … it’s also home to Rex Fest, a day-long celebration of regional music & dance.”
Day 28 || September 24 2016
Route || No driving today!
Miles (Kilometres) Driven || 4 (6.4)
Posted From || Galax, Virginia
Today’s Highlight || Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, Rex Fest, Galax
They say a change is as good as a rest. By that logic the changing scenes & locations of an on-going road trip equate to one long rest. The longer the road trip, the longer the rest. Maybe. Maybe not. But sometimes an actual rest is called for. For us today is that day and after 27 days and 8,018 miles of driving, we’re finally taking a rest. For the first time since Page, Arizona, on Epic US Road Trip day 13, we’re spending two nights in the one location. Today is also, and more importantly, the first day of the trip where we’ll be staying off the roads; save for a 4-mile return trip earlier to the laundromat & to Melanie’s Cafe in Galax for breakfast, today, Epic US Road Trip day 28, is a driving-free day. And we’ve Rex Fest to thank for that.
– Reproduced from text on display in the International Bluegrass Music Museum, Owensboro, Kentucky (See Epic US Road Trip day 32).
Image ||Mabry Mill on the All-American Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia.
“Operated until 1936, the three-part mill was restored & landscaped by the National Park Service in 1945 and today the mill, providing such an appealing and classic image of rural Appalachia life, is a major tourist draw.”
Day 29 || September 25 2016
Route || Galax, Virginia, to Lewisburg, West Virginia (via the Blue Ridge Parkway & Shenandoah National Park)
Miles (Kilometres) Driven || 354 (570)
Posted From || Lewisburg, West Virginia
Today’s Highlight || Mabry Mill of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
The rest over & our sojourn from the road at an end, Epic US Road Trip day 29 saw us departing Galax & continuing along Virginia’s Crooked Road before rejoining the Blue Ridge Parkway for the third and final time en route to West Virginia, the final Appalachian state on this the final day in Appalachia. We didn’t see all we wanted to see today, but we did see a lot of rural Appalachia. In places the region reminds you of one big dusty & rusty garage sale.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, Day 3 – The Puckett Cabin & Mabry Mill
We rejoined the Blue Ridge Parkway for a portion of today’s northeasterly drive, the third day of the last 4 that we allowed the Parkway to slow things down. The Parkway will do that; again, it’s not a route to take if you’re in any kind of hurry.
It didn’t rain today but it was horribly damp & overcast from start to finish, the low-lying mist common to Appalachia determined it would seem to stick around. But the overcast conditions just seemed to add more mystique to another of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s must-see sights, and probably the most famous of them all, the famed Mabry Mill.
It was a long drive from the Mabry Mill to the start of the next National Scenic Byway & National Park of the wider road trip. En route we searched out another sight from a bygone era, one of the region’s covered bridges.
– Lonely Planet USA, 6th Edition, commenting on the Shenandoah Valley & Shenandoah National Park
The Terrific Trio
It was late in the afternoon when we arrived at Rockfish Gap, a rather special point that marks something of a heavy-hitting terrific trio – the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway (the end for us, the start for most) and the start of the National Scenic Byway Skyline Drive at the entrance to Shenandoah National Park. Unfortunately we didn’t see much of the latter two at all. In fact, we saw nothing.
Shenandoah National Park
Size: 199,173 acres/806 km². Founded: 1935. Annual Visitors: 1.3 million.
A classic road trip lies within the boundaries of this park. Skyline Drive runs like a 105-mile spine along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. With 75 scenic overlooks and a leisurely speed limit, traveling end to end takes three to four hours. The roadsides bloom with a seasonal progression of wildflowers — from early trillium through azaleas and mountain laurel to black-eyed Susans and goldenrods. The Wilderness Society listed Shenandoah among its best parks for fall color. The annual Fall Foliage Bike Festival coincides with that display.
Although the park can be driven in a day, accommodations and dining are available for those who linger to explore the paths, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Overnight options include the 1939 Big Meadows Lodge, a stone and wormy-chestnut structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Before the area was designated as a park, homeowners here kept farms, orchards and grazing animals. Traces of former residents include garden-patch daffodils and more than 100 family cemeteries, some still maintained by descendants.
One site of note is Rapidan Camp, the summer retreat of President Herbert Hoover. Here, 70 miles from the White House on 164 wooded acres, the president, first lady and friends relaxed and held meetings. The guest book of the 13-cabin compound includes such names as Lindbergh, Ford and Edison.
In 1935, the compound became part of the park; its three remaining buildings are open for ranger-led tours.
Today, summer visitors may catch a view of a more ethereal variety.
“Fog lies like a soft white blanket on the Shenandoah Valley and the Piedmont, while the mountaintop is clear,” visitskylinedrive.org says.
“If conditions are right, you can look down on a ‘fog ocean,’ with the lower peaks rising above it like islands.”
From The Washington Post – The Essential guide to all 59 U.S. national parks.
There wasn’t much light left on Epic US Road Trip day 29 by the time we reached the Virginia-West Virginia state line, some 90 minutes after leaving Rockfish Gap. We even had to use the headlights of the car to help us get the obligatory state line picture.
State Nickname – Mountain State. State Motto – Montani Semper Liberi (Mountaineers Are Always Free). Admitted To The Union – June 1863 (35th state). Population – 1.8 million (13th least populous state). Area – 24,200 sq miles (41st largest state). Capital – Charleston. National Parks – 0. National Scenic Byways/All-American Roads – 5/1. Famous For – Coal; mountains & the great outdoors (WV is ‘Wild & Wonderful’); being ‘simple’. State Highlights – The great outdoors. West Virginia Titbits – West Virginia is the only state to form by separating from a Confederate state (Virginia in October 1861) and was one of two states formed during the American Civil War (the other being Nevada); West Virginia is one of the most densely karstic areas on earth; almost entirely mountainous, hence its nickname, West Virginia is also the only state to lie entirely within Appalachia.
Wild & Wonderful West Virginia
It’s all about the great outdoors in ‘Wild & Wonderful’ West Virginia, a mostly mountainous state and the only state to lie entirely within Appalachia. It’ll come as no surprise then to learn that the state boasts some rather pretty, picture-postcard antebellum mountain America architecture.
Lewisburg, only some 15 miles west of the West Virginia-Virginia state line, is historic, not surprising really as most towns around here are. It’s also quaint, quaint & quiet; less than 4,000 people call it home. Nonetheless, it’s a popular place thanks its historic downtown and its numerous Civil War connections; held in late May each year, a re-enactment of the 1862 Battle of Lewisburg is one of the town’s big annual events.
As quaint as Lewisburg is, we didn’t hang around too long. We had ground to cover. A lot of ground to cover. It’s over 300 miles from Lewisburg to Lexington, Kentucky, our intended destination for this road trip day, even longer if you take a detour. We did meaning Epic US Road Trip day 30 was yet another long but enjoyable day on the US road, something we’re fast running out of as we approach the end.
National Scenic Byway #8 – Midland Trail
A portion of the drive west from Lewisburg was via the state’s 117-mile, 190-kilometre-long Midland Trail, the 7th National Scenic Byway of the wider road trip and the third we’d get to sample on Epic US Road Trip Day 30 alone.
– www.fhwa.dot.gov commenting on the Midland Trail.
THE UPPER MIDWEST || Wisconsin & Minnesota
DAY 01 139 miles || Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to Madison, Wisconsin
DAY 02 302 miles || Madison to Saint Paul, Minnesota (via Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area & Prescott, Wisconsin)
DAY 03 259 miles || Saint Paul to Bemidji, Minnesota (via St Cloud, Brainard & Walker, Minnesota)
THE DAKOTAS || North & South Dakota
DAY 04 458 miles || Bemidji to Bismarck, North Dakota (via Grand Forks, Lakota & Rugby, North Dakota)
DAY 05 459 miles || Bismarck to Deadwood, South Dakota (via Fort Yates, North Dakota & Badlands National Park, South Dakota)
DAY 06 167 miles || Deadwood & The Black Hills (Mount Rushmore National Memorial & Crazy Horse Memorial)
THE NORTHERN ROCKIES || Wyoming, Montana & Idaho
DAY 07 354 miles || Deadwood to Billings, Montana (via Devil’s Tower & Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monuments)
DAY 08 262 miles || Billings to West Yellowstone, Montana (via the Beartooth Highway & Yellowstone National Park)
DAY 09 227 miles || West Yellowstone to Jackson, Wyoming (via Yellowstone National Park & Grand Teton National Park)
DAY 10 280 miles || Jackson to Salt Lake City, Utah (via Alpine, Wyoming; & Montpelier, Paris, & Bear Lake, Idaho)
THE SOUTHWEST || Utah, Arizona & New Mexico
DAY 11 330 miles || Salt Lake City to Panguitch, Utah (via Brian Head & Cedar Breaks National Monument)
DAY 12 273 miles || Panguitch to Page, Arizona (via Bryce Canyon National Park, & Zion National Park)
DAY 13 307 miles || Page (Horseshoe Bend) & Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim)
DAY 14 175 miles || Page to Kayenta, Arizona (via Upper Antelope Canyon, Arizona & Monument Valley, Utah)
DAY 15 252 miles || Kayenta to Durango, Colorado (via Monument Valley, Utah, the Four Corners Monument, & New Mexico)
THE ROCKIES || Colorado
DAY 16 348 miles || Durango to Leadville, Colorado (via Wolf Creek Pass & Monarch Pass)
DAY 17 299 miles || Leadville to Estes Park, Colorado (via Independence Pass, Aspen, Berthoud Pass, & Rocky Mountain National Park)
THE GREAT PLAINS || Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri & Arkansas
DAY 18 307 miles || Estes Park to Cheyenne, Wyoming (via Laramie, Como Bluff, Medicine Bow, & Buford, Wyoming)
DAY 19 404 miles || Cheyenne to Burwell, Nebraska (via Scotts Bluff National Monument & Carhenge, Nebraska)
DAY 20 407 miles || Burwell to Kansas City, Missouri (via Spalding, Nebraska; SW Iowa; & Omaha, Nebraska)
DAY 21 286 miles || Kansas City to St Louis, Missouri
DAY 22 322 miles || St Louis to Memphis, Tennessee (via Dyess, Arkansas)
THE SOUTH || Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama & Georgia
DAY 23 308 miles || Memphis to Vicksburg, Mississippi (via Clarksdale, Yazoo City & Bentonia, Mississippi)
DAY 24 336 miles || Vicksburg to Pratville, Alabama (via Selma, Alabama)
DAY 25 297 miles || Pratville to Cornelia, Georgia (via Montgomery, Alabama & Stone Mountain, Georgia)
THE APPALACHIANS || Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia & West Virginia
DAY 26 261 miles || Cornelia to Asheville, North Carolina (via Helen & Brasstown Bald, Georgia & Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina)
DAY 27 200 miles || Asheville to Galax, Virginia (via the Blue Ridge Parkway)
DAY 28 004 miles || Galax, Virginia
DAY 29 354 miles || Galax to Lewisburg, West Virginia (via the Blue Ridge Parkway & Shenandoah National Park)
KENTUCKY & THE GREAT LAKES || Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana & Illinois
DAY 30 404 miles || Lewisburg to Lexington, Kentucky (via Chesapeake, Ohio; Cordell, Kentucky; & Sandy Hook, Kentucky)
DAY 31 241 miles || Lexington to Beaver Dam, Kentucky (via Lincoln Homestead State Park & Mammoth Cave National Park)
DAY 32 190 miles || Beaver Dam to Bloomington, Indiana (via Rosine & Owensboro, Kentucky)
DAY 33 282 miles || Bloomington to Chicago, Illinois (via Indianapolis, Indiana)
DAYS 34-36 017 miles || Chicago, Illinois