I would appreciate any input offered on a cross-country driving trip planned for this summer. I will be leaving from the Washington, D.C. area at the end of June and driving a sinuous route across the northern tier of the country to end up in Davis/Sacramento, CA in early August, with a week-long stop in North Dakota. I am planning to take several weeks to enjoy the scenery (first time driving across the country), visit some friends (more on that in a moment), and do some bird-watching/hiking.
These are the tentative stops I am planning specifically to visit friends and family:
- Morgantown, WV
- Lexington, KY (plus Kentucky Horse Park!)
- Twin Cities, MN
- Bismarck, ND - this is the schedule-setter, since I have to be there in mid-July for a week-long veterinary-related volunteer trip.
- possibly Seattle or Boulder?
A bit more about me and what I’m looking for:
- Moderately fit
- I am afraid of heights, so not a fan of vertigo-inducing rock scrambles or paths along cliff tops - more of a walk in the woods with sheltered or big, safe-seeming overlooks
- Female, unarmed, and will be traveling alone; I imagine I’m probably best off sticking to parks and such that are not completely devoid of other people in case I get hurt or feel threatened (thoughts on personal safety? any other wimpy females who hike and/or camp alone?).
- Looking for birding and wildlife viewing opportunities (part of me wants to go through Michigan to look for Kirtland’s Warblers, although July is crappy time to be looking for birds).
Are there any must-see parks along the way? Any suggestions for routes to take or avoid? Should I go up through Michigan and through the UP to get to MN, or should I go through IL and WI? Other than getting to ND in time, time is not an issue.
The only driving trips I’ve taken have been in the mid-Atlantic up to Long Island, down to southern VA, and out to KY once (well, and some winter driving in IA, but I flew to Des Moines), so most everything will be new. I am a solo road trip virgin, so have at it!
Thanks for your tips.