As much as we have enjoyed our winter of no plans, the time has come to think about what the rest of 2016 will bring. This year the big event dominating the direction of our travels is my brother’s wedding in Maine at the beginning of July.
That means as of right now we have three and half months to travel from southern Utah all the way across the country to northern Maine. The logical, easy route would be to simply drive straight across Colorado, Kansas, and all those other middle-of-the-country states until we reach Maine. But we have never claimed to do things the logical or easy way. Where’s the adventure in that? So after much back and forth I think we’ve decided on a loosey goosey kind of route that should get us where we need to be while allowing us to sneak in some fun along the way.
Here is the general route.
As you can see we’re not taking the most direct route from Utah to Maine. Far from it in fact. But we are taking a route that allows us to explore some new places and have some new experiences. Since we’re still up in the air on exact routes, and have decided to make as few reservations and finite plans as possible, we thought it would be fun (and helpful) to share our plans with all of you in hopes that we can get some advice and recommendations.
Hurricane to Moab – Utah
We only have two places that we’ve committed to being at a specific time as we make our way to Maine. The first is Moab, Utah for the last two weeks of April. Here we will be meeting my mom and step-dad who are newly retired and beginning their life as part-time RVers. A few years ago we spent three weeks in Moab and fell in love with the small town vibe and abundance of amazing nature to explore. So we’re excited to share this special place with them. But first we have to get there.
Right now we’re boondocking outside of Zion National Park. There are basically three ways to get to Moab from here; up I-15, across I-70 and then down to Moab, south to Page, AZ, east to the Monument Valley area, and then up Rt. 191 to Moab, or through Zion and along Rt. 12. The first two are the safe routes — meaning no chance of snow or other complications. But we’ve also traveled those routes in the past, and have long wanted to visit all the famous national and state parks along Rt. 12. So we picked the hard way. Or rather…we picked the cold way.
We’ve been watching the weather and decided now is an okay time to make our move north. Yes, we are pushing the season, and yes it will be cold (50s and 60s during the day — 20s and 30s at night), but we’ve survived cold weather before and know that as long as the temps get above freezing during the day we have no need to worry.
We’re only giving ourselves two weeks to travel Rt. 12. In part because of the cold, but also because so much of the area is lacking in cell service which makes it impossible for us to stay and work during the week. This puts us in the Moab area sometime in early April, and while we’ll probably move around a bit, it will be nice to be in the same general area for a three to four weeks.
Moab to Minnesota
The next commitment we have is all the way up in northern Minnesota where we plan to embark on our first overnight kayaking trip in Voyageurs National Park. Our starting point will be the Wooden Frog Campground that came highly recommend from some of our fellow travelers. Wooden Frog does not take reservations, but the back country campsites do, so we snagged ourselves two nights on our very own little island in mid-June.
Assuming we do in fact leave Moab the first week of May that gives us six weeks to reach northern Minnesota. We choose to go north through Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota then east across North Dakota for a few reasons.
For one, while we’ve traveled through Wyoming twice, we’ve missed out on the Devil’s Tower both times. Two, we’ve never been to North Dakota and this route will allows us to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park. And finally, this route skips over all major cities and most major highways. We’re going on the assumption that it will be early enough in the summer that we don’t need to make reservations on this route, but this is all unchartered territory for us. Any suggestions or recommendations? Place we should see, roads to avoid, or campgrounds to check out?
Minnesota to Maine
Here’s where things get a little wacky. To get to Maine from Minnesota we’ll be going the way of Canada. The other option was to travel across the Upper Peninsula, down through Michigan, and across OH, NY, VT & NH. Except we already did that route in reverse when we left Vermont. And while we’d love to re-visit Michigan, we’re also in search of something new and different. So Canada is it. We basically have 11-12 days to travel 1,600 miles. This is so far from our normal travel schedule that it’s almost scary.
The plan is for Tim to take the last two weeks of June off work so we can drive some everyday and still have time for kayaking. Or, if we find a place we really like to spend a day or two and then put in a few longer driving days. Again, this route is completely new for us and we’re hoping to not make any reservations or definite plans along the way. We’ve only spent a week traveling in Canada so any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Maine to Florida
After the wedding we plan to spend the entire month of July in Maine. We’ll be staying at the Narrows Too campground just outside Mt. Desert Island. We spent two weeks here last year and found it to be a convenient and affordable option. From there we’ll head to New Hampshire for a week with Tim’s family, followed by a month in Vermont visiting friends & family, and then start making our way south.
Other than trying to visit Cap Cod in September after all the rug rats have gone back to school, and stopping at my mom’s house in North Carolina for Thanksgiving, we’ve not yet given much thought to this route. As you can see by the map all options are still on the table. We’ll probably not start planning this leg of the journey for quite some time, but I thought it was worth mentioning because we are positive that we’ll be in Florida next winter. In fact, the big news is that for the first time ever we’ll be storing the Airstream and renting a house for two months — in the Florida Keys! We’ve already put down a deposit on a house about five miles from my dad’s house on Big Pine Key and are looking forward to two glorious months of palm trees and tropical breezes.
Thanks in advance for any and all advice and recommendations :)
Just looking at the route, and your time frame, I am exhausted. Makes my Jello plans of Northern AZ, UT and CO seem puny, but it makes me happy to not be doing so many miles this year. Have fun and see you??? (Next winter in FL, maybe?)
It makes me tired too! We had wanted to stay out west and drive very little this summer…but then family happened ;) Hope to see you in FL (and the offer to use our spare room still stands).
Awesome! I’m seeing plenty of spots for possibly FINALLY meeting up with you guys perhaps this summer. We’ll be doing something similar in reverse this summer :)
Yup, I noticed in your future plans post that we’ll be in the same area a few times. Hope to meet up!
Looks like a fabulous Summer in the making! Voyageuer NP is gorgeous, as is BWCA and Quetico. But Lake Superior– even better! LSPP is great for paddling and camping, as are the other Prov parks on that route. Watch the online reservations though– many sites are small, so if the big ones start getting reserved, you might want to reserve one too. So frustrating that there’s not much boondocking up there with all that land. One final place you might want to look at (although it’s slightly off your route, it’s the most gorgeous place I’ve ever paddled..EVER!)– Killarney Prov Park. But here too, reservations are a must. The CG is constantly full, but the lakes are oh-so-worth-it!
Thanks Lynne! This is exactly the kind of advice we need. Bummer about the lack of boondocking. I guess we need to do a bit more planning than we had hoped if we want to get into some of these campgrounds. Killarney looks gorgeous!
Sounds like a great summer, with lots of interesting stops :-) I was wondering if you would be willing to share your boon docking coordinates in Hurricane, Utah? We spent three days at Zion National Park earlier this month but didn’t really see any boon docking locations.
Always happy to share. (The “Where” page has all our past locations)
Thank you so much :-) Safe travels, we look forward to following along.
Looks like a great route. Can’t wait to follow along!
I highly recommend the Lake Superior route. It’s a shame the Ontario provincial parks are insanely expensive (about $51 per night with electricity) however the exchange rate works in your favour. I recommend Pukaskwa National Park on the lake (it’s just south of Marathon). It’s first come first served with about 23 large electric sites plus many non electric. Since it’s further north than Lake Superior PP we found it easier to get into (call ahead to see if there are vacancies or how many expect to check out – phone number of park was 807-229-0801).
Ottawa is a nice stop; we have stayed at the former Ottawa Municipal Campground (now Wesley Clover Parks). Nice campground and well located to get into downtown Ottawa – there is an excellent bike trail along the Ottawa River to the parliament buildings.
Yeah, we remember from our previous week in Canada how expensive the CGs were. Thanks so much for the great recommendations. I checked out both the campgrounds you mentioned and they look wonderful.
The website for Wesley Clover Parks:
Northern MN used to be our regular vacation spot. We would spend a week paddling from campsite to campsite. We even honeymooned near Lake of the Woods. The drive along Lake Superior from Duluth to Thunder Bay is beautiful (if you decide to change direction). I agree with Lynne, all the lakes are beautiful up there. FYI – have plenty of strong DEET bug spray. June is mosquito season. I look forward to following your route.
Ugh! Those mosquitoes are the only thing I am not looking forward to. We spent some time exploring the route north of Duluth along Lake Superior a few years ago and I remember well battling with those little blood suckers.
You won’t regret taking highway 12 to Moab. Best highway in state. Check out Spooky and Peek-a-Boo non-technical slots down Hole-In-The-Rock road. Get info at VC in Escalante.
We just arrived in Bryce Canyon yesterday and are already loving this route! Planning to hit up Escalante next week.
Be sure to stay in the national park campground at Devils Tower SD, it’s really nice.
Thanks! I’ve seen lots of photos from the CG and can’t wait to stay there!
Can’t wait to see how you like Hwy 12 as I think that’s the way we’ll go the last week in April. And we’ll likely miss you again :-( Looks like a great sort-of-route through some beautiful areas.
Yeah, we’re a bit early in the year for this route – but Maine is a long way so we need to get a move on. Already loving Rt. 12!
Sounds like a great plan! We will be in Moab for all of April. This is our third April. We love the town and the Portal RV Resort:) Then, we, too, will be heading east at the end of August!! Maybe we can catch up a few times:)
Oh yeah! We’ll definitely get together while in Moab.
Looks like a terrific route, filled with all kinds of new adventures plus some favorites you’ve visited before. That’s how we like to travel, too. We absolutely love Route 12 — in fact, it’s time for a revisit for us. I’m sure you already know all the good stuff along there, but here’s a cool route guide: http://www.scenicbyway12.com/wp-content/themes/sb12/library/media/images/route_guide.pdf
Thanks! This is a great guide. We just arrived in Bryce yesterday and already decided to add an extra week to our Rt. 12 plans. There’s just so much to explore.
I really enjoy reading about your adventures. Your next route sounds very nice. I have wondered about going up through Michigan, into the UP and getting into Canada from there to go east. Not sure if that would work. I am thinking of this for myself on day. I used to live in Michigan and think it is so beautiful. Happy Trails.
Pamelab in Houston
Entering Canada from the UP is definitely possible. We actually drove that route in reverse many years ago. Michigan is a very beautiful state and if we had more time this summer we would go back in a second.
So, of all the places you have visited in the past 3-4 years, are there any resounding favorites that might be a pick for when/if you guys ever stop full-timing?
Ahhh…the loaded question that everyone asks :) Honestly, there is no single place that we could see ourselves setting for year round living. We love Maine, Colorado & Oregon in the summer, and Arizona, New Mexico & southern CA in the Winter. It’s hard to imagine staying in any of those places long term though. That’s why for now the plan is to keep on moving…
If you haven’t already booked your entire time in Maine, you may want to check out the new Schoodic Woods campground on the Schoodic side of Acadia NP. It’s not as close to Southwest Harbor as Narrows Too, but it’s supposed to be lovely and might make a nice side trip.
Also, I echo a previous comment on the NPS campground, Belle Fourche, at Devil’s Tower. It’s absolutely amazing. Best to get there on a weekday and earlyish in the day, because they don’t take reservations. If you scroll down in this post, you’ll see photos of the campground: https://olddogsnewtruck.wordpress.com/2014/06/13/devils-dream/
Thanks Brenda. I remember reading about that new campground last year when it was about to open. I’ll have to look into what kind of cell service they have over there.