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Old 02-17-2020, 02:36 PM   #1
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Question Death Valley, CA -> Chicago: looking for sights, boondocking. April.

Death Valley, CA -> Chicago: looking for sights, boondocking. April.

Hi all

I have a solo, camping road trip coming up (April) and would like to ask about any MUST SEE things along the way.

I’d also prefer to do minor roads, and less interstate, as they are prettier, and more interesting to drive along.

I will be in a 4X4 pop up truck camper, and camping the whole way.
I prefer very quiet boondocking, and if a campsite - then scenic and mellow and quiet. (nowhere near traffic at all…. / roads)

Looking for scenic things to see along the way, that are mostly along my route, and also great, quiet campsites and boon docking sites.

I may check out various HipCamp, Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome, and similar campsites, to meet interesting people along the way.

I for sure want to go thru Pie Town NM and Magdalena NM (love it there) but East of that I am flexible.
But don’t want to go 500 miles out of my way……. small detours. :-)

Leave Los Angeles (April)

Death Valley, CA

Yosemite National Park (weather permitting)

back down thru Death Valley on the way…. probably

Magdalena NM

(When driving from Yosemite to Magdalena NM.
Any scenic way to avoid Vegas and Kingman and Flagstaff and have it be more scenic? Maybe go thru Sedona somehow?)

Albuquerque NM

then…. any sensible way to Chicago….. the most direct way is below, but I can go any way and make any small detours to see great scenery or unusual places between Magdalena NM and Chicago, the final destination.

The most direct way is below: (small detours are OK, not 500 mile detours )

Santa Rosa TX

Amarillo TX

Oklahoma City

Tulsa

Springfield, Missouri

St Louis

Springfield, IL

Bloomington

Chicago IL.

Thanks!

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Old 02-17-2020, 04:03 PM   #2
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Are you interested in night sky watching? If so, a stay at the Cosmic Campground might be worthwhile. I've never been, but I've heard good things if you're into astronomy. Other than astronomy, there's not much to the campground other than solitude. The location doesn't align all that well with your route however.


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Old 02-17-2020, 05:56 PM   #3
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We have been all through the backroads in Arkansas & Oklahoma. Didnt really document our travels, we would just head out for days without an agenda and tour the countryside via backroads. Very scenic rolling terrain, but the only real destinations I would point you towards would be Broken Bow Lake in Oklahoma (south eastern), Then head a little East from there towards Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Arkansas (the drive to the top of the mountain where the Lodge is located has some great views)...then North through Eurika Springs.
If you leave your windows down while you drive through Kansas you may get lucky and collect a couple pebbles carried by the wind.
Have you considered heading North from NM through Colorado & Wyoming, then east across South Dakota?
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Old 02-17-2020, 08:24 PM   #4
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We have been all through the backroads in Arkansas & Oklahoma. Didnt really document our travels, we would just head out for days without an agenda and tour the countryside via backroads. Very scenic rolling terrain, but the only real destinations I would point you towards would be Broken Bow Lake in Oklahoma (south eastern), Then head a little East from there towards Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Arkansas (the drive to the top of the mountain where the Lodge is located has some great views)...then North through Eurika Springs.
If you leave your windows down while you drive through Kansas you may get lucky and collect a couple pebbles carried by the wind.
Have you considered heading North from NM through Colorado & Wyoming, then east across South Dakota?
Thanks so much for the tips.

(you) Have you considered heading North from NM through Colorado & Wyoming, then east across South Dakota?

Good suggestion.... but we will have recently gone that way, so wanting to go a southern route that I have never been on....
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Old 02-18-2020, 04:04 AM   #5
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From Tulsa to St Louis is pretty much I-44 for a direct route. Route 66 does follow along this path and you can drive it although it will take a lot of time. Off the interstate one must really meander and there are a lot of choices.

You could take Hwy 412E from Tulsa to Hwy 65N at Bear Creek Springs to Hwy 65N to Hwy 76N/E to Hwy 5N/E in Ava to Hwy 38E in Hartville. Then Hwy 17N to Hwy 32E to south of St Louis (same as other route below).

You could also take Hwy 38E from Marshfield (a little north and east of Springfield) to Hwy 17N to Hwy 32E to south of St Louis. That would get you in rural MO and through part of Mark Twain National Forest that has dispersed camping.

There is a McDonalds in Strafford just outside of Springfield with truck parking behind it where you could overnight. There is another McDonalds between Joplin and Springfield at Hwy 39 near Mount Vernon that has a truck parking area behind it. I've stayed at both of these.

I am in Fort Leonard Wood off I-44 between Springfield and St Louis. I've done some of Route 66 from here down into OK. I live on an Army installation and you could park here for the night if I am here when you come through, but there are some entry requirements.

Mark Twain NF is geographically disconnected and as mentioned, there are dispersed camping options.

Anyway, if you would like to chat send me a PM.
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Old 02-19-2020, 08:23 AM   #6
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From Tulsa to St Louis is pretty much I-44 for a direct route. Route 66 does follow along this path and you can drive it although it will take a lot of time. Off the interstate one must really meander and there are a lot of choices.

You could take Hwy 412E from Tulsa to Hwy 65N at Bear Creek Springs to Hwy 65N to Hwy 76N/E to Hwy 5N/E in Ava to Hwy 38E in Hartville. Then Hwy 17N to Hwy 32E to south of St Louis (same as other route below).

You could also take Hwy 38E from Marshfield (a little north and east of Springfield) to Hwy 17N to Hwy 32E to south of St Louis. That would get you in rural MO and through part of Mark Twain National Forest that has dispersed camping.

There is a McDonalds in Strafford just outside of Springfield with truck parking behind it where you could overnight. There is another McDonalds between Joplin and Springfield at Hwy 39 near Mount Vernon that has a truck parking area behind it. I've stayed at both of these.

I am in Fort Leonard Wood off I-44 between Springfield and St Louis. I've done some of Route 66 from here down into OK. I live on an Army installation and you could park here for the night if I am here when you come through, but there are some entry requirements.

Mark Twain NF is geographically disconnected and as mentioned, there are dispersed camping options.

Anyway, if you would like to chat send me a PM.
Thanks so much marret for the info. Super helpful.

and as a US citizen with a clean record, I have always wondered what it would be like to visit a Army installation... let alone sleep in our pop up truck camper... I'll PM you as this is very much along the way, and would be pretty neat! (unless there are things moving about in the middle of the night, and so i would not sleep well....)

I'll post a general post below looking for suggestions on the last few days of my trip, but i'll also PM you the date I'd be passing thru. No worries either way, but thanks so much for your kind (possible) offer.

J.
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Old 02-19-2020, 08:51 AM   #7
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Thanks all for the great suggestions.

The 2 areas I have not yet found good camping sites yet are after I leave Rocky Point Campground Rd, Santa Rosa, NM and am heading east/northeast on 40/44/55 up to Chicago - I would like to stay about 3 nights along those 1,200 miles…

1st night near Elk City OK (320 miles that day to there) - needing suggestions for camping or boondocking near here. Not on a busy road, but not 40 miles off the freeway either. :-)

2nd night near Joplin, MO (360 miles that day, to around there) (same parameters as the previous night)

3rd night I’ll likely stay at Sangchris Lake State Park - looks very good.

4th nite: arrive in Chicago area.

So any quiet, safe campground suggestions along that route for nights 1 +2?

I’d like to go this way as I have never been to that part of the world at all, plus it is the most direct route to Chicago.

Thanks!
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Old 02-19-2020, 05:07 PM   #8
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PM sent.

Also, if you don't find something better, the McDonalds I mentioned between Joplin and Springfield at Hwy 39 near Mount Vernon is not a bad place to overnight. It would be about 30 more miles.
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Old 02-19-2020, 10:26 PM   #9
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We live 20 miles north of downtown Chicago. If you want any suggestions on where to stay, what to visit, and where to eat feel free to PM me. As far as heading into Chicago Shawnee National forest is at the souther tip of Illinois and is beautiful. If you have the time it’s not a bad place to spend a couple nights. Lots of camp grounds etc.
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Old 02-20-2020, 11:06 PM   #10
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For Chicagoland check the County Parks we call them Forest Preservs https://fpdcc.com they will get you within 30 miles from downtown. Illinois Beach St park is close too. I’ve also heard you can overnight in the trailer lot of McCormick Place. If you look into that me know. I’m curious.
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