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Ottawa, Canada to Napa Valley, CA - Slowly by Car w/ lots of hiking & camping
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Jonathan Guilbault
(Gilbo) - F
Ottawa, Canada to Napa Valley, CA - Slowly by Car w/ lots of hiking & camping on 01/09/2010 17:12:50 MST Print View

After 3.5 moderately stressful years of working my butt off after university, I'm taking some extended time to drive across the U.S. from Ottawa to Napa Valley, California and then back. I want to do this trip slowly with _a_lot_ of camping and hiking (real camping and hiking) not car camping.

Google Maps' proposed route is here. I'm planning to take a lot longer than "1 day & 21 hours"!

I've done a LOT of serious exploring in Canada over the last 10 years, but know little to nothing about the U.S.

So, that in mind, I'm hoping for recommendations from the BPL community about where to go, and what to do along this route. I'm game for extended backcountry treks. Although I do have to make mileage in the car, I'm planning time for a few 5-7 day extended missions in the backcountry and a lot more 1-2 day stops. I also definitely want to climb a few mountains that don't require too much technical stuff / hardcore mountain climbing gear (Snow shoes and crampons are gear I already own. There's no problem with snowy/wet/messy - I deal with that all the time :) ).

At the moment all I know is that I'm definitely going to Yellowstone National Park, and probably spending a full week there so I can get into the backcountry away from the cars. Everything else is up in the air!

So what are the highlights BPL members recommend for an avid backcountry enthusiast driving across the US of A? I know this is a bit open-ended, but I gotta start planning somewhere...

These are the states I'm likely to drive through; deviations that take me away from the route are not only no problem but are, in fact, encouraged!


On the way home I'm heading North to Vancouver Canada, so I'll pass through


And then return East along the border.

Thanks in advance for any of you that take the time to make this trip as great as it can be!

Jonathan Guilbault
(Gilbo) - F
PS on 01/09/2010 18:02:20 MST Print View

Also, I am 1) Googling my butt off, and 2) Checking out and other websites like that.

I'm mostly inquiring to hear other individuals' personal experiences, and maybe find some of the more hidden gems that are less crowded. I like the solitude of the backcountry a great deal and I understand that a lot of the trails and destinations on places like will be full of people.

Andy Berner
(Berner9) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Ottawa, Canada to Napa Valley, CA - Slowly by Car w/ lots of hiking & camping on 01/09/2010 18:11:25 MST Print View

Depends on your route thru Michigan but if you are going thru the Upper Peninsula then you should check out Porcupine Mts. and Pictured Rocks. Both have Hiking and great views.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Ottawa, Canada to Napa Valley, CA - Slowly by Car w/ lots of hiking & camping on 01/09/2010 19:47:37 MST Print View

The potential answers to this question are too many!

First off, how many months are you planning on taking?
Say you've got ~16 days of extended backcountry trips, ~15 days of overnight trips and day hikes, and ~10 days of town days and rest days? Add to that the driving days, which if you're going fast is about 5 days across the country each way. Do you have three months for this?

You want to hit Yellowstone, Napa, and Vancouver, Canada. Yellowstone and Vancouver should probably be on the same northern leg. A southern leg could include Colorado, Canyon Country and the Sierra Nevada. On the way between Napa and Vancouver you'll also have a few days of day hiking on the coast, in the redwoods and amongst the cascades.

If you choose to visit Yellowstone on the way out, you might want to cross North Dakota. Then as you leave the park, hit up the Tetons. If you want to beeline it across the west, cross Utah, Nevada and California along Highway 80, but again, I'd head south on highway 89, veerying off into canyon country, the grand canyon, death valley, the east side of the sierra, yosemite, san francisco to napa.