The Route

Here is the 2016 draft of this road trip.

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Two things to make particular note of:

  1. This was foolishly optimistic, requiring a lot of backtracking
  2. Seattle (and Texas and Denver) cause problems when you have to work around the MLB schedule

I won’t spend too much time describing the logistical nightmare of cramming this into the six weeks between the All-Star break and when I had to be back in Ann Arbor for meetings preceding the new school year.  Here’s a fast way to think about it.  Even if you fly to Seattle, the above trip results in about 4 hours of driving per day, with just 13 days that don’t have a game on them.  That’s pretty exhausting and – ultimately – a waste.

If you’re going to drive around the entire country, you should take a few moments to see it.  While visiting all the MLB ballparks is the driving force, this is a once in a lifetime experience that shouldn’t be spent primarily on the freeway.  Therefore, the trip needed to start sooner.  It needed to start before the All-Star break, and since Seattle is the most remote stadium, using the All-Star break to get there became one of the driving forces in figuring out the schedule.


mariners all-star break

As you can see, the Mariners are home the entire week before the ASB, but not the week after.  The reverse would have been more ideal – to take the 4 days off to travel through the plains to Seattle, before continuing down the west coast.  However, not only are the Mariners on the road immediately after the break, they are not home until Thursday, 7/20.  A full 7 days after.

Solution 1

  • Ending Pre-All-Star break with the Twins in St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • The Dakotas and Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park during ASB
  • Colorado Rockies vs. Padres in Denver on 7/17
  • Southwest to Arizona, Los Angeles
  • Up the coast to Seattle…
  • …and back down the coast to San Diego, hitting all parks along the way

The nice thing about Solution 1 is that it leaves more time to hit all the Midwest parks, doesn’t require back-tracking for Denver, and doesn’t necessitate a single overbearing stretch of travel.  The drawback is very little time spent in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.

Solution 2

  • Twins game on Wednesday, 7/5, prior to ASB
  • Travelling the next 3 days straight across to Seattle (stops in the Dakotas)
  • Seattle Mariners vs. Athletics on 7/9, last day prior to ASB
  • Spending the ASB at Olympic, Mount Rainier, Crater Lake, Lassen National Parks
  • Resuming baseball in Oakland on 7/16

This solution allows for much more time to explore the Pacific Northwest (an entire week!!!).  It also doesn’t require back-tracking the west coast.  The drawbacks are a much more accelerated midwest trip (8 games, 8 days) and fitting Denver back into the schedule at a different point.

Solution 2 won out and it ultimately goes back to taking advantage of the situation. Among my first 8 stops, there is not a drive more than 5 hours except Chicago to Minneapolis.  Seattle is a 24 hour drive from Minnesota.  If I’m going to drive there, it would be foolish to only be able to spend a day or two in the area.  This makes for an exhausting start to the trip, however it is also a part of the trip where I expect to have the most company, with friends and family in Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago and Milwaukee.

The Seattle hurdle solved.

Which Way?

From here, I’ll back track.  I first had to decide a bigger question: Clockwise or Counter-Clockwise.

Once the schedules came out, I essentially laid out all the schedules of each team against each other and started plotting a path.

A chunk of my big spreadsheet with each teams’ schedule laid out

It became clear rather quickly that clockwise wasn’t going to work.  The east coast teams didn’t have enough convenient home games.  It would have been a nice perk to find a way to hit the All-Star Game in Florida, but the Rays (home before the break) and Marlins (home after) schedules would have necessitated a 6-day stay in Florida. Love ya Florida… No way I’m spending 6 days in southern Florida in July when I can instead spend it in the Pacific Northwest, where I’ve never been.

That question quickly answered: Counter-Clockwise.


Denver was the other remote location.  Because of the decision to go from Minneapolis to Seattle, I had to find a new way to fit in Denver.

The Trip

Looking at the map, it’s clear there are only two options:

  • Phoenix -> Denver -> Texas
  • Phoenix -> Texas -> Denver

The latter is the one that works with the MLB schedules and the dates I’ll be traveling.  It’ll result in one of the longer drives of the trip (Arlington to Denver, 12 hours), but I have a few days to get through it.  Unfortunately, this means I don’t get to cross through Louisiana and stop in New Orleans, but in early August, that’s not the worst thing to miss out on.

From Denver, it’s a pretty easy and obvious path the rest of the way.  Down to Miami, via Kansas City, Atlanta and Tampa.  Back up the east coast over a week’s time before returning through Pennsylvania to finish with a Thursday afternoon game between the Tigers and Yankees.

The route also takes me through or near as many as 15 National Parks.  There are a few that are in the plans and a few I may hit if there’s time.

In the plans

  • Badlands National Park (South Dakota)
  • Wind Cave National Park (South Dakota)
  • Olympic National Park (Washington)
  • Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)
  • Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park (California)
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park (New Mexico)
  • Guatalupe Mountain National Park (Texas)
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park (Colorado)

Possible Stops

  • Redwood National Park (California)
  • Pinnacles National Park (California)
  • Joshua Tree National Park (California)
  • Big Bend National Park (Texas)
  • Congaree National Park (South Carolina)

Possible but very unlikely

  • Channel Islands National Park (California)
  • Saguaro National Park (Arizona)
  • Biscayne National Park (Florida)

There are several others along the path that I’ve either been to (Yosemite, Yellowstone, Everglades) or know that I don’t want to rush through.   All together, it makes you realize just how much America has to offer. I’ll be on the road for 60 days and I’m not coming close to squeezing in as much as I want.  But it’s a good start.

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