The Trans-America Challenge 2012

7th May - 8th June 2012

The Route Outline - Day-by-Day

 7th MayMonNewark, New Jersey - Collect vehicles   
Day 18th MayTueNewark to FrederickMaryland268432
Day 29th MayWedFrederick to VIRWest Virginia347559
Day 310th MayThuVIR to KnoxvilleTennessee358577
Day 411th MayFriKnoxville to MemphisAlabama427688
Day 512th MaySatMemphis, Tennessee - Rest Day   
Day 613th MaySunMemphis to Eureka SpringsArkansas322519
Day 714th MayMonEureka Springs to Dodge CityKansas498803
Day 815th MayTueDodge City to Colorado SpringsColorado354570
Day 916th MayWedColorado Springs to DurangoColorado365588
Day 1017th MayThuDurango to PageArizona332535
Day 1118th MayFriPage, Arizona - Rest Day   
Day 1219th MaySatPage to ProvoUtah302487
Day 1320th MaySunProvo to JacksonWyoming346558
Day 1421st MayMonJackson to BozemanMontana314506
Day 1522nd MayTueBozeman to Great FallsMontana210338
Day 1623rd MayWedGreat Falls to KalispellMontana255411
Day 1724th MayThuKalispell to Couer d'AleneIdaho261421
Day 1825th MayFriCouer d'Alene to OsoyoosBritish Columbia269434
Day 1926th MaySatOsoyoos, British Columbia - Rest Day   
Day 2027th MaySunOsoyoos to VancouverBritish Columbia247398
Day 2128th MayMonVancouver, BC - End of Leg 1 - Rest Day   
Day 2229th MayTueVancouver to QuesnelBritish Columbia414667
Day 2330th MayWedQuesnel to SmithersBritish Columbia304490
Day 2431st MayThuSmithers to Watson LakeYukon530855
Day 251st JuneFriWatson Lake to WhitehorseYukon435702
Day 262nd JuneSatWhitehorse, Yukon - Rest Day   
Day 273rd JuneSunWhitehorse to DawsonYukon370596
Day 284th JuneMonDawson to DawsonYukon108174
Day 295th JuneTueDawson to FairbanksYukon389627
Day 306th JuneWedFairbanks, Alaska - Rest Day   
Day 317th JuneThuFairbanks to AnchorageAlaska360580
 8th JuneFriAnchorage Prize Giving   

LEG 1 - New York to Vancouver 22 days

Day 0: Newark NJ

Today we collect the vehicles for the crews who have shipped them in followed by documentation, safety checks and a competitor briefing for all entrants. The evening will feature a welcome cocktail reception and gala dinner before an early night ready for the rally start in the morning.

Day 1: Newark NJ to Frederick MD 268 miles (432 kms)

The first day on the road sees the event leave Newark for the fairly short journey to Frederick in Maryland allowing time to visit Gettysburg for lunch and keeping most of the afternoon free to visit the various battlegrounds and museums in the area. We leave Newark on the highway before heading into the wonderful Pennsylvania countryside and “Bridges of Madison County” land before our stop at Gettysburg.

Gettysburg was the scene of the most famous, or infamous, battle in American history where for three days on July 1st to the 3rd 1863 165,000 soldiers of the Union and Confederate forces fought each other with devastating casualties on both sides. The latest estimates suggest that there were over 46,000 casualties over the three days and the battle is often seen as the turning point in the civil war. There are over 40 miles of battlefield roads to explore together with numerous museums.

From Gettysburg it is only a short run on the highway to overnight halt at Frederick.

Day 2: Frederick MD to V.I.R. VA347 miles (559 kms)

Leaving Frederick we head southwest passing Harpers Ferry, where John Brown made his ill fated raid on the arsenal in his quest to abolish slavery.

We then head into the Shenandoah National Park, part of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, using the scenic Skyline Drive, where we might be lucky enough to see Black Bear or even Mountain Lion before continuing south through the George Washington National Forest and our first optional gravel section of the event. Continuing south the route goes through lovely traffic free Virginia country roads before arriving at the fantastic Virginia International Raceway (VIR), one of Americas finest race circuit complexes, for some evening fun and our overnight accommodation.

Day 3: V.I.R. VA to Knoxville TN 358 miles (577 kms)

We plan to use the circuit at VIR again before we leave the area and then head west to re-join the Blue Ridge Parkway. Another optional gravel section loops off the road before we continue west into North Carolina and a chance to stop for lunch in the town of Jefferson. Continuing west the route enters Tennessee passing the birthplace of the famous Wild West pioneer Davy Crockett then into the town of Sevierville. Sevierville is the birthplace of Dolly Parton and everyone in the town is very proud of her, the main road is named after her, and she contributes much to the local economy.

Our stop for tonight is in the town of Knoxville in Tennessee. Knoxville was named after the first Secretary of War, Henry Knox, and was formerly known as the “Underwear Capital of the World”

Day 4: Knoxville TN to Memphis TN 427 miles (688 kms)

A longer day today as we drive west across the width of Tennessee. Oour optional gravel sections for the day, includes a road called Bear Knob with a total of 15 hairpin bends one after the other, a fantastic driving road. Another optional section follows before we join the Interstate for the rest of the journey to Memphis. Timing for the day will stop at the end of the second gravel section so that those crews who want to visit the Country Music capital of Nashville can do so before heading to the overnight halt.

Crews not wanting to visit Nashville can continue at their own pace to our hotel for the next two nights in downtown Memphis and relax for the rest of the day.

Day 5: Memphis TN  -  Rest Day

Our rest day in Memphis is planned for a Saturday so there will be plenty to see and do. Elvis fans will have the chance to visit Gracelands and those in need of a bit of retail therapy can shop till they drop in the city’s superb shopping area.

The evening is free with no organised group dinner so crews can enjoy the delights of Beale Street, less than one block from our hotel, where you can listen to wonderful authentic blues music until 5am if you want, as well as enjoy a meal at one of the excellent restaurants that line the street. Just remember we have a reasonably early start the following day.

Day 6: Memphis TN to Eureka Springs AR 322 miles (519 kms)

Today begins with the short trip across the “Mighty Mississippi” and into Arkansas and then continues west to our first gravel section near Heber Springs on the shores of the Greers Ferry Lake. Lunch can be taken at one of the restaurants near Greers Ferry before we continue through the town of Clinton and into the magnificent Ozark National Forest where we will spend most of the afternoon.

A second optional gravel section follows; a superb road through the forest, but the all tarmac road is also wonderful drive on a sunny afternoon. Our halt for the evening is the lovely old world town of Eureka Springs where our hotel is at the top of a hill with the original buildings of the town spread out below. A very pretty setting for an early evening stroll before the serious business of dinner.

Day 7: Eureka Springs AR to Dodge City KS 498 miles (803 kms)

A long day through the flat lands of the Mid-West. The roads are excellent tarmac for the whole day and with little traffic the miles quickly disappear. We use part of the historic Route 66 and there will be a chance to have coffee in the Prairie Rose Grill before continuing the drive towards our overnight halt of Dodge City.

Dodge City was made famous as a frontier town in the Old West and famous residents included the Earp brothers, Wyatt and Virgil, Bat Masterson and the infamous Doc Holliday. Today you can see a re-enactment of an old style gunfight each evening in the historic “Boot Hill” area which is just a short drive from our hotel.

Day 8: Dodge City KS to Colorado Springs CO 354 miles (570 kms)

Today the route continues to go west leaving the flat lands and straight roads of Kansas behind and enters Colorado near the town of Walsh. We enter the Comanche National Grasslands near the town of Springfield and then turn north onto superb, fast gravel roads to the first optional section of the day.

Staying in the Comanche territory we head through the town of La Junta and a chance to get some lunch and have a break before our second optional section which runs alongside the Arkansas River. After leaving the section the route takes highway 50 to the town of Pueblo and then joins I-25 for the short run to our overnight halt in the wonderful city of Colorado Springs. Crews who want to take the opportunity to drive the world famous Pikes Peak can do so this afternoon. The road climbs to over 14,000 feet but can only be driven at a leisurely 15 mph, the Rangers time cars and anyone taking less than an hour from bottom to top is fined, but the views are incredible and it is well worth the small toll fee.

Day 9: Colorado Springs CO to Durango CO 365 miles (588 kms)

Day 9 begins with a run into the Rocky Mountains before we take to county roads and the first optional section of the day near Wagon Tongue. We continue to head west through Salida crossing the Monarch Pass at 11,312 feet before entering the Gunnison National Forest and enjoy some superb driving roads and our second section.

Lunch can be taken in Gunnison before our final section of the day takes us across country to join state road 550 for the run through the old mining town of Silverton before reaching our overnight stop in the city of Durango. Durango is the end of the historic Silverton to Durango railway and the old style steam trains can often be seen running alongside the road into town.

Our city centre hotel for the night is close a large number of bars in which to enjoy a drink before the group meal.

Day 10: Colorado Springs CO to Page AZ  332 miles (535 kms)

We start Day 10 heading west into the Canyons of the Ancients and cross from Colorado into Utah. The road is a smooth tarmac road as far as McElmo Canyon and then becomes gravel for those who want a little competition; there is an all-tarmac alternative as usual. Our first section ends at Blanding and the route then continues west past Black Mesa before turning south into the Valley of the Gods and the Glen Canyon.

The view as you crest the hill at Moki Dugway is breathtaking with the valley spread out below you, stopping to take photographs and take in the view is an absolute must.

Our journey continues via Mexican Hat along highway 163 to one of the true natural wonders of the world: Monument Valley. This area provides some of the most enduring and definitive images of the American West. The isolated red mesas and buttes surrounded by empty desert have been seen in countless movies but only by visiting the real thing can you truly experience the colour and majesty of the area.

Timing for the day will end at the entrance to the valley so crews can take as much time to explore the area as they would like. Lunch will be taken in the restaurant with fantastic views of the whole area and there will be 4x4 vehicles available to hire for crews wishing to take a drive right into the valley, a trip of about 17 miles each way. From Monument Valley our route heads into Arizona to our hotel for the next two nights in the town of Page on the shore of Lake Powell.

Day 11: Page AZ   -   Rest day

Lake Powell is the 2nd largest man-made lake in the USA. There are 96 major canyons to explore and boats are available from many locations along the shoreline. Rest, relax or repair the choice is yours today however, you could also decide to take a flight to see the Grand Canyon in all its majesty. Many people who have visited the canyon come back and say the very best way to fully appreciate the enormity of it is to see it from the air. Helicopter and fixed wing flights are available from Page.

If a flight to the canyon is not for you then other options include Colorado River Rafting, visiting Antelope and Bryce Canyons or enjoying a round of golf at the local 18 hole course.

Day 12: Page AZ to Provo UT  302 miles (487 kms)

After a traditional breakfast we will head north away from Page using the excellent gravel road through Cottonwood Canyon. There is an all-tarmac alternative but it is much longer and there will be plenty of time allowed for those crews who wish to take it easy.

We next go through the Bryce Canyon National Park and then through the Dixie National Forest and a chance to have a well earned rest and lunch at Salina. The Bryce Canyon National Park features a number of horseshoe shaped amphitheatres where erosion has carved the limestone into thousands of spires, fins, arches and mazes. Collectively called “hoodoos” these unique formations are tinted with colours too numerous and subtle to name. After lunch the route skirts the San Pitch Mountains before our final section of the day over the lovely Nebo Loop Road through the Uinta National Forest.

This wonderful tarmac road climbs to over 9,000 feet as it twists and turns its way around Bald Mountain before we drop down onto I-15 for the last few miles into Provo on the shores of Utah Lake. Our hotel for the evening is in the city centre and there will be time to do a little exploring and enjoy a pre-dinner drink or two in one of the many bars in this University City.

Day 13: Provo UT to Jackson WY  346 miles (558 kms)

We leave Provo on a Sunday morning which means we should have a traffic free run through the suburbs of Salt Lake City before heading into the Wasatch Range and a short optional gravel section leading to East Canyon State Park. Continuing northwards the route goes into the Wasatch Cache National Forest and our second section on wonderful smooth gravel roads through the Ant Valley. The all-tarmac alternative route will take cars through Brigham City, named after the founder of the Mormon religion Brigham Young following his last speech there in 1877.

Both routes will join at Logan for a run through the magnificent Logan Canyon down to Bear Lake. Bear Lake is the second largest natural freshwater lake in Utah and has been called the "Caribbean of the Rockies" for its unique turquoise-blue color, the result of suspended limestone deposits in the water. Its water properties have led to the evolution of several unique species that live naturally only within the lake.

We follow the shores of the lake into Idaho before a chance to get lunch at the Paris Café in the town of the same name, a very traditional diner with a new and enthusiastic owner, the food is really good as well. Our journey for the day finishes in the ski resort of Jackson, often known as “Jackson Hole” where our hotel is in the lovely old-world town centre.

You must try an early evening drink at the Million Cowboy bar in the main square where the bar stools are real saddles you sit astride as the cold “Bud” slips down.

Day 14: Jackson WY to Bozeman MT     314 miles (506 kms)

As we leave Jackson the views to our left of the snow capped Teton Mountains are spectacular and are a reminder of why this is a ski area in the winter months. Today there is no timing so crews can enjoy the beauty and splendour of Yellowstone National Park which we will enter by the south entrance. A toll of $25 per car is payable but it is well worth the money. Yellowstone was the first National Park created in March 1872 and is most famous for its wildlife and geothermal features especially the geysers.

Most of the park lies at an altitude above 7,500 ft so the weather can change very quickly and crews should be prepared for a colder day than normal. Our route takes crews to the site of Old Faithful, the most well known and regular of the many geysers in the area, the time of the next eruption is displayed in the visitor centre and there are seats all around to get the best view. Crews will have the option of driving the Grand Loop Road, a distance of just over 90 miles, which goes round the interior of the park.

Expect to see Grizzly Bears, Black Bears, Wolves, Bison and Moose. Both Lynx and Mountain Lion are in the park but are shy creatures and rarely seen in daylight. After leaving the park the route heads into Montana and the Gallatin National Forest leading to our overnight halt in Bozeman.

Montana is the largest land locked state in the US and has the third lowest population density so the roads outside of major towns are traffic free.

Day 15: Bozeman MT to Great Falls MT   210 miles (338 kms)

Day 15 is one of the shortest days as the route continues its journey north. As on other days there are two different routes, one containing a number of gravel road sections, the other all tarmac. The gravel sections begin just outside Bozeman heading through rolling countryside to the tiny settlement of Maudlow and then through the Elkhorn Ridge of the Gallatin National Forest to re-join the tarmac at Ringling. Continuing north past Black Butte Mountain the routes separate again at White Sulphur Springs with the gravel roads alongside the Helena National Forest through such places as Mud Gulch and Wagner Gulch.

The all tarmac route follows highway 89 through the Little Belt Mountains and the Lewis and Clark National Forest, named after the famous explorers, before reaching our overnight halt in Great Falls. Great Falls is named for a series of waterfalls that the Lewis and Clark expedition took 31 days of hard work to portage around. It is also known as the “Electric City” due to the five hydroelectric dams that are nearby.

Day 16: Great Falls MT to Kalispell MT    255 miles (411 kms)

Day 16 sees the route stay in Montana to enjoy more of the empty roads and wonderful scenery. First we pass Freezeout Lake before a short optional gravel loop and then into the Blackfeet Indian Reservation lands and Heart Butte to arrive at East Glacier Park, the gateway to the Glacier National Park and a nice place to have a cup of coffee and a short break. From East Glacier the route follows Looking Glass Hill, a road generally closed in the winter months, to the gate of the stunningly beautiful Glacier National Park.

We plan to use the famous “Going to the Sun Road” , one of the most scenic roads in the whole of the United States, which goes through the 6,646 ft Logan Pass and crosses the Continental Divide. Should the road be closed, as it can be if the winter has been severe, we will visit the Many Glacier Road. Many Glacier is surrounded by the high peaks of the Lewis Range, and numerous hiking trails can be accessed from the area. The region is noted for numerous lakes, waterfalls and dense coniferous forests interspersed with alpine meadows.

After leaving the park the route heads west along highway 2 around the northern edge of the Great Bear Wilderness to our hotel for the evening in Kalispell, one of the fastest growing communities in Montana.

Day 17: Kalispell MT to Couer d’Alene ID    261 miles (421 kms)

After a leisurely start to the day we head west into the Kootenai National Forest and the Lost Trail Wildlife Refuge. Lunch can be taken in the town of Libby before heading into the Cabinet Mountains and a stop at the Giant Cedars with over 100 acres of these immense trees growing alongside the Ross River, many being over 200 years old. Leaving the cedars behind we drive along the shores of Lake Pend Oreille to our hotel for the night in the resort town of Couer d’Alene in Idaho. Barbara Walters, the journalist and TV news anchor, called Couer d’Alene “a little slice of heaven” and included it in her list of most fascinating places to visit.

Our hotel is the main resort located in the old town with plenty to see during a pleasant pre-dinner stroll among the many shops and buildings.

Day 18: Couer d’Alene ID to Osoyoos BC    269 miles (434 kms)

Today we leave the US behind and head into Canada, but first the route goes west away from Couer d’Alene crossing into Washington State and through the city of Spokane. After a stop for coffee in Springdale we cross the Columbia River using the Gifford Ferry, which is a free service provided by the local community, and then onto the wonderful scenic drive through Bridge Creek before turning north to cross the Wauconda Summit at 4310 feet and the border town of Oroville.

For those looking for some competition there will be two optional gravel sections in the Okanogan National Forest which then re-join the tarmac alternative just before the border crossing. Our hotel for the next two nights is in the town of Osoyoos located in the heart of the Desert Wine Country so there should be a good wine list with our dinner tonight.

Day 19: Osoyoos BC  -    Rest Day

Our hotel is on the shore of the lovely Osoyoos Lake, the warmest fresh water lake in Canada. Enjoy a relaxing day off on the lake, you can wakeboard or parasail and even spend the day fishing. For the golf minded there are two golf courses in the area or you could always go and try some of the local wine direct from the growers.

Tonight is a free evening with no group meal so crews can enjoy a meal in one of the many restaurants in the town or just outside.

Day 20: Osoyoos BC to Vancouver BC   247 miles (398 kms)

An easy final day for those crews taking part in the New York to Vancouver leg, as we use roads close to the US border to arrive in Vancouver in time for a late lunch and a chance to explore the downtown area before dinner.

Day 21: Vancouver BC   -   Rest Day

For those crews joining the rally for the Vancouver to Anchorage leg today will be taken up with checking of the cars, documentation and event briefing before everyone meets up for dinner in the evening. The dinner will be a welcome for those joining us and a farewell and prize giving for those crews who are doing only the New York to Vancouver leg. Those crews going the “whole way” can just enjoy a nice free day and leisurely dinner.

LEG 2 - The Klondike Rush - Vancouver to Anchorage 9 Days

Day 22: Vancouver BC to Quesnel BC    414 miles (667 kms)

So much to see, explore and savour From Vancouver we head north into the wide open spaces of British Columbia. We pass Horseshoe Bay and take Highway 99, the “Sea to the Sky Highway” through Whistler, venue for the 2010 Winter Olympics before taking to gravel roads for some of our journey to the overnight halt in Quesnel.

Located in a quiet valley surrounded by beautiful green mountains and lush forests Quesnel was the last stop on the Fraser River for gold prospectors to stock up on provisions.

Day 23: Quesnel BC to Smithers BC    304 miles (490 kms)

The planned route for today uses mainly smooth gravel roads to a lunch halt at Fraser Lake. This town was originally a fur trading post established in 1806 and is the easternmost point the Lake District, a land dotted with lakes, rivers, mountain ranges and valleys. After lunch we head west towards Houston and then join the Yellowhead Highway to our overnight stop in Smithers. Smithers rests at the foot of Hudson Bay Mountain which will provide a truly spectacular backdrop for your evening pre-dinner cocktail.

Day 24: Smithers BC to Watson Lake YT    530 miles (855 kms)

The longest day of the rally faces us today as we head even further north and into gold rush territory. We leave Smithers on the Yellowhead Highway taking in some gravel roads near Hazleton before joining the scenic Cassiar Highway at Kitwanga and will stop for lunch at the Bell ll lodge which also serves fuel in this remote area. After lunch the long journey continues leaving British Columbia and entering the famed Yukon Territory and into our hotel in the town of Watson Lake.

Day 25: Watson Lake YT to Whitehorse YT    435 miles (700 kms)

Our journey today takes us up the Campbell Highway to the picturesque town of Ross River. This is a wide fast gravel road through stunning scenery of rivers and mountains. Lunch will be found in Ross River as will the only fuel in the area so make sure you fill up before leaving. After lunch we head south down the Canol Road, built during the construction of the North American Pipeline to the Arctic oilfields.

We re-join the Alaska Highway at Johnsons Crossing and then head west to Whitehorse for our hotel for the next two nights. Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon and home to some of the most spectacular scenery in Canada. Often called the “Wilderness City” Whitehorse nestles on the banks of the Yukon River surrounded by mountains and clear mountain lakes.

Day 26: Whitehorse YT   -  Rest Day

Whitehorse was established as a trans-shipment port during the Gold Rush of 1898, it was given the name “White Horse” by miners who thought the rapids in Miles Canyon looked like the manes of charging horses. As the capital of the Yukon Whitehorse has many attractions for a restful day.

A visit to the Copperbelt Museum takes you back in time to the Gold Rush era and this could be followed by a trip along the banks of the Yukon River on the Waterfront Trolley. For the more energetic a walk along the Millennium Trail is a must or a visit to the Miles Canyon to cross the suspension bridge over the rapids which gave the town its name.

The evening is free so enjoy one of the many restaurants in the old area.

Day 27: Whitehorse YT to Dawson YT   370 miles (596 kms)

Today we continue through the Yukon wilderness and even further into gold rush territory as we head north using the Klondike Highway. A stop for lunch in the town of Carmacks then continue passing a number of abandoned old mining towns before crossing the Yukon, Pelly and Stewart Rivers before arriving in Dawson for the night halt. Dawson was where gold was first discovered in 1896 which triggered what was arguably the world’s greatest gold rush as nearly 100,000 people descended on the territory looking to find their fortune. The town retains a feel of the Wild West with raised wooden walkways and saloon swing doors on many buildings.

Day 28: Dawson YT to Dawson YT   Loop - 108 miles (174 kms)

A short gravel road loop out of Dawson today, for those crews in the Sporting Category, although any tourers may join us if they wish to. The route runs through the Bonanza Creek gold discovery area before returning to Dawson for lunch and an easy afternoon. Those crews in the Touring Category who do not want to join in today can choose to take advantage of the day to explore the town or even try a little gold prospecting of their own.

Day 29: Dawson YT to Fairbanks AK  389 miles (627 kms)

Today we cross back into the USA following the “Top of the World Highway” and then join the excellent gravel roads of the Taylor Highway through the town of Chicken, one of the few remaining true gold rush towns, and a chance to get a cup of coffee and world famous cinnamon roll at the café. We will stop for lunch in Tok, a town that started as a camp during the construction of the Alcan and Glenn Highways in the 1940’s, before we head up the Alaska Highway to Fairbanks.

Fairbanks is called the “Golden Heart of Alaska” a reference to the character of the people, and is only 188 miles south of the Arctic Circle so the days during summer are very long and surprisingly warm.

Day 30: Fairbanks AK  -  Rest Day

As it may be a long time before many of you return to Alaska we have taken the opportunity to have an extra rest day in Fairbanks, Alaska’s second largest city. Our hotel has a wonderful car museum on site which is well worth a visit together with a wildlife area to stroll through.

Those looking for a little more adventure can book a whole range of activities from a Gold Mine Tour, a Riverboat Discovery Tour, a flight over the Arctic Circle and even a trip to Barrow in the remote north. As befits any US city Fairbanks has a great selection of retail outlets to reduce the bank balance and a superb range of restaurants to have a quiet lunch or lavish dinner.

Day 31: Fairbanks AK to Anchorage AK  360 miles (580 kms)

The last day of the rally as we head south to our finish venue in the city of Anchorage. We use the George Parks Highway, passing the Denail National Park and Mt McKinley, which offers unparalleled views of the Alaskan landscape. A lunch stop is planned about halfway along the highway to enjoy the views and a final rest before the run in to Anchorage and the finish.

Anchorage is a truly wonderful place in which to complete such an adventure as the city is embraced by mountain ranges and with a maritime climate that makes the evenings very pleasant indeed. This evening is a last chance to relax with your new found friends and colleagues and swap some of the “tales of daring do” from the rally as we plan to have our gala dinner and prize giving tomorrow morning so that no one has to rush or worry about missing out on collecting any hard-earned trophies. 



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