Recently I completed a 40 day ride around the Eastern half of the Country. I could have just rode aimlessly for 40 days targeting only the states I wanted to ride thru, but that is not my style. I have had 3 distinct riding lives, with this riding life I discovered scavenger hunts and Grand Tours.
For resources, the National Park Service has information about all the sites the fall under the NP service. There are affiliated sites that also have STAMPS , which count. Parkstamps.org is an invaluable resource for finding where the STAMPS are. I created a download of these locations to use in MapSource the mapping program from Garmin GPS's for routing. The newer version is call BaseCamp.
Since I only needed 25 states, I decided to keep the routes confined to states to east of the Mississippi River, sort of. Not feeling challenged enough, I added in Lighthouses for the IBA National Lighthouse Tour. A primary resource I used for researching lighthouses was Lighthouse Friends web site.
Adding the lighthouses in, the selection is widened. The icons are as follows: Log Cabins are the NP places from above, the yellow and red flag are Lighthouses, the red box with the diamond are places I figured I could view off shore lighthouses and get a picture. I created a base route using these locations
From the sites above I created a base route that would satisfy the 25 states for the National Park Tour and capture a bunch of Lighthouses, as well. This resulted in a 9,000 mile journey thru the eastern half of the US.
Next step was to figure out how many days using 250 - 350 miles a day, with 300 the being the targeted daily miles. I do not camp and purely a motel type person. I use Hotels.com for booking all my hotels and I ALWAYS book the next days hotel the night before or the morning of the days travel. Too many unforeseen events occur if you forward book your rooms and booking the night before/day of affords the most flexibility when traveling. This planning is NOT a 1 day sit at the computer and VIOLA you got the plan. I go thru many iterations of the plan, saving what I have done along the way. This is a great way to make those winter days go faster.
Once I had the overall route, I then broke that into daily chunks. Using Hotels.com I find hotels that are along the route to satisfy the mileage for the day and then create a day plan. Below is a sample of a 3 days worth of travel. This is plan and not an absolute thus subject to change. The green icons are hotels.
Every year for at least the last 9 years I have participated in TeamStrange's and GLMC's Grand Tour. TeamStrange's Grand Tour is called States of Confusion, GLMC's is the Hidden GEM Tour.
Once I have completed that process, the file is cleaned up of waypoints not being used by deleting them from the MapSource file. Cleaned up, its not so confusing I have a plan. It essentially incorporate everything I want to accomplish.
One final step is to create a daily itinerary. I developed a little application in Excel to extract the data out of MapSource and see what the timing is like for each days routes. No point doing all this planning to arrive at a NP Visitor Center after it has closed for the day or the sun has set and there is no available light to capture that picture of the lighthouse.