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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tustin, California, United States

    Default The "Great West" Roadtrip

    Gah, it's been forever since I've been on these forums. I hate it when life gets too involved.

    It's a year ago (tomorrow) that I came home from my "48 states in 30 days" roadtrip. And what's really sad is that I haven't finished organizing my pictures and videos yet. I'm going to have to take a week's vacation and dedicate it to just working on that, day and night.

    Anyway, I was planning on Alaska and Hawaii back-to-back for 2006, with a "western states" roadtrip for 2007. As luck would have it, plans got changed and I've reversed those two trips.

    This year, I'll be going (with my folks) on a 2-week roadtrip around the mountainous terrain of the western United States. We'll be going through 10 states (technically touching 12, doing the Four Corners again ^_^) and actually spending full days at a few destinations instead of travelling every day.

    We'll be leaving Saturday, October 14th and tentatively returning as late as Sunday, October 29th. That would put our roadtrip in the "Fall 2006" category. Crowds will probably be substantially less severe than the summer. But we'll be quickly losing daylight as it's the final two weeks before the winter time change. There's also a risk of more adverse weather, especially freak snow storms that could alter our route.

    Some destinations will be repeats of my 2005 roadtrip. My parents and I have never gone on a trip, just the three of us, since I was born, so we figured to do this now before they get too old. The nice thing is that my parents are early risers and we'll be able to fully sleep and get going for the day between 6-7am, instead of leaving at noon every day like last year.

    From San Juan Capistrano, CA and heading east, we'll be visiting:

    Montezuma Castle (Arizona)
    Grand Canyon (full day stay)
    Monument Valley (Arizona)
    Four Corners (again)
    Mesa Verde (Colorado)
    Colorado Springs (full day stay)
    Mt. Rushmore/Crazy Horse (South Dakota - already saw this, parents haven't)
    Yellowstone (Wyoming - full day stay, unlike last time where we couldn't even stay in the park overnight)
    Spokane/Coeur d'Alene (Washington, Idaho - family/friends)

    After this we'll be going down through Oregon to see a distant relative and then make our way down the eastern side of California. If we have time at this point we can definitely see Yosemite National Park and/or Sequoia Kings Canyon on the way home. These are tentative and depend if we still have the emergency cushion day I have put aside.

    The full day stays are at Grand Canyon, Colorado Springs, and Yellowstone. Any pointers and/or inside tips on those areas would be appreciated.

    (Judy, I tried so hard to squeeze in extra time to go see Mt. Saint Helens this time around, but I couldn't do it. One of these days I'll just take a roadtrip straight there and dedicate a day to it. That will be when I do a random Idaho trip to see a friend.)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Welcome Back

    After your last adventure, you certainly know the pluses and minus of doing the speed run style trip, but particularly with your parents, I'd urge you to think about slowing down your pace even more.

    I know that while I could easily do a trip like this, or even a trip like you did last year, I don't think I could convince my parents to bite off anything close to this pace.

    I might alter your trip by cutting some of the more eastern sections off your trip. I'd start by cutting out South Dakota and maybe even Colorado Springs. Instead you could spend a little time enjoying the National Parks in Utah (I don't think you got to see them last time, right?), and spend a little more time in the Pacific Northwest - allowing you to actually squeeze in Mt. St. Helens.

    And while you certainly have spend plenty of time with your parents, it wouldn't hurt to take the Roadtrip Compatibility Quiz and make sure the same style of travel runs in the family.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tustin, California, United States


    Thanks for the tips, MM.

    Actually South Dakota and Colorado Springs are my folks' primary targets. My mom has friends in Colorado Springs that she wants to stay with for two nights. And neither of them have seen Mt. Rushmore, so it's quite high on their priority list. If it was just me, those are two destinations I would definitely cut or shorten if I had my choice.

    My folks have had their share of various roadtrips through the western states in their lifetime, so they know what to expect. For me, this will be vastly much easier than the 48-states dealie.

    After the Spokane/Coeur d'Alene destination, we'll pretty much complete our goals, and anything else is just an afterthought. We may pace ourselves more accordingly (aka slowly) coming back down to South CA. The national parks like Yosemite and Sequoia are not high priorities and may be cut if time is an issue.

    Other than touching at Four Corners, we're not going anywhere in Utah (again). It was a tough decision, since we all wanted to try and hit something there (mom wanted to see Arches, UT pretty bad). But our time would not allow it without vastly accelerating our roadtrip pace (even more than it already seems to be). We may do an exclusive Utah trip in 2008. I need to get Alaska/Hawaii off my chest first for 2007.

    I live with my folks still, so I know all about our (in)compatibilities. I'm pretty easy. I can just stick headphones in my iPod and gaze at the scenery when I'm not driving, out of everyone's way. Everyone in this group snores, so all of us will be bringing earplugs for sure.

    We've made reservations at Grand Canyon and Yellowstone already, but not without difficulty. (Most rooms are already full in Grand Canyon, and we're spending the very last night in Yellowstone before all lodges close for the season.) So the plans are in motion.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Axe the Canyon?

    I'm just thinking out loud here, but perhaps you should drop the Grand Canyon and head to Utah instead?

    Since you are based out of So Cal, it would be a lot easier to do a long weekend out to the Grand Canyon than it would be to bite off some of the Utah parks on a short trip. Not to mention, that I-70 goes through some beautiful country. It seems like a shame that you'd be heading through the area twice in 2 years, and miss it both times.

    Of course there is nothing wrong with covering the same ground twice, as I'm sure there will be things that will still be new for you on this trip.

    enjoy the ride!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tustin, California, United States

    Default Trip finalized

    Well I have finalized the route, and did make some changes.

    We decided to drop Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks for this run. That gave us an additional 2 days and shaved a few hundred miles off the route so we could slow down the pace, as suggested.

    We'll be spending an extra day (2 nights) in the Spokane/Coeur d'Alene area, and then we'll be spending a full day (2 nights) in the Oakland area for more family/friend times. We still have a 24-hour cushion for emergencies.

    We've decided to hit Utah exclusively in May 2008, and on the way back make stops at Yosemite and Sequoia. I'll post about this in the Spring roadtrips category when the time comes.

    Time to start preparations...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Sounds like a better pace

    It should be a good trip. Let us know if you need anymore help with the details. And I hope you'll post a trip report upon your return.

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