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  1. #1

    Default A Winter Road (Snow) Trip - San Francisco to Denver Jan 20

    Having visited the US National Parks from Australia a few times in summer - and hiked with amazement, (our pics from summer 2006 - http://www.flickr.com/photos/53261301@N00/ )we are planning a trip in Jan2007 to see them in all their Winter beauty. We love to cross country ski in Australia, and hope to do this in some of the national parks, but would also love to experience the many other winter activities available in the USA. Eg - Shoe Showing, dog sledding, ice skating ? and possibly even snow mobiling +++ others. ?

    We have 4 weeks, commencing in San Francisco Mid Jan 2007 (Martin Luther King holiday weekend) and fly out of Denver Mid Feb 2007. The last week of our trip will be spent at Snowmass (Aspen) with some friends from the USA and we will go Alpine (downhill?) and cross country skiing there.

    We have a tentative route that takes us: over 19 days

    San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Seqoia Nat Park ?, Death Valley ? Las Vegas, Bryce Canyon, Salt Lake City - and nearby ski fields, Jackson Hole / Tetons, Yellowstone (Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel ?) then south east (via ??) to Snowmass / Aspen. - transit to Denver.

    Now all my questions !! :-)

    Does the above route seem ok - what places would you add / leave out ? (I am thinking of dropping Sequoia and Death Valley to allow more time at the others ?)
    I would really love advice on the sorts of different actvities we can do , and places we should visit on our trip. Also places to stay that may be a liitle different / unique. I guess we would have an upper limit of around $150 US a night, and hopefully mix that with a number of $50-90 nights. We are happy to stay at Hostels, and placesl like Yosemite Bug. Has anyone experienced
    staying at the 10th Mountain Division Huts ?

    We will have a rental car - San Francisco to Snowmass. Am I ok in renting a compact size car , Will we need chains (Must carry them in the mountains in Australia and use them occassionally). The rental companies cant seem to guarrantee chains would be available - will they be expensive to buy ?
    As we are hoping to spend most of the time in the snow - should we consider a small 4wd rental ? I think we will drive one car to say Reno, and then hopefully get a car suitable for snow conditions to drive the rest of our trip.

    Any suggestions on an econimical way we can get from Snowmass to Denver for our flight home, I have found Colorado Mountain Express (www.cmex.com) but the fare is about $100 US each.

    Really appreciate all hints, help and humour

    PS - any suggestions of songs for our winter road trip also greatfully accepted.

    Thanks OneCheekyWombat

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default Stay North

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Does the above route seem ok - what places would you add / leave out ?
    I think considering your time available, and your desire to experience winter, I think I would cut out everything south of Yosemite. You'd listed off 11 places to visit during your 19 day trip, so by the time you factor in your travel time, you really wouldn't have much time to enjoy any of those places.

    I think you could have a much more enjoyable time if you went from SF to Yosemite, then onto Tahoe, and straight across Nevada to Salt Lake City. From there Head north to the Tetons/Yellowstone. On your way back to Colorado you might have time to check out Mt Rushmore and the Black Hills and take a trip through Rocky Mtn. NP on your way towards Aspen.

    I guess we would have an upper limit of around $150 US a night, and hopefully mix that with a number of $50-90 nights.
    That should be easy to stay within your budget. I'd say the $50-90 per night is just about average for most budget to mid-level hotel chains in the US.

    Will we need chains (Must carry them in the mountains in Australia and use them occassionally). The rental companies cant seem to guarrantee chains would be available - will they be expensive to buy ?
    You will need chains - they are required in Yosemite during winter, and could be useful in many other places - and they shouldn't be hard to get. Most autoparts stores in mountainous areas do carry them, including those in the towns that are outside of Yosemite. They shouldn't be too expensive - probably around $30 for a set.

    As we are hoping to spend most of the time in the snow - should we consider a small 4wd rental ? I think we will drive one car to say Reno, and then hopefully get a car suitable for snow conditions to drive the rest of our trip.
    It would be worth considering, however I suspect switching from a compact car to any 4wd rental will easily double if not triple your rental car costs. It also wouldn't make much sense to switch cars. Not only will you see plenty of snow between SF and Reno, but it would almost certainly be cheaper to stick with one car and avoid multiple drop fees.

    Along those same lines, it could very easily be cheaper for you to hold onto your rental car for a few extra days and drop it at the Denver Airport than it would be to drop off the car in Aspen and then find alternate transportation.

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