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  1. #1
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    Mar 2005
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    Default Roadtrip #3: Utah - May 2007

    Hey guys and gals,

    Returning from yet another haitus of the RTA forums. The time goes by so quickly.

    Anyway, I have been hoping to follow-up my initial 48-state roadtrip from 2005 with a trip to state #49 of Alaska, but after getting the total package price for me and my folks at $8000(!!!), we decided to scrap that plan and do something we originally intended on taking in May 2008.

    On my original roadtrip, I only touched the state of Utah at Four Corners, and last year we drove around the southeastern edge when we visited Monument Valley. Only now, we plan on driving into the heart and seeing everything possible.

    My folks and I will embark on Mother's Day, May 13th. This roadtrip will be 10-11 days, and I don't plan on seeing it extend past 2000 miles.

    From San Juan Capistrano, CA, the tentative itinerary is now:

    Day 0 - Drive up to Death Valley, CA (we'll leave in the afternoon)
    Day 1 - Death Valley, CA then head to St. George, UT
    Day 2 - Zion National Park, UT
    Day 3 - Bryce National Park, UT (signed up for the horseback ride)
    Day 4 - Capitol Reef National Park, UT
    Day 5 - Canyonlands National Park, UT
    Day 6 - Arches National Park, UT
    Day 7 - Salt Lake City, UT (Sunday morning - Tabernacle Choir)
    Day 8 - Great Basin National Park, NV
    Day 9 - Yosemite National Park, CA
    Day 10 - Sequoia National Park, CA
    Day 11 - Home (Cushion Day)

    As you might have guessed, I'm trying to get all the major national parks out of the way. My Dad has one of those senior passes he bought for $10 that gives him unlimited access to all of the parks. I dig it. :)

    We've already got the first week in hotels booked, but it's kind of up in the air on how the second week will be faring. Our last trip was 4,800 miles in 15 days. I figure 2,000 miles in 10 days will be much easier to handle. Not so much freaking out and driving. Should be pleasant.

    Anyone else out there have some ideas for us?

    (BTW Mark, I'm heading out to Vegas this weekend from Thursday to Saturday. I may have some time in the morning to stop by if the office is open...)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
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    Las Vegas, Nevada
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    9,257

    Default You might need a helicopter on two legs....

    Quote Originally Posted by Kinless View Post
    Returning from yet another haitus of the RTA forums. The time goes by so quickly.
    Nice to see you back here again!
    Only now, we plan on driving into the heart and seeing everything possible.
    Well, sorta, your schedule won't allow for much more than cursory look at the area -- but it is pretty great. There are a couple of problems --
    Day 8 - Great Basin National Park, NV
    Day 9 - Yosemite National Park, CA
    You will need a helicopter for this one! Tioga Pass is still closed. If Sonora Pass is open, you might reach Yosemite in 11 hours -- but that doesn't leave any time for seeing it.
    Day 10 - Sequoia National Park, CA
    Here is a good thread for combining a quick trip to Yosemite with Sequoia.

    Whew! I know you are capable of traveling large miles -- you have done it before -- but this schedule is crazy -- even for you!

    Mark

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor View Post
    You will need a helicopter for this one! Tioga Pass is still closed. If Sonora Pass is open, you might reach Yosemite in 11 hours -- but that doesn't leave any time for seeing it.
    Ha, now that I did some more Sierra Nevada research, I see what you mean. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

    According to the current records, the 2007 snowfall up there in Yosemite is at a 20-year low. So keeping that in mind, when I checked their road closure records for 1988, they opened up Tioga on April 29th. So it sounds like I have a better than 50% chance of the road being open for May 22nd. Obviously I'm not going to bank on it, and will have a contingency plan in place.

    For Day 10, we were going to leave Delta, UT and travel 90 miles to the Great Basin National Park (sounds like the high point there is the Lehman Caves tour) and from there we were going to dip south on highway 6 to Tonopah and lodge there before moving on to Yosemite the next morning.

    However if Tioga stays closed, the contigency plan will be to stay on highway 50/I-80 west and loop around the Tahoe area (Carson City/Reno), where we can lodge somewhere in the vicinity (or even further along if we make good time) before we trek south on highway 49, back to the 120 to the western side of the Sierra Nevada. That would eliminate having to loop around highways and lose time.

    Obviously I'm not going to reserve any hotels for that night because of the tentative nature of our plans, which should be OK because it's the start of the work week (and the last one before Memorial Day weekend!) so bookings should be moderate at worst.

    Thanks for that thread about Yosemite/Sequoia; I'll definitely do some research on that. Yosemite was only going to be a 3 or 4 hour stay anyway, so it's not like we wanted to spend all day there. Actually Sequoia is almost more of a priority, and wouldn't mind skipping Yosemite completely in favor of Sequoia, although I'd like to get both in there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor View Post
    Whew! I know you are capable of traveling large miles -- you have done it before -- but this schedule is crazy -- even for you!
    Oh ye of little faith. :) Unless there's some showstopping weather, I'm pretty confident we'll make it through and through.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
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    Las Vegas, Nevada
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    Default Road Trip to Old Nevada!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kinless View Post
    According to the current records, the 2007 snowfall up there in Yosemite is at a 20-year low.
    That is true -- it is scary how little snow there is. Still here is the official un-official predictions made by RTA roadtrippers....
    For Day 10, we were going to leave Delta, UT and travel 90 miles to the Great Basin National Park (sounds like the high point there is the Lehman Caves tour)
    While the caverns are awesome -- there is plenty to recommend Ely and the surrounding area. For instance, do you like memorabilia and one of the best steaks in the west?
    and from there we were going to dip south on highway 6 to Tonopah and lodge there before moving on to Yosemite the next morning
    Make sure you take the time to check out the mining museum!
    However if Tioga stays closed, the contigency plan will be to stay on highway 50/I-80 west and loop around the Tahoe area (Carson City/Reno), where we can lodge somewhere in the vicinity (or even further along if we make good time) before we trek south on highway 49, back to the 120 to the western side of the Sierra Nevada. That would eliminate having to loop around highways and lose time.
    if Tioga is closed -- consider Sonora Pass!
    Oh ye of little faith. :) Unless there's some showstopping weather, I'm pretty confident we'll make it through and through.
    Yeah, but you will still miss lots of things!

    Mark

  5. #5
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    Mar 2005
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    Tustin, California, United States
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    Default

    Thanks for your help with Nevada. With all that great advice, I can narrow down what to do for Day 10.

    OK, so if all goes well, we can hit the Great Basin Park (and the caves/Wheeler trail) first thing in the morning, then check out Ely (my folks are into the old western stuff you spoke of) and have a great steak lunch at that Jailhouse Café. After that we'll race to Tonopah and get in a quick tour of the mining museum before calling it a day.

    That last stop, of course, depending on a certain pass (Tioga) or two (Sonora) being open. :)

  6. #6
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    Default Unlikely to be open -- but if it were....

    Quote Originally Posted by Kinless View Post
    That last stop, of course, depending on a certain pass (Tioga) or two (Sonora) being open. :)
    Actually, there is another pass, that if open (extremely unlikely) could be one of the highlights of the year! Bar, none -- my favorite road over the Sierras is CA-4 (over Ebbetts Pass) and if by some amazing miracle it were to be open on this trip -- it is a drive you will never forget. The approach is actually over CA-89 over Monitor Pass (from US-395) and then westward on CA-4. There is a high altitude lake at Ebbetts Pass that will blow you away. But, like I say, it is very unlikely that it would be open in May.

    If Tioga and Sonora are still closed, I would suggest staying on US-95 to US-95A and take the side trip to Virginia City before following US-50 across the Sierras.

    Mark

  7. #7
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor View Post
    Actually, there is another pass, that if open (extremely unlikely) could be one of the highlights of the year! Bar, none -- my favorite road over the Sierras is CA-4 (over Ebbetts Pass) and if by some amazing miracle it were to be open on this trip -- it is a drive you will never forget.
    Your apparent lack of enthusiasm for Route 4 leaves me with little other choice. :)

    I have a female colleague from work who agrees with you about that route. It's where she used to live so she highly recommended it.

    I'm hoping for a warm spring, so not only will the passes be open, but the waterfalls in Yosemite will be at full blast. Excellence.

    (Sorry I missed you guys in Vegas the past weekend. Had a great trip out and back. Desert driving never gets old for me.)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
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    Default Great Basin and more on SE Utah

    Quote Originally Posted by Kinless View Post
    For Day 10, we were going to leave Delta, UT and travel 90 miles to the Great Basin National Park (sounds like the high point there is the Lehman Caves tour)
    If you are in moderately good shape, the hike up to the top of Wheeler Peak is very nice too. My father and I stayed at Great Basin overnight several years back as a stop between Northern CA and Arches and that was the highlight of the stop in Great Basin for me.

    As an aside, it is somewhat out of your way and you may not have the time for it, but I enjoyed Hovenweep NM quite a bit -- it is over on the Colorado/Utah border. There is also a nice museum nearby in Blanding. It would make a good day with Natural Bridges if you decide to make it down to the SE corner of Utah. Also, down here is Muley Point which has phenomenal views from the top of Cedar Mesa down into Monument Valley. It is easy to spend a week or two just down in the SE corner of Utah -- my father and I have done it twice and could easily do so again.

    Anyway, just some more things to add beyond the well-known circuit of Arches, Bryce, Zion, etc. in Utah.

    Hope this helps,
    Jon
    Last edited by jcorb2d; 03-27-2007 at 10:08 AM. Reason: Clarification

  9. #9
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jcorb2d View Post
    If you are in moderately good shape, the hike up to the top of Wheeler Peak is very nice too.
    Well my folks are pushing into their 70s, and I'm a computer nerd who almost never exercises, so I don't think we'll be shooting for the "family most likely to hike up Wheeler" award.

    Quote Originally Posted by jcorb2d View Post
    As an aside, it is somewhat out of your way and you may not have the time for it, but I enjoyed Hovenweep NM quite a bit -- it is over on the Colorado/Utah border.
    I actually plan on trying to get in Natural Bridges on our way from Capitol Reef to Moab. Not sure if we can make anything else since that day will already contain a fair amount of driving and I don't have any days left to extend the trip.

    Thanks for your help, Jon. If I don't get to those destinations, I'll be sure to mark those points for next time. I love the Four Corners area so eventually I'll see everything.

  10. #10
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    Default Extra days added

    Well, I was able to get a few extra days available for the trip, so I now have 13 days at my disposal instead of 11. May 13th-25th is the new schedule. That last day is still reserved as a cushion, just in case.

    Also, on our first day, the fam and I are going to stop at Calico, just east of Barstow, CA, to check out the ghost town. Apparently they're having a "Bluegrass in the Spring" festival that day so we'll be able to catch a few hours of that.

    For day 7, my folks were talking about a dinosaur park in Ogden, UT, north of Salt Lake City. They sound really interested in it, but I took a look at the website and the park looks kinda lame to me. I like dinosaurs and all but this wouldn't be anywhere near the top of my priority list. Anyone else been there (dis)agree with me? We already planned to spend a good part of the day in Salt Lake City before heading back south to lodge in Delta, UT.

    As for the Sierras, Tioga is looking very promising this year, as we plan on heading over that around May 22nd, although I still have the options of Sonora and Ebbetts as well.

    I pack this weekend. Oh so looking forward to it. :)

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