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  1. #1

    Default First time help please- from UK

    Hi everyone,

    I'm trying to plan the ever popular road trip from SF to vegas taking in the important sights over 14 nights. I can even start at say pnoenix and finish there if a circuit is best. Basically i'm open to all the help i can get.

    We are a married mid 30's couple who take photography equally seriously with good holidays. We are hoping to pick up a car and move comfortably through yosemite, utah, arizona, nevada, new mex etc etc but don't know exactly. This may need two trips to do well. My main concerns are;

    1) when do i go?
    2) where do i stay that is scenic or rustic, yet comfortable. we'd love to be at a ranch and then move on to a motel if required and then to whatever so we get a feel for the place.
    3) Where are the photos best taken and what time of day?
    4) How much should this cost?
    5) Is there a good guide to planning the roadtrip ?

    Thanks in advance, i'm sorry for the list.

    K

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    7,961

    Default Opinions, Not Answers

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Well, the first thing I'm going to tell you is that in my opinion, there are no hard and fast answers to any of your questions. There are options and preferences, but everyone will pick a slightly different route and places to see, that's the beauty of the classic RoadTrip, so let me just lay out what some of your options are. First, I think, you'll need to decide when to come and what city to use as your flight destination. You actually have several options. I think that there are direct flights between London and San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix, and maybe even Salt Lake City. Each of those would serve as a gateway to the American Southwest.

    As far as timing, I'd suggest either late spring or early fall, say May or October. These times would have the advantage of being outside the most heavily traveled periods and would offer the best chance of having moderate temperatures in both the desert and mountain portions of your trip. The downside is that you run some risk of having some of the Sierra Nevada mountain passes being closed due to snow. Still there would be ways around in that case. In general, the best pictures of the amazing landscapes are taken in morning and evening light, but if you're even an avid amateur, you can get great images at any time of day.

    Cost will depend to a very large extent on your travel style. My wife and I tend to travel modestly but well (no camping but comfortable accommodations and good meals) and I use $150/day as a rule of thumb for food and lodging. Flights and care hire are separate unique items and petrol can be calculated once you know how many miles you'll be driving. And finally, the regulars around here would agree with me (I think) that you have in fact already found one of the best all-around guides to planning a RoadTrip by finding this web site. To help you plan your trip, you should start by looking through these discussions of what's available in the general area you want to visit. That should get you started.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    8,418

    Default Agreed

    Hello and welcome to R.T.A.

    I can't add much to what Buck has said, but I will emphasise that these forums are a fantastic source of information and helped us a great deal in planning our first ever trip from the U.K and you can see how it turned out in our trip report that covers much of what you have mentioned already and may give you an insight.

    San Francisco was our choice, I am not a city fan but have always wanted to visit S/F and enjoyed our short time there with a side trip to Alcatraz.
    We went in mid October and was glad we did, the crowds were gone, the colours and light were great for photography and the temperatures were just right for hiking through the canyons, although you need layers of clothing as it gets chilly to cold on the high ground at night. Our only regret is that the waterfalls in Yosemite are pretty much dried up this time of year but missing the crowds and closures on the high ground in the park was more of a priority.
    Although the days are getting shorter it gives you ample opportunity to capture those sunsets and sunrises, and boy, they're incredible.

    Once you have got a couple more ideas come back with some more questions
    and we can help you piece it all together.

  4. #4

    Default

    Thank you guys for the pointers.


    I'm not sure i'm patient enough to wait till next october so it's likely to be may 2009. I will use your advice and look at the links here. This is a great site and i'm glad i found it. I was lookin at the North American Travel service brochure for hotel/motel ideas and a route structure. There's one they call the pueblos and canyons which i broadly like. I wouldn't book that though because then i'm restricted to that timescale. Also, does one drive without hotel/ ranch etc reservations ahead or can you just roll up?

    Which map, accomodation guide should i buy to plan this thing?

    Thanks

    Kul

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,958

    Default answers

    Also, does one drive without hotel/ ranch etc reservations ahead or can you just roll up?
    It largely depends upon your own comfort level/desire to balance risk (that you won't easily find a room) with freedom (to change your plans at will). This article discusses the pros and cons of each option. Personally, I rarely make reservations, except when I know I'm going to be in a specific place at a specific day or I know the area is in high demand (like the grand canyon) and motels are likely to fill up.
    Which map, accomodation guide should i buy to plan this thing?
    You can check out our map recommendations here, but you might also check into the UK's version of AAA (I believe its called the AA?). They should be able to provide both maps and books with hotel recommendations.

  6. #6

    Default

    Thanks all,


    I've read SW daves trip report. Great pics and description. It seems there's a lot of RV talk here. Is this what makes it best or can i hire a nice 4x4 or something as there's only 2 of us?

    Also RV suggests campgrounds rather than hotel motel etc? Is this right? Do u choose this because you're closer to the scenery or does it not matter ?

    We'd like to stay in places that are reasonably comfortable except pay more where the view or the experience counts. By this i mean maybe a night in a ranch as opposed to a hotel. Or maybe in San Fran and vegas?

    I don't know if there is an accomodation guide. Is there one?

    Cheers

    Sorry bout the questions.

    Kul

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,958

    Default RV's

    I think your biggest problem might be that you don't understand what an RV is? An RV is a self contained unit, basically a home on wheels. You wouldn't stay in a motel because you'd already have everything that you'd get in a motel with you. Campgrounds give you a place to park, with water and electricity, and a place to dump the sewage tanks.

    Its certainly not the only way to travel, but its an option that a lot of people like. It sounds to me like you're looking for more of a motel based trip, which is a perfectly fine way to travel.

    4x4's are available to rent, but they tend to be more of a vanity issue than a practical one. Even if it has 4 wheel drive, you can't take it off road, and you'll end up paying significantly more than you would for a regular sedan.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    8,418

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by K and S View Post
    Thanks all,


    I've read SW daves trip report. Great pics and description. It seems there's a lot of RV talk here. Is this what makes it best or can i hire a nice 4x4 or something as there's only 2 of us?

    Also RV suggests campgrounds rather than hotel motel etc? Is this right? Do u choose this because you're closer to the scenery or does it not matter ?
    Kul
    The R.V is just a personal choice and the way we like to get around. It offers a lot of advantages as well as some disadvantages, the main disadvantage, especially for 2 of you would be the cost, which would more than likely come to more than renting a car and hotels, but it does give you a certain amount of freedom. Once again it's a personal opinion but It can get you closer to the scenery, it's the whole 'sitting around the campfire' thing appeals to us and makes us feel more part of it.
    Personally I would'nt bother with a 4x4, you won't need one and it will just add costs so a nice car will do the same job for less, and quite possibly more comfortably.

    We'd like to stay in places that are reasonably comfortable except pay more where the view or the experience counts. By this i mean maybe a night in a ranch as opposed to a hotel. Or maybe in San Fran and vegas?
    For accomodations in the National parks you can navigate your way around there site. More expensive than staying outside but it saves you a lot of time travelling in and out in some cases and puts you right amongst the heart of it.

    For other accomodations we just googled places that we thought we may end up in on a night and had a look through vacancys and checked them out on trip advisor.

    Sorry bout the questions.
    No problem, all the time you need to just keep asking away. ;o)

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    I think your biggest problem might be that you don't understand what an RV is? An RV is a self contained unit, basically a home on wheels. You wouldn't stay in a motel because you'd already have everything that you'd get in a motel with you. Campgrounds give you a place to park, with water and electricity, and a place to dump the sewage tanks.

    .
    Hi,

    I do understand what an Rv is but not the reasons behind choosing one for us. As Dave has said, we can go with a comfortable car and have the same access to areas. I think an Rv might be too big to drive around for just 2. It does sound nice to sit round a fire etc but emptying sewage tanks etc isn't quite as nice sounding.

    How bout a convertible? That sounds good, but are they cold in the higher passes in may or too hot in the day to enjoy?

    We had one in england but it was as useful as a chocolate teapot with the weather here.

    I will look at the lodges in Grand canyon, yosemite etc.
    Should i be planning the route first with a map. I have 14 days or so, any thoughts on how many days in each place?

    Do i see denver in all this or am i going too wide here?

    Cheers,

    K

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    8,418

    Default

    Hi,
    A convertable does sound good and I would think you will have plenty of opportunity to get the roof down, whether it is practical for carrying all your stuff around and the extra expense is something you would have to look at.

    I would start by looking at some on line mapping such as google maps or windows live to get an idea of distances but there times are often way short of the reality.
    The parks are massive and a couple of nights in each will give you time for an overview of Yosemite and Grand canyon but again in reality you could spend 14 days in Yosemite alone. A lot will depend on how you want to split your time between driving and sight seeing and walking, it's good to get a nice balance.
    Unless you do a one way drop off between San Fran and Denver [which would cost extra] then I would say it's to far from S/F to Denver and return given your time frame.

    The idea of pointing you towards our trip was to give you an idea of possibilities for visiting rather than the R.V approach.

    I would do a little more research on distances, where you are going to start and put a rough itinerary together and we can then help you piece it together and fine tune it with you.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 08-18-2008 at 03:19 PM. Reason: typo

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