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  1. Default Help needed - Roadtrip: Denver - Seattle - S.F - Las Vegas - Denver


    Me and my girlfriend are planning our first roadtrip at the moment. Were flying out from Sweden to Denver in the middle of May. The plan is to be out on the roads for about a month, give or take a few days, with the following (very sketchy) route:

    Well start in Denver, and go north through Wyoming (and probably visit Yellowstone) to Montana. Wed really like to see Seattle and Portland, so the plan is to go there, and then travel south along the coast to San Francisco. From S.F. wed go east to Las Vegas and then continue to Albuquerque, where well turn north and go back to Denver.

    Will there be enough time to visit all these places in about 30-35 days? The route will be, according to my calculations, about 3700 miles (or 6000 kilometres). For many hours do we need to drive every day to make this? Were both fairly inexperienced drivers on this scale, although we both have had driving licenses for many years. Wed probably want to stay a few days in Portland, S.F. and Las Vegas, but except for that well try to drive every day. We have around 4000 dollars each to spend, will this be enough? Were both used to travel cheap, and will try to do the same on this trip.

    All help is very much appreciated. A million thanks in advance!


  2. #2


    God dag, Daniel, and welcome to RoadTrip America!

    That sounds like a fantastic trip but it really depends on how quickly you want to go as to whether you have enough time (obviously!) Personally I really like to keep moving so that wouldn't present a challenge to me but I am aware too that I have een known to speed past certain places and regret later that I didn't hang around. From what you say I think that you are maybe similar and will not have an issue either.

    You say that you will have a budget of $4,000 each for the trip - is this to cover everything including car rental, gas, accomodation, food, etc. Being on the road is not cheap but you can, as you suggest, cut costs by camping along the way. Is this what you were thinking? There is a very useful fuel cost calculator on this website but you'll obviously need to budget on the 'worst case scenario' that they give you a huge V8 at the rental desk. One thing in our favour, as Europeans, is the cost of gas is ludicruously cheap right at the moment. The exchange rate isn't great so the car rental may not be cheap but the gas cost is a HUGE bonus when travelling lots of miles like on your trip.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default spring season

    One thing you may want to consider is that because you are traveling in May, there some things that will have not yet reopened after Winter.

    Yellowstone for example, much of the park starts to reopen in May, but it isn't fully back operational until June.

    If you continued to Glacier National Park, Going to the Sun Road often doesn't open until June.

    Yosemite national park can also be affected as Tioga Pass through the park across the Sierras doesn't typically open until late may or early june.

    Obviously, all of these things are weather dependant so some luck will be involved regardless. However, you might want to reverse the direction of your trip so you don't hit those weather affected areas until later in your trip.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Easy driving

    If you drove every day, it's only about 2.25 hours/day of driving. I don't think you'll have any problems traveling the distances and seeing the highlights. Of course, it's impossible to see everything as you could travel this route for several years and still not have time for everything. But if you prioritize, you'll be fine.

    I always think it's a good idea to have a goal point at the end of each week so you know if you're getting behind schedule or running in front of it. In other words, it's just as bad to be behind and have to rush at the end as it is to get ahead of yourself and find you have lots of time at the end of your trip, thus realizing you could have seen more at the beginning.

    I'm a bit concerned about your budget. You might check out this post for ideas on how to determine your budget. Of course, you'll need to add in the cost of your rental car.

    I like Michael's suggestion of reversing your route so you're more likely to have access to the northern places at the end of your trip. Definitely visit Yellowstone. There's a reason it's the most visited national park. You'll see stuff there that is out of this world.

  5. Default

    Thanks for the advices, all of you! Much appreciated. Well definitely reverse the direction of our trip, and start by going south instead.

    Car rental is not included in the 4000 $ we have each. Instead, this is the amount of money we can spend on accommodation, food, entry fees and so on. I read somewhere that you usually spend around 100 $ a day when you do a trip like this, and if this is true I guess well be ok?!

    Another question: How are the roads in, for example, Montana and Wyoming (for example Interstate 25 and 90)? Whats the speed limit? Is it easy to find cheap motels along these roads? Many Swedes travel in the south of USA, but its not very common that they travel up in the north, so its really hard to find information about this on Swedish sites.

    Finally, Im sorry if my English is not that good. I havent written anything in English for ages, so Im not quite used to it :)

    Thanks again!


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

    Default Your English is great!

    Your English is better than some English-speaking folks I know. :)

    Interstates are the main roads in the US and are built to certain standards that allow for the big trucks that haul goods across our country to travel virtually year-round with incident. Grades, shoulders, curves, etc. are made as smooth, wide, and gradual as possible for the terrain. Except in the worst of weather, you shouldn't have any problems driving on any interstate.

    Hotels, restaurants, and gas stations are usually found regularly along interstates. It's almost impossible to drive more than about 20 minutes between them. If you do encounter a more sparse stretch of interstate, there are usually signs warning you. They will say something like "No services for XX miles". I think the longest stretch I've ever seen without any services is a 47 mile stretch over a high-mountain pass. So this will rarely be a concern for you.

    Of course, this doesn't mean that you'll always find a cheap motel when you need one. Some of the chains that tend to have the lowest prices are Motel 6, Super 8, Econolodge, and Day's Inn. As others have noted, some of the chains that are a bit higher-priced often have a nice, free breakfast buffet which actually makes them cheaper if you take advantage of it. However, I'm not a big breakfast fan so I usually stay in places without because I'm not gonna eat the breakfast anyway. You might want to spend some time checking out the websites for the various chains to get an idea of what they offer so you'll know which ones you want to stop at.

    Mom & Pop motels (these are locally-owned, independent motels) can be quite nice, too, but since there is no chain management overseeing them, the quality and cleanliness really varies. I would definitely ask to see the room before I agree to rent it at these types of places.

    Hope that helps a bit. Keep asking questions.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Here is a chart of United States speed limits.

    Interstate highways qualify as "freeways".

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Pretty amazing graphic

    GLC, That is kind of a cool map.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by Dannewelander View Post
    I read somewhere that you usually spend around 100 $ a day when you do a trip like this, and if this is true I guess we’ll be ok?!

    Is it easy to find cheap motels along these roads?

    Finally, I’m sorry if my English is not that good. I haven’t written anything in English for ages, so I’m not quite used to it :)

    Daniel, My budget when I travel is much less than that. I do mostly hostels, tent camping, campground cabins, or cheap motels. With two of you, it is very doable. Often the cost for two is the same as the cost for one.

    You will find purchasing food in the local supermarkets, and making use of cooking facilities in campgrounds and hostels will save you a lot. Most cheap motels have at least a microwave available, if not in the rooms, then usually at or near reception. At many service stations and fuel stops one can find magazines which have discount coupons for accommodation. These are worth looking out for.

    When travelling from Yellowstone to Denver, make sure that you go through the Big Horn Mountains - an incredible place, and well worth reading up on and seeing.

    With all the National Parks you plan to visit, you will save if you purchase a National Parks Pass. They are incredible value.

    And as for your English. You should be proud of it. Much better than most folks I know.

    Have a great trip.

    Lifey who travels on a very tight budget
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 01-07-2009 at 08:46 PM. Reason: add link

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default A wonderful trip !

    And plenty of time to do it and enjoy every moment.

    It is such an amazing area you will love it, the area you are covering passes by so many wonderful National parks and as Lifey mentioned below an annual
    pass from the NPS will save you money, normally after your first 4 visits to any park. Here is there website that is full of info about the parks and accommodations as well as being able to check what is or isn't open. Just click on the map to link to a park in that area.
    As an overseas visitor the pass isn't available on line but you can purchase it at the first park entrance gate you go too.
    As well as the Grand Canyon, check out Yosemite, a few hours from San Fran, it shouldn't be missed out. A few hours from Vegas you also have the beautiful parks of Zion and Bryce canyon.

    If you have an idea of your routes, you are more than welcome to post them up and maybe we can point you in the direction of some 2hidden gems".


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