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  1. Default South west and West coast road trip

    We are a European Canadian couple going on a 2 month dream trip to the West. And any advise is greatly appreciated.

    We have decided to break it up into 2 loops, heading out from San Francisco each time. In April we will go to the South West then in May up the coast and to Yellowstone, and that part of the trip is coming together.

    We are targeting National Parks and plan to do a lot of hiking + camping. I'm, like so many, wandering if we should rent an SUV of if a midsized car is enough. There is a lot of different information about accessibility in the National Parks. I have heard that some parts in Death Valley are only accessible by high clearance vehicles, and also some parts of Arches and Canyon lands i.e.The Maze, What about other parks, i.e Monument Valley or Mojave National Preserve? Mostly it seems that most hiking areas are rather accessible but I would appreciate any advise on this. Also, I would be grateful for any comments on our itinerary.Is it logical or if we are missing out some must places to visit.

    Day 1 From San Francisco to Death Valley NP
    Day 2-3 Death Valley NP
    Day 4 Las Vegas
    Day 5 Lake Mead
    Day 6 ,7, 8, Zion NP
    Day 8-9 Bryce Canyon NP
    Day 10 Go to Moab
    Day 11, 12 Arches
    Day 13, 14 Canyonlands
    Day 15, 16 Mesa Verde NP
    Day 17, 18 4 Corners, Monument Valley
    Day 19, 20 Lake Powell
    Day 21, 22, 23 Grand Canyon
    Day 24 Route 66 to Mojave
    Day 25 Mojave NPres. Joshua tree
    Day 26 LA
    Day 27, 28 Coast, Big Sur , Monteray
    Day 29 San Francisco

    Thanks a lot!

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

    Default 2 big ones

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    It seems like you're missing two obvious stops in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. It would make sense to spend a couple days at those two parks before crossing the Sierra and heading to Death Valley. If you're looking to take time away from places, you could enjoy Zion and Bryce in less than 5 days, or you could combine a few other places like Arches and Canyonlands and only spend 2 or 3 days between them instead of 4.

    Going to Yosemite first would also eliminate a rather huge drive at the very start of your trip. You're looking at around a 10 hour drive from SF to Death Valley if you drive direct. If that first day includes a long flight (especially if its from Europe, but even it is just from the east coast), then I think you'd be trying to do way to much to do all that driving after a long flight and while dealing with jetlag.

    If you don't want to visit Sequoia and/or Yosemite, then I would look at flying into Las Vegas, which would put you much closer to your starting point.

    As far as vehicle rentals go, 4 wheel drive is ususally a very big waste of money. There are roads that require high clearance in Death Valley, but no rental cars or SUVs are allowed to drive on them (off-highway travel would violate the rental agreement). You can still have a really nice time visiting any of these places staying on the main roads.

    I will also say that you will certainly want to pick up the national parks pass ($80), which will save you a lot of money on this trip. You can purchase it online through the national parks service website, or just wait until you get to the gate of your first national park and buy it there.

  3. Default

    Thanks a lot Midwest Michael!

    When editing my original post I seem to have deleted that Yosemite is included in our second loop, in May (up the cost, Yellowstone, and Yosemite and than back to SF, and it is the April loop that is coming together). Sorry about that.

    But we had not included Sequoia for some reason but we will change that. Our understanding was that it would be too early to go Yosemite in early April, some roads and trails still closed, and no flowers. That is why we were planing that crazy first day. Isn't there snow up there until late April?

    Flying in to San Francisco rather than Las Vegas is more connected to what we want to do later,we are coming from the east coast, so we are going to spend the night before heading out early next morning. But still that might be to much driving, so maybe we should stay one night around Bakersfield or Ridgecrest.Or start with Sequoia and look at Zion/Bryce again.

    Thanks for your tips on the SUV and the park pass. I hadn't realized that those dirt roads were off limits to rentals - then there no reason to get a 4wd.

    I have a question about Lake Powell, is Page the main access point or should we go to Glen Canyon somewhere more north in Utah, and just pass through Page?

    Thanks again.
    This forum is such a great resource when planing a trip to new places!

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

    Default beyond april

    Parts of Yosemite are closed because of snow until Late May or June. You'll be dealing with the same basic elements at Glacier National Park, if that is part of your 2nd loop. Even Yellowstone doesn't really get into full swing until June, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy those places in the early season. April can still be a great time to visit Yosemite, things like waterfalls will be near peak viewing.

    I think it would be helpful to know your entire trip/the second loop, so we can get the full picture of what you're hoping to do.

  5. Default West Coast, Yellowstone, Yosemite in May

    We had decided to skip the Glacier park because we are traveling so early and rather spend more time in Yellowstone/Grand Teton area. There is just so much to see.

    So here are the outlines of our second loop

    Day 1, 2 San Francisco, Sonoma, Napa (via Point Reyes)
    Day 3-4 California Coast
    Day 5 Redwood NP
    Day 6 Oregon Coast, Stop at Florence
    Day 7 Florence to Portland
    Day 8 Mont St Helens
    Day 9 Mont Ranier
    Day 10-11 Olympic Peninsula
    Day 12 Seattle
    Day 13 Missoula
    Day 14,15,16 Yellowstone
    Day 17-18 Grand Teton
    Day 19 Salt Lake City
    Day 20 Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake
    Day 21,22,23 Yosemite
    Day 24,25 Sequoia
    Day 26 Beach
    Day 27 San Francisco

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