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  1. Default Southwest USA + Hawaii

    Hello there!

    I have found this forum via google while I was planning my trip to the SW of the USA. This forum seems to be full of USA experts, so I would be honoured if someone could check the feasability of my program.
    At this moment I only have the main ideas, the big places where one should certainly go to I guess. I am curious if there is enough time considering that I want to see all the spectacular sights. I am also thinking about spending some days in Hawaii at the end.
    I mainly focus my tour on a route described by a travel agency (but from SF to LA instead of LA to SF) and on the "Grand Tour" described in Lonely Planet "Southwest USA" page 29 of the 2008 edition.
    The travel period would be: August 31 - 2X September
    I will be hiring a car!

    So here it comes:

    Aug 31: San Francisco go from airport to hotel

    Day 1 (Sep 1): San Francisco
    Some ideas: Golden Gate Bridge, Cable Car, Chinatown, fisherman's wharf, Alcatraz, boat tour

    Day 2 (Sep 2): San Francisco - Yosemite
    Spend last hours in SF and go to Yosemite.

    Day 3 (Sep 3): Yosemity
    Ideas: Tioga Road and Glacier Point Road
    Interesting to do:

    Day 4 (Sep 4): Yosemity - Sequoia

    Spend almost entire day in Yosemity and at the end go to Sequoia

    Day 5 (Sep 5): Sequoia + Kings Canyon

    Day 6 (Sep 6): Sequoia - Death Valley
    In the morning drive to DV (could this be done already on Day 5?)
    Keywords for DV: Mosaic Point, Badwater Point, Dante’s View, Artist’s Drive, Zabriskie Point, Stovepipe Wells, Furnace Creek, Scotty’s Castle, Skidoo, Ballarat and Rhyolite, Keane Wonder Mine

    Day 7 (Sep 7): Death Valley
    Stuff that has not been done on Day 6 can be done today

    Day 8 (Sep 8): Death Valley - Las Vegas
    I guess with 2 days in DV, I can leave for LV in the early morning.
    Hoover Dam and go around in LV

    Day 9 (Sep 9): Las Vegas
    full day in LV or not?

    Day 10 (Sep 10): Las Vegas - Zion
    I am not so sure what to do best in Zion

    Day 11 (Sep 11): Zion - Bryce Canyon
    Between Zion and Bryce: Red Rock Canyon and Checkerboard Mesa
    Go to Bryce

    Day 12 (Sep 12): Bryce Canyon
    I've read that all view points are easily accessible by car, so one day through Bryce should be enough I think.

    Day 13 (Sep 13): Bryce Canyon - Capitol Reef - Moab
    Leave early, do scenic drive of Capitol Reef ( and go to Moab and see Arches.

    Day 14 (Sep 14): Moab

    Canyonlands: I have read about rafting, jetski and 4x4, this could be interesting!

    Day 15 (Sep 15): Moab - Mesa Verde - Monument Valley

    Leave in the morning for Mesa Verde and go on through Monument Valley

    Day 16 (Sep 16): Monument Valley - Lake Powell - Grand Canyon
    Spend a day at Lake Powell (can you actually swim there? :) )

    Day 17 + 18 (Sep 17 + 18): Grand Canyon
    IMAX show (I've read several times that this is MUST DO!!)
    Do as much as I can in the canyon.
    Including helicopter ride!! (but this is very expensive right?)

    Day 19 (Sep 19): Grand Canyon - Sedona
    visit Sedona, Flagstaff, Jerome, Williams

    Day 20 (Sep 20): Sedona - Kingman - LA
    visit Kingman
    long drive to LA

    Day 20 - 25 or 27
    Go to Honolulu = beach holliday for some days
    But also: go from Honolulu to Kona Hawaii to visit the volcanoes (I really want to see lava!!).
    We want a warm place to stay our last days and we want to be close to the sea! But I don't think LA beaches are warm, so combination to Hawaii would be great!

    I know this is still a very draft! I will make constantly changes, so that finally other people who finds this trip interesting could use it!

    It will become an expensive trip... I realize, so any tips on cheaper, but good places to stay are very welcome!
    Please comment on where I should spend more or less time.

    Many thanks!!!!

  2. #2


    Wow - that sounds fantastic! Pleased to see that you have done plenty of research and, apart from a bit of tweaking here and there, I reckon that's a pretty good base to start from. To keep costs down I would look to camp in/near the various national parks where you can (but you may have to book ahead to get spaces in more popular parks at that time of year) and I would definately buy that National Parks Pass the first time you hit a national park. It costs (IIRC) $80 but is valid for a year and gives you free entry to amy US national park (including the two in Hawaii) so will save you an absolute fortune. It also makes a nice souvenir I think. But that's just me!

    I will leave the suggestions to someone else and will try and look in again later (I am working right now supposedly!) but, in the meantime, have a read of my blog posts from my trip to Hawaii last year. It is a very cool place to visit but, seriously, it is going to cost you. A lot. Unless I was heading across the Pacific (I was flying from LA to Sydney so it was silly not to take advantage of the location of Hawaii!) I would maybe suggest looking at what alternatives there were if you really wanted to cut the costs down.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default A great, but busy schedule.

    Hello and welcome to R.T.A.

    That's a great itinerary but it will certainly keep you busy. At some stages I think you might be struggling to take in everything you have mentioned with the time to sit back and take it all in.
    To answer some of your questions and point out a couple of bits, I Would say,

    Day 5] You will not be able to see Kings canyon, Sequoia and get to Death valley. It's already going to be a long day but rather than head to Sequoia from Yosemite go to Kings Canyon first and then Sequoia, you will then end up exiting the park near Visalia [Exeter] and you won't have to double back on yourself. It will take the best part of 6 hours travel time to get into the heart of Death Valley from that area.

    Day 10] What to do in Zion ? There will be no shortage of things to do in this magnificent park. One of the most popular walks is the riverside walk. Very scenic and a gentle walk that you could easily spend 3 or 4 hours on. The path ends as it meets the Virgin river but you can paddle across and up the narrows. Emerald pools is another good trial and also a short walk to Weeping rock. The shuttle bus takes you to all the trial heads and there is lots of info at the visitor centre. On leaving the park as you come out of the Mount Carmel tunnel there is the Angels landing walk that overlooks the canyon. I have not done this as I am told it is not for anyone with a fear of heights and the wife has just that. The little town of Springdale at the entrance to Zion is a great place to stroll around and dine in the evening.

    Day 13] I doubt you will have time to see Arches on this day. I would say it's at least a 5/6 hour drive, add a few hours in Capitol reef and you will want to spend at least half a day at Arches. I guess this could be done on day 14 but wouldn't leave much time for rafting etc. Your next couple of days are quite full as well.

    Day 17] Helicopter ride ? We took a flight out of Grand canyon airport with Papillon Helicopters and loved every moment. Not cheap but worth every cent in my opinion.
    Here's the flight option we chose.

  4. Default

    Many thanks for your input guys! I will use your information and update my schedule as soon as possible.

    I think I will already book my flight Brussels-San Francisco - Los Angeles - Brussels. It is only 395 euro, so I think it is a great chance to do it now!

    Maybe it is better to leave Hawaii for what it is and do it another time. If I change my mind I can still book the flight to Hawaii (from LA) later, because I think this price stays more or less the same.

    At least around 4 last days should be beach holliday (for my girlfriend :) ). So if anyone has alternatives to Hawaii... I know there is LA and San Diego but according to the average climate that I've found on google it looks windy and not so warm to me.

    Is there anyone who thinks I should do the tour the other way? Starting from LA and ending in SF? I actually don't know why I am organizing it this way, since everyone does it starting in LA. But maybe there will be less traffic on my side of the road :).

    Thanks a lot!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    In my opinion, the best beaches in California are in San Diego.

  6. #6


    Don't let me put you off Hawaii. Just be aware that it will need some pre-planning (a lot of us prefer just to book the flight and work the rest out on the ground) and some money. If you can get a cheap flight then I would say go for it! There are a wide range of hotels in Honolulu (I can recommend the Aqua Aloha as not only one of the cheapest but for being very well positioned and pleasant) but elsewhere your choice is very limited and WILL need booking in advance.

  7. Default

    Don't worry... but as "Southwest Dave" already pointed out, I need some extra days in my schedule. The maximum that I'll be staying will be until September 27. So if I prolongue my stay in the Southwest, maybe the time for Hawaii will be too short. I will decide this when I update my program, but I did not have the time for this yet.
    Tickets for LA-Hawaii (two ways) are 330 euro. Then I would certainly need an extra ticket to go from Honolulu to the Big Island which also costs around 70 euro. So we're already talking about extra 400 euro! I haven't found better deals for these tickets (I've searched for September and even in March to see the difference), so I think these prices are a good indication.

  8. #8


    Sounds about right on the cost front there. I would very much be tempted to spend some extra time on the 'mainland' and see what that has to offer in greater depth whilst saving a few Euro. But that is just me ;)

    Can't really make any suggestion on the warm/beach requirement as I am not really into sitting on a beach myself. Although you could look into the cost of a Brussels - LA (overland) San Fran - Miami - Brussels (or any variant thereof) route for your trip?

  9. Default

    So finally I have arrived back to this forum with a small update. It took me a long time because I was (and still am) very busy. I have booked my flight finally. We'll arrive Aug 31 in SF in the evening and on Sep 25 in the morning we are heading back to Belgium.
    I am in negotiation for renting the car :) (this would be around 600€ for the entire journey). The next step is to book hotels/motels...

    Therefore I did a small update of my basic plan. Any suggestions on the feasibility would be more than welcome so that I can start soon with making the reservations.

    Here is the plan: (do you think this time scheme is realistic?)

    Aug 31: San Francisco go from airport to hotel
    Day 1 (Sep 1): San Francisco
    Visit SF
    Day 2 (Sep 2): San Francisco – Yosemite (ca. 4h drive)
    Visit SF, drive to Yosemity
    Day 3 (Sep 3): Yosemity
    Visit Yosemity
    Day 4 (Sep 4): Yosemity – Kings Canyon (ca. 3h30 drive)
    Visit Yosemity, drive to Kings Canyon
    Day 5 (Sep 5): Kings Canyon + Sequoia
    Visit Kings Canyon and Sequoia
    Day 6 (Sep 6): Sequoia - Death Valley (ca. 7h drive)
    Drive to DV in the morning, visit DV.
    Day 7 (Sep 7): Death Valley
    Visit DV
    Day 8 (Sep 8): Death Valley - Las Vegas (ca. 3h drive)
    Drive to LV around noon, visit LV
    Day 9 (Sep 9): Las Vegas
    Visit LV
    Day 10 (Sep 10): Las Vegas – Zion (ca. 3h drive)
    Drive to Zion in the morning, visit Zion
    Day 11 (Sep 11): Zion - Bryce Canyon (ca. 2h drive)
    Visit Zion, Red Rock Canyon and Checkerboard Mesa, head to BC
    Day 12 (Sep 12): Bryce Canyon
    Visit BC
    Day 13 (Sep 13): Bryce Canyon - Capitol Reef (ca. 3h30 drive)
    Drive to CR in the morning, visit CR
    Day 14 (Sep 14): Capitol Reef – Canyonlands – Arches (ca. 3h drive)
    Drive to Canyonlands (do some rafting/jetski/4x4), drive to Arches
    Day 15 (Sep 15): Arches - Mesa Verde (ca. 3h drive)
    Visit Arches and Mesa Verde
    Day 16 (Sep 16): Mesa Verde - Monument Valley (ca. 3h drive)
    Visit Mesa Verde and Monument Valley
    Day 17 (Sep 17): Monument Valley - Grand Canyon (ca. 8h drive)
    Day 18 + 19 (Sep 18 + 19): Grand Canyon
    Day 20 (Sep 20): Grand Canyon – Sedona (ca. 9h drive)
    Visit Williams, Flagstaff, Sedona
    Day 20 (Sep 20): Sedona - San Diego (ca. 9h drive)
    Visit Jerome, Kingman, drive to SD
    Day 21 – 25 (sep 21-25) San Diego
    Visit SD and relax

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

    Default Good job !

    Hello Luc, welcome back.

    I reckon your itinerary looks in really good shape. I am not sure if that's a typo but the good news is MV > GC > Sedona is nowhere near that travel time, closer to 3 hours each journey.

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