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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Skamokawa, Washington
    Posts
    9

    Default Western US Road Trip

    Hey there. :)

    A good friend of mine and I got a couple weeks off to play with in June and were planning a road trip. We'd be leaving Astoria, Oregon on the 11th of June at about 4am and plan to take the Pacific Coast highway down as far as we can - My cousin lives in Alameda, CA, so we figure we'd stop there for a night.

    After we leave Alameda, we plan to go to LA, Tucson, Phoenix, Grand Canyon, Albuquerque... And then come up through Colorado, Wyoming, see Old Faithful/Yellowstone, shoot up to Kalispell, Montana to visit family and then come back through Seattle on I-90 and back south on I-5.

    Can this trip be done in two weeks and still leave us time to do stuff? We definitely want at least two days in Phoenix and LA - I've never been to Disneyland and neither has he... and we'd like to experience that to the best of our ability. :) To go from LA to Tucson, we were gonna go down to San Diego and cut across on I-8.

    Neither one of us have ever been to LA before, but I've been studying maps and doing a lot of research on it. We also have a GPS system we plan to bring to help us get around. Question, however: what places should we check out and what places should we avoid like the plague? We'll be coming in on Hwy 101 and plan on going over to Arcadia before coming south to Anaheim.

    Still not 100% sure about Albuquerque... Really haven't done much research as to what is there... Will do that research later, though I would welcome any tips as to what there is to do there. :)

    Would also welcome any advice as to what there is to do anywhere else on the trip. :D

    Thanks in advance! I look forward to reading up on this later - I always like being prepared when driving through a major city I've never been to... especially LA. My friend says I'm nuts for studying maps two months before the trip, but... at least I won't get lost. ;)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default too big, too much

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you are really really trying to do more than what is realistic for your timeframe. This is a very big country, and I think you are really underestimating how long it can take to cover ground.

    The Pacific Coast Highway alone from Astoria to LA will be a bare minimum of 5 days. Its just not a road that you can fly down, and quite frankly, I don't know why you'd want to leave at 4am on this scenic route (since you can't see much in the middle of the night).

    The rest of your loop runs from LA to Seattle via AZ, NM, CO, WY is about 3000 miles as a real rough "best case" estimate. That's another 6 days worth of driving, if you spend almost all day on the road for each of those days and that doesn't include extra stops.

    If all you want to do on your trip is drive around for 14 days, then you could make your trip work, but if you want to explore and enjoy yourself, then you need to scale back. Based on why you've said, I'd think a loop down the coast, over to Phoenix and back up through Utah could be workable. However, I would leave off the more eastern stops like NM, CO, and WY for this trip.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Skamokawa, Washington
    Posts
    9

    Default

    Thanks for the welcome :)

    Living in the pacific northwest, we've driven the Pacific Coast highway quite a few times - by the time dawn breaks, we'll be coming into the more scenic stuff. Northwest Oregon is boring to us. :P On that stretch of highway, we'd be more interested in seeing the Redwoods of Northern California.

    Yes, most of what we want to do is drive, but there are some definite major stops. Grand Canyon is one of them, Disneyland is another as well as Yellowstone & Old Faithful.

    I suppose we could see what our time frame is when we get to LA and adjust from there. We have friends that live in Tucson and Phoenix and those two places are definite stops to go to. We've never been to NM, CO, WY, or MT, so that's why I wanted to go through those places. I've always wanted to see the Rockies.

    Assuming that we have the time to go through those states, what are some things to check out?

    Thanks again. :)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Skamokawa, Washington
    Posts
    9

    Default

    Modified our route a little bit - knocked a few hours off the drive time, anyway. Instead of going east to Albuquerque after the Grand Canyon and up through CO and WY, we'll, instead, go west to Las Vegas and then come up I-15 to Salt Lake City and up through Idaho and Montana, detouring off to Yellowstone on the way. This way, we can still see Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon while at the same time visit a couple friends in Vegas. Neither one of us has ever been there, but I've always wanted to go. Could be fun. :)

    This gives us 9 states: OR, CA, AZ, NV, UT, WY, MT, ID, WA.

    We'll most likely have little to no stops in Oregon, Washington, and extreme northern California, save for bathroom breaks and a food stop or two. We're going to have a cooler in the car with us, too, that plugs into the cigarette lighter that we'll have cold drinks in. Given that we'll be in the SW corner of the US for most of the trip, we'll have LOTS of water.

    I think this route is doable in 14 days.. neither one of us are the tourist type - we tend to choose a destination (or a few destinations, lol) and drive until we're there. While one drives, the other either sleeps or takes pictures/video if we so choose to.

    Thoughts? :)

    Thanks again!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Better

    Are you leaving off Tucson and Phoenix?

    This is certainly more workable. While I understand zipping through areas you've already seen before, I don't understand why one would want to sleep while the other drives. And miss all the fascinating scenery along the way? I would advise against that. "Even if you don't have time to stop and explore much, at least enjoy what you're driving past.

    Anyway, with your changes, two weeks should be enough time depending on how long you linger in LA and LV.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default Agreed.

    I totally agree with Judy's comments

    I think this route is doable in 14 days.. neither one of us are the tourist type - we tend to choose a destination (or a few destinations, lol) and drive until we're there. While one drives, the other either sleeps or takes pictures/video if we so choose to.

    Thoughts? :)
    For me the road trip is the distraction from being the "tourist type". The destinations you have listed are the "tourist traps", but for good reason, they are amazing. But those little "personal spots" you stumble across on the road between these places are often the most memorable of your trip.

    Have a great time and enjoy sharing the journey.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Skamokawa, Washington
    Posts
    9

    Default

    Thanks, Judy & Dave, for the comments. :)

    Tucson and Phoenix are definite stops - we have friends who live in both places and would like to spend at least one night with each of them. When we leave Phoenix, we plan to leave early and go straight to the Grand Canyon - spend a couple hours there taking pictures, buying souveniers, etc. And then head straight for Vegas. We have a couple friends who live there too. :)

    We most likely won't be sleeping while the other drives - I merely used that as an example. :) I get car sick if I try (plus I'm the navigator, so I'm watching the GPS unit and telling him where to go).. He can sleep in the car, but... I doubt he will. Too much excitement driving through places neither one of us has been to.

    Thanks again! :)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Phoenix to the Grand Canyon to LV in one day is not the way to see the Grand Canyon. If you only spend 2 hours there, you are wasting your 25 bucks.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Skamokawa, Washington
    Posts
    9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Phoenix to the Grand Canyon to LV in one day is not the way to see the Grand Canyon. If you only spend 2 hours there, you are wasting your 25 bucks.
    Are there any hotels near the Grand Canyon? Or is Flagstaff the closest? Neither one of us has ever been there, so if you can suggest anything to do there, that'd be awesome. :) The route I have takes us to the south rim... should we check out the east or north rims, too? Let me know as we're open to suggestions. :)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default A little research.

    Hi lascelles,

    In your first post you described the Grand canyon as "a major stop" and now you refer to it as "a couple of hours there", which in all honesty isn't enough time to drive through it never mind take in it's fantastic views.

    I think it's time to get the map out and start having a look at how huge this area is.

    The route I have takes us to the south rim... should we check out the east or north rims, too? Let me know as we're open to suggestions. :)
    To get to the North rim is a 220 mile drive from the South rim which is slow going in places so I don't understand your thinking with the times involved. You certainly need to spend as much time as you can at the one rim, they cannot be seen in a couple of hours.
    There are plenty of lodgings around the GC, in Flagstaff, Cameron, Tusayan and Williams plus those inside the park [more costly]. To visit the South rim from Phoenix and onto Vegas, I would head North on 89 from Flagstaff and then West on 64 to the East entrance. This is called Desert view drive and has many spectacular views, the first being at the Old Watchtower. This will lead you to the village area and viewpoints where if you decide you have more time here you can take the free shuttle bus up to Hermits rest, again with many viewpoints on the way. When you leave head South on the 64 to I-40 and towards Vegas. You will need a full day in or around the park to enjoy it.

    I would recommend sitting down with a map and studying the places you want to visit and get a realistic time frame for each part of that trip so you can piece it all together in a manageable itinerary and then post the complete trip up and we can help you piece it together to get the best from your time available.

    This gives us 9 states: OR, CA, AZ, NV, UT, WY, MT, ID, WA.
    Personally I think you will enjoy your trip more by slowing up and enjoying places such as GC and Yellowstone rather than trying to count how many States you can get through or how many places you can tick off as "been there".
    Enjoy the planning and let us know how your plans coming along !

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