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  1. #1

    Default Ideas for Sept 2010 Road Trip

    Hi,

    I'm currently looking at maybe going on a road trip around the western side of the US in Sept 2010. It's only in the early planning stage at the moment, so I'm hoping I can get some expert advice from some on here. I'm coming over from Ireland!

    Very Rough Details so far: 2 or 3 weeks is possible for length of trip.
    It'll be a national parks trip mostly, trying to avoid big cities bar flying into and out of them at the start/end.

    Park's hoping to see, if it's doable (ie: without too much back tracking on the road):
    Arches, Canyonlands, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon (4 days)
    Bryce & Zion (2 days)
    Grand Canyon (2 days)
    Valley of Fire - or any others around the Vegas area (only city we might stay in as there seems to be quite a bit around it) (3 days)
    Yosemite, Bodie Ghost Town - both pretty much a must, even though it's considerably out of the way (4 days)

    As I said, there is room to manoeuvre on lengths of stay. But I'd really like to know from an expert is this sort of rough itinerary realistic, or what would you place a priority on and possibly skip.

    Thanks in advance for help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default A one way trip.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You have clearly been studying your National parks and the list you have includes some of the finest of those. To hit these spots and have some time to enjoy them I think you would be better off with the three weeks [taking into consideration 2/3 days travel from Ireland and adjusting to time zone] and make it a one way trip. Two possibility's would be flying into Salt lake city or Denver and out of San Francisco. Denver would add a few miles but you could add Rocky NP to your list. That would put the list you have in the right order if you wanted to visit the North rim of the Grand canyon but if you are heading to the South rim I would go there after MV and then to Antelope, Bryce and Zion. Between Vegas and Yosemite is Death valley which has a fascinating landscape and is pretty much on route and San Fran is a great city to chill for a couple of days before flying home.
    Have a look around the forums and road trip planning pages, you will find tons of info by using the search button and get the map out and as you build your trip just keep asking questions as and when you need to.

    Enjoy the planning!

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks SW Dave...that's a good help, to know it's possible anyway! Salt Lake City or Denver would have been cities I was thinking of flying into, and SF to go home from. The day times I have there would be excluding flying over, so realistically 3 weeks including 2 days for flying each way. Thanks, I'll start searching the forum!

  4. #4

    Default

    I've just been looking into more detail and trying to get all planned on the maps first, and this is what I've ended up with. I'd love some feedback on it, particularly if the route is the 'correct' way to drive it.

    Start - Salt Lake City
    Moab 3 nights for arches, canyonlands, rafting!
    Monument Valley 1 night
    Page Arizona 1 night for Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend Glen Canyon
    Grand Canyon, North Rim 1 or 2 nights
    Bryce Canyon/Zion NP 2 nights
    Las Vegas 2 nights
    Bodie Ghost Time - Yosemite 4 nights
    End - San Francisco

    Again, the length of stay isn't 100% nailed down yet, we will probably add an extra night here or there in the better parts (Moab, MV or GC).

    One other question, which is the best route to take to drive Vegas to Yosemite, we're not pushed on going through Death Valley - is going up the 95 a viable option to not going through DV. And what's the most direct route from Yosemite to SF.
    Thanks again!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Good job.

    Aye aye captain !

    Your routing is fine and you have quite nice amount of time but that can be tweaked when you know exactly how long you are going to take and how long you want at the start and end of your trip. You will need a a night in SLC just to get over the lag and time difference and SF is a great city and I would recommend a couple of day's there.
    You can head up the 95 all the way to Tonopah or head across before through Lida on the 266/168 to Big Pine. I would still consider the extra few hours and explore some of Death valley, even if it's just a drive through. It's a weird and wonderful landscape that you won't see the likes of here in the UK. From Yosemite to SF will depend on where you are lodging. CA 120 through Groveland and the very scenic [and windy Priests grade] to Manteca and then I 5/205/508/80 into SF. If you were to start to the South of Yosemite, say the Mariposa area, then head to Merced and up the 99 to Manteca.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Going through Death Valley is actually one of the more efficient routes to get from Las Vegas to Yosemite. You are visiting enough national parks to make the purchase of a yearly pass ($80) cost-effective so there would be no additional expense to go through Death Valley. The main highway through Death Valley is generally a fast road. Take the "locals route" (NV-160 to Pahrump, then Bell Vista/Ash Meadows/Stateline Roads to Death Valley Junction and go in the east entrance on CA-190. If you are going to Bodie, you may want to spend a night or two somewhere along US-395 (Bishop, Mammoth Lakes, Lee Vining, Bridgeport) and head for Yosemite across Tioga Pass after visiting Bodie.

  7. Default Read the fine print...

    Sounds like a great trip....A couple of things to think about - like the others, I would recommend at least passing through Death Valley - it is quite different to the other sites you are going to see.

    I'm not sure if this is standard or not, but when I recently hired a car the fine print said it could not be taken on unsealed roads. After not looking at the map closely enough we drove 9 miles up the road to Bodie Ghost Town only to come to a sign saying 'Bodie Ghost Town - 3 mile - unpaved, rough road ahead' so were forced to turn back.

    Also - unless you are planning on doing some big walks, I can't imagine you will need two nights at Grand Canyon - I may get shot down for this, but there isn't really a lot to do there unless you plan to walk to the bottom, and you will already have seen a lot of canyons by then.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default It's not hard to miss!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tay View Post
    I'm not sure if this is standard or not, but when I recently hired a car the fine print said it could not be taken on unsealed roads
    Every rental car contract I've ever seen has this detail in bold (in the fine print section) -- As a renter, you'll agree to limit the use of the vehicle to paved roads only. If you elect to drive on gravel or other unsealed roads, you'll be technically voiding the contract and subject to a whole host of fees and levies. And, they'll know, if they care to look it up -- just about every rental car has an embedded GPS chip that tracks where the vehicle is and has gone.... In most cases, there won't be any additional fees, but it is a risk you have to consider....
    After not looking at the map closely enough we drove 9 miles up the road to Bodie Ghost Town only to come to a sign saying 'Bodie Ghost Town - 3 mile - unpaved, rough road ahead' so were forced to turn back.
    The washboard on that road can knock fillings out.... (well, maybe not, but it is rough).
    Also - unless you are planning on doing some big walks, I can't imagine you will need two nights at Grand Canyon - I may get shot down for this, but there isn't really a lot to do there unless you plan to walk to the bottom, and you will already have seen a lot of canyons by then.
    I've spent 30 days at the Grand and still didn't see it all. Personally, at least two days seems about right to me. But Tay has contributed some excellent suggestions in other posts, so you can certainly trust his judgment about such matters.

    Mark

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default 2 days

    Personally, I wouldn't hesitate for a second to spend 2 days at the canyon - and I'm the kind of traveler that doesn't mind quickly moving through things.

    I was only there for one full day my last trip there, and the day flew by. We did walk about a mile down into the Canyon, but still a long way from the bottom, but even accounting for the couple hours we probably spent on the short hike, I could easily have spent another day just on some of the high points that we zipped by or skipped altogether. (and to be fair, this was the south rim, I haven't been to the north)

    You certainly can enjoy yourself if you only spend a day, and for some people that very well may be enough, but I don't think you'll regret spending a second night there either.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Night and day.

    As you have mentioned "1 or 2 nights" at the Grand canyon I would definitely make it 2 if time allows. With 1 night you are not going to have a lot of time to explore this natural wonder as well as drive from Page and to Bryce either side of the 1 night. At least with 2 nights you get one full day to relax and enjoy it as well as a few hours on arrival and departure days. If you feel you have seen enough at least you can get an early start to Bryce and have some quality time there as well.

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