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  1. Default Planning a 3 week, 6500 Mile Roadtrip with 2 friends

    Hi Everyone,

    I am planning a trip with 2 other friends for this May. We graduate college at the beginning of May and plan to go on a 3 week roadtrip around the country following graduation.

    Below is a map of the route we plan to take.

    Since I don't think my Jeep Cherokee is reliable for such a trip we were planning to rent a SUV from Hertz. Hertz seems to drop the underage surcharge (we are 22) if I join the $60 #1 gold program. It looks like I can rent a small SUV for $1500-$2000.

    We are planning to book reservations at cheap motels to try and limit that cost. It looks like I can books motels most places along to way for around $50/night.

    We plan to spend most of the 3 weeks out west. We can drive straight through to Colorado taking shifts driving and slow down the pace of the trip from their. We want to spend most of the 3 weeks out west.

    I have never been to Colorado but I have always wanted to go there. I would like to tour the Rocky Mountain National Forrest and maybe stop at the Colorado National Monument since it doesn't seem too far out of the way.

    In Utah I would like to stop at Arches and Zion. I have never been to Arches and would like to see it. I have been to Zion when I was younger but at the time my family didn't want to do any hiking. I have wanted to hike up Angels Landing and this seems like a good trip to do it on.

    We plan to drive from Zion to Vegas and spend a night there at the Mirage.

    We plan to drive to Huntington beach area of California from there and spend a day or two on the beach. From there we will drive to San Diego and spend a night there.

    From there we are going to drive to New Mexico and visit a friend there, and then continue on to San Antonio, Texas. I have never been to Texas and don't really know what to expect. My friend wants to go there and says it is really nice.

    From there we go to Disney World for a day or two to make one of my friends on this trip happy.

    We can drive straight home from Disney in a day (24hrs nonstop). I have done this drive with this group of friends before and it went smoothly (from CT to Florida) so I think we get along and can handle long drives well enough to pull this trip off. We each have $2000 to $2500 to spend.

    Any recommendations on places out west within a few hours of this route that we should stop at? Does anyone have any better suggestions on renting a SUV at age 22? Do you think this trip is possible? Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Slow down.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Well first things first, to think you can drive straight through to Colorado in shifts and do it safely is quite wrong, it is a 3 day drive and any less you will be tired and cranky when you get to Colorado and it would be the worst possible start to an already ambitious trip. Driving 24 hours as you have suggested non stop in a shift pattern is something we would strongly advise against and doing these sort of trips on a multi day trip is asking for trouble. Not only should you think about your own safety but that of others who you will be sharing the road with.

    There are so many things to see and do in Colorado, Utah etc it is hard to know where to start, but I don't think you have as much time as you may think to enjoy them if you do this complete loop. By the time you have added detours into parks and City's you are more likely to be closer to 7500 miles than 6500, and over 21 day's that means you will be driving 6 hours a day on average.

    Here's some ideas from our recent trip to Colorado, Utah and New Mexico that might give you some ideas and convince you to see more and travel less.

    Have a look around the forums for more info but I would reconsider your plans at the beginning and end of your trip and even think about cutting down on your miles and enjoy the places you get to more. On multi day trips we recommend no more than 5-600 miles a day and with short break that will keep you on the move for 9-10 hours.

  3. Default

    Hi and thanks for the response.

    We can plan on stopping on the way to Colorado at the nearest motel when we get tired. That was to save time so that we would have more time to see things in Colorado. I have not done that drive to judge how far we can go without stopping. If we are not up to it we will certainly stop when we are tired.

    We can't agree on cutting out California or Florida and since we are driving we are limited on what we can do to cut down on the distance. I think the best we could do is to extend it a bit longer but it is hard to take that much time off (and adds to the expense for food and hotels each night). I really like the idea of traveling the whole (well, a good part) country in one trip and seeing everything. This is one of the few times we will be able to do this and I really want to fit in as much as possible.

    Thanks for sharing the photos of your trip.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default False economy

    Knowing when to stop and pull off the road for proper rest and nights sleep is a key asset in keeping yourselves safe, [and those around you] your sanity in tact and the trip enjoyable. Trying to rush to Colorado will do none of these things and will be a false economy as when you arrive you will be to exhausted to do anything but get the rest you needed on the way, pace yourselves across the whole trip !

    If you want to do your complete trip it's possible in the time you have, I was just making you aware of what is ahead and that if you are prepared to keep moving you can do it, but you won't see "everything" and at 22 years old your life isn't over, you will get other opportunity's. ;-) If you could extend your trip by just 3 day's to make the time to get to the West safely it would make a big difference, but take 3 day's whatever, you have the time. As things stand I would estimate that with 8 day's divided between National parks, beaches and City's you will have 13 day's of solid driving to cover the miles.

    Some thoughts;

    To Moab take the 128 from I 70 through Castle valley, it's a great drive as it follows the river through the canyon.

    From Moab head towards Hanksville on 24 from I 70, this will take you past Capitol reef NP and you could drive along scenic 12 [a great road] through Escalante to Bryce canyon [a must see !] and through the Mount Carmel tunnel to Zion. Angels landing is on route before the tunnel but expect to stop at Bryce for the night if you took this detour.

    From Vegas you might want to consider a detour across Death valley if time permits, it's an amazing landscape.

    Grand canyon stands out by it's absence but might be too much as you are heading along I 10 but there is White sands NM and Carlsbad caverns [bat caves] near to Las Cruces.

    Pace yourselves and keep it safe, have a great trip !
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 12-12-2009 at 05:10 AM.

  5. Default

    Thanks again for the advise. I will definitively add White sands NM and Carlsbad caverns to the trip if time permits. I will change the route to take 128 from I70 in to arches as well.

    Changing the route from taking I70 to 15 to instead taking 24 to 12 only added 4 hours to the google maps drive time and added two national parks. When planning the trip originally I hadn't noticed this route. Do you think Capital reef is worth visiting. How does it compare to Zion, Arches or Bryce? How much time do you think this new route will realistically add? I am considering making this change.

    How would you recommend I detour to death valley? Do you suggest I take 95 from Vegas and then return on the same road?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Juggling time.

    All the National parks are worth a visit, it's the time factor and some of it you will have to decide on the road, but scenic 12 is a great drive and if you have not been to Bryce it is worth a visit. You can see the rock formations from viewpoints close to the road and you could get an overview in 2 or 3 hours but at least half a day would be advisable.
    Realistically, I guess it's going to add a day between Moab and Vegas but how you juggle the time is another matter. By this I mean you could consider it to be 12 hours as you could be in Vegas by late night time on the day you had planned or arrive before midday the following day which gives you more time to look around.

    How would you recommend I detour to death valley? Do you suggest I take 95 from Vegas and then return on the same road?
    If you were to do this I would recommend going on 160 to Pahrump and then Bell vista/Ash meadows road to Death valley junction and then 190 across the valley. You will pass some viewpoints such as Zabriske point and drive through Furnace creek and then past the sand dunes and through Stovepipe wells. You can continue to 395 or take the Trona wildrose road [178] to 395 and back to I 15. It will add a good 6 hours or more [depending on stops] to your journey to Huntington beach and would make a long day unless you stopped short of your destination for the night.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Capitol Reef can be seen adequately in a couple hours, it's worth it if you are going right by it anyway and you have a parks pass.

  8. Default

    I updated the trip to this route:

    Thanks for the advise on adding Capitol Reef and Bryce.

    I didn't add the Death Valley part to the route yet. That can be decided based on how much time we have. It cuts out time on the beach though so if it comes down to one or the other I think we will spend the time on the beach.

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