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  1. Default Grand Canyon, Vegas, Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Glacier Road Trip

    Hello there,

    Fantastic site!

    I live in Tennessee and in May/June I'm taking a 3-week solo road trip to the destinations listed in the title.

    Here's a link to the itinerary:
    http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?k...DBrT3ZBQXZwMlE

    Since the pace will be fairly quick, and since I'll be spending a lot of time on the road getting TO and FROM these destinations, I obviously want a comfortable rental car.

    I took a similar road trip (albeit shorter) last year, and I rented a "full size car," an Impala. It was very comfortable and I was satisfied. However, I need space on this roadtrip, specifically for a big cooler I'm taking. Last year I put it in the back seat and it sloshed around a lot and was harder to access. I was thinking of renting a mid-sized SUV so I can store stuff in the back a little better.

    The alternative is to go with a "full size" again or a "premium" (which would be cheaper) for maximum comfort. Other solutions include getting another cooler that might fit better in the back seat or trunk, etc. I'll also be in bear country in most of those national parks, and I hear they attack SUVs and vans more than passenger cars. Not a huge concern, but also a factor. I guess I'm looking for some brainstorming from all of you road tripping professionals...or at least advanced amateurs, right? :)

    General comments about the road trip itinerary are appreciated, as well as tips for any and all of those parks, lodging, eats, etc. Any "must see" or "must do" or "must eat" places. I realize it is a fast pace, and there are sets of long driving days and some night drives involved. I want to thoroughly enjoy this road trip, and though the pace is quick, I can maximize my time seeing the sights. Last year's trip was great, even with very long driving days and nights...part of the fun, strangely enough.

    Couple more things: I'm going to get an "America the Beautiful" national park pass when I get to Grand Canyon NP. If I get a national park pass on May 1, 2010, let's say, is it good until May 31, 2011? I saw conflicting/incomplete information on different websites. My interpretation is it is good until the END of the month a year from when you buy it. The reason being, I might be able to use the SAME pass next year! Also, I know there is a national park "stamp book"...what's the best place to procure one of those?

    Thanks so much for reading this...any and all help and comments are very appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default that's a new one

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I've got to say that I've never heard that bears attack SUVs or Vans more than cars - and if someone has also given you any sort of logic as to why that might be, I'd love to hear it. But really, I think someone is really telling you a tall tale there.

    For rental car, I'd say a premium or full sized car is going to be your best bet for both cost and comfort. I'm not sure how you had your cooler set up before, but most full sized cars should give you room to put the cooler on the floor between the front and back seats - and usually a full sized car will have at least as much, if not more rear legroom than a mid-sized SUV.

    I believe your interpretation of the National Parks pass is correct, that its valid until the end of the month of purchase the following year. Its been a few years since I've purchased one, but I do recall they punch out the month of purchase listed on the card, and its valid til that month of the next year.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Comment Number One

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    On 'day' 18 you are planning on driving 650 miles overnight? That is near-suicidal. On day 10 you are planning on driving 850 miles overnight? That is even worse. I presume that the fact that you have these two drives highlighted in your spreadsheet means that you are aware that there "might be a problem", but it goes beyond than that. Even if you survive both drives, the next day in each case will be a total waste as you WILL be tired and out of sorts. And yet on the day following your second overnight drive you plan to see the Badlands, Devils Tower and Mount Rushmore AND drive another 375 miles! At least on day 11 your schedule acknowledges the futility of doing anything in one of the most beautiful places on Earth but "rest". I'm sorry, but these two instances of over-optimistic planning will have to go if you really want a safe and enjoyable trip.

    AZBuck

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    I've got to say that I've never heard that bears attack SUVs or Vans more than cars - and if someone has also given you any sort of logic as to why that might be, I'd love to hear it.
    http://pinnacle.allenpress.com/doi/f...8-MAMM-A-056.1

    Well, only for black bears in Yosemite...supposedly they're easier to rip open? The article also says it may just be because people who use vans are more likely to leave food out.

    Like I said, this would not necessarily dissuade me from renting an SUV. Thanks for the advice concerning the park pass and vehicle choice. I may just try to get a full size or premium since I've had a good experience with them.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    You could always bring 2 coolers - a large one to keep in the trunk and a small one to keep in the car for stuff you need ready access to - transfer items from the big one to the small one at rest stops.

    I agree with what's been said - you need to cut the trip down a bit or add some more time. I highly recommend that you not try to drive more than 600 miles in any 24 hour period, and avoid night driving.

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    On 'day' 18 you are planning on driving 650 miles overnight? That is near-suicidal. On day 10 you are planning on driving 850 miles overnight? That is even worse. I presume that the fact that you have these two drives highlighted in your spreadsheet means that you are aware that there "might be a problem", but it goes beyond than that. Even if you survive both drives, the next day in each case will be a total waste as you WILL be tired and out of sorts. And yet on the day following your second overnight drive you plan to see the Badlands, Devils Tower and Mount Rushmore AND drive another 375 miles! At least on day 11 your schedule acknowledges the futility of doing anything in one of the most beautiful places on Earth but "rest". I'm sorry, but these two instances of over-optimistic planning will have to go if you really want a safe and enjoyable trip.

    AZBuck
    Granted, those will be difficult drives. The 850 mile drive from Yosemite to Yellowstone is unavoidable based on how I've planned the trip. BUT, I could stay near Yosemite and then get up very early the next day and drive 850 miles. That's still pushing it, whether day or night.

    The 650 followed by 375 is a lot of driving in a small amount of time. I would have to shave a day off Glacier and use that as a drive day and perhaps stay in a motel or camp near Devil's Tower. I might consider doing that.

    Thanks for the advice...I will consider it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default wasn't expecting that

    Well, I wasn't expecting a scientific journal for your source, good one there.

    I hadn't looked at your detailed itinerary before, but wow, I have to completely agree with Buck. Worrying about a bear attacking your car with your current plans makes about as much sense as worrying about change falling of your pocket, while you are laying across railroad tracks with a train heading your way.

    Driving 1800 miles from Tennessee to Arizona in 2 days is a very foolish and dangerous way to start your trip, and your plans to drive nearly 900 miles overnight from Yosemite to Yellowstone is so far beyond the pale of rationality that I can't believe you actually put them into a spreadsheet. Certainly, your 650 mile overnight drive a few days later is no better. Trust me, if you can find a one study about bears attacking cars, you could find hundreds of studies about how incredibly dangerous and reckless these kinds of drives would be. "unavoidable based on How You planned your trip" is not a rational reason for doing this, that just means you need to rethink how you've planned it.

    These sorts of drives will make you a serious danger to everyone else on the road, and there really is no point worrying about any other detail of your trip until you fix those major problems.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 03-30-2010 at 11:24 AM.

  8. Default

    "Driving 1800 miles from Tennessee to Arizona in 2 days is a very foolish and dangerous way to start your trip"

    I've done a similar drive before...it was a challenge and I enjoyed it. Part of the road trip I'm really looking forward to, actually. (And I'm not all that worried about bears attacking my car, it was something I just threw in on a whim...I only posted an link because you implied it was something I heard from ol' Uncle Billy Bob or something!!)

    However, the overnight drives after full days of sightseeing...I think you are correct about those and I was overzealous in planning. The 850-mile drive can be cut to a ~700 daytime drive if I stay around Reno, NV, the night before from Yosemite and arrive at Tetons in the evening. In addition, I can cut a day from Glacier and drive during the day.

    I think I secretly realized I was packing too much in by doing overnight drives...so I appreciate the advice. Good to have an objective source to bring you back to earth! :)

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

    Default

    Sadly, your definition of a challenge is basically game of chicken with your safety and the safety of those with whom you share the road. The number of people who try to complete the same sort of "challenges" -even those who have done it before- and end up killing or seriously injuring themselves or someone else is frighteningly high.

    Again, the studies on the subject are clear, what you are doing will be every bit as dangerous as driving drunk. If you think your driving skills will be at anywhere peak by the end of your trip, you are fooling yourself. There are reasons that professional drivers are not allowed to drive anywhere near these sort of distances. We can't force you to reconsider your plans, any more than we can keep you from driving while you're drunk, but for the sake of everyone else on the road, we ask that you think about why you think your challenge is more important than our safety.

  10. Default

    When I'm tired, I rest and take naps. Long ones, if necessary. How is that playing chicken? I completely agree that the studies show that if you are too tired, there is no difference between that and being intoxicated. It does cause accidents. That is why, when I make long drives, I am very careful. That is why I took the advice to heart about the two overnight drives.

    I think you're being too harsh when I essentially agreed with a lot of what you said! I'm a very safe driver...I've NEVER caused an accident in all my years of driving, including long drives, and am not going to do anything stupid such as driving when I need sleep.

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