First of all this is a great community! The forums on this site have helped me a lot, and I definitely appreciate it!
I'm planning a road trip with my family form New Jersey to SFO, and could really use some advice. Even links to older forums I may have missed would also be greatly appreciated! We plan on leaving this Friday, and there's so many problems/concerns to address!
1. What do you think of the route? Feasible? Too much time in one place/too little in another? We are renting the car for exactly 14 days, so while we may not be able to extend the amount of time on the road, we will be able to cancel some destinations (perhaps Sequoia National Park) and lengthen our time in others.
2. HOTELS!?? As of now, we haven't reserved many hotels (with the exception of 2 nights at Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone. Should we reserve ahead of time or wing it depending on when we arrive where? Is it stressful to end up somewhere not have a place to stay arranged? But if I reserve ahead of time, what will we do if we aren't perfectly according to plan?
3. WHAT TO BRING!? I'm clueless about a lot of the must have tools/necessities of the trip, so please advise me on things I shouldn't forget for the kind of trip we're undertaking...? Links would be great as well.
4. Are there any scenic drives you suggest we take along our route?
5. Do you guys know anything about white water rafting in Jackson, WY?
6. As of now I've picked Salt Lake City as a place to stay pretty randomly, because it's on the way. Are there more beautiful places or perhaps less expensive areas near the city where you recommend staying instead?
7. We can either spend most of the day in Grand Canyon and leave for Vegas around 5 or 6pm, and enjoy some shows in Vegas, or we can spend the night in Grand Canyon (if half a day is not enough) and leave for Vegas in the morning, what do you guys think?
8. Is there something important that I'm completely neglecting/forgetting?? Because I'm so new at this, I'm afraid there may be quite a few such things.
Here's the route. And below is a day by day timeline of our plans...
Day 1 6AM leave New Jersey (9 hours)
Day 1 5PM Arrive in Sylvania, OH, pick up rental car (5 hour drive)
Day 1 11PM Arrive in Bloomingdale, IL at family friends' house
Day 2 Spend the day w/ family friends
Day 3 1PM Drive to Warren Dunes State Park (spend 3-4 hours there, drive back to Bloomingdale along Michigan River)
Day 3 8PM arrive in Bloomingdale, IL
Day 4 6AM leave for Kadoka, SD (our longest drive, 14 hours)
Day 4 10PM arrive in Kadoka, SD, stay in random hotel...
Day 5 7AM leave, enter Badlands National Park, view pretty sights, and then Black Hills National Forest, view some pretty sights (6 hour drive, allotting 8 hours for viewing random sights)
Day 5 9PM arrive in Sundance, WY, spend the night in random hotel that has an empty room?
Day 6 7AM leave Sundance, go to Devil's Tower (40 mins away) and spend about 1.5 hours there.
Day 6 8:30-9PM arrive at Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone
Day 7 Spend the day at Yellowstone, perhaps White Water Rafting in Jackson, WY
Day 8 7AM leave Yellowstone, and drive through Grand Teton National Park (stopping and looking at pretty things along the way)
Day 8 9PM arrive in Salt Lake City and stay at a random Hotel...see question 6
Day 9 use morning to see some Salt Lake City, leave around 1 or 2PM for Arches National Park
Day 9 5-6PM Arrive at Arches National Park, see sunset
Day 9 10PM Go to Monticello, UT and spend the night there?
Day 10 5-6AM Leave for the Grand Canyon, then, either spend the day there and leave around 5-6pm to go to Vegas or spend the night there and leave for Vegas in the morning???...see question
Day 10 Las Vegas (either get there that day, or wake up there in the morning). During the day, go see Hoover Dam.
Day 10 evening, spend night in Vegas
Day 11 8AM Leave for Sequoia National Park, drive through Death Vallye
Day 11 8PM Arrive in Sequoia National Park, stay at hotel near the entry...
Day 12 6AM go see Sequoia National Park, then around 2PM set off for Lake Tahoe (6 hours away...adding 3 hours or so for sights we'll see along the way...Yosemite?)
Day 12 11PM Arrive in Carson City, NV and spend the night there
Day 13 morning, hang around Lake Tahoe, picnic etc.
Day 13 5pm leave for SF, CA
Day 13 11PM arrive in San Francisco
Day 14 Return Rental
Day 15 Fly home…
Again, THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH IN ADVANCE! I'm really new at this and your help will be really awesome. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to post this sooner and get even more advice before we leave Friday.