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  1. #1

    Default Six week road trip in 2011

    We are planning a six week road trip across the U.S. in 2011 but haven't decided when to go yet but I'm thinking Spring would be an ideal time. We will fly into LA from Australia and pick up a rental car from there.

    In July and August 2009 I did a trip with my Son and we visited the Canadian Rockies and also travelled to Glacier National Park in Montana and would like to go back to Glacier if we can fit it in on the 2011 trip. After leaving the Rockies we flew from Calgary to San Francisco and drove from there to Yosemite and then to Santa Monica and to San Diego. We also had four days in New York and two days in Washington DC. We visited Las Vegas in 2004 and I did a one day trip to Grand Canyon West from there.

    For this trip I'll be travelling with my wife and we'd like to head up the coast to Seattle and also visit places like Yellowstone NP, Mount Rushmore, Bryce Canyon & Zion NPs, Death Valley and Grand Canyon. We'd also like to go to Colorado to see the American Rockies.

    We'd also like to see Chicago and travel along the East Coast, visiting New York and Washington DC, and travel north to Boston and through the New England area, possibly seeing Maine and Vermont as well as upper New York state. I would also be interested in travelling south to see North and South Caroline and even Florida but that's probably trying to do too much in the one trip.

    There are so many places to see and our main initial decision is to choose the best time of year. I know that Summer is too hot to comfortably visit places like Death Valley and I assume for other places like Bryce and Zion. We were thinking about maybe going in the second half of April and all of May but I've just been reading that May may not the best time to visit Colorado. I know it will not be possible to visit all of these areas at an ideal time and that we may have to leave out some places from our plans but I would appreciate any advice on best months for this trip. Maybe if we started the trip in mid May and travelled until late June would be better. I love mountain scenery so would like to see the Rockies with some snow still on the peaks. We can also consider September/October as an alternative.

    We have been thinking about driving across the country, either as a one way, dropping the car off in New York and paying a one way drop fee (which is $500 with Hertz, but I haven't checked other companies yet) or as a return trip, possibly driving along the north, heading to New York and travelling back along the south.

    The other possibility is to do a circle Western trip, travelling up to Seattle, and visiting the places I mentioned above, then travel back to LA and flying to the East Coast or to Chicago and then driving around that side of the country. There are places all over the country we'd be interested in seeing so if we drove the entire trip we'd save on drop off fees and also air fares but would spend a few more days travelling in the middle of the country.

    I would expect that we would not book ahead for accommodation but would call a few days ahead to book in major cities, and if we avoid the peak Summer periods hopefully we shouldn't have any problems. We could possibly add another week if necessary but have to decide that before booking our flights from Australia.

    Thanks for any advice you can offer.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Consider a Loop

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Six weeks is actually getting to be sufficient to see a lot of what you want on a loop trip where you start and end in the same city. Such a route has a few benefits for you. Both airfare and car rental should be cheaper as you're not paying 'open jaw' or one-way drop off fees, and you and do the southern portion of the loop during the colder weeks and the northern portion during the warmer portion of your time here. Just as an example, let's assume you fly into Los Angeles, since you've already seen San Francisco and San Diego, in mid May. Then a loop would look like: Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns, San Antonio, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the Appalachians and Great Smoky Mountains, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston and New England, Niagara Falls, some Great Lakes beaches, Chicago, St. Louis, the Missouri and/or Platte River valleys, Denver and the Rockies, Arches, Salt Lake City, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Las Vegas, Death Valley and back to L.A. If you did the trip in September/October, you'd simply do the loop clockwise instead of counterclockwise. While you can't fit everything in, you can certainly see quite a few of the places on your list on such a trip and get pretty good weather most of the way. The other advantage to loop trips is that you can arrive/depart pretty much anywhere along the route depending on where the best deals are.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Personally, I'd make the trip in the fall if everything else is equal.

    Traveling in May/June would be a good second choice for me, but at that time of year, you still have the potential to run into Winter type conditions and closures in higher elevations. As an example, my only trip to Glacier came at the very end of June, and I couldn't do the Going to the Sun highway because it hadn't yet opened for the season. Going the counterclockwise route that Buck suggested will help reduce those problems, but they could still be there.

    By going in Sept, you should largely avoid those problems, although the later into October you get the more danger you would run into there. As a bonus, you'd also have the potential to enjoy some of the fall Colors during your trip.

  4. #4


    Thanks to both AZBuck and Midwest Michael for your replies. We've decided that the Fall would be a better time to go since as you said there will be some roads in mountain areas still not open in May/June. When I went to the Canadian Rockies in early June 2008 there were some areas we couldn't visit because of roads not yet open and also we had a lot of rainy weather with low cloud so didn't get to see the Rockies in all its glory, so I went back in 2009, with my Son that time, and we got to visit Takkakaw Falls and also travel on the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier NP in beautiful weather, as well as travel on Highway 40 after leaving Banff when heading to Waterton Lakes NP, all roads that were closed on the previous trip.

    I see that for 2010 Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier NP closes on Sept 12 so we would need to be there before then in 2011. Maybe we should start the trip in the last week of August 2011. If possible I'd still like to drive up the coast from LA to Seattle, and we could then drive via Spokane and Kalispell to Glacier NP. I would imagine it would still be too hot in the Death Valley, Zion and Bryce Canyon areas in late August so we are probably better to leave them until the end of the trip.

    I'm trying to work out a route that does not double back too much so I'd appreciate some advice on the following ideas I have at the moment from when we leave Glacier NP. From Glacier we could drive to Yellowstone NP, Salt Lake City, Denver and the Rockies, Mount Rushmore and on to Chicago. From there follow your suggestions through to New England and down to Boston and then to New York City. I'd like to stay in NYC for a few days as I was in 2009 with my Son but I'd like to go back and my wife would like to see NYC. We'd like to stay in the city, probably at an apartment near Times Square where I stayed last year but parking would be a problem. I've looked up some parking stations online and, although not cheap that would probably be the best option since we wouldn't be using the car while in NYC and I'd prefer to stay in the city rather than somewhere in the suburbs that provides parking and travelling to the city each day by train.

    From NYC we would go to Philadelphia and Washington and follow your suggestions through the Great Smoky Mountains. I'd like to visit Memphis and Nashville so we could go through there and then through New Orleans and the Gulf Coast towards the Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce Canyon, Las Vegas and back to LA.

    Thanks again for your advice.

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