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  1. Default summer roadtrip lodging booking in advance or just rolling with it?

    Hi everybody,

    first of all, please excuse whatever mistakes Im going to mistreat your language with, Im from Germany and therefore not a native speaker of English.

    I am planning to go on a four week roadtrip through the South West this summer (first such trip for me ever). Iv already with the kind help of countless posts on this forum worked out a first route.

    But now Im wondering if I will have to book my lodging (mostly motels I hope) in advance or if I will be able to just find some places to stay the night while on the road. I always imagined it a part of this kind of trip to have a certain amount of freedom and to be able to say Well, I like it very much here, maybe I will stay 1-2 days longer.

    But then how likely will it be to always be able to find accommodation, especially during the summer around the busy national parks? Maybe a mixture of booking in advance and just rolling along would be wisest?

    My route as I imagine it (I wont deny a strong similarity to a certain trip which has been intensivly discussed on this very forum for some time now ;-) ):

    Rocky Mountain National Park
    Grand Junction / Colorado National Monument
    Moab / Arches National Park / Canyonlands National Park
    Monument Valley
    Grand Canyon (north rim)
    Las Vegas
    Badwater (Death Valley)
    Lone Pine
    Yosemite National Park
    San Francisco


  2. #2


    Since your route bears a startling similarity to mine :), I'd be interested in the answer aswell, and also since you're doing it a year ahead of me, I'll be looking forward to finding out how you get on.

    For me, I need to have that certainty of having somewhere to stay each night, I'm definitely going to book the NP accommodation as soon as possible (this July/August) so I would think most people will tell you to book that right away. I'm leaning towards a more relaxed attitude with the smaller towns, especially the ones between LV and Yosemite, but I plan on making that call early next year. Basically, I'll see how availability in say Bishop is looking 3 months before I leave. If it's getting busy, I'll book something. If it looks wide open, I'll let it ride.

    So in summary, book the big cities asap, definitely book the NPs and depending on how the smaller towns are looking, make a decision on whether to book or not.

  3. #3


    You can do both. I would advise to book everything as soon as you are fixed on a plan especially in the NP's as you identify. However, pay close attention to the booking conditions. In most cases if you cancel a nights accomodation before 16.00 hrs you will not have to pay. Therefore as long as you take the telephone numbers of the motels with you, if you arrive somewhere and wish to stay longer, you can ring ahead and cancel or reschedule the following nights stay.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    There is actually a article from the Planning section of this website discussing your very question. You can find that here.

    I would recommend reservations for places where you'll have limited lodging options - particularly the North Rim - or if you want to stay inside a national park. Yosemite for example, if you want to stay in the valley, reservations would be strongly recommended, but if you don't mind going out to Mariposa or Oakhurst (both 45 min to an hour drive away), you could probably get by without. Otherwise, its mostly a question of your own comfort level - if you prefer to have a detailed plan, or if you like to have lots of flexability.

  5. Default

    Thank you all very much for the advice so far and for the quick responses! I'm gonna take everything into consideration and will definetely make the reservations for the NPs areas asap. I'll also have a look at the lesser frequented spots in between and see what the bookings are like around there. One thing I'll have to figure out is how fast I can and want to travel between places. I was thinking to spend some more time in the Rocky Mountains and Yosemite / San Francisco, but that's up to the ongoing planning now.

    By the way, fantastic forum and site with priceless insider information. Keep up the good work, people!

    Thanks alot again,

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