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  1. #1

    Default Roadtrip SouthWest USA

    hi all

    i'm planning my first US roadtrip and would like to share with you the excitement and the ideal route we will follow.

    I'm travelling from London , UK, where i live, with two of my mates who will join me at Heathrow from Milan.

    The plan is to land in Denver, CO (only direct flight from London) on friday 15th of July. We wanted to land in Salt lake city but we need to get connections in Chicago and this would waste a lot of time and energy, plus the price is more or less the same.

    One concern is that we will land in Denver at 650 pm local time, we will take the car and head west across the Rockies towards Utah. We will be tired from the trip i guess, so i would like to know what is the best option for us in terms of accommodation - reading other topics i see Georgetown is suggested, not far from Denver heading west.

    Then roughly our trip will include: Arches/Moab, down to Canyonlands, Arizona Grand Canyon, 2 nights in Las Vegas, Death Valley, California skipping LA, some vineyards and some pacific coast trip (Cambria to Monterey), Yosemite and San Francisco, flying back to Europe on August 2nd.

    Only 2 things are worrying me:
    - the amount of tourist and consequent lack of accommodation at the National Parks and surroundings. I would like to book only the first hotel in Georgetown, the last 3 days in SFO and at Furnace Creek (Death Valley)
    - the temperatures in the deserts, it's not the brightest idea to go to death valley at the end of July, but my mates could take holidays only at that time...

    Anyway i would like to thank you for all the precious info i'm finding on this website and forum!


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

    Default Rest and Rockies !

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    The best option of your first nights accommodation would be an airport hotel in Denver, seriously ! If your flight lands at 6.50pm, by the time you get through customs and pick up a rental it'll be close to 9pm. With the 3 hour check in time in London, the flight time and the different time zone for your body to contend with, it's gonna be a long day, just get a meal a nightcap and a good nights sleep. With a couple of weeks plus, you should have time to enjoy a ride through Rocky mountain NP next day !

    And yeah, the National parks get busy and booked up at this time of year and finding lodgings nearby could also be a challenge, although perhaps not impossible ! If you can figure out your dates, booking lodgings near the main parks would be advisable.

  3. #3


    9 pm? arrgh, sleeping around the airport is definetely a good idea! ;) thanks Dave!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    A very good idea - and if you get on the road at a reasonable time the next morning you could be in Rocky Mountain National Park 2 hours later, driving over Trail Ridge Road. Highly recommended!

    From there, a very reasonable goal for that night, staying on US-34, would be Steamboat Springs. That's about 2 hours from where you leave the park. From there, you can go to Craig and take CO-13 to I-70. From Steamboat, it's about 6 hours to Moab.

  5. #5


    hi there,

    just a quick note as i'm just back from SFO. it was an amazing trip, beautiful experience in a great country, where we met a lot of friendly, interesting and sometimes weird people.

    Soon i'll post the itinerary and some comments for other planners' benefit.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Looking forward to your comments

    Glad the trip went well. Weird people can be found in every locale!

    Looking forward to your trip report.


  7. #7


    So here's the itinerary and some comments!

    July 15th - Day 1
    Landed in Denver at 6.50 pm local time, quite long queue at the immigration, then shuttle (!) to Alamo's office. Assigned car was a comfortable Kia Sorento. I followed your advices and slept outside the airport (Fairfield Inn Marriott)

    July 16th - Day 2 Denver > Arches NP > Moab, UT

    Interstate 70 to Utah, we stopped at Vail and had lunch at Rifle. Wonderful views on the Rockies, next time I will spend more time in Denver and Colorado! Got to Arches NP at 5 pm - park visit then stayed in Moab (Best Western), nice town, a lot of tourists, but there are not many other options around. Day 1 was the longest trip we did in one day.

    July 17th - day 3
    Moab, UT –> Monticello, UT –> Bluff, UT -> Monument Valley, AZ –> Tuba City,AZ

    Stopped at desert Monticello and joined a mormon ceremony (for 5 mins...); amzing Bluff (Twin Rocks restaurant!); we stayed at Quality INN Tuba City (not that quality)

    July 18th - day 4
    Tuba City – Grand Canyon South Rim – Flagstaff, AZ

    Overwhelming GC and surprising Flagstaff! We spent 2 nights there (Quality Inn, decent and finally with 3 beds instead of usual 2 + rollaway!); monday night blues at Charlie's was amazing and we were special guests for the night, i also won a pizza in a raffle ;)

    July 19th - day 5
    Flagstaff – Petrified Forest & Painted desert- Flagstaff

    Petrified forest is worth a visit!

    July 20th - day 6
    Flagstaff-Sedona-Jerome-Kingman (AZ)
    Beautiful forest and route between Flagstaff and Sedona; Jerome is a former miners/ghost town
    Avoid Motel 6 in Kingman ;)

    July 21st - day 7
    Kingman, AZ – Hoover Dam - Las Vegas, NV

    Liked Hoover Dam, disliked LV ...seriously too trash but you have to see it.
    We spent 2 nights at the Stratosphere , great view from their tower and huge buffet at 15 usd.

    July 22nd - day 8
    Las Vegas

    July 23rd - day 9
    Las Vegas, NV – Death Valley NP– Trona, CA – Ridgecrest, CA

    We got to DV at 2pm (clever!) with 48 degrees.A beer at Furnace Creek and we head to Zabriskie point at 4pm, unbearable! quick pics then back to air around 615 while in Pinement valley ...FLAT TIRE! 3 cars stopped, 2 were locals asking if we had enough water and needed help, 1 were tourists, they actually informed the authority we were stranded. We managed to change the tire, at 40 mph we got to Trona,CA at 7.15 (ghost town and i i know why!) where the Sheriff was waiting for us and was happy to see us alive.We then slowly got to Ridgecrest, CA where we spent 2 nights at the Best Western

    July 24th - day 10
    Laundry, pool, Jacuzzi, relaxing in Ridgecrest, we waited until monday to get our tire repaired

    July 25th - day 11
    Ridgecrest-Bakersfield-Santa Margarita -Morro Bay (Pacific Ocean)
    We stayed at the Anchor Inn (nothing special)

    July 26th - day 12
    Morro Bay – Highway1 – Cambria – Carmel by the Sea
    Nice stop in Cambria and night in Carmel, almost impossible to find a B&B!
    Highway 1 is simply amazing, but watch your road and try not to be distracted if driving, it's dangerous. Also there are no service station, the only one we found charged us 5.7 usd per gallion...instead of the usual 3.8

    July 27th - day 13
    Carmel by the Sea – Monterey – Santa Cruz – Merced
    Overpriced BestWestern in Merced, on our way to Yosemite.Monterey would deserve more time and one night stay.

    July 28th - day 14
    Merced – Yosemite – Sonora

    Yosemite is unbelievable, we almost got lost inside it; very crowded and trafficked too on the main road. We found Sonora by chance (lumberjacks' town) and it was very nice. A lot of characters at the "Office" bar, with great live music and good room at the Inns of California

    July 29th - day 15
    Sonora – Columbia – Sacramento – Benicia

    In Columbia they rebuilt an old western town, simply great! we stopped in Sacramento just to make a pic at the Capitol building, then we tried to find a motel outside SFO; tried in Berkeley but hated it (crowded, some unpolite hotel owners and all sold out accommodations) so went back to Benicia to a nice, friendly, low cost Best Western

    July 30th/31st and August 1st - days 16-18
    San Francisco
    3 nights at Phoenix Hotel, it was OK but in the worst area of town; i've never seen so many homeless/beggars in my life (even NY).We were advised not to walk on our own by night, daytime was unpleasant but safe. 2 blocks away starts the tourist was a bit sad!
    Rest of the city is simply amazing, challenging (all those hills!);Alcatraz is a must, so is Golden Gate. Great music shop (Amoeba) in Haights.

    Forget the italian restaurant at Columbus with Broadway (E' tutto qua): real "throw in" italians but average quality; i forgot the name of the Irish pub in O'Farrell but i had a great time (lots of blondes and soul music, what do you want more? ;)

    August 2nd - day 19
    Back to Europe


    Great trip indeed, we did more than 5000 km (3100 miles),next time i would dedicate more time to Colorado and Denver, Sequoia (we missed it due to the flat tire), and Monterey; definetely i would stay one night only in Vegas. Lake powell, Antelope, Brin, Zion are other missed attractions, but you have to make sacrifices.

    I'm looking forward to the next one, may be next year? now that i know how it works, it will be easier to organize (Denver-Wyoming-Idaho-Oregon-Northern Cal?)

    Tips: ALWAYS carry water, and get gas as soon as you can, you never know where you end up or where the next station is (this is valid for europeans in particular, not used to such long distances). Gas price is ridiculous compared to foolish European prices. Respect the limits, roads and highways in particular are very well kept and normally empty, so you drive a lot in a few hours, there's no need to rush.

    If you need any advise, just pm me!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Thanks.

    Thanks for dropping by with the update, pleased to hear you had a great trip ! It doesn't surprise me at all that people looked out for you in Death valley, everyone is so friendly and helpful. It's also reassuring for others who have concerns and carrying water is essential, nice reminder.

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