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  1. #1

    Default Denver - GC - LV - San Diego - LA - Yosemite - SF (4 weeks)


    We are planning our second roadtrip in the US (in summer of 2012). This time we plan on flying into Denver, CO and staying there for about 2 days. From Denver we drive the mountains and head to Monument valley & Grand Canyon. Next major stops will be Las Vegas, San Diego, LA (1 day only), Yosemite (via Pacific coast highway), Napa Valley, San Francisco.

    Our group will consist of four adults (two first-timers) and one baby-traveller so I guess this needs to be kept in mind when planning our daily driving stretches.

    My main concern is the timing. I guess four weeks will be enough for the trip if we keep moving in steady pace. Based on our previous trip, I'm aware that there will be numerous "extra sights" the road will bring to us. So we need to be careful with our possible alternating decisions.

    Last time we decided to drive past Sedona. Will this be a must-see spot for us this time? Will it offer us something that the Rockies won't in terms of activities (swimming, fishing...)? Are there things that we absolutely need to see while driving from Denver to Monument valley?

    At the moment we are trying to connect Las Vegas and San Diego in an exiting way. Our last trip took us from LA to LV on I 15. It that the road will should take this time as well or do the alternative routes offer something that we should not miss? Any suggestions? :)

    Before flying home, we want to stay in SF for 2-3 days since we absolutely fell in love with the city. When driving to SF (from Yosemite), we plan on curving in from the north. We would like to make a brief visit to one of the vineyards. Are there any chances for us to see some sequoias or would that take us too far form the Bay area?

    All ideas, comments and suggestions are appreciated. I'm sorry for having so many questions! :)

    Thank you for this awesome forum (aka our source of wisdom)!


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

    Default Much to see.

    Welcome back !

    You have time for a nice relaxed trip with time to spare along your route for other attractions of which there are many.

    From Denver to Vegas you have NP's like Rocky mountain NP, Black canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde, Capitol Reef, Bryce canyon and Zion. Other 'attractions would include Mt Evans scenic drive, Pikes peak, Currecanti recreation area, Colorado National Monument, the 'Million dollar highway' and many more. You won't have time to do everything but I would continue to research and build a route around the attractions that appeal to you the most.

    From Vegas you could drive through the Mojave Preserve and/or Joshua tree NP, or take a detour across Death valley.

    Your best bet to see the giant Sequoia trees would be near the South entrance in Yosemite at Mariposa Grove. If you built a night in to your trip from LA to Yosemite you could drive through Sequoia NP. North of SF you will find the 'Redwoods' which are a different species, sometimes taller trees but with smaller trunks and smaller in overall volume.

  3. #3

    Default Suitable rental car for 4 adults + 1 infant (Denver-LV-LA-SF in about 4 weeks)

    Hello all,

    Thank you for all actives on this forum. This forum (and the rest of the site) is a true jewel of Internet. We got a lot of help from here when planning our previous roadtrip in 2009. Now we are coming back to the US for another adventure and therefore we would like to ask some opinions and views from all you fellow roadtrippers.

    We are planning our four week trip (from Denver to SF) and now that we have booked our flights, the next major step for us is to find a deal for a suitable rental car. Since it was only two of us making our way across the continent (on our last trip), it was quite easy for us to decide what type of car we needed for the trip. Now it is a bit different because our crew will consist of four adults and an infant (14 months). Our current itinerary shows that our longest driving day will be the one from Las Vegas to LA. However, we will spend quite lot of total time in the vehicle. When two of the adults and the infant are "first-timers" on this kind of trip, the car should offer as comfortable surroundins as possible. Another issue is the luggage that we will bring with us. We will most likely bring 4 suitcases and a stroller (which are very compact). I am thinking of replacing one (or two) suitcase(s) with a large sports bag, but I am not sure if that would be a smart move in the end.

    All this leads to my question: What kind of car should we rent for our trip?

    I guess the final decision will be made between a minivan, standard SUV and fullsize SUV. I would really appreciate all comments on these car types and on their suitability for our trip. All of the types seem to have their pros and cons.

    So please, feel free to share your views and opinions on the car types as well as the factors that we should consider when making the decision. Thank you in advance! :)


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


    I think the minivan would be your best bet, in terms of size, cost, fuel mileage, etc. It's going to have a 3rd row seat, which I think will be important with the infant - taking into account the width of the child's car seat.

    A "standard" SUV, often times is more of a compact SUV like a Ford Escape, and probably won't have a third row seat, and thus things will likely be quite cramped in the back.

    A Full-Size SUV would also work, it just likely would cost you more. It may have the advantage of having a bit more cargo room, but it doesn't sound like you should be in too bad of shape with the luggage you'll be carrying.

  5. #5


    Thank you for your instant reply and the advice you gave us! :)
    Minivan really looks like the best solution for us. The only doubt for us is the third row seat and the space for luggage. If there are three rows of seats, will there be enough room for our luggage?
    I think you confirmed the fact that we were thinking - the standard SUV will be too small for us and our gear. So let's consider that option to be eliminated.

    So, it will be either a minivan or a full-size SUV.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I believe that the 3rd row seat in most minivans can be folded down.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Even if you can fold down the third row seat, that wouldn't really be of any help. While you could probably fit everyone onto a standard bench seat, when you throw in a car seat, I think it would be pretty cramped. That problem would be even worse in a minivan where the middle row is usually smaller, to allow people to walk into the 3rd row.

    I think you could probably fit everything in the minivan just by using the unused seating area for extra cargo space. If you are really concerned about your amount of cargo, then I'd spend the extra money for a large SUV.

  8. #8

    Default Your best route from Denver to Monument valley?

    Hello all,
    Thank you for this wonderfull forum. This really has helped us a lot while planning our roadtrips in the US.

    Our next trip is coming together quite well. We plan on driving from Denver to SF (via GC, LV, LA, Monterey, Yosemite, Napa etc.) in about four weeks. At the moment have hard time figuring out which route to choose while driving from Denver to Monument Valley/Flagstaff. That is why we turn to you, our fellow travellers. (sorry for starting a new thread)

    So far we have decided that:

    On our last day in Denver we will leave the city in late afternoon and drive to Estes Park. We believe that this will give us a better start for the next day that we will spend on the Trail Ridge Rd, which seems to be one of the must-sees of the area (correct me if I'm wrong). Our driving day will take us to Glenwood Springs or Grand Junction AND this is where our troubles begin. :)

    We would love to see the Moab area (the Arches etc.) but then again, we have understood that the route from Grand Junction to Durango is also something special. Our original plan(s) would take us directly a) from Moab to Monument valley (US 191) OR b) from Grand Junction to Durango (US 50) (Million Dollar Hway, Mesa Verde etc.) and ultimately to Monument valley. If we want to see both of these areas it would add about one or two days to our original schedule. Are we right? We also estimated that the route from Grand Junction to Durango would take more time in any case.

    So, this leads us back to the original question: If YOU were to travel the Colorado - SE Utah region in July 2012, which route would you choose? Why? Would you arrange more time for these regions and see them both?

    Yes, we know that this is one of the best parts of planning - making difficult decisions that all have their tradeoffs. Luckily we can always come back to see more :)

    Thank you for your comments!


    Moderator Note: Please keep all questions about the same trip in the same thread.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 12-13-2011 at 05:16 AM. Reason: Merged 3 threads together

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default the big picture

    If I were in your shoes I'd change things up quite a bit - looking at the perspective of your entire trip (seeing the whole picture is exactly why we like all questions about one trip together in the same thread.

    If I could only pick the Durango area or the Moab area, personally, I'd pick Moab. I simply enjoyed the area a bit more, but you couldn't go wrong with either, and if you could do both I would.

    However, what I would do instead is more of zig-zag. I'd first go down to Durango, then over to Monument Valley, then back up to Natural Bridges, Arches, Canyonlands, then continue over and down through Capitol Reef, Bryce, Zion, and onto the Grand Canyon.

    I'd actually change up your California section too, and instead of finishing in San Francisco, I'd go from Vegas through Death Valley and over Tioga Pass to Yosemite and onto Napa/San Francisco, before heading down the coast and finishing in LA/San Diego. That's a ton of stuff to see, but with 4 weeks, I think you could make it work.

  10. #10


    Thank you Michael for your answer - and combining all our questions into this one thread. It was great to read your suggestions regarding the route. It is surprising how quickly we became locked into our own ideas. Your idea of passing by the GC from its Northern side was great. We will look into that in detail.

    When it comes to the challenge between the Moab area and the Durango area, we are wondering if some the positive factors related to the Durango area could be achieved "well enough" somewhere else. E.g. Is the Million dollar highway still a true must-see for us WHEN we consider the fact that we have just been on the Trial Ridge Road the day before or so. Aah. This is difficult. :)

    The only limitation that we have is that SF must be the final stop of our trip, since we have booked our flights already.

    We have decided to skip San Diego and keep our visit to LA in about 1,5 days. This will allow us to spend more time in national parks, "countryside" and the Bay area. The pace of the trip should also be considered carefully since we are travelling with an little boy. Therefore, we suppose it is better to make painfull decisions and leave something out of the plan rather than trying to include everything that could be covered if it was only 2 adults travelling. Furthermore, two of the adult travellers are on their first roadtrip - and this will be their first trip to the US. So, it will be interesting in many ways.

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