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Thread: First Road Trip

  1. Default First Road Trip

    I like to plan holidays and next year's (2012), will be our first road trip. I have lots and lots of questions and I hope your experience will help us to have a great first road trip.

    I have mapquest route planning software to assist me in my planning

    Our idea of a road trip would be to travel 5 or 6 hours per day, stopping for 2 to 3 hours at either a point of interest on the route or the final destination for the day.

    My first bash at working out a route led me to the following schedule:

    Day 1 Outward bound to San Francisco from the UK
    Day 2 Spend day in San Francisco
    Day 3 on the road from San Francisco via Yosemite to Bishop
    Day 4 Bishop via Death Valley to Vegas
    Day 5 Spend day in Vegas
    Day 6 Spend day in Vegas
    Day 7 on the road from Vegas via Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon to Lake Powell
    Day 8 Lake Powell to Colorado National Monument
    Day 9 Colorado National Monument via Black Canyon of Gunnison to Canon City
    Day 10 Canon City to Amarillo
    Day 11 Amarillo to Dallas
    Day 12 Dallas to New Orleans
    Day 13 Spend day in New Orleans
    Day 14 spend day in New Orleans
    Day 15 homeward bound to UK.

    What we are looking for is the most scenic routes (without adding too much time to the total time on the car for the day).

    The routes that Mapquest comes up with seem to indicate that the shortest trip would be Bishop to Vegas at 270 miles, least number of hours in the car on days 9,10 and 11, the longest trip in terms of miles is Dallas to New Orleans and the longest in terms of time in the car being the San Francisco to Bishop via Yosemite.

    Your initial thoughts would be most welcome.

    Thanks

    Geoff

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    South of England.
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    10,748

    Default Doable.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Your trip, when looking at it from day to day is certainly doable, but my initial thoughts turned to how you have such little time in 2 of the worlds natural wonders, Yosemite and the Grand canyon. You could easily spend a couple of days at each but you will only have a couple of hours or so. If you are happy to do so then that is great, but from a personal point of view I would have considered spending some more time in these two places and perhaps cutting a straighter line from the Grand canyon towards Dallas rather than going up to Colorado NM and Canon City.

    Like I say, your trip is doable, but I think you might regret not staying 1 night in Yosemite from SF and 1 in GC from Vegas.[?]

    The other thing to keep in mind is that mapping programs are well known for being over optimistic with the estimated travel times. Computers don't have to deal with lunch and bathroom breaks, traffic congestion, roadworks or have to fill the fuel tank. Add 20% to the estimate in most cases to get a more realistic travel time.

  3. #3
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    Jul 2007
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    Default One other thing.

    When exactly are you travelling ? Fall and Winter covers a large part of the year and your trip across the Sierra Nevada from Yosemite to Bishop could be jeopardised. The Tioga pass [CA120] closes [as do many of the other mountain passes] from anytime between late October/Nov untill Mid May/end of June.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the welcome and reply Dave,

    We are planning for the second week of October, I have read about the Tioga pass and see there is still snow there as at 20th May - which surprised me, so my first question regarding that aspect is there a suitable route to still get to Bishop or take in Death Valley from the Yosemite area?

    As to the lack of time at Grand Canyon and Yosemite, We're not ones to do anything like hiking, white rapid rafting, cycling or camping. I think we are of the mind to maximise days in San Francisco, Vegas and New Orleans than add an extra day or two on the road - mind you we haven't discussed tings yet with the other couple yet and I'm sure their influences will change quite a few things regarding the trip.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
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    9,270

    Default

    I would highly recommend you spend 1 less day in LV and one less day in NO. Day 3 and Day 7 are too long to fit your criteria.

    If Tioga pass is closed, you are going to have to go to Bakersfield to get across the Sierras and you will have to miss Bishop.

  6. #6
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    Default Should be fine.

    We are planning for the second week of October,
    You have a very good chance of the Tioga being open when you travel. Rarely does it shut for the season before the end of October, but it can see temporary closure in the event of a early winter storm. If this was to be the case you would have to go around the mountains to the North or to the South via Bakersfield. If Tioga was closed you could expect the other passes to the North being closed up to the 88 or 50 as well. Travelling from SF to Yosemite to Bishop same day without Tioga open would be too much to do in a day. If you left that night open to change in case of closure [although unlikely] you could go to Yosemite and stay somewhere around Fresno or Visalia on the western side and continue next day.

  7. Default

    Day 3 on the road from San Francisco via Yosemite to Bishop
    Just make sure you detour off of Hwy 120 and visit Yosemite Valley before going over Tioga Pass! We've done Tioga pass many times in mid-October so that shouldn't be a problem but you never know!

    Day 9 Colorado National Monument via Black Canyon of Gunnison to Canon City
    Keep an eye on Colorado's weather because they can get snow as early as late October! There was even a blizzard that came at the end of October many years ago.

    Utahtea

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    The Netherlands
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    Default

    Have you thought of drop off charges between SF and NOLA? Can be up to $ 500,-- plus tax.
    We had Tioga Pass closed (and reopened), 2nd and 3rd week of october on several visits.
    Las Vegas-Hoover-GC-Page (Lake Powell) is not a daytrip if you want to stop at Hoover and the New Bridge and in GCNP. Without stops it's already 7 hours the very least.
    Why Colorado NM. Yes, it's beautuful but you'll be in Moab before with National Parks like Arches and Canyonlands and on your way between Page and Moab there's Monument Valley (and many more places). Page to Colorado NM app is 7+ hopurs without stops or detours.
    Monarch Pass can be closed between BCofG and Canyon City. We had snow there last year mid october.
    San Francisco to Bishop via Yosemite and Tioga Pass is at least 8+ hours without stops unless you skip the valley and that's not what you want to do "m sure and Bishop to LV is 5+ via Death Valley, no stops again and you will want to make stops in DV and make some detours to the best known places like Badwater.
    Then you are driving in 3 days to NOLA. Not the most scenic drive.....
    Yeehaw

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Yeehaw View Post
    Have you thought of drop off charges between SF and NOLA? Can be up to $ 500,-- plus tax.

    Can you explain drop off charges please?

    We had Tioga Pass closed (and reopened), 2nd and 3rd week of october on several visits.




    Las Vegas-Hoover-GC-Page (Lake Powell) is not a daytrip if you want to stop at Hoover and the New Bridge and in GCNP. Without stops it's already 7 hours the very least.



    Why Colorado NM. Yes, it's beautuful but you'll be in Moab before with National Parks like Arches and Canyonlands and on your way between Page and Moab there's Monument Valley (and many more places). Page to Colorado NM app is 7+ hopurs without stops or detours.
    Monarch Pass can be closed between BCofG and Canyon City. We had snow there last year mid october.

    In my simplified thinking I was thinking Colorado, white water rapids (not that we would go on one), saw railroad running alongside water rapids from Canon City, thought we would do that. Why Colorado Nat Monument? In deed why? looking at the tourist website, they mentioned different places in Colorado and as we were going to Canon City then why not check out Colorado Nat Mon and BCofG - what appealed was the scenery, if you're telling me that yes it's nice but not that much different to places that we would be seeing along the way then sure I am more than happy to alter the plans and take contributor's advice.


    San Francisco to Bishop via Yosemite and Tioga Pass is at least 8+ hours without stops unless you skip the valley and that's not what you want to do "m sure

    Originally I was thinking of missing the valley but thought if it's on the way then OK but provided it doesn't take too long, so looking at the map I thought we could make a detour and take in a bit of the valley by turning off at Moccasin and taking highway 49 (?) to just past Ragby then turn left towards Jerseydale, then northwards up Briceburg on highway 140 (?) an rejoin the 120 back towards Yosemite - tell me my flawed thinking, I don't mind and will appreciate it (yes you're right it is 8.5 hours by doing this rather than 7 hours and missing the valley all together.

    and Bishop to LV is 5+ via Death Valley, no stops again and you will want to make stops in DV and make some detours to the best known places like Badwater.

    So much little research done so far for the planned trip is evident and being a novice then I guess this is why I joined the forums to take your advice on these matters - so Badwater, I take it I need to do some research.



    Then you are driving in 3 days to NOLA. Not the most scenic drive.....

    In deed and this was just looking at the map and putting putting places that I have heard of between Canon City and New Orleans, if there is an alternative scenic route that doesn't involve Amarillo, Dallas then I'm all ears, if the taking in of Colorado is a calculated mistake because it just provides the same type of scenery then perhaps someone can suggest an alternative rough idea of how to get to New Orleans after taking in Moab, Monument Valley


    Yeehaw
    Thanks for the comments Yeehaw, these are the type of comments that I need to help formulate a road trip that takes in some essential parts, which are San Francisco, Death Valley, Vegas, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon and New Orleans and the comments are definitely appreciated.

    Geoff

  10. #10
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    Default Best get a map

    Reading through this, and from the responses above, it seems to me that you do not have a map of the US in front of you. A paper map is essential to give you an overall perspective of what is where. The digital mapping programmes will then give the finer detail of individual places. Same with looking up tourist information. It makes a lot more sense if you have a map in front of you and can mark the dots along a given route.

    My favourite is the National Geographics Map, as it has all major roads and highways, as well as urban centres and all National Parks and Monuments as well as State Parks and Forests, and much, much more.

    Lifey

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