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  1. #1

    Default In 2012, I want to see something so beautiful it makes me cry.

    Which is why I'm planning a road trip out west. Just me and my dog.

    Driving is not a problem for me. I moved to St. Paul, MN from Philadelphia, PA three years ago and have made that road trip several times, once by myself (and my dog of course) during winter. My father is a truckdriver and has been since he was 14. I guess you could say driving is "in my blood." Growing up we would always drive wherever we went. We would go to and from Florida once a year and our other vacations were loops through the mountains in Virginia and North Carolina. My first road trip without my dad was when I was 19 when I drove through New England, to and from Maine, with stops in Rhode Island to visit friends.

    Now I want to start planning my ultimate road trip.... something I've been trying (and failing) at planning for years. I get a decent amount of vacation at work (three weeks paid) so I should have enough time to do it.

    The most important things are:
    1) Making it to California and driving down the coast
    2) Making it to Utah and New Mexico to explore (I've been to Arizona and Colorado already)
    3) Making it back to St. Paul with myself and my dog alive and healthy

    I guess the things I need help with are:
    1) Cost estimation (besides gas)
    I will have a tent and sleeping bag and will likely be going in the summer. I lived, worked and travelled around the state of Alaska for 6 months in 2008 so not showering, eating peanut butter and jelly and stayin gat campsites is not an issue for me.
    2) To know if this is even possible. Is this a ridiculously long trip for 2 - 3 weeks? Will I not even get to see anything?
    3) What sort of connections should I have? Should I have contacts for garages all over in case my car breaks down? I have AAA but I'm guessing I need more than that. I know how to change a tire... but that is about it.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. I'm going to be doing a ton of research no doubt for the next couple months; but any random advice, places to visit, eat; places to avoid even would be a help for sure!!!

    Thanks in advance!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think your biggest problem is time. 2-3 weeks is barely enough time to drive to California and back, and when you factor in your goal of exploring Utah and New Mexico, it sounds like you'll have some zig-zagging that will add even more time. You can make something work, but I'd start by plotting out a rough itinerary and see what you come up with, that you will enjoy based on the time you have available.

    Costs are quite variable. I'd plan to spend at least $25 for campsites - although many will be less, you'll also have camping supplies you'll need to think about.

    Food is very much up to you, and can keep things fairly similar to what you eat at home. I'd say $15 a day would be a good number to start with, if you plan to keep things cheap. Otherwise, you've got entertainment and recreation expenses for park admission, tours, beer money, etc. Just keep in mind that there will often be lots of little things that you forget to include, so makes sure your spending plan is realistic, not a you could do it in a perfect world plan.

    Trying to research garages in every possible town you'll visit would be a huge task, and an enormous waste of time in my book. AAA has approved/recommended repair shops all over the country, and can help direct you where to go if you have a problem.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Some spots to stir the emotions.

    The difference between 2 and 3 weeks is quite significant on a trip like this and if you can make it 3 weeks you could have a great time, although still pretty busy. A round trip of roughly 5000 miles and 10 days of driving could take you to some of the finest places I have ever seen. If you headed through Colorado to Utah a drive through Rocky mountain NP and the Rim drive at the Colorado National Monument has to be worthwhile, even if you have been before. In Utah you could stop at Arches and Canyonlands NP's and then cut down through Hanksville, past Capitol Reef NP to Torrey before heading South on Utah scenic 12 to Bryce canyon. From Bryce you can head through Zion NP and head towards Vegas and take a drive across Death Valley NP and up the 395 to Mono Lake and into the wonderful Yosemite NP on the Tioga Pass., Alternatively head to Tioga pass via Tonopah.

    From Yosemite head to the coast and San Fran before heading south around Big Sur to Cambria. You could continue to LA or head inland beforehand, depending on whether LA is your 'thing'. You could hit I40 direct to Albuquerque, Santa Fe and perhaps Taos Pueblo or venture to the Grand canyon south rim and Monument valley to Four Corners to the north of I40, or to the south, Phoenix, Tucson etc to NM.

    There are quite a few spots there that will certainly stir the emotions and will hopefully help with your research, although there are many more options. Once you have a few dots on the map we can help fill in the blanks

  4. #4


    Awesome. Thank you both for the initial response. I'm thinking that with work, the most i'll be able to do is 17 days. July 6th - 22nd. I'm wondering though... if maybe I should save this till late September. Summer is my slow time at work, but I feel like things will be more expensive/crowded in season.

    Anyway... I'm just realizing that I put this thread in the wrong forum... "Spring Road Trips". Oops. I'm new here...

    Will keep researching and will keep in touch on this thread. Definitely appreciate the feedback so far.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default I personally prefer travelling in the Fall.

    September into October is my favourite time of year to travel, when both the number of visitors and the temperatures are dropping off.

    Seventeen days would make your trip achievable, you will just have to sort out where and how to prioritise your time based on your interests.

    I have moved your trip to the 'Summer Road trips' section for now.

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