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  1. #1

    Default Please help squeeze the most out of our trip out west.

    Hello everyone let me first Thank You in advance for your help. The wife and I are planning our first trip out west and we have so many questions! About us: We live in central Florida. We mostly enjoy seeing the scenery not the crowds and have 2 weeks to squeeze in as much as we can see and don’t mind driving to get there. Current thoughts, although nothing is booked yet! Since I think driving would eat up too much time. Fly into Phoenix Friday June 29th rent a car (it was going to be an RV but with gas today that doesn’t seem feasible) head to Grand Canyon after that is where we need your help. I’ve heard Yosemite is another must see, so we kind of thought we would head that a way after the canyon? Other things we would love to see, redwood forest and or other forests, Oregon, Rockies and or other mountains, anything you feel is a must see. It doesn’t look like there’s a great loop back to Phoenix so will probably fly back from another location. I noticed Portland has reasonable flights back to Orlando, but again we’re open to suggestions.
    1)Best way to see Grand Canyon, bus tour, train, drive it ourselves? I’ve heard it can be busy on the weekend but since we want to see it, not necessarily hike it, will the weekend be ok or should we wait until Monday?
    2)Anything to see between Phoenix and the canyon?
    3)What to see between the canyon and Yosemite? Good half way point to stay the night?
    4)The big question, where to after Yosemite? Or would your recommendation be heading somewhere other than Yosemite?
    5)All input welcome even “if your anywhere near the small town of_____ stop and have a burger at ____” or “there is a nice little motel in_____” As a matter of fact finding nice cheap motels would be a big help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Yellowknife, NT, Can.


    A beautiful place to view the Rockies is sawtooth national park. The mountains look like the teeth of well.....a saw! Gorgeous! Also in the area, towards the east, is craters of the moon national monument. Quite an amazing piece of our earth. Looks like gigantic BBQ brick for miles.
    Enjoy your trip!

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

    Default So many options !!

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !!

    With so much to see and do 'out west' you will have to pick and choose carefully to suit your tastes and travel style. You could create a wonderful loop out of Phoenix and not have to face the one way drop off fee on your car rental, or do the one way rental, whatever suits you best. Although 2 weeks is a reasonable amount of time trying to cram too much in could take away from the enjoyment of the places you visit, it can be tricky getting the balance right.

    I personally would drive to the south rim of the GC and then you can use the free shuttle buses and car to get around.

    Yosemite would be high on my 'to do' list, anytime !

    A loop from Phoenix could take you up through Oak Creek and Sedona to the GC. You could then head into Southern Utah and visit the wonderful National Parks of Bryce canyon and Zion. Monument Valley, Antelope canyon are just a couple of other options to consider amongst many. From Zion you could head to Vegas and across Death Valley and into Yosemite via Tioga Pass. From Yosemite you could head to SF and the coast or south to Sequoia NP for the giant trees and back to Phoenix.

    You could follow parts of that route and from Yosemite [or San Fran] head north towards Portland where there are lot's of other options, the coastal Redwoods, Napa Valley, or inland, Crater Lake, Columbia River Gorge and so on.

    The one common theme you will notice as you look around the forums is that we don't do 'must See's' as such. The beauty of the road trip is getting to go where you want to go and not have someone else tell you. Now you have a few ideas, get the map out, search the RTA pages for inspiration and once you have some dots on the map we can help piece it together.

  4. #4


    Thanks for the replies. Wow...I knew there was a drop off fee but I had no idea it was that much. Return car to Phoenix around $600, drop it at Portland around $1300! Ok looking for anymore comments on the loop idea :-)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Good maps will help.

    Ken, by far the best thing you can do right now, is get a map of the southwest, or maps of AZ, UT, NM, CO and CA. AAA is a good resource for this, as is Rand McNally. Then go onto the National Parks website and check out just how many national parks there are in that region. Locate them on your maps. Together with State Parks / Forests, National Monuments, etc. (all of which will be marked on your maps), you will get a good idea of just how much there is to see in that little corner of the globe.

    Next you need to do your research and decide just which to put on, and which to leave off your must-see list. Once you decide on your must-sees, you will see your route starting to develop before your eyes. As questions arise, feel free to ask... there is always someone who can help you join the dots and fine tune it all.


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

    Default Some more resources for you

    Paper maps are good to have when on the road -- for the regions you're interested, the best you can buy are Benchmark maps, but for planning purposes (right now) be sure to look at the RTA Map Center. In addition to creating custom maps, you can use the radius tool from any given spot in North America and see some of the road trip attractions we've written about. (The radius tool is the one that reads.... "Search for places within xx miles...Click on the Map"

    I'd also recommend that you read our section on suggested routes in the southwest and the daytrips articles have tips and routing tips.


    From our review of the maps:
    Over the last decade, Benchmark Maps has established itself as the best source for detailed state road gazetteers. Unlike most road atlases, the Benchmark series uses landscape illustration to show mountains passes, marshes, canyons, and other geographical elements clearly. The maps look like aerial maps with elevations shown in relief, and it is easy to see at a glance if the roadway you are considering climbs up a steep pass or slogs through a swamp. These superb maps also identify little known locations, dirt roads, historical sites, and they provide the most extensive list of recreational opportunities we've ever seen in an atlas. Unlike DeLorme, the areas contiguous to the title state are included, making it easier to navigate when in close proximity to borders. Currently the series includes atlases for Arizona, California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming.

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