Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 31
  1. #1

    Default USA West 3½ weeks May 2013, Salt Lake- SF? Seattle - SF?

    Hi everyone,

    So my girlfriend and i are planning a trip to the west(coast) of the USA and i would really like some tips as to how we'd best plan the route to take.

    What we like:

    -Nature(parks)
    -Small idyllic towns
    -Breathtaking views
    -Not to be in a hurry aka have long drives ahead every day, 100 miles a day would be ok of course
    -Visiting SF is a must

    We are planning to drive a rental car and use coupons found at gas stations for cheap(er) overnight stays.

    Our first thought, since we knew someone near Seattle, was to fly to Seattle and then drive down to SF via all the parks and things we'd like to visit.

    Then we thought it would be a much cooler roadtrip if we would fly Salt Lake and then drive back to SF!

    What are your thoughts?
    Any tips would be much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default what do you want

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    In my book, the questions shouldn't be where should you start or end your trip, they should be what do YOU want to SEE?

    You can find nature, national parks, breathtaking views, etc in pretty much every corner of the US. Its really a matter of the specifics, and that's up to you.

    So which sounds most interesting to you? A trip enjoying places in the Pacific Northwest, like Mt. St. Helens, Crater Lake, the Oregon Coast, and the Redwoods?

    Or Something like a trip to Bryce Canyon, Zion, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Death Valley, and Yosemite?

    Those are by no means the only options, but they are the kind of things that only you can decide. Once YOU know what YOU want your trip to focus on, then others can help you work to build the perfect plan for YOU.

    Having said that, I will note it is typically much cheaper to do a loop trip, starting and ending in the same place, than it is to do a one way trip, so you might consider that into your thinking too.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Time Will Tell

    Probably the major determining factor in how to plan your trip, at least in the initial stages when you have to decide on a broad outline, is simply how much time you have. Certainly there is no shortage of scenic locations, great drives, or picturesque towns in the area(s) you're thinking of visiting. And a loop that goes roughly Seattle, San Francisco, southern Utah, and
    back down the Snake River and through the Palouse to Seattle. As Michael points out, loop trips are generally less expensive, plus there's the often unstated benefit that you're not 'wasting' time dropping off cars, picking up new ones, going through airport security and generally waiting around on other peoples' schedules.

    Now, with 24 days or so at your disposal, you can just make that big a loop while only driving 100 miles a day. Note that such a pace would only require 2 hours a day in the car, but it would have to be 200 miles every day. What you might want to think about is, say, driving 300 miles every other day. You can do that during a day where you drive from site to site ad spend 2-3 hours at each site on the way while driving a few 2 hour stints in between. Then you'd get to stay put in a 'major' stop for a couple of days and just relax. Such a mix of driving and relaxing would also mean that you would have to book fewer places to stay and might even be eligible for an occasional discount for staying in one hotel/motel for multiple days. Plus you wouldn't have to pack/unpack every day.

    So, as Michael also noted, you still have many options to choose from at this point in planning your trip, but once you have the broad design of what you want to do, we can be of much more specific help.

    AZBuck

  4. #4

    Default

    Something like a trip to Bryce Canyon, Zion, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Death Valley, and Yosemite?
    Well...since this is our first time roadtripping in the US (i've only been to Florida, gf to NY) we would like to visit these parks you mention. Although it sounds cliche and there's a quiet hope for surprise visits to small beautiful places instead of these mass tourism spots, they probably really are breathtaking and a must see. :)

    So there's that: We would like to focus on parks like Brice, Zion, Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite. (we'll skip Vegas)
    Note: If we could get around avoiding highways and taking a rural route that would be fantastic.

    I will note it is typically much cheaper to do a loop trip, starting and ending in the same place, than it is to do a one way trip, so you might consider that into your thinking too.
    Is it really that much cheaper?
    I've looked at plane tickets and it would cost us something like 100/150 Euro's per person extra per round trip ticket and i was under the impression that car rental companies in the US don't mind to much if you deliver your car somewehere else.
    Maybe i was mistaken!


    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    As Michael points out, loop trips are generally less expensive, plus there's the often unstated benefit that you're not 'wasting' time dropping off cars, picking up new ones, going through airport security and generally waiting around on other peoples' schedules.
    Hmm yes the lost time factor is something to weigh in.

    Seattle, San Francisco, southern Utah, and
    back down the Snake River and through the Palouse to Seattle.
    You really think there's enough time to see all that in three weeks?!
    Would be fantastic :-)

    Now, with 24 days or so at your disposal, you can just make that big a loop while only driving 100 miles a day.... ...Such a mix of driving and relaxing would also mean that you would have to book fewer places to stay and might even be eligible for an occasional discount for staying in one hotel/motel for multiple days. Plus you wouldn't have to pack/unpack every day.
    Super!

    That's exactly what we were thinking too: that it would be great if we wouldn't have to pack/unpack every day and could stay somewhere for multiple days.

    So ok if i understand correctly i should get behind the computer together with gf and start to roughly note which parks are a must and then maybe come up with a route to take and report back here.

    It's difficult, so many options... :(
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 10-10-2012 at 05:42 AM. Reason: Fixed quote format

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Driving on those other roads.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Driving Dutchman View Post
    Note: If we could get around avoiding highways and taking a rural route that would be fantastic.
    It is quite easy to travel all over the USA taking mostly the secondary highways and local roads. It is the way I travel most of the time. I would recommend that you get some good detailed (paper) maps of the USA, or a Rand McNally road atlas. The 2013 edition has been out for some months now. (If you can't buy one locally, check out the shop on the green bar above.) You are going to need these anyway, once you get on the road. It is recommended that you not rely solely on electronics.

    An atlas in particular will show you in detail State by State, exactly which roads are two lane and four lane, highways and country roads. [The atlas will also show you just how many green spots there are... and so many of those are national parks, or state parks.]

    So ok if i understand correctly i should get behind the computer together with gf and start to roughly note which parks are a must and then maybe come up with a route to take and report back here.
    By all means get onto the computer and check out the details, but to get the overall picture, especially if you want to avoid interstate highways, you need good paper maps.

    ... I was under the impression that car rental companies in the US don't mind too much if you deliver your car somewehere else.
    All of the larger rental companies generally allow you to drop the car 'somewhere else'. But you need to realise that it comes at a cost which can be hundreds of dollars. (I have heard of cross country drops of $700.)

    It's difficult, so many options... :(
    In the end, that is the best part. You will find there are so many places that no matter which road/route you take, there will always be a place to explore.

    Lifey

  6. #6

    Default

    Impulsive as i am i just bought the 2013 Rand McNally road atlas via the shop link on this site.

    Delivery estimate 4 weeks :(

    So just to be clear: There is no airport that's cheaper or better or easier to fly to when you want to make the trip we do?

    I mean we're pretty flexible: We have 3(½) weeks, want to see beautiful forests and canyons and want to visit San Francisco :-))

    I'll let you guys know when we've broadly mapped out what we could do/drive/visit and then ask for advice again.
    Last edited by The Driving Dutchman; 10-10-2012 at 07:11 AM. Reason: typo

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    When you get into the 6 month booking window (that's roughly how far in advance airlines publish their fares) start researching round trip fares to various cities. At the same time, research car rental costs, paying particular attention to taxes and fees for both air and car. For now, what you might want to do is get a wall-size map of the US (National Geographic?) and start plotting points where you want to visit. A pattern will start to emerge suggesting a rough routing.

    Keep in mind that the mountainous areas in the Northwest will still be coming out of the winter mode in May - you may want to leave those till later in the trip. In particular, this would include Rocky Mountain NP (Trail Ridge Road), Glacier (Going To The Sun Road), and Yellowstone - with Yosemite (Tioga Pass, Glacier Point) and the Grand Canyon North Rim also included (Grand Canyon South Rim is open year round). It all depends on how severe the winter has been. It takes time clearing 20+ feet of snow off the roads and alleviating avalanche dangers.

    Note - on car rentals, you can frequently get the best rates through a European consolidator rather than booking directly. I assume you are from the NL with your username, but a consolidator we have heard good things about in the UK is carhire3000.com.

  8. #8

    Default

    Thanks glc, that's helpful info!

    I am indeed from NL and my gf already hung up a map of USA west so that's taken care of :)

    I'll have a look at that car rental site!

  9. #9

    Default

    Hey guys,

    We've talked about it and looked at the map and parks and have come up with about 10 waypoints lining out a possible route.

    This is just a first draft but i wanted to post it here so you guys could have a look.
    It's route is based on (nature) parks and green patches on the map :-D

    Total distance is about 3500 miles so that's way too much i know :(

    -Fly to Salt Lake City
    -North to Yellowstone Park
    -West to Redwood National Park (enormous distance i know)
    -Drive along the coast to SF
    -East to Yosemite national park
    -Continue to Death valley
    -Continue to Las Vegas (drive through)
    -East to Grand Canyon
    -North to Grand Staircase National monument
    -North to Salt Lake to fly back home

    We'll have about 24 days to do this.
    Last edited by The Driving Dutchman; 10-12-2012 at 04:02 AM. Reason: changed sequoia and kings to Yosemite

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    You have plenty of time to do that, but I'd look at rearranging it. You need to leave Yellowstone and Yosemite more towards the end of the trip. If possible, I'd look at looping counter-clockwise from SFO. Maybe something like this:

    SFO-Cambria down the coast
    Death Valley
    LV
    Grand Canyon
    Utah parks
    Yellowstone
    Redwoods
    Yosemite (from the east over Tioga Pass)
    SFO

Similar Threads

  1. 4 weeks summer trip S. F. -Yellowstone-Salt lake City-Grand Caynon-Vegas-LA-S.F.
    By livinginswiss in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 05-09-2011, 08:16 AM
  2. driving from seattle to salt lake city
    By angelo in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 10-21-2010, 08:05 AM
  3. Salt Lake to Seattle via National Parks
    By two_tees in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 02-28-2010, 05:12 AM
  4. Seattle to Salt Lake City - any suggestions?
    By andrea2008 in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 04-26-2009, 03:44 PM
  5. Salt Lake to Seattle in December
    By kedou13 in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 08-12-2007, 08:41 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name

    Loading...



  • MORE STORIES