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  1. Default 71 day road trip this summer

    Hi everyone,

    A friend and I are planning a full summer road trip and it would be nice to have feedback from some experienced people in this field. So here's our current plan:

    After 11 days in Vancouver Seattle and Portland, OR moving via train, I rent a car.
    day 1-7 Drive to Bozeman MT & pick up my friend at the airport, I was thinking of going via Lewiston to see bits of the Lewis and Clark trail but what would you recommend? 7 days for what would be a 12-14 hour continuous drive should allow for some side trips.
    day 8 Drive to Yellowstone 225 km
    day 9 full day in Yellowstone
    day 10 half day in Yellowstone drive to Jackson, WY 132km
    day 11 half day in Grand Teton drive to Rock Springs, WY 289km
    day 12 & 13 drive to Rocky Mountains National Park, CO 550 km
    day 14 day in the Park, Drive to Denver in the evening 100km
    day 15-17 in Denver
    day 18-20 drive to Monument Valley 900km via the million dollar highway, am I correct in thinking that's the most scenic route?
    day 21 full day around Monument Valley drive about 100km towards Page, AZ in the evening. Maybe better to go the full way?
    day 22 day around Page see Antelope Canyon, drive to the North rim towards the end of the day
    day 23 rim to rim in 1 day (we're both in good shape and have done a fair bit of hiking, seems better than paying $85 for a bus)
    day 24-26 hike back slower taking the time to enjoy everything, this is conditional on us obtaining permits and ideas for where to use the time if we don't is welcome :)
    day 27 drive to St George, UT 240km
    day 28 morning in Zion Park, drive to Rachel, NV in the afternoon 300km
    day 29 obligatory exploration of the extraterrestrial highway and general driving around the desert
    day 30 drive to Las Vegas, NV 244
    day 31 & 32 spent in Las Vegas
    day 33 drive to Death Valley 240 km
    day 34 full day in Death Valley
    day 35 & 36 drive to Yosemite 400km
    day 37 visit Yosemite
    day 38 drive to San Francisco 260km
    day 39 & 40 in San Francisco drive to Monterey towards the end of the second day 190km
    day 41 Monterey to Santa Maria on the Coast 270 km
    day 42 Santa Maria to Santa Monica 250 km
    day 43 around LA
    day 44 & 45 Start Retracing route 66 to Lake Huvasu
    day 46 & 47 spent in Huvasu drive to Kingman towards the end of the second day 100km
    day 48-71 Retrace the rest of route 66 all the way to Chicago and spend a couple of days there. approx 2900km in 22 days or 82 miles/day
    after that we plan to fly to DC early in the morning, take a train to New York in the afternoon the next day and my friend would leave 2 days later in the evening while I would stay an extra 3-4 days, maybe go see Boston.

    What do you guys think? Is this too much or too little? (I would think too much rather than too little) Are there any changes you would suggest?

    Thanks,

    Michael

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

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You've laid out quite a grand plan. What are you planning to do for transportation and what kind of budget do you have for your adventure?

    The only serious red flag I see is the "rim to rim" hike in a day. Attempting such a feat is probably the biggest reason for calls for rescue at the Grand Canyon. Unless your "fair bit of hiking" includes things like hiking to the top of Mt. Whitney or a similar hike that would be considered one of the most extreme hikes on the planet, don't even think about.

    Otherwise, you might want to think about more time in the National Parks. Most of them it looks like you've got less than a day planned. Yellowstone in particular is a place where you should plan to spend at least a couple of days. It looks like you've got plenty of time to work with.

    One other area I'd look at adding is the Moab area, spending some time at Canyonlands and Arches would be a must for me, on a trip of this size through the American West.

  3. Default

    Thank you,

    The idea for transportation is for me to fly to Vancouver (from Switzerland) train down to Portland via Seattle and then rent a car for the 71 days to Chicago, fly to DC train to NY and then fly home. Flights should cost approximately $1500 each and renting a car and fuel should cost about $7000-$7500 total because we are both 22.
    In total we are expecting to spend about $22,000 (not each) with me spending a bit more and him a bit less because my trip will be slightly longer. Does this seem about right or are we underestimating the costs?

    By in shape I mean that we can both run above 2 miles on a Cooper test (12 minutes) and he has recently done military service (which is compulsory here for some crazy reason) and I am currently training for mine which starts in October. I know a hike here which is 12 miles and has about half a mile up and then the same down which is about half of the GC rim to rim in all aspects. I'll see how long it takes to do that twice and if it takes less than 8 hours without being to strenuous it should be ok to add an extra 6 hours for the heat, start at 5am finish at 7pm.

    When you say we have plenty of time to work with what do you mean? do you think we should be driving more the days we are driving or do you think we are spending too long in some places? I thought Yellowstone would be worth 2 days but wasn't sure what to take out. Moab looks incredible, would love to spend some time there!

    Thanks for the advice, very useful :)

    EDIT: got the car rental in the wrong currency, it's corrected now.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Two days is what I consider the bare minimum for Yellowstone. It really is impossible to understate just how massive the park is.
    When you say we have plenty of time to work with what do you mean?
    You've got several places where you've allotted more days for the drive than you'd really need. You could easily get to Bozeman in 2 days, and you're planning 7. That's not a bad thing, but its an example of an area where you could easily take less time.
    I know a hike here which is 12 miles and has about half a mile up and then the same down which is about half of the GC rim to rim in all aspects. I'll see how long it takes to do that twice and if it takes less than 8 hours without being to strenuous it should be ok to add an extra 6 hours for the heat, start at 5am finish at 7pm.
    I can't begin to stress how bad of an idea that is. The Grand Canyon really can't be compared to any typical hike. A typical hike is hardest at the start, and is easiest at the end, as you go back down hill - the Grand Canyon is at its worst, when you are the most tired. The heat and desert air also saps your strength.

    Again, there is a reason the National Parks Service strongly discourages anyone from attempting to hike to the rim and back in a day. It very frequently puts them in the dangerous position of having to rescue such foolish souls. If you regularly scaled 14,000 foot peaks or were in some other ways an extreme athlete, then go ahead, but unless your military training qualifies you for special forces, this is far more than basic training or an afternoon hike would prepare you for. I'll also say that I think you're seriously underestimating the hike if you think you'll want to hike back again, going rim to rim twice in less than a week!

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

    Default Time allocation.

    It puzzles me why you are allotting three weeks to retracing route 66 - of which not much remains. This is a drive which can be done in four days. Maybe add as many days to search where the sections still in place, are.

    If you are looking to take days from anywhere, it is where you could well do with fewer. Places where I would add more time would be in the large National Parks - Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon. Especially if you are into hiking, of which there is plenty. You might also like to do a little more research for your rim to rim hike. I fear you may be underestimating it.

    Sounds like a great trip. Enjoy the planning.

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    My brother was an amazing athlete who thought he could hike to the bottom of the GC and back up in a day. He found out the HARD WAY that it was a 3 day trip: one day down, and then TWO returning. The three guys with him almost didn't make it back up. All four were great athletes in great shape. DO NOT attempt to go rim to rim in one day.


    Donna

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Thoughts and ideas.

    Thats quite some adventure you have planned out, Wow !

    The Million dollar Highway is quite spectacular and although most of Colorado is too, it's the route I would take. You could head down through Leadville to US50 and then head over Monarch pass, through Currecanti Nat Recreation area and Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP. Alternatively, you could head towards Colorado Springs from Denver [Garden of the Gods, Cave of the Winds, Pikes Peak] and then head towards Pagosa Springs [Hot springs resort] and Durango on 160, perhaps visiting the Great sand dunes NP on route and then head North on the 'MDH'. You then have the option of driving the complete 'San Juan Skyway' [of which MDH is part of] and travelling to Telluride and Dolores where you could end up at Mesa Verde NP, or continue north to Grand junction [Colorado National Monument] and then head for Moab and Arches/Canyonlands as suggested by Michael.

    I think you may as well head straight to Page from Monument valley. There is not much in between unless perhaps you wanted to detour to the Cameron Trading Post which has lodgings and stores etc.

    I have to agree with the others regarding the rim hike, you would need to camp in the canyon really or stay at the Ranch. There is no need to pay $85 for a bus though, you could simply drive to the south rim from Monument valley and stay a night before continuing to Page and the North rim and hike as far as you feel comfortable with from either rim, or stay a night at the bottom. It looks as though you have 4 days to hike both directions alloted, so you could take 2 days each way, but it's still a lot of hiking and it can get real hot in the canyon.

    I would not drive all the way to Cedar City to visit Zion NP. Springdale UT is a wonderful little town and is right by the entrance to the park. You can actually get on the free shuttle bus from town and not have to move the car. I would recommend at least a full day at Zion, it's a wonderful park ! As you sound quite adventurous, you will find many amazing hikes here and you might want to check out hiking in the Virgin river through 'The Narrows'. You should also consider Bryce canyon !

    I don't think you will find lodgings in Rachel, there is not much there other than the Little'Ale'Inn where you can eat and drink and look at 'out of this world' photography. I think the nearest lodgings would be Alamo. As much as I love a drive through the desert I'm not sure if adding a whole day driving around the desert is worthwhile. You could get to Alamo[?] via Rachel same day from Springdale and then continue on to Vegas. If you went via Cedar City you could take a short detour to Cathedral Gorge State park between Pioche and the Lincoln county Airport. Of course you could just head down I15 and visit Valley of Fire State Park and get your desert 'fix' in Death valley.

    I would do days 33 through 37 slightly differently. You are in Death valley after a couple of hours from Vegas so you can explore quite a bit that day. Remember it is extremely hot and you will be limited with time from the car, even though it's still well worth it. The next day [34] I would continue exploring DV as I made my way to the Bishop CA area. Day 35 continue to Yosemite and spend a lot of the day on Tioga Pass [CA120] giving me day 36 to explore Yosemite valley and 37 to visit Glacier point and Mariposa Grove areas of Yosemite, it's an amazing place with lots of hikes/walks !

    I would have to agree with Lifey about following 66 to Chicago. There is nothing wrong with that and you will find plenty to do along the way, but you could cut that back to 10-12 days and have more time in other places along the way, quite a few of them already mentioned above. Having got this far reading your post, this would actually be a good time to visit the south rim of the Grand canyon. On the way to Chicago you could also visit, Sunset Crater, Petrified forest, Canyon De Chelly, sleep in a Wigwam in Holbrook, visit Caddilac Ranch near Amarillo and spend a little time in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and St Louis.

    What an adventure ! Just ask as new questions come to mind.

  8. Default Great comments!

    Thanks for all the input, it's all very useful. I won't quote individually as it's already complicated enough but here is what I've revised:

    Unfortunately I can't pick up my friend from Bozeman any earlier than on that day as he could potentially have exams until the previous day. This means the reshuffling has to come from after that point as the next time I could pick him up would be in Denver and it would be a shame for him to miss out on Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

    Grand Canyon: Though I think we'd be ok I understand there's a reason for all the warnings. If we ask for a permit which is 2 nights at Bright angels Campground having started from the North, this is a long hike but all downhill. If when we arrive there it's not even mid-day and we're feeling fresh we'll keep going if we're knackered we'll make camp. On the Second day we'll either walk down to Bright Angel if we made the 1 day hike or go for a day hike as far up on the south side as we think we can manage if we didn't. On the 3rd day we'll go to Cottonwood camp and then on the 4th day head back up to the north rim.

    This means it should be safe as well as allowing us to go all the way if we can manage.

    Other corrections:

    I realised (sorry I like british english ^^) the plan I posted was slightly problematic as I don't think it allowed enough time for DC & NY so that has taken 2 days from route 66 time.

    Changed to driving faster after Grand Teton and taking more time in the 2 parks, 2.5 days in Yellowstone and 0.75 days in Grand Teton.

    Changed driving between Denver and Grand Canyon North Rim so that we have slightly less time in Monument Valley, drive more on driving days (nicer route>shortest path) and have a full day in the Moab area (2 nights).

    Spend 1 full day in Zion (2 nights) we never planned to go all the way to Cedar City, just St George, but we'll change that to Springdale.

    Take one day less from Zion to LV via the Rachel area because we'll be able to leave earlier in the morning.

    Accept the suggestion about days 33-37, great idea!

    Keep the same timings to LA.

    We have 1 day spare here

    From LA 26 days to do:

    overnighting approximate place with attractions to see during that day in brackets.

    Barstow (first Mc Donald's, Wigwam hotel)
    Needles (Amboy Crater)
    Lake Huvasu (early morning drive to Huvasu)
    Oatman (drive from Huvasu towards the end of the afternoon)
    Flagstaff (visit Oatman)
    Holbrook (visit the observatory in F, visit two guns and meteor crater)
    Gallup (visit he petrified forest and take in the painted desert scenery)
    Albuquerque (any suggestions between Gallup & Albuquerque)
    Santa Fe (visit Albuquerque La Bajada Hill)
    Santa Rosa (St Francis Cathedral, maybe Pecos National Historical Park)

    Cadillac Ranch (Glenrio, Cadillac Ranch)
    U-drop Inn (Big Texan, leaning water tower, barbed wire museum)
    Oklahoma (not quite sure)
    Tulsa (again not quite sure)
    Springfield (Marsh arch bridge, Joplin)
    Devil's elbow (Shrine Mosque)
    Cuba Wagon wheel motel (largest rocking chair, giant shoe shop, history museum, mural project)
    St Louis (Stanton cavernes)
    Springfield (chain rock bridge)
    Chicago (Gemini Giant)

    this means we have 6 days spare for things of interest we might find on the way of route 66 (we'll probably end up spending one of them in Chicago).

    we then have 1.5 days in Chicago
    fly to DC and spend 2 nights there
    take a train to NY, my friend stays 2 nights I stay 5 or 6 as I have more time


    I think we should take 1 day away from the spares for route 66 along with the spare day before LA and put them in the Denver-Grand Canyon North Rim stretch, to give us a little bit more time for Muab, the San Juan Skyway, and Monument Valley. My friend is hesitant about this as he thinks it will make route 66 too rushed, what do you guys think?

    Thanks again for all the comments!
    Last edited by mf2004; 12-30-2012 at 03:08 PM.

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

    Default

    Actually, there is lodging available at the Little Ale' Inn in Rachel. It's in mobile homes with shared bathrooms. I would think that reservations may be essential.

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

    Default I'm with you !

    I think we should take 1 day away from the spares for route 66 along with the spare day before LA and put them in the Denver-Grand Canyon North Rim stretch, to give us a little bit more time for Muab, the San Juan Skyway, and Monument Valley. My friend is hesitant about this as he thinks it will make route 66 too rushed, what do you guys think?
    I tend to agree with you and personally I think you have plenty of time at the end of your trip to enjoy the ride to Chicago and onwards. I have to admit that the National parks and mountain scenery appeals to me much more than towns or route numbers, and any time driving among them and visiting them is time well spent. Keep in mind that route 66 was decommissioned years ago and some parts are hard to follow and/or have been replaced by Interstate, so there will be days you can clock up a few miles if need be. In the mountains and National parks you will find a lot of scenic and slow going roads where you may want to stop time after time to take in the views and take pictures and therfor take more time.

    this means we have 6 days spare for things of interest we might find on the way of route 66
    You say you will have 6 days spare to sight see on the leg from LA to Chicago, but for example you could drive from Barstow to Amarillo in 2 quite comfortable days, so with 10 stops already planned you have plenty of time to sight see included in your travel days.

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