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  1. #1

    Default New Orleans to San Francisco Mid-March

    Dear RoadTrip-Experts,

    i am planning a RoadTrip from New Orleans to San Francisco in Mid-March. I'll be driving with my girlfriend. We are from Germany, both 27 and experienced drivers.
    We have a quite good idea about the itinary by now and have drawn the route. We are just looking for some more advice from the experts, in case we have forgotten some major must-sees or if some day-trips would take too much time and if we should skip more.
    Start will be in New Orleans the 12th of March and we'll have exactly 12 days for the trip west to San Francisco. We have already booked a midsize SUV.
    We've been reading in other posts, that the maximum, still enjoyable drive should be 500 miles per day. So we considered this. Our goal ist to see as many cool places as possible, we are aware that we have to skip some great sights/ NPs and that we won't have a lot of time hiking/ staying in one place. Also we are aware that weather and snow might be an issue in some of the places, we try to be as flexibel as possible.
    Here is the (rough) itinery, we tried to arrive in a city at night, so we might be able to do something after sunset due to the fact, that the sunset won't be on our side in March.

    Day 1: New Orleans - San Antonio (with a short stop in Houston). This will also be the longest drive
    Day 2: San Antonio - Alpine, TX
    Day 3: Alpine, TX - White Sands, NM
    Day4: White Sands, NM - Santa Fe, NM
    Day5: Santa Fe, NM - Durango, CO
    Day 6: Durango, CO - Flagstaff, AZ (via Monument Valley). We decided to skip all the National Parks north of Page/ Utah. Our next RoadTrip will be further North and more in the summer, then we want to cover all the NPs like Bryce, Arches, Antelope,...)
    Day 7: Grand Canyon South Rim
    Day 8: Flagstaff - Las Vegas, NV
    Day 9: Las Vegas
    Day 10: Las Vegas - somewhere in California, maybe near Bakersfield. via Death valley. We have seen Yosemite, so we decided to skip it this time, also weatherwise.
    Day 11: Highway #1 starting in San Simeon and going up to Monterey, CA
    Day 12: Arrive in San Francisco

    We are looking forward to hearing from you and hopefully we can get some advice if there might even be a better route to head west from New Orleans and if we could miss something, which we might regret later.

    Thank you very much!
    best regards from munich, Germany,


    p.s. great forum and we already learned a lot here!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Looks good.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You seem to know what you want from your trip and you have done a good job with the planning. It will keep you on the move but no doubt you already know that.

    I have not been to Alpine TX and it seems an odd choice , so I presume there is something that attracted you there. A little further north is Carlsbad and you might enjoy a visit to Carlsbad Caverns a few miles from town.

    From Durango you could take the mountain train to Silverton as a treat or drive yourselves. There is also Mesa Verde NP between Durango and Cortez. On the way to Monument valley you could stop at Four corners NM. In truth there is not much there but you get the opportunity to have 'the' photo taken with a limb in each of 4 states at the same time, the only place this is possible in the USA.

    Between Monument valley and GC you will come across the Cameron Trading post which is an interesting shopping experience. In fact you could lodge here for your first night around the GC rather than going on to Flagstaff and travelling back. If you do continue to Flagstaff I would still recommend entering the GC from the east kiosk by heading back up 89 to 64. This takes you along Desert view drive which has viewpoints along it and you will be traveeling in the same direction as the Colorado river, giving you wide open views of the river from the Old watchtower and building towards the 'Grand Finale'.

    After you have been across Death valley you could head towards Lake Isabella and stay in the area for the night. Kernville is a quaint little peaceful town if you want the 'quiet life'. [And pancakes at Cheryls Diner, yummy !]

  3. #3


    thank you a lot for the quick response. I am glad that it looks like I have done a good job planning.

    The stop in Alpine, TX was kind of random to be honest, but we really wanted to have some driving in Texas with desert and not much being there, just to have an adventour and experience, which I am not familiar with at all. Also we might stop at Marfa, which seems to be a cool artist town. So we added the little loop south of I-10, to make the drive through Texas even more interesting. I've seen an article, which said that parts of the movie "no country for old men" were shot there, so I got interested in this area.

    The stop and lodge at cameron makes a lot more sense than going all the way down to Flagstaff, that's a good comment! Especially entering the Canyon from the East.

    So thanks again for the feedback!


  4. #4


    I have one more question:
    Does it make sense to get a National Park Pass?
    Do we need the pass to actually drive through/ pass some places or just if we get off main roads to do special loops?


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

    Default Entry fees.

    You have to pay to enter the parks and an annual pass is good value if you live in the USA and visit them through the year, or as in your case, for a foriegn visitor who is likely to visit 4 or more major parks during their visit. The annual pass is $80 and typically, entry is $20-$25 to the parks, so at the moment it wouldn't make financial sense if you were only to visit one or two.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    You will need to pay admission to do any sightseeing inside the National Parks. Most of them have gates to pay before you even enter the park, and even those where you could drive through (like Death Valley), you are required to pay if you even stop at the overlooks.

    As far as if getting the parks pass is worth it, it will depend upon how many parks you ultimately plan to visit. The pass is $80, so you typically need to visit at least 4-5 major parks before it pays for itself. Each park does have different fees, so look at the national parks website for specific details. Keep in mind, Monument Valley is not a national park, it is a Tribal Park located on Native American lands. The pass is good for a year from the date of purchase, so if your next trip will be within 12 months, that might also make it a better deal for you.

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