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  1. #1

    Default NY-Baltimore-Little Rock-Vegas-Arizona-California in 17 days?

    Hi guys!

    Me and my other half were planning a little road trip in the US for few years now. Due to different reasons we never managed to pull it off but this May and June we're going for it.
    Initially we wanted to spend +3 weeks in the States but my gf had some problems with booking holidays at work so we have a little under 3 weeks. Here is out plan:

    26.05 PM arrive at JFK, NY
    26.05 - 29.05 - visiting New York
    29.05 AM drive to Baltimore (visiting a friend)
    29.05 - 31.05 stay in Baltimore and flight to Little Rock, AR (visting a friend)
    31.05 - 04.06 stay in Arkansas and flight to Vegas
    04.06 - 12.06 short stay in Vegas, visit to Grand Canyon and California
    12.06 - flight to New York
    13.06 - back to London

    That's more less what we have right now. I'm still thinking about putting Chicago somewhere between Baltimore and Little rock but then I would need to cut short our visits in both places. The other option is to stop by in Chicago on the way back from California. On the other hand, that would be packing visits in many places in very few days.

    Anyway, as you can see once we land in Vegas we don't have a specific plan. I'm not into gambling so I don't plan to spend much time in Vegas although I know there are other things to see in Vegas apart from casinos. After a day or two there we would like to head to Grand Canyon.
    Is 2-3 days enough to see key parts of it?
    After that we would like to head towards California. Ideally to the coast and along it towards San Francisco. Probably stay for a night or two somewhere on the way.
    Generally how do you see doing Grand Canyon and California in 7-8 days? I know it's a large area and it's impossible to see everything but I would like to see key spots without rushing.

    Also, we're not planning to stay in 5 star hotels so is it easy enough to find hotel rooms let's say in Flagstaff, Arizona under $100?

    Now that we booked our flights to New York and back to London we can plan and mark specific places we want to see but do you have any tips for us? I'm talking especially about Vegas, Arizona and California as the first part of the trip is basically all about visiting friends. If we'll be short on days then I may decide to cut short our visit in Arkansas or Baltimore by one day.
    Initially we were also planning to take California Zephyr train from San Francisco to New York or at least Chicago but as we don't have more than 3 weeks we probably won't have time for that.

    I will appreciate any help and tips when it comes to planning or things we should definitely see or maybe skip!

  2. #2


    Being vauge by saying 3+ weeks or just under 3 weeks makes it imposible to give accurate advice.

    Is just that are you going to be here 20, 19, 18, 17, days?

    Also Cailfornia is about 900 miles long. That state can eat up a lot of time.

    Why are you relying on air so much instead of driving? Plane travel is fast in the air though a lot of time is wasted getting to and from the air ports, Normal time waiting to depart and getting luggage, etc.

    Air travel is expensive. You have buy a ticket for each one in your group. You rent a car you do not pay more whether there wil be one or four people in the car.

    Automobile travel allows you to avoid following the airline schedule and follow your schedule.

    Do you know that you can drive coast to coast in 5 days is you do not make sight seeing stops.

    Being you do not want to see things in between your destinations you may have enough time to drive direct from destination to destination and spend time at each one.

    Any way I hope this gives you some things new to think about.

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

    Default Plenty of good options in the southwest available.

    Hello and welcome back to RTA !

    With 7-8 days from Vegas to SF, you have quite a few options, where you could include the Californian National parks of Death valley, Yosemite and/or Sequoia. That could be LV to GC and stay for 2 nights to get at least a day and a half at the canyon. You could then head back towards Vegas and across Death Valley and head north on 395 to Mono Lake and into Yosemite via Tioga Pass [CA120]. From Yosemite you could then head towards Cambria and the coast and drive the scenic section around Big Sur to Monterey and to SF. Travelling during May and June could mean that the Tioga Pass will not yet be open due to winter snow accumulation on the high ground, it typically opens between mid-May and end of June. If that was the case you could go from GC to Lake Isabella and then up to Yosemite via Sequoia NP and then across to the coast.

    You could head down towards Sedona and Oak Creek canyon and across towards LA via Joshua Tree NP.

    Another option would be to do the 'Grand loop' from Vegas, first heading into southern Utah and visiting Zion and Bryce canyon and then down through Page AZ to the south rim of the Grand canyon and then cut across to the coast towards Cambria and up to SF. That would be far to busy to contemplate staying in any one place for 2 or 3 days though.

    These are just some of the options you could build a trip from so I would do a little research and see what appeals to you and suits the pace you like to travel at. Once you have got the basics down we can help to 'fine tune' your trip.

  4. #4


    I'm not counting the days when I'm arriving and departing so I will be in the US for 17 full days.
    I realize that getting to and from airports is time consuming as well but I think flying is still the best option of getting from Baltimore to Little Rock and then to Vegas with a limited time. That of course depends on airlines schedule and connection times so I will need to check on that but I think I will stick to planes for that part of the trip.
    Once we land in Vegas it's all car until we get probably to San Francisco and catch a flight to New York.

    @Southwest Dave,
    Thanks for those options. I will keep them in mind when doing more reading and planning. The more I look at it the more I'm affraid that I simply don't have enough time for a proper trip but it is what it is and we simply couldn't get more holidays so we just have to get the best out of it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Out West

    First, let me offer you some background reading for the Las Vegas/San Francisco portion of your trip. This really is the only part that's a RoadTrip per se, though I absolutely agree that visiting your friends in Baltimore and Arkansas will be a big part of the enjoyment you'll find in America. With a week to explore the west, you can actually do quite a bit. High on your list should be the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. I would plan on at least two days for the drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon and back. It's just too far to do as a round trip in just one day, and the Canyon itself deserves at least a few hours, preferably with a sunrise or sunset included. Other parks worth visiting in the area include Wupatki, Sunset Crater, and Walnut Canyon National Monuments.

    I think that you've got enough large American cities built into your schedule that trying to see Chicago as well would be counter-productive, needing too much time on airplanes and in airports rather than actually seeing things. And you simply really don't have the time in your schedule for a cross-country train trip. On the up side, you can find low to moderate cost motels almost anywhere in America. The major exceptions are in close proximity to the major (and isolated) national parks. Flagstaff is a small college town, and far enough from the Grand Canyon that there are both low cost motels along a stretch of old Route 66 in downtown as well as pricier resorts just outside town.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    To get from NYC to Baltimore, I'd take the train instead of renting a car. Having a car in NYC is not necessary, and there will be an additional fee to rent a car in NYC and drop it off in another city.

  7. #7


    yes, I actually just thought about that over the weekend. Tickets will cost similar to renting a car but no traffic so will probably go for that!
    Thanks guys.

  8. #8


    You do not have to rent the car until the morning you are ready to leave NYC so you eliminate the hassle of having to park a car while you stay in NYC.

    I'd rather drive then train any where.

  9. #9


    hi folks,
    It's getting closer to my trip and I have everything pretty much planned but I would like to get your opinion on the last part of our journey.
    We will arrive in Vegas on the 2nd of June around 6:30PM. Instead of staying in Vegas we will rent a car and head to Williams, AZ. I know it's quite a ride but we should get there somewhere around midnight. We will spend the whole day of 3rd and maybe part of 4th of June in South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Then on the 4th we will head back to Vegas where we'll stay for 2 nights.

    After that on the 6th we will go to the Death Valley and from there on the same day drive to the West Coast. As much as I would like to go to Yosemite we've decided to spend more time and relax at the coast.
    When it comes to the coast, at first I was planning to go to San Diego but I think we will go to Laguna Beach for 2 days and then to Santa Barbara for couple of nights. Then on the morning of 11th we will head from Santa Barbara to San Francisco. We'll return a car and stay at some hotel around Union Square.
    Our flight from SF to NY is on the 12th at 9:30PM so we have pretty much the whole day to enjoy SF.

    so to break it down to more readable format:

    3rd-4th June - Grand Canyon
    4th-6th June - Vegas
    6th-8th June - Death Valley+Laguna Beach
    9th-11th June - Santa Barbara
    11th-12th June - SF

    I don't book any hotels in advance in California and if we end up really liking Vegas or some other place on the way we may stay an extra night there but we will see.
    I couldn't make up my mind when it came to where to stay in California but I read good things about Laguna Beach and SB so I think we'll go for that.
    So how do you guys see it?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I think your plan could be done, but I see a few issues you should at least be aware of.

    Your plan to head to Williams immediately after arriving so late in Vegas is one I would think hard about. You are correct, that you would be getting there about midnight - if everything goes well and your flight is on time - however, your body will think you will be arriving at 2am since you will be starting your day in Arkansas in the Central Time zone.

    Vegas to LB via Death Valley will be a long day, where you will have very limited time to see the National Park. When you consider that you'll have to drive through LA traffic, I'd expect that you'd need a good 9-10 hours on the road time, before stops.

    Santa Barbara to SF in one day really won't give you hardly any time to see the coast. You can make the drive relatively easily, in a full day, by sticking to US-101, but that would have you missing out on the beauty of the coastal highway. The farthest I would recommend trying to drive in a day, up the coast from SB would be Monterey.

    I might also save some time and miles, by skipping Death Valley and visit Joshua Tree NP instead. Then you could start your trip staying in Vegas for a couple days, head for GC, and go from GC to Laguna Beach via Joshua Tree, without doubling back to Vegas.

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