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  1. Default Dallas - San Francisco - Dallas roadtrip, July 2014


    We (2 adults, 3 kids below 8) are planning a round roadtrip from Dallas area to San Francisco and back during next July. Current route is something like this. Time to be spent is approx. 3 weeks, including 4-5 days to be spent @SF.

    I would like to have comments about the route, destinations/waypoints are points of personal interests where I like to visit (some added just to , but what I'm missing if route is like this? How would you drive the route if not like this, and why?

    Three weeks is short time so I already had to skip few places that I would like to visit, but Grand Canyon, San Francisco and Yosemite are "mandatory". OK and TX sights I also have skipped, we can do weekend trip(s) to see those. First and last legs will be the longest. Target is to drive those without staying a night along the way. What is your opinion, is Dallas - Flagstaff too long for one leg or is it doable? We have 2 drivers, so I think it should be doable with few pit stops.

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

    Default Need to re-think start and finish.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Whereas your trip is doable and looks OK on paper it's gonna be a lot of travelling for 3 young kids. You have a minimum of 7 -8 days of driving however you divide it, but your first and last legs can not be done safely in a single drive and you really must stop overnight on both. On the way out it's the worst imaginable start to a road trip and the Kids are going to be real cranky. Even if they slept through the trip and you arrived safely, you will be exhausted just as they are looking forward to the day ahead and wanting to run around having fun. Please don't try and do it in one sitting, it's unwise and unsafe and much more than professional drivers are permitted to do by law. Even with 2 drivers it makes no difference, if one falls asleep it leaves a sleep deprived driver on their own through the small hours with no one to keep an eye on them.

    Unless you have a desire to go to SLC I would consider cutting that out and going from Yosemite direct to Zion and Bryce canyon before Moab. You could consider reversing your trip and drive south down the coast wityh the Ocean on your side of the road, but it's not a massive deal. If you divide your time into reasonable travel days and allow time for the Kids to spend time out of the car to let of steam, you can have an amazing time,

  3. Default

    Thanks for the answer!

    Actually that was one of my questions that I forgot to ask, should I drive this route other way around, only benefit I found was driving coast road on the Ocean side..

    About route via SLC, reason was to see Bonneville Salt Flats and Great Salt Lake and also SLC. Don't know if there is much to see, but still they were on the list.. I think route via Zion and Bryce canyon would slow us. Even Google Maps says it's a bit shorter route. I had also calculated that I have at least 8 days of just driving. We have done some shorter road trips, and I know how my kids travel. Though 3 weeks and 4100mi is totally different thing than 1 week and 1200mi. :-)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Dallas to Flagstaff itself is 967 miles, which is about 2 days in the car with small children. Yes, I was a kid who traveled in a car for a 1000 mile day with my parents -- it was NOT my favorite day. My brother hated it. I had children, but the most we ever did with them in the car was 620 miles. They just felt that got old after the 2nd day.

    So if you can, make a stop somewhere between Dallas and Flagstaff -- maybe Albuquerque, Grants, or Gallup NM.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Royal Gorge Bridge

    You may find with the children the Royal Gorge Train more appealing. If yours are anything like mine were, they will love this train ride.

    The Bridge and surrounding area were adversely affected by the wild fires in CO last summer.


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


    Quote Originally Posted by Wheels_Of_Fire View Post
    We have done some shorter road trips, and I know how my kids travel. Though 3 weeks and 4100mi is totally different thing than 1 week and 1200mi. :-)
    They certainly are different things, and that's all the more reason why trying to drive nearly 1000 miles to Flagstaff in a day is such a bad idea. The longer you're going to be in the car, the more important it is to make each day fun and interesting, at least making a couple short stops along the way.

    Trying to drive 1000 mile in a day on a trip like this is just brutal. First, despite what online mapping programs will tell you, a day like that is going to take at least 18 hours, and there aren't 3 kids on the planet who can sit strapped into a car for 18 hours and find it anything remotely close to enjoyable. The best you can do is "drug" them with electronics and hope they tune out the fact that they are on a roadtrip long enough to find the trip tolerable, and even that will have them cringing to get back in the car the next day, not to mention every day for the following 20 days.

    And it really isn't safe anyway. As dave mentioned, that kind of distance really shouldn't be done with 2 drivers. Its simply too hard to stay focused on being a good driver for that many hours. You would probably make it there just fine, but it is the kind of trip that is so draining that it will make it very difficult for you to enjoy yourself for several days afterward. Combine overtired adults who are exhausted from too much driving with wound up kids who have too much energy from being trapped in a car for too many hours and you've got the recipe for the kind of trip where people learn to hate roadtrips.

    Leaving from Dallas, the absolute farthest I'd even think about going in a day is Albuquerque. Even that is a good 11-12 hours on the road, and would be tough to make any stops at all, at places like Cadilac Ranch or Santa Rosa's Blue Hole where you can actually celebrate the adventure of being on the road, even if you're only taking a short break from the highway.

  7. Default

    From the age of 7 to age 16 we lived in Texas (Houston & Dallas area) and EVERY summer we drove from Texas to visit family in California. It was BRUTAL because my parents would do it with just one night on the road...some times two. My brother and I hated the long days of driving. Do your kids a favor and give them good memories and find a place to spend the night.

    I see you have Corona Arch as one of your via points in the Moab area. I personally would NOT attempt doing Corona Arch, UT Arch with an eight year old, much less children younger than that. Putting it simply, it's not a SAFE hike for children. There are drop offs and slippery sandstone and NO guard rails. There is one spot where you have to use a chain to get by a very slippery drop off. There are SO many other wonderful hikes to do in Arches National Park that would be so much better and safer. Even Delicate Arch is a piece of cake compared to sections of Corona Arch.


  8. Default

    Based on the answers, maybe I really should consider not to try to drive DFW - Flagstaff within one day. I think, based on DonnaR57's suggestions, maybe Grants or Gallup would be the first stop. Or maybe even earlier, ABQ or so. Though at this point I don't want to concentrate on scheduling stopovers, but finding places to visit/avoid.

    About Corona Arch, never been there, but based on web conversations, it's "kid friendly". Of course I must know my self if my kids can do it or not, and also if not, when to turn around..

    During summertime, every place is of course crowded, but should I avoid visiting Grand Canyon / Yosemite during weekend and try to schedule so that we visit there during weekdays? Or does it really matter? As mentioned, it would be around 4th of July when we start our trip.

    Is visiting Grand Canyon a whole day trip, or is it a place to spend few hours and then continue journey? If I leave Flagstaff at morning and go to Crand Canyon, what would be reasonable place to drive from there to spend next night? Somewhere in CA or NM? About route from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon, from scenic point of view, is it worth to drive this route or get the faster route?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    To enjoy the Grand canyon you need at least the best part of a day which would mean another night staying nearby, perhaps Williams. I would take the first route, north on US89 and enter through the east entrance on 64 along Desertview drive. This way you build up to the main canyon area in the same direction as the Colorado river carved it, with viewpoints along the way. If you can avoid weekends without too much inconvenience then it would be worth it but either way, I would book lodgings in advance.

    Stopping overnight on the way to Flagstaff should be a 'given' and not really a consideration for a safe enjoyable journey.

  10. Default

    Maybe I was not clear enough in my previous post, but yeah, I have noticed that we really do need to stop overnight before Flagstaff. :-)

    With the original route, it seems that:
    DFW - SFO takes ~5 days..?
    DFW (TX) - Flagstaff (AZ): 2
    Flagstaff - Grand Canyon - Williams: 1
    Williams(AZ) - Bakersfield(CA): 1 (Bakersfield was a random selection. Any other suggestions)
    Previous place - SFO: 1

    ~5days in SFO..

    SFO - DFW maybe 10-11 days..?
    SFO - Yosemite: 1
    Yosemite: 2-3 days
    Yosemite (CA) - Ely (NV): 1
    Ely (NV) - SLC (UT): 1
    SLC - Moab: 1
    Moab + surroundings: 1
    Moab (UT) - Aspen (CO): 1
    Aspen (CO) - DFW (TX): 2-3

    I have realized 1st leg takes something like 5 days (big picture DFW - SFO - DFW). Now I would like to have comments regarding 3rd part. 2nd part in SFO is totally unplanned, but everything actually depends on how much time we have to spend there. So is my above suggestions reasonable or what kind of other suggestions there are?

    Also if there are some "must see" areas along the way, please suggest!

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