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  1. #1

    Default Denver -> Aspen -> Moab -> Vegas -> LA -> San Fran / Tips PLZ!

    Hello!


    First of all, let me thank you all for this amazing site and forum!
    What a help after I 've read tons of topics about roadtrips in US!


    Me and my wife are 28 and we are a couple from Portugal that love to make roadtrips on car or motorbike.
    Our flight will arrive to Denver on 12th of March and will flight out from SFO on 29th of the same month.

    We rent a Ford Escape on Avis and we will pick up the car at Denver's airport on our arrive.
    We want to have a general idea of America's West, drive in beautiful landscapes, ski 1 day in Aspen, cross some deserts in Utah, see cities like Vegas, LA, San Francisco, drive highway 1,...

    We would appreciate some tips to this itinerary that we have in our minds:

    https://maps.google.pt/maps?saddr=De...&via=9&t=m&z=7

    day 1 – Arrive in DEN at 4:30pm
    day 2 – Denver to Aspen
    day 3 – Ski in Aspen
    day 4 – Aspen – Grand Junction – Moab
    day 5 – Arches NP and Canyonlands NP
    day 6 – Moab – Monumment Valey – Page
    day 7 – Page to Flagstaff
    day 8 – Grand Canyon
    day 9 – Flagstaff to Vegas
    day 10 – Vegas
    day 11 – Vegas – Death Valley – LA
    day 12 – LA
    day 13 – LA – Santa M๓nica – Malibu – Santa Barbara – Pismo Beach – San Simeon
    day 14 – San Simeon – Carmel – Monterey – Silicon Valley – San Fancisco
    day 15 to 18 – San Francisco with some trips to Sacramento to make professional visits

    Our questions:
    - Day 5 - 1 full day in Moab is enough or too much to see Arches and Canyonlands NP?
    - Day 6 – How much time do we need to see Monumment Valley? A couple of hours? What to see in Page? Is a good place to stay the night?
    - Day 8 – 1 full day to see Grand Canyon is enough or too much? Sleep 2 nights in Flagstaff is the best option?
    - Day 13 and 14 – Where is the best place to stay to share the trip of highway 1 in 2 days between LA and San Fran? What we should not miss?


    Be free to give ideas or notes in this roadtrip!


    Regards!
    Luํs

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    Why go to Flagstaff, then backtrack to the Grand Canyon? I would spend the first night at the Cameron Trading Post, then the next night in Williams.

    There are several choices for a night on CA-1 - I would probably stay in Cambria or San Simeon.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Looks good.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    One day for Arches and Canyonlands is barely enough but you could make do. A full day in Arches and half a day for Canyonlands which you might be able to do with one of your travel days combined with heading to Canyonlands.

    Monument Valley can be seen from the top in under an hour if you wanted to or you can take a jeep tour on the unmade road where you'd probably have to add a couple of hours. Near Page is Lake Powell, Antelope canyon, Horseshoe bend and more.

    You will need at least a full day at the Grand canyon, so yes 2 nights would be advisable, especially if you sight see around Page. You have a good option when travelling down from Page at the Cameron Trading post near the east entry kiosk that follows the direction of the Colorado into the main area and is my preferred choice of entry.

    Cambria/San Simeon is a good area to break the journey along the coast.

    You are goona have a great trip !

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

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    It looks to me like you've done a great job of planning.

    1 day should be nice for an overview of Arches/Canyonlands. Of course, you could always spend more time there, but that should be fine for the time you have available.

    I found a few hours was plenty of time to tour Monument Valley. You might want to go with one of the guided tours (available on site) since the driving tour could violate your rental car contract. Moab to Page via MV should be a pleasantly full day. I would consider adding Natural Bridges to the list on your way.

    1 day is enough to see GC, but Flagstaff is a bit out of the way. If you can afford to stay right within the park or in Tusayan, that would be the easiest. Otherwise, you might consider skipping Page and spend 1 night at the Cameron Trading Post, then spend the next night in Williams - which still gives you a full day at GC, and frees up a full day for elsewhere on your trip.

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

    Default Nice trip.

    Day 5 - There is never enough time to see all of it. But one day in Arches and Canyonlands will give you a good overview.

    Day 6 - You can choose just to drive through and enjoy the amazing views along the road. There are jeep tours over roads which are not maintained. On which you would not be able to take your rental car.

    Day 8 - One full day will give you a good chance to see most of the Grand Canyon. I agree that the Trading Post and Williams would be better choices for accommodation.

    Looks like a great trip.

    Lifey

  6. #6

    Default

    Thank you for all of your answers!


    When we planned to go to Flagstaff, it was because we want to do a 1 full day trip to GC in a helicopter tour or boat tour, and we thought the nearest start of that tours was from Flagstaff.
    We will try to find out if they start, for example, from Williams.

    Do you have any idea how it will be the weather in 18th of march in GC?


    Do you recommend spend 2 days from Moab to Cameron Post with sleep in Page, or do the same day trip in just one day and forget Page? Page deserves the visit?
    We booked a Ford Escape and I hope that will be a 4x4, but Avis can't guarantee that. We love offroading and Utah would be a great place for that, but we don't know our agreement limitations...


    I am a motorsport fan and I have seen already the race of Pikes Peak Mountain. So, an itinerary that I would like, is in the 2nd day, do Denver - Colorado Springs - Pikes Peak Mountain - Buena Vista - Twin Lakes - Aspen.
    My problem is if in March the road that cross the mountain from Twin Lakes to Aspen will be open because of the snow.


    Is March a good month to do a trip like this one?!


    In San Simeon, does Hearst Castle deserves a visit?


    Thank you again!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by luis caetano View Post
    We booked a Ford Escape and I hope that will be a 4x4, but Avis can't guarantee that. We love offroading and Utah would be a great place for that, but we don't know our agreement limitations...
    Avis probably can't gaurantee, because even if you got one, you would not be allowed to take it off road. When in UT, there are local rental organisations which rent out vehicles for local use and which can be taken off road.

    Lifey

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default a guarantee

    Quote Originally Posted by luis caetano View Post
    We booked a Ford Escape and I hope that will be a 4x4, but Avis can't guarantee that. We love offroading and Utah would be a great place for that, but we don't know our agreement limitations...
    While Avis can't guarantee that your SUV will have 4 wheel drive, I can give you a 100% guarantee that taking an Avis vehicle off road will be a violation of your rental agreement, even if it a 4x4. A Ford Escape also isn't really designed for off-road driving, even with 4 wheel drive. Utah does have lots of opportunities to go off-road, but you need to contact a Jeep Outfitter where you can rent a truck actually designed for off-roading for the day.

    Renting a sedan will likely be a much better value than an SUV, which usually carry a pretty significant premium in cost.
    When we planned to go to Flagstaff, it was because we want to do a 1 full day trip to GC in a helicopter tour or boat tour, and we thought the nearest start of that tours was from Flagstaff. We will try to find out if they start, for example, from Williams.
    I would be a little surprised if you find air or water tours out of either Flagstaff or Williams. Any boat tours are going to start around Page. Air based tours are likely to start at Grand Canyon airport, which is near Tusayan/south rim. Also be aware there are air space restrictions within the national park, which don't allow helicopters to go down into the Canyon. That often means that helicopter tours do not actually visit the National Park, but rather Indian lands where the canyon is not as deep or spectacular - although that is a bigger issue with tours based out of Las Vegas.

    My last visit to the Grand Canyon was in mid-March and it was very comfortable - with temperatures in the 60's, I believe, although it gets quite cool overnight, and there were still some patches of snow on the ground. Of course, that doesn't mean that's what you'll see during your specific travel time.

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

    Default

    The road from Twin Lakes to Aspen is Independence Pass, and won't open till around the end of May. The Pikes Peak road may or may not be open.

    I personally think the basic Hearst Castle tour is worth the time, it will need to be booked in advance.

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

    Default Experiencing the Grand canyon.

    When we planned to go to Flagstaff, it was because we want to do a 1 full day trip to GC in a helicopter tour or boat tour, and we thought the nearest start of that tours was from Flagstaff. We will try to find out if they start, for example, from Williams.
    You can get helicopter flights from Tusayan that fly over the canyon that typically last 45 mins to fly across to the North rim, but it will not land. As mentioned, helicopter tours do not go to the National park area to land and a one day boat trip would not get you there either I doubt very much. Tours can be fun as an added extra to a few days in one place but for a day at the Grand canyon, nothing is going to compare to just being there and simply strolling along the rim and 'breathing in' this natural wonder of the world and to hopefully witness a sunset.

    Is March a good month to do a trip like this one?!
    If skiing is a priority then you can't leave it much later. Aspen ski season is typically until mid-April but will depend on snow pack.

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