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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Huntsville, Alabama, United States
    Posts
    5

    Default Two Weeks - Huntsville, Alabama to Grand Canyon

    Looking to do my first 'real' road trip this coming spring, but just starting to do the planning.

    So far, here's what I have...
    Drive the first day (6 am departure) to New Orleans and since we'll arrive a little after lunch, get some yummy cajun food and beignets, walk around the city for a few hours, and go to bed that night at a little hostel. We're not big drinkers so Bourbon Street isn't a huge attraction.
    The second day, we would head off toward Dallas because I have a relative that we can stay with for the night there. Here's where my first question lies: what is the best route to take for this - up to Shreeveport and west to Dallas or West through Lake Charles and up to Dallas. What's great to see along the way and can we make it (without feeling rushed) to Dallas that night?

    Interests range from tourist traps to amazing feats of nature, so any and all suggestions are welcome. Two or three physically fit people (one girl, two guys) will be going on the trip.

    Main goal of the trip right now is making it to the Grand Canyon and hike in and out of that. It's a 15 hour drive from Dallas to the Grand Canyon - is there something that would break this part of the trip up or is it best to just drive it? Maybe a stop over in White Sands? Would add 5 hours to the trip, but may be worth stopping at?

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default First: Reality

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Before you do any more planning, take a good look at reality. Huntsville to New Orleans, even with a 6:00 AM departure, cannot be completed by "a little after lunch". If all you do is stop for gas and restroom breaks, and have even relatively light traffic, 1:30 would be a very optimistic target. Mid-afternoon is much more likely. Similarly, if you plan to drive from New Orleans to Dallas in a single day and visit friends when you get there, you don't really have any time for stops along the way. Otherwise all you'd say to your relatives is "Hi, where's my bed? Good night." And the idea that you can drive from Dallas to the Grand Canyon in a single day is pure fantasy. It's a hard two-day drive with a single night's decent sleep in between. And even at that, you'll be exhausted when you get there, even though you haven't taken any time to see any of the many scenic wonders in between.

    Something similar holds true at the Grand Canyon. While it is true that some people hike down into the Canyon and back in a single day, that is exhausting to say the least. Better is to plan on an overnight at the bottom. Reservations are required to stay at the Phantom ranch. There is also a nearby campground that requires a backcountry permit. A trek into the Canyon requires planning and notifying the Rangers.

    At a minimum, you should take four days to get to the Canyon, and two days there just to d the things you've listed so far. But there is so much more that you haven't listed including possibilities such as Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo, Petrified Forest National Park, Meteor Crater, and several National Monuments in the Flagstaff area. In addition, there would be no need to simply retrace your route on the way home. For example, a slightly more northern route would let you see Monument Valley, Four Corners, Mesa Verde, Wolf Creek Pass, Capulin Mountain, Oklahoma City and the Ozarks. Not all of them, mind you. Two weeks is not forever, and it will go by a whole lot faster than mapping software would lead you to believe.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    I have to agree with everything that Buck said. It is simply computer-based fantasy that you could get from Dallas to the Grand Canyon in anywhere close to 15 hours. The trip is more than 1000 miles, and real world, that's a trip that will take more than 20 hours, and as Buck said it's 2 full days, with very little time to see anything else at that pace.

    It would also be beyond counter-productive to even attempt such a trip in anything less than 2 days if you want to be in any shape to do any hiking after such a drive.

    I will also say that preplanning a hike into the Grand Canyon is essential, if you are thinking of going from the Rim to the River and back. As Buck mentioned, you need to get a permit/reservations for a place to stay at the bottom. Trying to hike there and back in a single day is extremely dangerous and the single biggest reason for rescues within the Grand Canyon (and you don't even want to guess how much it costs to be rescued from within the Canyon.) There is a reason the National Parks Website puts in bold letters "Over 250 people are rescued from the canyon each year. The difference between a great adventure in Grand Canyon and a trip to the hospital (or worse) is up to YOU. DO NOT attempt to hike from the rim to the river and back in one day"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Huntsville, Alabama, United States
    Posts
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!
    And the idea that you can drive from Dallas to the Grand Canyon in a single day is pure fantasy. It's a hard two-day drive with a single night's decent sleep in between. And even at that, you'll be exhausted when you get there, even though you haven't taken any time to see any of the many scenic wonders in between.

    Something similar holds true at the Grand Canyon. While it is true that some people hike down into the Canyon and back in a single day, that is exhausting to say the least. Better is to plan on an overnight at the bottom. Reservations are required to stay at the Phantom ranch. There is also a nearby campground that requires a backcountry permit. A trek into the Canyon requires planning and notifying the Rangers.

    At a minimum, you should take four days to get to the Canyon, and two days there just to d the things you've listed so far. But there is so much more that you haven't listed including possibilities such as Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo, Petrified Forest National Park, Meteor Crater, and several National Monuments in the Flagstaff area. In addition, there would be no need to simply retrace your route on the way home. For example, a slightly more northern route would let you see Monument Valley, Four Corners, Mesa Verde, Wolf Creek Pass, Capulin Mountain, Oklahoma City and the Ozarks. Not all of them, mind you. Two weeks is not forever, and it will go by a whole lot faster than mapping software would lead you to believe.

    AZBuck
    I've driven Huntsville to New Orleans many times and by a little after lunch, I meant more like 2:00, which is doable. Also, having been there, I think it can be seen (by people who aren't big drinkers) in the afternoon and that will satisfy us, so I think this part, I'm good with. Also, I see the relatives in Dallas often enough that we would be find just getting there, sleeping, and not really visiting. We could have breakfast and then head on. I was more concerned with what are we missing between New Orleans and Dallas, if anything??

    Also, definitely was NOT planning on hiking down and back in a single day. Sorry I wasn't clear. We would hike down South Kaiibab trail one day, stay the night at the Bright Angel Campground, and head up that trail the next day. I'll have finished a marathon two and a half months before and though the ascend is way more than I'm used to, I don't think that we'll have a problem with the mileage and fitness intensity of the two day hike.

    I haven't heard of Cadillac Ranch before but it looks like a bunch of cars just stuck in the ground? Am I missing the awesomeness of this? :) lol So we stop somewhere in the middle (Like Amarillo).. so our trip will look like this:

    Day 1 - drive to NOLA, spend the afternoon there.
    Day 2 - Terrible Drive to Dallas (but doable and arrive at night)
    Day 3 - Drive to Amarillo
    Day 4 - Drive to Flagstaff
    Day 5 - See stuff at Flagstaff and Drive the last little leg to Grand Canyon
    Day 6 - Hike Down
    Day 7 - Hike Up
    Day 8 - Hoover Dam to Las Vegas.

    Any better?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Huntsville, Alabama, United States
    Posts
    5

    Default

    There is too much to see out West!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Personal Decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by jbowers06
    There is too much to see out West!
    Yes, there is, which is why it is so important to spend one's time wisely and not try to see everything. Attempting to do so will leave you rushing from place to place, seeing a lot but experiencing very little. It is also why it is important to be accurate in describing your plans to people who have only your words in black and white to try to understand what you're trying to do and what your mindset is.

    Your plan as you lay it out now is doable, but pushing the limits on a couple of days. If you're comfortable with that, then that's what you should do. But note that you are leaving out the Pertroglyph National Monument, Petrified Forest National Park, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and Mesa Verde Narional Park in the Four Corners area, Oak Creek Canyon and Red Rock country, and a host of other sites. Again, if you're comfortable with that, then that's what you should do.

    For your day in the Flagstaff area I would suggest the following, sort of in my order of preference. You order probably would be different. Walnut Canyon National Monument is a relatively easily hikeable intro to some pueblo ruins and will let you stretch your climbing legs a little before trekking the Canyon. The Museum of Northern Arizona is an excellent intro to the cultures of Native Americans. Lowell Observatory is the astronomical facility where Pluto was discovered and many early studies of Mars were conducted. Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monuments are two often overlooked pleasures on the way to the Grand Canyon, and Cameron Trading Post is an historic and still interesting outpost.

    AZBuck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Huntsville, Alabama, United States
    Posts
    5

    Default

    Thanks for all your help. I think what I need to do next is convince my co-road tripper that Vegas is not worth it. Then maybe we could take the extra day and use it on the way there or on the way back... We'll do a little more planning and I'll be back for more advice!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Whether Las Vegas is worth it or not, depends really on what you want to do there. Everyone is different that way. Shows, casinos, pools, shopping, theatre, and a few other things.


    Donna

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Huntsville, Alabama, United States
    Posts
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    Whether Las Vegas is worth it or not, depends really on what you want to do there. Everyone is different that way. Shows, casinos, pools, shopping, theatre, and a few other things.


    Donna
    My road trip companion has never been further west than Mississippi. I don't think there is anything in particular they want to do there except make it that far and have been to Vegas. Me personally, I don't want to do any of those things. Would much rather spend the extra time hiking or something. Compromises we make to not have to drive alone, right? :)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Compatability Quiz seems like timely now!

    Now is the time for you and your would-be travel companions to take this little quiz and then discuss the results. Much better to work our the parameters of this trip now -- instead of on-the-fly!

    Mark

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