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  1. Default SF to LA then cross to Rockies

    Hi there,

    I've found lots of useful info on here but am planning my first USA roadtrip with my girlfriend and looking for any additional advice and/or pointers. Hope some of you can help. We are both 25 and from Scotland, she is recently in remission from a 3 year battle with cancer so I'm trying to plan the trip of a lifetime to celebrate! This is a big one for us, hence me needing all the advice I can get! I've never been to the USA so am pretty clueless. Please forgive any obvious mistakes! We are extremely flexible on our trip and just want to see and do as much as possible in the time available.

    We have a month off from mid April until mid-May. We'd have liked to wait until June but it just isn't possible for us. The plan is to fly into San Francisco, spend a couple of days there and then cross over to visit Yosemite for a couple of days if possible. We're both very outdoorsy and she's a photographer so this seems like a must. It looks stunningly beautiful so perhaps we should allow more time here if we can get in? Is it realistic to then head back to the coast to make the most of our journey South towards LA/San Diego? I'm also wondering about access/camping in Yosemite at this time of year? It will only be mid April.This would be kind of a budget trip so we'd planned to do a mixture of camping and cheap chain hotels to leave maximum money for activities/sightseeing. Obviously I'm happy to do something a little nicer for a few nights of the trip to really make the most of it. I'm trying to incorporate as many different landscapes as possible so trying to see a lot of the national parks where we can.

    Following that, I am a bit confused. The plan was to travel via Las Vegas to Colorado to see the Grand Canyon and finish in the Rockies as this is somewhere she's always wanted to visit. I'd planned for us to catch an internal flight from Colorado back to SF for our return flight home. I'm now worried though that it might not be realistic for us to visit the Rockies at this time of year. We'd be getting there early/mid May so is anywhere actually likely to be accessible? Is it worth crossing up into Wyoming or staying in Colorado to see the best of it? I have no idea how long we should plan to spend there. Utterly clueless. I understand the timing is not perfect but I'm extremely keen to include the Rockies if at all possible. Equally, following a lot of reading on the forums here, I've become very interested in the possibility of trying to include a visit to Arizona in our trip. However, I just don't see how we can work this in with what we currently have planned. Any advice would be hugely appreciated. Do you guys feel a month is a reasonable amount of time to complete this trip? I'm so sorry I have so many questions. It means a lot and I want to get it right. I'm happy doing a few long driving days but want to be able to spend a few days in the places we really like without rushing on.

    One last thing, my girlfriend is a huge extreme sports enthusiast. She's competed in everything from freestyle motorbike jumping competitions to skating contests and surfing comps. I know this is a long shot but does anybody know of any good areas for this kind of thing? Are there particular cities that are better known for their extreme sports events for example? I'd love to take her to see some moto x, skating, ice hockey etc while we're visiting but they're proving quite hard to track down.

    Huge thanks in advance and sincere apologies for the very long post :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A Reasonable Rough Outline to Get You Started

    Ceud měle fŕilte! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    First of all, relax. It is quite possible to include everything you've mentioned, and more, into a month-long RoadTrip of the American southwest. Let's start with just a rough outline of those places and some scenic routes to connect them. From San Francisco, your initial destination should be Yosemite. Early spring can be an ideal time, if still a bit chilly, to see this park. The tourists will not have started to clog the roads and viewpoints, but if the spring melt has well and truly started the falls will be spectacular. From there bead back to the coast around Monterey/Carmel and head south along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH, CA-1) through Big Sur, San Simeon (Hearst Castle), and Cambria. You don't mention Los Angeles in your wish list but it's possible. More photogenic are towns just northwest of there such as Solvang and Santa Barbara. In any event, from around that area, head inland to I-15 and head up to Las Vegas. While there, you might want to do a day trip up to Death Valley which will be 'relatively' cool at that time of year.

    After your stay in Las Vegas take US-93 south over the Hoover Dam to I-40 east. You can take the opportunity to drive one of the longest remaining stretches of old Route 66 (now marked AZ-66) from Kingman through Peach Springs to Seligman. Note that this stretch of road furnished the visual inspiration for the animated movie "Cars". At Williams, leave the motorway and take AZ-64 up through Grand Canyon National Park. Leave the ark to the east and take US-89/US-160 up to Monument Valley. Try to see Monument Valley at sunrise or sunset, and splurge on the 4WD, native-guided ride. Next, use US-163/US-191/UT-162/CO-41 to return to US-160 and Mesa Verde National Park. To see some of the best of the Rockies head north on US-550 through Durango and Silverton to Montrose and then US-50 through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison to Poncha Springs, and finally US-285 into the Denver area. While in and around Denver, get up to Rocky Mountain National Park.

    For the return from Denver back to San Francisco, you can fly of course, but that adds a one-way drop-off fee to the cost of the car rental, and the cost of the internal flight. You can just as easily, drive back to San Francisco on I-25/I-80 in three relatively easy days via the Great Divide Basin, the Great Salt Lake, the Basin and Range province of northern Nevada, Lake Tahoe, and the Sierra Nevada. I f you do end up deciding to fly, note that there are a few lower-cost airlines that service that route that will not show up on search engines: Southwest and Frontier are the main ones, although you may have to fly into a nearby airport such as Oakland or San Jose.

    That should give you a bit t chew on for a while. There are many more attractions that you could easily fit into such a routing, but let's get the basic framework set up first.


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

    Default An array of great NP's in Utah. [?]

    Depending on the pace you want to travel will help decide what you can fit in, but I would suggest you look at some of the amazing National parks of Southern Utah. These include Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce canyon and Zion NP which are all amazing for photgraphy and are nothing like the scenery you will find back home. Whereas the Alpine scenery in the Rockies is spectacular it will feel more familiar. You could fit it all in, or you could drive up the 'Million dollar Highway' through Durango, Silverton and Ouray in Colorado, as mentioned by Buck and start to drive back towards SF via Southern Utah. If you really want to see RMNP and are OK to fly out of Denver, you should still have plenty of time to visit some of Utahs parks on the way. You could also take in a bit of white water rafting as the waters should flowing fast from the snow melt.

    Some great pointers from Buck, but just to save confusion [ I'm sure it's a typo] you will need to take US163 from 160 to be able to access Monument valley.

  4. Default

    Hi guys,

    Haha I know. I'm a bit overexcited! We weren't sure the trip could ever happen so now that it is, I'm like a kid in a candy shop! Can't thank you enough for this. Enormously helpful in every way! It's good to know we are at least being realistic in what we want to achieve in the time we have available. It's pretty exciting just reading through it all. We're both from tiny fishing villages in the very Northern Highlands of Scotland so we're incredibly excited.

    Fantastic tips on potential cheap flights, thank you very much for that. You've set my cogs turning on the possibility of driving back to SF now so will have a look into everything and see what suits us best. Some of these national parks in Utah look pretty incredible, definitely need to try squeeze in as much as we can and see what works.

    Enormously grateful for all of your tips, now some real planning can commence! You've given us an awesome leg up to get us started. Thank you :)

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

    Default Lot's to be excited about !

    You will find a ton of info on the forums and trip planning pages above and as and when questions come up or you want further suggestions, just ask.

    Haha I know. I'm a bit overexcited!
    So you should be, you are going to love it !! Enjoy the planning, it's part of the adventure.


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