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  1. #1

    Default Planning 1st trip- 3 weeks from Atl to SW, W, and back!

    Okay, so me and a good friend are planning our first major road trip together for the last three weeks of May 2015 (24 days to be exact). The farthest either of us has driven before is 10-12 hours. We're super excited and I think I've come up with a doable plan. It's so hard to cut out stuff! But I'm trying to remember this is not the only trip I'll ever take and I've have to be reasonable.

    So, here is my rough plan at the moment. Any thoughts, suggestions are more than welcomed. Especially thoughts on if we're still trying to do too much.

    Day 1- Atlanta to Jackson, Miss
    Day 2- Jackson, Miss to Dallas, Tx
    staying the night with friends
    Day 3- leave early from Dallas to Palo Duro Canyon (outside Amarillo)
    camp out in the canyon
    Day 4- Palo Duro to Albuquerque
    either get hotel in ABQ or camp out at El Malpais
    Day 5- ABQ to Tusayan, AZ for Grand Canyon South Rim
    motel in Tusayan
    Day 6- spend at Canyon, stay at motel again
    Day 7- drive from GC to Zion NP
    hopefully half day at park
    motel in Springfield probs
    Day 8- morning at Zion
    drive afternoon to Las Vegas
    night in Vegas
    Day 9- after lunch, drive Vegas to Pasadena
    stay with friends
    Day 10- day in Pas/LA area
    Day 11- Drive LA to San Francisco
    sleep in motel
    Day 12- Drive from San Fran to Crescent City/Jedidiah Smith National Forest
    possibly camp
    Day 13- morning in forest
    drive to Portland, find motel
    Day 14- Spend day in Portland, same motel
    Day 15- drive out Col Rive Hwy to Multnomah Falls
    then on to Boise, ID- find motel
    Day 16- Drive Boise to Twin Falls
    lunch at Soshane Falls Park
    head to Yellowstone
    Day 17- Yellowstone
    Day 18- Drive to Tetons, spend morning
    afternoon: Granite Hot Springs near Jackson Hole
    drive a couple hours more, motel near Pinedale, Wyom
    Day 19- Early drive to Rocky Mtn NP
    afternoon at park, nearby motel/possibly camp
    Day 20- Morning back to RMNP
    afternoon/evening in Denver
    Sleep in motel on east side of Denver
    Day 21- Denver to Tulsa (longest drive of trip)
    stay with friends in Tulsa
    Day 22- Tulsa to Memphis
    stay with family
    Day 23- Memphis to home
    Day 24- sleep for 24 full hours to recover (probably)

    So that's what we have so far. I still need to do a lot of research on our destinations to see what we should try to do where exactly. I also want to look at finding more places to camp out vs. staying in a motel to hopefully save a but more money. (Or find more family friends to crash with). But we've still got six months to figure it out!

    One more question though- sometimes between the Roadtrippers map and google maps I'm finding discrepancies of a couple hours in the driving times. Which do you think is more accurate, or should I just plan for the average?

    Thanks!
    Rachel

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    What you should do is take the Google Maps driving time and add 20%. You should not try to drive more than 550 miles a day on Interstate quality highways, less on secondary roads.

    A brief look at your itinerary shows me that you may be trying to cram too much driving into quite a few days. For example, Denver to Tulsa is 700 miles and just a bit too much in one day.

    Another note - you are going to find hotels in Tusayan are VERY expensive. The only reasonably priced lodging anywhere near the GC is in Flagstaff and Williams.

    You are also shortchanging yourself between LA and SF - you really should take the PCH instead of I-5 or US-101, and that will take 2 days.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default A great overview.

    It is good to read that you recognise this will not be your once in a lifetime trip. There will most likely be many more.

    Keeping that in mind, your plan strikes me as a good overview of just how much is out there, and how much time it takes to actually see places, so that you may plan future trips with more consideration for individual destinations. Just about all the places you plan to visit deserve multiple days to explore.

    As mentioned above, be careful how far you plan to travel on individual days. This is especially important where there are back to back driving days. Fatigue is cumulative. Plan to have some 'free' days along the way, just to 'sleep in' and have a lazy day..

    Enjoy

    Lifey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    I do think you need to be careful about how much you are planning to do. While there aren't many days that are a problem all by themselves, you've got a few stretches where you've got a lot of long drives and very little time left to see your actual destinations.

    The entire west coast section is a prime example. You've got a pretty long day to get to SF, leaving you not much time to see the city, and no time at all to follow the coast. Then the very next day, you're going to drive up to see the redwoods - which is another case where it will take you most of the day to get there, without time to detour to the coast. And then again, you've got the exact same issue heading to Portland.

    Your Yellowstone section is also quite rushed. You're giving yourself at most a day and a half for a huge park where you really need at least 2-3 full days just to see the high points. Then, you're going to rush through the Tetons in less than a half day, and the following day you've got a 7-8 hour drive before seeing RMNP in the afternoon.

    Any one of those things would probably be fine, but considering how many quick stops you've got packed in, especially back to back, I think you are in danger of overdoing it. The front end of your trip seems better, but I get the impression you started pushing things as you tried to fit everything into your available time, and it turned into a bit of a snowball rolling down a hill. You might want to scale some things back a bit, even if you can't get to everything on your list, this time.

  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks for the replies! It really confirmed what I was afraid of, that we were still trying to do way too much. I guess it's also pretty apparent that I've only gotten so far into my research for this trip- right about up to the California coast, which is where it appears the train wrecks.

    Well, after more consideration, I think we'll have to sadly leave off Portland and Wyoming from this trip. It hurts to miss out on it this time, but it's no good to exhaust yourself trying to sprint through sights and not enjoying any of them.

    Instead, I think we'll modify it a bit more like this:

    Day 1- Atlanta to Jackson, Miss
    Day 2- Jackson, Miss to Dallas, Tx
    staying the night with friends
    Day 3- leave early from Dallas to Palo Duro Canyon (outside Amarillo)
    camp out in the canyon
    Day 4- Palo Duro to Albuquerque
    either get hotel in ABQ or camp out at El Malpais
    Day 5- ABQ to Tusayan, AZ for Grand Canyon South Rim
    motel or camp in Will/Flagstaff
    Day 6- spend at Canyon
    Day 7- drive from GC to Zion NP
    hopefully half day at park
    motel in Springfield probs
    Day 8- morning at Zion
    drive afternoon to Las Vegas
    night in Vegas
    Day 9- after lunch, drive Vegas to Pasadena
    stay with friends
    Day 10- day in Pas/LA area
    Day 11- Head up the PCH
    stop around Big Sur
    Day 12- Big Sur to San Fran
    most of day in San Fran
    spend night with friends
    Day 13- San Fran to Jedidiah Smith NF
    Day 14- Spend day around forests
    Day 15- Drive from Crescent City down to Fallon, NV
    via scenic Hwy 50
    sleep in motel in Fallon
    Day 16- Drive to SLC
    Stop in Austin, NV
    Stop at Hickison Petroglyph Rec Area
    Sleep in hostel in SLC
    Day 17-Drive from SLC to RMNP/Denver
    Day 18- RMNP
    Day 19- Drive from Denver to Oakley, KS
    stop at Monument Rocks
    probably camp near Oakley
    Day 20- Drive Oakley to Tulsa
    stay with friends
    Day 21- Drive Tulsa to Memphis
    stay with family
    Day 22- Drive back home to Atlanta

    So, current plan gives us two days of leeway. Either we get home a bit early and have a chance to decompress or we throw in an extra day or two- probably at one of the parks on in San Fran.

    The new plan averages in the 300-400 miles in the driving days. Only one stretch goes above 500 miles (Fallon to SLC would be around 670). As I do more research, I'll fill in more detail. But I do feel this plan is definitely more doable than the first.

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

    Default Something to consider.

    Have you thought of, or is there anyway you could reverse the trip? Allowing you to travel the PCH from north to south. That way all the scenic pull offs will be on your side of the road, avoiding havng to cross over on-coming traffic in and out each turnout.

    the PCH takes two days to travel and enjoy. the most popular half way stopovers are San Simeon and Cambria..

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    I think the mileage from Fallon to SLC, using US-6/50, is just under 600 miles. It is still a very long day, considering that's 2-lane highway. However, it is known as the "loneliest road", so you should be okay.

    BTW, I concur with Lifey -- going south on the PCH is a lot easier and safer, if you're doing so for the scenic beauty.


    Donna

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    I show that Fallon to SLC via Austin is only 500 miles if you take 93/Alt-93 from Ely up to I-80. However, why are you going to SLC, then leaving again in the morning? Why not take US-50 all the way to Richfield or Salina and spend the night? Then you can go to RMNP via I-70, probably the most scenic Interstate in the country. Then you can head into RMNP from the west. You should be able to find lodging or camping in Granby or Grand Lake.

    Note that if you take US-50, do not leave Fallon without a full tank of gas, fill up again in Ely, and again in Richfield or Salina. Gas stations are few and far between out there. If your car can't go 250 miles on a tank of gas, I'd question the wisdom of even taking US-50, that's how far it is from Fallon to Ely. I think there's gas in Austin and Eureka, but you can't count on it and it's going to be expensive.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default

    There is a Chevron in Austin NV and there is also a gas station and diner on the NV/UT border just east of Baker and close to Great Basin NP. You will be fine if you use common sense. I do agree that going up to SLC, which will be pretty much just to sleep, seems like a waste. If it's somewhere you really want to go then perhaps you should forget about US50 and take I80 stopping at Winnemucca, or at the very most, Elko. You could then visit the Salt flats on the way to SLC.

  10. #10

    Default

    Ah, glc- you are the best! I was only looking at staying the night in SLC because the map on Roadtrippers took us through that way. That's what I get from using a website instead of my brain, I suppose. But still, thanks for the excellent tip! Fallon to Richfield is apparently 492 miles- which nicely cut out out longest drive & keeps them all under 500 miles.

    And yeah, especially on US50 I was thinking we should fill up every chance we get. I was also planning on carrying a full gas can in the trunk, just as a precaution. We're planning on driving a '10 Camry. Which, from what I've seen people say, goes 300 to 400 miles on a full tank.

    Seriously folks, thanks so much for your help! I really appreciate the advice.

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