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  1. #1

    Default Driving the West in April.

    We are from Sydney, Australia and are planning a 3 weeks driving visit in April next year.

    I would like to get some feedback about the weather and driving conditions we are likely to experience and also what major attractions (National Parks and Tourist Sites )will be closed or opened.

    Our plan is to fly into Los Angeles and our first stop would be Flagstaff and spend a few days there going through the Grand Canyon. Next would be to get to Denver and take a couple of days to drive there. My wife would like to visit some of the old west attractions so we would likely look at spending a day or two in Cheyenne.

    The next part I am not sure if it is worth the drive up to Cody and visit Yellowstone National Park. This would be around mid April and from what I have read most parts would still be closed from winter.

    We would then head back via Salt Lake City and Las Vegas (spending 2-3 days in each place).

    I would appreciate any comments. I have driven in USA a lot on the eastern coast and along the west coast and we though going through and around the Rockies would be a great experience. But I am a bit cautious about the weather and its impact on driving and tourist attractions.

    Thanks,
    Bob

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default More for less.

    Hello and welcome to te RTA forums !

    You are right in that most of Yellowstone will still be buried in snow and to be honest I doubt it's worth adding that many miles to your trip while rushing through so many great places on the way to Denver. From the Grand canyon you could drive through Monument valley and head towards Mesa Verde NP and then to Durango before heading north up the spectacular 'Million dollar highway' [US550] through the lovely towns of Silverton and Ouray. Next you could take US50 past Black canyon, through Currecanti Rec area and over Monarch pass and make you way towards Denver and possibly Rocky mountain NP. On the way back you could visit Colorado National Monument and head into the beautiful red rock scenery of Utah with National parks of Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce canyon and Zion NP before heading to Vegas on I15. There are many othe possibilities to consider that I think would be more rewarding than adding so many miles for so little reward. Be warned though that you will still need to keep an eye on conditions, especially at higher elevations and places like RMNP will have restricted access. You could spend 3 months from LA to Denver and back and still not see everything !

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

    Default So true.

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    You could spend 3 months from LA to Denver and back and still not see everything !
    Never a truer word was said!

    Driving back west out of Denver you would drive on one of the most scenic interstates in the country - I-70. Besides all the suggestions Dave mentioned, I would add a trip to Death Valley while you are in LV. It is an amazing place, and not unbearably hot in April.

    At this stage you might find that a Rand McNally road atlas would be beneficial in your planning. It shows in detail just how much there is to see in that area. You'll have it in a couple of weeks.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 11-08-2014 at 06:38 AM. Reason: typo

  4. #4

    Default

    I totally agree with Lifemagician on the Rand McNally road atlas. I don't leave home without it, and individual state maps I'm planning on going through. Many of the areas(parks) mentioned could still see below freezing temps at night due to the higher elevations so be prepared for that. Again agree on Yellowstone.Even in June there can still be a lot of snow at the higher elevations. I've been snowed on in June and September there.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    For Yellowstone, I am in agreement that this might not be a wise use of your time. April 17 is the projected date for opening park roads, but there are only 2 lodges inside the park that are open year-round (Mammoth Hot Springs in the north, and Snow Lodge next to Old Faithful). Other services aren't open, for the most part, until mid-May. Even the road opening date is negotiable, depending on the weather. You can get around Yellowstone before the road opens, but you must do so by commercial-tour of some sort, including a snowmobile tour, or stick with the only road open during the winter: the one that goes from Cooke City (NE entrance) to Gardiner, MT. That one doesn't go anywhere near the thermal regions of the park.


    Donna

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    For Yellowstone, I am in agreement that this might not be a wise use of your time. April 17 is the projected date for opening park roads, but there are only 2 lodges inside the park that are open year-round (Mammoth Hot Springs in the north, and Snow Lodge next to Old Faithful). Other services aren't open, for the most part, until mid-May. Even the road opening date is negotiable, depending on the weather. You can get around Yellowstone before the road opens, but you must do so by commercial-tour of some sort, including a snowmobile tour, or stick with the only road open during the winter: the one that goes from Cooke City (NE entrance) to Gardiner, MT. That one doesn't go anywhere near the thermal regions of the park.


    Donna
    Thanks Donna appreciate the advice.

  7. #7

    Default

    Thanks Dave - your comments sound great and I will look at my old road maps to research your suggestions.

  8. #8

    Default

    Thanks Lifey.

    I bought a Rand McNally road atlas during my first visit to the States in 2003. would it be too much out of date now or still ok to use. ?.

  9. #9

    Default

    Thanks Joe for your assistance.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Nothing much changes.

    Quote Originally Posted by swans12 View Post
    I bought a Rand McNally road atlas during my first visit to the States in 2003. would it be too much out of date now or still ok to use. ?.
    Nah!! The most you might find is that some exits off interstates occasionally change, and minor roads are upgraded to four lanes from two.. But no big deal. I have travelled with a decade old atlas without hassle. For what they cost, you might buy a new one on arrival, but for planning this one will do.

    Let's face it, the Parks and cities/towns do not change location. Just allow for minor changes.

    I now get a new atlas each trip, and then hilight each and every road on which I travel, at the end of each day. Makes a great souvenir of where you have been.

    Are you aware that your NRMA membership gives you access to free maps and tourism information from the AAA. Be worth picking up detailed maps of individual States in LA. I like to travel with both.

    Lifey

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