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  1. #1

    Default 2017 30-Day Eclipse West Coast Trip (MT-WY-ID-WA-OR-NV-CA-UT-AZ, 7000 miles)

    Hi all - glad I found this place (via Google), looks like a nice community you have here. I'm from Manchester in the UK, and I'd certainly appreciate any assistance offered with the West Coast road trip I'm currently planning for myself and my fiancée (who by then will be my wife) for 2017.

    I know this is a fair way away just yet, but as a primary aim of the trip is to view the Great American Eclipse, the dates are effectively pinned down and I'd like to work out the kinks well before I need to start booking anything (I expect accommodation near the eclipse path to book up a long time in advance).

    Anyway, the timeframe is (mostly) irrelevant to determining whether the trip is sane or not, so I hope you can forgive my early questions and indeed the wall of text.

    We took a 10-day, 2100mi driving tour of Scotland in 2012, and are taking a 23-day, 4800mi driving tour of Europe this summer, so this is not without precedent, but I'm aware it is both a biggie and heavy on specific aims. Planning is sort of my thing, OH is onboard with the sights but prefers I sort out the tedious detail :)

    Main aims of the trip (some more esoteric than others):
    - Tour the West Coast of the USA, from Canada down to Mexico (inclusive)
    - Visit and stay in nine states new to us (currently on 15+DC, adding two in 2016, this trip will make 26)
    - View the Great American Eclipse from a point experiencing totality
    - Visit Disneyland during Halloween Time (done WDW twice, once at Christmas, doing DL Paris this summer)
    - View Concorde G-BOAG in Seattle (this will be at least #17 of the 19 remaining aircraft for me, and the last outside Europe)
    - View Space Shuttle Orbiter Endeavour in LA (we saw Enterprise, Discovery and Atlantis last year)
    - Visit the West Coast installations participating in the NASA Passport to Space program
    - Fly on a British Airways A380 (took the 787 to EWR last year, would like to try their other new aircraft)
    - View the West Coast sights shown in slides at the start of National Lampoon's Vacation :)
    - Keep daily driving below 500mi (had to bust this a couple of times, but only slightly)

    Secondary aims (where compatible with the above):
    - Drive on All-American Roads / National Scenic Byways whenever possible (without huge detours!)
    - Visit National Parks wherever possible
    - Visit particularly well-acclaimed zoos/aquaria along the way
    - Visit anything else interesting that can be packed in :)

    So, below is the trip as planned (mileages are totals per day, any perceived routing oddities, NV-AZ especially, are probably due to time-limited attractions):

    WEEK 1
    Day 1, Sat 19/08/2017, Flights MAN-LHR-SEA-BZN, drive 156mi, stay in Red Lodge, Montana
    Day 2, Sun 20/08/2017, Drive Beartooth Highway to Yellowstone: see Mammoth Hot Springs, Artist Point, Grand Prismatic Hot Spring, Old Faithful, drive 410mi, stay in Teton Village, Wyoming
    Day 3, Mon 21/08/2017, Take Jackson Hole Tram to view eclipse from Rendezvous Mountain, visit Craters of the Moon, drive 421mi, stay in Boise, Idaho
    Day 4, Tue 22/08/2017, Drive Chinook Scenic Byway, visit Microsoft campus + Space Needle, drive 531mi, stay in Seattle, Washington
    Day 5, Wed 23/08/2017, Day Trip to Vancouver, Canada + Fisherman's Terminal, drive 10mi, stay in Seattle, Washington
    Day 6, Thu 24/08/2017, See Hat n Boots + Museum of Flight (G-BOAG) + Mt St Helens from Johnston Ridge Observatory, drive Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, drive 498mi, stay in Scottsburg, Oregon
    Day 7, Fri 25/08/2017, Drive Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, see Crater Lake, drive Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, see Black Rock City (Burning Man starts 27th, can't fit it in :/) from overlooking roads, drive 525mi, stay in Fernley, Nevada

    WEEK 2
    Day 8, Sat 26/08/2017, Visit Chandelier Tree, drive 497mi, stay in Vallejo, California
    Day 9, Sun 27/08/2017, Visit Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (only open Sat-Sun) + Ames Research Center (only open Wed-Sun 12-16) + back to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom + Golden Gate Bridge by night, drive 303mi, stay in Monterey, California
    Day 10, Mon 28/08/2017, Drive Big Sur Coast Highway, see Bixby Bridge, visit Monterey Bay Aquarium + Googleplex + Golden Gate Bridge by day + Lombard St + Alcatraz evening tour, drive 325mi, stay at Tioga Pass, California
    Day 11, Tue 29/08/2017, Drive Tioga Road + Death Valley Scenic Byway + Las Vegas Strip, drive 414mi, stay in Las Vegas, Nevada
    Day 12, Wed 30/08/2017, Nevada National Security Site Tour (last Wed of the month) + drive Utah's Patchwork Parkway + drive Utah's Scenic Byway 12, drive 275mi, stay in Cannonville, Utah
    Day 13, Thu 31/08/2017, See Grand Staircase-Escalante + Horseshoe Bend, drive Kaibab Plateau–North Rim Parkway, see Grand Canyon North Rim + Grand Canyon South Rim, drive Historic Route 66, drive 523mi, stay in Flagstaff, Arizona
    Day 14, Fri 01/09/2017, Visit Meteor Crater, drive Historic Route 66 + Red Rock Scenic Road, see Chapel of the Holy Cross, tour of ALCOR (Fridays at 2PM), drive 312mi, stay in Congress, Arizona

    WEEK 3
    Day 15, Sat 02/09/2017, Visit Hoover Dam + Las Vegas, drive 326mi, stay in Alamo, Nevada
    Day 16, Sun 03/09/2017, Visit Groom Lake (not too close!), drive Extraterrestrial Highway + Death Valley Scenic Byway, drive 462mi, stay in Victorville, California
    Day 17, Mon 04/09/2017, Drive Historic Route 66, visit The Living Desert, drive 127mi, stay in Palm Springs, California
    Day 18, Tue 05/09/2017, Drive Historic Route 66, see Cabazon Dinosaurs + Stagecoach Motor Inn + Wigwam Village Motel #7, visit Warner Bros Studio Tours + Hollywood, drive 154mi, stay at Universal Studios, L.A., California
    Day 19, Wed 06/09/2017, Visit California Science Center (Endeavour), drive Arroyo Seco Parkway, JPL Tour (Wed 6th/Mon 11th), drive 49mi, stay at Universal Studios, L.A., California
    Day 20, Thu 07/09/2017, Visit Universal Studios Hollywood, drive 0mi (:D), stay at Universal Studios, L.A., California
    Day 21, Fri 08/09/2017, Edwards AFB Tour + Armstrong Flight Research Center (2nd Fri of the month), visit Mojave Air & Space Port + Aquarium of the Pacific, drive 320mi, stay in San Marcos, California

    WEEK 4
    Day 22, Sat 09/09/2017, Visit San Diego Zoo Safari Park + Birch Aquarium at Scripps, drive 54mi, stay in San Diego, California
    Day 23, Sun 10/09/2017, Day Trip to Ensenada, Mexico, drive 0mi, stay in San Diego, California
    Day 24, Mon 11/09/2017, Visit SeaWorld San Diego, drive 14mi, stay in San Diego, California
    Day 25, Tue 12/09/2017, Visit USS Midway + San Diego Zoo, drive 102mi, stay at Disneyland, Anaheim, California
    Day 26, Wed 13/09/2017, Visit Disney California Adventure, see Aladdin + Pixar Play Parade + World of Colour parade, drive 0mi, stay at Disneyland, Anaheim, California
    Day 27, Thu 14/09/2017, Visit Disneyland Park, see Soundsational Parade, drive 0mi, stay at Disneyland, Anaheim, California
    Day 28, Fri 15/09/2017, First day of Disney Halloween Time, see Happiest Haunts Tour + Mad T Party + Fireworks + Fantasmic, drive 0mi, stay at Disneyland, Anaheim, California

    Day 29, Sat 16/09/2017, A380 Flight LAX-LHR, drive 35mi, stay on the plane :)
    Day 30, Sun 17/09/2017, Flight LHR-MAN, drive 0mi, stay in our own bed :D

    TOTAL 6843 miles

    Places that were oh-so-close to being added but impose too great a time/distance penalty:
    - General Sherman Tree (and the entire Sequoia NP - too large a detour to Vegas and would miss Yosemite/Death Valley)
    - Devil's Tower (we'll be back for Mt. Rushmore, will do this then)
    - New Mexico + Colorado (saving for the inevitable TX-based future trip)
    - Halloween at Universal (expected to start 22/09, can't stretch to five weeks, work raise eyebrows above two!)

    Any thoughts on obvious things I should add or (more likely I think) drop? Coming from the UK this may be the only West Coast trip we get for a while, possibly ever, and I've listed the absolute priorities, but I am grateful for any advice at all!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I've only looked at the first 3 days of your trip and you've already got a plan that is really not even physically possible.

    Day 1 - I'd question the wisdom of trying to drive more than 2 hours, coming off an international flight with 2 layovers.

    Day 2 - Simply impossible to do in a single day. Yellowstone requires at least 2-3 days to see the main sites, and that doesn't include the amazing beartooth highway. There's just no way you can see even a fraction of the points you've listed, and drive more than 400 miles on roads where you frequently have to travel below 30 mph.

    Days 3 and 4 are the same kinds of problems. 400-500 mile days on the road simply don't leave enough time to stop and explore the place you've listed. You can certainly drive that in a day, but it just doesn't leave enough time to do much anything else.

    I haven't gone through the rest of the plan, but just scanning through, I see many other cases like that. Clearly you're excited about this trip - but the same kind of enthusiasm that has you creating a day by day plan more than 2 years in advance of a trip is also leading you to create a plan where you simply are trying to do more than is physically possible. You're going to have to scale back your plans significantly to even really have a workable starting point.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Fully packed already.

    Michael is so right, driving to Red Lodge after your flight, with much of the drive on two lane roads, is simply asking for trouble. You also need to note that driving the Beartooth Highway from Red Lodge to Cook City, over Beartooth Pass is officially stated as a six hour drive. (Ignore the fantasy of computer generated times.) It is slow going, even if you do not want to stop to take in the spectacular sites, or take any photos.

    You can of course, just drive through Yellowstone. It may very well take many hours to get from the north east entrance to Mammoth Hot Springs. (One time it took me four hours to drive from Mammoth Hot Springs to West Yellowstone.) Driving in Yellowstone is very slow with animal and car jams regular events, even if you do not have plans to stop. But you will not be able to say you have actually seen Yellowstone. If you arrive at Old Faithful just after the magic show, you could be sitting waiting an hour or so before it goes off again. None of these things can be rushed. There are of course many other geysers, most of which would involve a short scenic hike.... much more scenic than any All American Road. (And chances are you will still be under the after affects of a long haul flight. You can't compare that with going to Europe or Scotland.)

    Your secondary aims would make this trip much more enjoyable, but at the moment you have not allowed yourself time to enjoy either the All American Roads nor the National Parks.

    Visit anything else interesting that can be packed in :)
    Just packing in as much as you can sounds to me like a trip to be endured.... not enjoyed, and could well leave you with a memorable trip for all the wrong reasons.

    If your main focus is the eclipse, which should be spectacular, why not fly into Seattle and enjoy the drive to the viewing areas. There is much to see and enjoy in WA, ID and OR. All of which would fulfill your main and secondary aims. It would actually allow you to see more of the northern west coast States, other than through the windscreen

    From many many months and tens of thousands of miles on US roads, I have found that in the US, much more than 1000 miles per week becomes tiring. The other thing I would recommend is that you have at least one non driving day each week.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    This past summer, we went to Yellowstone. Here were some highlights:

    Red Lodge to Silver Gate, over the Beartooth, was about 5 hours. We stopped at a number of the pull-outs, and had to do Cooke City and Silver Gate in a good rain. Then it was about another 4 hours through the Lamar Valley, past Tower Falls, over the Pass and into Norris Geyser Basin. After a stop and hike at Norris, it was another 40 minutes into West Yellowstone. So call that a 10 hour drive, including the stops before Norris Basin but not including the 1+ hour at Norris.

    When we left West Yellowstone (at 6 in the morning), it was another 1-1/2 hours down to Flagg Ranch. If we had tried to do that during the later part of the day, you can count on it taking another hour.

    Old Faithful is faithful about going off, but it does go about 90-120 minutes between blasts. If you get there just after it went up, you may have a long wait.

    My husband and I do "packed" vacations, but not this packed. I'm in agreement with Lifey and Michael, you may not enjoy this trip very much unless you scale back a little bit.


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

    Default Unrealistic.

    I'm sorry to say but it's back to the drawing board. Your itinerary really is unrealistic and not even close to be able toi turn it into reality.

    Day 13, Thu 31/08/2017, See Grand Staircase-Escalante + Horseshoe Bend, drive Kaibab Plateau–North Rim Parkway, see Grand Canyon North Rim + Grand Canyon South Rim, drive Historic Route 66, drive 523mi, stay in Flagstaff, Arizona
    There are just too many days like the above where you really need a minimum of 5-6 hours just to drive down to the North rim from Jacob Lake and take a quick visit to a few viewpoints.

    You have plenty of time to adjust your plans to a point they are both achievable and enjoyable, but to be honest I would simply start again. You have a nice amount of time to have a great time and visit many sights, but sometimes less is more.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Beyond the time crunch

    Looking at your plans a little more closely, your trip may be even worse that I thought just looking at the first couple days. Honestly, in the first 2.5 weeks of your trip, nearly every one of your planned days is simply impossible to do what you've got listed. We've already highlighted a lot of them, but some of them just don't even pass a common sense test.

    For example, Monterey to Big Sur, then double back to SF while it's still daylight, and do the night tour of Alcatraz is virtually impossible to do by itself. Then you try to tack on another 4 hours of driving to Yosemite on top of it. I'll also mention that just doing Tioga Pass means you'd be skipping the Yosemite Valley, which is the highlight of the park (not that you have any time for it either at this point).

    I'm sorry to be harsh, but your plan is just so far away from being even close to possible. Even in the best case, all you could do is drive all day, except to stop to take a picture of the entry sign at a park/attraction/etc so you can claim to have been there.

    But beyond that, as you look to completely rework your trip, I will throw out a few suggestions for you.

    Flying into Billings is likely going to be very expensive. Doing a one way car rental from Billings to LA will likely add hundreds, if not more than $1,000 to the cost of the trip.

    Speaking of car rentals, you will not be able to take a car into Mexico. You might also simply rethink that daytrip, as there have been significant safety concerns in Mexico's border towns over the past several years. Maybe that will improve 2 years from now, but you very much need to use caution. Also note, your car rental contract also might not allow travel into Canada - you'll have to check into that before assuming you can drive to Vancouver.'

    Another big problem with trying to plan things too exactly for a trip that's 2 years away is that things change - especially places with limited hours. You've got a lot of cases where you've marked things that are only open on certain days of the week, and those days or hours could easily change by 2017. Also, if you're looking at things right now, it's likely that some places are in winter hours that generally change in summer - for example 6 Flags near San Francisco is only open on weekends right now, but in August, it should be open 7 days a week.

    I'd also look at your routing as you rework your plans. Obviously, you're going to have to cut out a bunch of stuff, but right now, you've got quite a few areas where you are doing a lot of backtracking or following routes that will add a lot of extra miles which only adds to your time crunch problems.

  7. #7


    Hello all - thank you for the honest and polite responses. To address a few interesting points (I hear and appreciate what is being said, just providing additional info in case it helps or leads to further recommendations):

    - This was originally a spring/early summer 2016 trip from CA to WA; the eclipse (of which I was not initally aware) changed the year, month and driving order, hence the detailed planning so far in advance

    - We use the jet-lag to our advantage on the first few days - go to bed early (late on UK time), get up early (still feels like a lie-in on UK time), tire ourselves out, crash, repeat.

    - We also tend to do 14h+ days (08:00-22:00 door-to-door typical, sometimes longer) all trip. 8h sleep, meals done mostly on the run unless we have masses of time. Waking hours are completely devoted to seeing/doing, and civil twilight is used to full effect (useable light for ~30m after sunset)

    - The driving is a key part of that and indeed a huge part of the experience - corny, but it really is about the journey here. As the driver, I don't mind 400+mi days, and my OH's favourite ever vacation experience (she really won't let it go) is driving ~350mi from the Everglades down to Key West and back to Miami Beach one evening, which we did on-spec at 6PM. Having all day to do something like that is luxurious! That said, I'd read here that 500mi/day was ideal but not to go further. Perhaps I have misinterpreted it?

    - With a couple of exceptions, the NPs, NSBs and AARs were added in as substitutes for less scenic routes between main destinations. It's a given that we won't have time to stop along these routes (major landmarks notwithstanding), or to drive the entire length of some of them, and I know this doesn't do them justice (bordering on criminal, I know!) but it must far better than barrelling along interstates for weeks on end. That said, dropping back to the "base" plan could eliminate at least 1400 miles of driving at a stroke if that becomes necessary, and individual routes can be "failed back" on the go if needed.

    - Yellowstone in particular is in there due to Saturday being the most convenient day to fly out, leaving a 1-day gap before the eclipse, for which GT should be a fantastic spot. I know we can't come close to seeing it all, and I know we don't want to be driving there after dark (wildlife!), but 9 hours from Silver Gate to South Entrance via MHS, OF (wait if erupting soon, see GPS first if not) and GPS seems possible and compatible with the given 4h SG>NGB time even if we have to drop AP (which actually looks to add on no travel time via an S-bend route). The Beartooth Highway website reckons 3h to drive it, so that's 8AM-11AM Red Lodge to Silver Gate, 11AM-8PM to Yellowstone South Entrance, 8PM-9PM through GT via the Outer Highway ("little more than an hour"), into Teton Village for around 9.30PM

    - I am glad BIL was mentioned, as the flight into BZN is actually a hangover from the "base" plan which involved staying in Gardinier, and is no longer the best option as BIL is only a 62mi drive to Red Lodge. Based on eqivalent 2015 dates, BIL flights are also very slightly cheaper ($2431 vs $2464 for the full round trip for both of us) and even arrive earlier if going MAN-LHR-PDX-BIL - this may of course change since as pointed out it's over 2.5 years away!

    - Canada and Mexico will both be via organised tour (boat/bus) - we've been to Mexico (City + Cancun, during the swine flu, nice and quiet it was too :)) and I never want to drive there, nor, as you point out, would a rental company likely be inclined to let me! These are non-driving days (besides to the port/bus station) and just serving as nice bookends to the trip - though they're not literally at the ends due to the events fixed in time and space (eclipse + Disney Halloween)

    - Car rental will be "interesting" I know. Even keeping the vehicle inside the USA, I'm going to need a one-way rental allowing passage through all nine states, and which meets CA emission standards (as it will be returned there and they're stuck with any that don't!) Realistically it's going to be an SUV, as I drive one at home, have always taken one on previous driving tours, will be driving at least a few dirt roads and would rather have the ride height given both the new roads and the scenery. I don't expect it to be cheap - flights will be around $2500, hotels I figure $2800 (anything 4+ on TripAdvisor), fuel $700, food $1200, Disney $1400, car rental $1900 (Enterprise Standard SUV BIL-LAX pay later, no one-way charge) = $10500. I know I've missed entertainment (outside Disney) but that's going to be a drop in the ocean = $80 NPS pass a definite though! Any way of battering this figure down would be good; I can live with it (given the 2.5 years!) but I am wondering if we should learn to love camping :)

    - As noted (somewhere in all that!) time off work can be a challenge. Anything above two weeks warrants additional scrutiny, and booking long trips outside weekend-weekend brackets quickly becomes unmanageable due to my being on separate weekly callout and escalation rotas at work. For four weeks, this needs to be weekend-weekend, and that means only one day between arrival and the eclipse, hence needing to start there and work towards Seattle rather then the inverse. Believe me, if the eclipse could be kind enough to reschedule itself that'd be great :)

    - I'm not surprised the GSE/GC day came up as the Vegas loop was easily my biggest concern and was a real pain trying to get into any sort of halfway sensible state. The North Rim was a late addition and can easily be dropped to save substantial time and mileage, but the road is an NSB so it seemed worthwhile putting in. At only 85 miles round trip from Jacob Lake in a 45mph limit, 5-6h seems excessive, but I would like to understand if there is a critical point I've missed here. As well as dropping the NR, another measure for this day would be starting in Kanab rather than Cannonville, but this would skip the Cottonwood Canyon Road and the majority of the GSE.

    - The Monterey leg doesn't drive the entire Big Sur Coast Highway, just down to Bixby Bridge and back. Similarly for several of the other routes - it can be assumed I'm not driving all of Route 66 for instance :) Again, with an 8AM start in Monterey, that's down to Bixby Bridge and back to the Aquarium for its 10AM opening (37mi in 2h, comfortable), 5h in the Aquarium, then we have 3h25m to travel the 130mi to Pier 33 for the 17:55 tour (not driving the GGB here, just viewing it, and taking a right from Hyde St to skip and line for the interesting bit of Lombard St). I'm conscious that's rush hour, but we only need to average ~40mph and we should be going against the traffic for much of that - still, going right through SF may be a problem, I see that. May need to cut the Aquarium to 4h, move the GGB to after Ames on the previous day or do the Bixby Bridge that evening. Alcatraz tour returns 20:30, drive direct to Yosemite, 164mi, expecting to arrive around midnight (8-9h driving the next day and prefer to arrive in LV after dark, so a slight late start is permissable)

    - Finally, regarding overall routing and times: absolutely on the money that the bizarre routing is a direct result of limited opening hours and in particular the NASA/military tours which occur one in a blue moon. Everything is based on the most up-to-date info available right now, and will be modified as better info becomes available - I am not daft enough to plan a trip like this and just leave it for 2.5 years, however once we enter the booking window I do want to ready to go as certain locations (Teton Village, Fernley, Disney) are likely to fill up quickly due to the events occurring. In particular, Disney should start Halloween on our last day there based on historical patterns, and similarly the tours should occur on the dates indicated - if not, more shuffling things about! This particular Six Flags, sadly, is open weekends only from mid-August (also subject to change of course), which combined with Ames being open only Wed-Sun is somewhat of a nuisance. Incidentally, it's on there as OH is a big fan of 50 First Dates - partially filmed there and featuring their walrus.

    I have attached Google Maps (Google doesn't allow seasonal roads when viewing out of season so some are slightly off) plans for each day, in the current form. As noted, I do already have a scaled-back version of the trip, but I suspect that futher comments may be incoming so will work on the feedback received for now.

    Day 1 (flying into BIL instead of BZN)

    Day 2 (not exact on the park route as Google won't plan it in winter, but close enough)

    Day 3

    Day 4

    Day 5 (not driving to Vancouver, taking a boat)

    Day 6

    Day 7

    Day 8

    Day 9

    Day 10

    Day 11 (Google won't plan the Tioga Road, so start point of equivalent distance selected)

    Day 12

    Day 13

    Day 14

    Day 15

    Day 16 (Death Valley removed as already visited and made the day nearly 600 miles)

    Day 17

    Day 18

    Day 19

    Day 20 (staying put)

    Day 21

    Day 22

    Day 23 (not driving, to Ensenada, taking a bus)

    Day 24

    Day 25 (includes dropping OH at the hotel and then returning the car)

    Day 26-28 (staying put)

    Day 29 (back to the airport - taxi as the car will have gone back)

    Thanks again all!
    Last edited by JDAdams; 01-08-2015 at 11:34 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default still problematic

    Listen, you don't have to listen to any of our advice, but I will simply tell you that the travel time estimates provided by google are simply fantasy. I'm not going to (nor do I expect others will) go through each of your map links, but if that's what you are using as the basis for your travel times, it's probably a big reason for your problems.

    That said, I'd read here that 500mi/day was ideal but not to go further. Perhaps I have misinterpreted it?
    Yes, you've most certainly misinterpreted that. 500 miles is a near ideal distance, if you are taking a long distance trip on the interstates, trying to balance covering ground while still leaving time to make a few short stops and enjoy yourself while getting on the road.

    500 miles is not even close to ideal to do while focusing on 2 lane roads, drives through National Parks, or using Scenic Byways. 500 miles on these roads will take up about 12 hours all by itself, and that's assuming you're talking about highways with 55+ mph speed limits. Many of the roads you're talking about will have much lower speed limits, and could take more time. I suppose I should also note that you've also got several days where you are planning to drive well beyond 500 miles, and several days where you're even admitting you'll have to drive into the night to cover the miles.

    The reality is you are trying to build a plan on perfect situations that simply don't happen in real life - and you're planning them for nearly every day of your trip. I'll go back to the Big Sur - Yosemite example. So you're not going to even go to big sur now, and even there, you're planning for 5 hours at the aquarium (losing a chunk of time parking, getting into the park, etc) then giving yourself 3.5 hours to get from Monterey to the SF waterfront during rush hour - which frankly isn't enough time, considering my last trip to SF, it took me nearly an hour just to drive from Pier 39 to At&T park just a few miles away, during the afternoon. Plus, you'll need time to find parking and check in. Then your final leg, of trying to get from Alcatraz to Yosemite by midnight simply can't be done. Yes, the boat returns at 20:30, but by the time the boat actually gets back to the pier, you're looking at 9 o'clock. It's then about 4 hours to Yosemite - so that wouldn't even put you to Yosemite until 1am in a best case (and then you still don't have any time to actually see Yosemite the next day).

    Again, we could go back and forth like this on pretty much every single day in the first 3 weeks of your trip - it's going to be your call. You don't have to believe us when we tell you that what you are trying to do is practically impossible, and the only way you'll be able to come close to this schedule is by defining "seeing" things as taking a picture as you fly by it on the highway. Maybe our collective experience is even wrong and you can fit it all in, but I'll tell you, most people who try to do a trip like this end up being so focused on getting to everything, that they don't get to actually enjoy anything.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I'm also going to throw something in here - driving a rental vehicle, even a SUV, on dirt roads will probably violate the rental agreement.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Not a comparison.

    You can't compare driving after dark from the Everglades to Miami, via Key West (doubt you saw anything) with driving out west. For one thing, in FL that drive is virtually completely through urban areas. In the west you will be driving on rural roads, some of which are open range giving you not only wildlife, but also cattle, etc. to contend with. And a black cow/bear is very hard to see at night.


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