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  1. Default Big old trip - hoping for help!

    Hi there!

    Doing a 5 or so week trip starting second week of may and have the bones of it figured out - wanted to get any expert advice before i go booking, coming from Australia so a lot of unknowns ahead any help would be greatly appreciated.

    So heres the basics of it -

    3 nights San Francisco, CA
    Drive to Yosemite

    3 nights Yosemite
    Drive to Lone Pine

    1 night Lone Pine, CA
    Drive to Vegas (check out death valley on the way)

    1 night Las Vegas, NV
    Drive to Springdale (check out zion national park)

    1 night Springdale, UT
    Drive to Salt Lake City

    1 night Salt Lake City, UT
    Drive to Rawlins

    1 night Rawlins, WY
    Drive to Rapid City

    1 night Rapid City, SD (mount rushmore)
    Drive 23rd to Billings

    1 night Billings, MT
    Drive to Garinder

    3 nights Gardiner, MT (yellowstone)
    Drive to Glacier National Park

    2 nights Glacier National Park
    Drive to Seattle, WA

    2 nights Seattle, WA
    Drive to Olympic National Park

    3 nights Olympic National Park

    Wondering if theres certain points i should add time? or break things up further? After olympic national park its onto oregon and will look at that next up.

    Any advice or cool places, things to be mindful of etc would be fantastic

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Looking good.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    It looks as though you have been doing your homework !!

    Unless you have a real desire to visit SLC then I would reconsider the route between Zion NP to Rawlins and add a little time if you can. From Zion head out the east side through the Mt Carmel tunnel and continue to Bryce canyon and then take UT scenic 12 to Torrey and up to I70 until Rifle CO and then head north to Rawlins. You could do the trip with just one overnight as planned for SLC, but at least one other would give you more time to enjoy whats on offer. The drive is absolutely incredible and as well as Bryce canyon you would be heading past Capitol Reef NP, Arches and Canyonlands and the Colorado National Monument. With one overnight stop you could stop in Torrey UT having had a quick look at Bryce canyon and possibly an early evening drive in Capitol Reef NP before a full day on the road to Rawlins, albeit a very scenic day on the road. With an extra night you could head from Torrey to Moab and spend half a day in Arches NP and stopover in Moab before continuing to Rawlins.

    Keep in mind that the Tioga Pass heading east over the mountains out of Yosemite may not be open [50/50 chance at this time] which means you will have to go south around them via Bakersfield. This is still OK for stopping in Lone Pine but will make for a longer drive. You could leave this option open and if it were closed you could consider staying around Lake Isabella/Ridgecrest. Yellowstone will just be fully opening up for the summer season but make sure you pack some layered clothing as it can still be rather chilly. From Billings go through Red Lodge [or stay there] and enter Yellowstone on the Beartooth Highway through Silver Gate and expect to spend the day exploring this end of the park and taking in the views. Check road conditions before travelling though.

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

    Default Don't miss the coast road.

    Yeah, great trip. Hitting all the hilights. It will blow you away. Only suggestion I would make is to take a night from either SF or Yosemite. and add the Pacific Coast Highway. You could stay in the Cambria area, and take 41 back inland to Yosemite. The PCH is every bit as great as the Great Ocean Road (if you have driven that).

    If you are planning to stay within the NPs - highly recommended - best get your bookings in early. They book out very quickly.

    As mentioned above, one of the great drives is to enter Yellowstone via the Beartooth Highway over Beartooth Pass. At the end of May it could just be open. Some years ago I drove it in the last week of May. It is all dependent on the severity of the snowfall. You might find that the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier will not yet be open either. So you may have to choose whether to go to the east or west entrance.

    One thing you may like to note, and you don't say in which State you reside, but be sure to take your automobile club membership - RACV, NRMA, etc. - with you. It will give you access to free maps and tourism information from the AAA. You could pick up maps of all the States and cities through which you will travel, while you are in SF. Don't be tempted to rely solely on your electronics.

    Lifey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default One more thing. [for now]

    As you are planning on visiting 4 [or more] National Parks you should purchase the $80 annual pass as it will save you money overall. It includes entry for the vehicle and all occupants. A couple of things that will not be included is the boat to Alcatraz [hopefully on your list of things to do in SF] and parking at Mt Rushmore. Hmm, talking of National parks, no Grand canyon ?

  5. Default

    Hotels in Vegas are RIDICULOUSLY expensive on Friday and Saturday nights; two to three times the weekday cost! Furthermore, these same hotels often offer free meals or other weekday incentives.

    And I enthusiastically agree with driving the PCH. The views are fantastic. Stop at EVERY pull off; the scenery is everchanging.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default Is Rushmore a Must?

    The one thing that stands out to me is that your plan basically has you driving from Zion, directly to Mount Rushmore, and then back to Yellowstone, with very little planned in between. Mount Rushmore is a pretty huge detour between Zion and Yellowstone - almost doubling the travel distance. If Mount Rushmore is a priority, then that's not a problem, but there is much more you could see and do in between Zion and Yellowstone that wouldn't require nearly as many added miles.

    Dave already mentioned a few places in Utah that could be a good addition to your time. I'd also look at the 4 corners area - I notice the Grand Canyon isn't on your list, and places like Monument Valley and Mesa Verde would be possible, as would a lot of other parks in Colorado. If you approach Yellowstone from the south, you'd also go right through Grand Teton, which also doesn't seem to be included in your current plan (and would be tough to do if Gardiner is going to be your base for visiting Yellowstone).

    If you do stick with your plan of heading to South Dakota, then I'd suggest giving yourself more time there, to make the extra miles worth the trip. There's much more to the Black Hills than just Mount Rushmore, with places like Custer State Park, Jewel and/or Wind Caves, and Devils Tower to name a few. If I was going as far east as Mt. Rushmore, then I'd also plan to go about another 100 miles farther east and also check out the badlands.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by travelingman View Post
    Hotels in Vegas are RIDICULOUSLY expensive on Friday and Saturday nights; two to three times the weekday cost!
    I think that is overstating things quite a bit. Yes, hotels in Vegas are going to usually be more expensive on the weekend, but part of that is because you can find amazingly cheap deals during the week. Even on the weekend, you can still find deals, especially if you're willing to look off the strip. I'm planning a trip to Vegas in just a few weeks and had no problem finding places on a Saturday night for far less than you'd pay in most other cities (some for as little as around $40 at non-casino hotels off the strip). During the week I'll be there, there are lots of well known casinos even on the strip with rooms available for under $30 midweek - although resort fees often drive that price up a bit more.

    The big thing with Vegas is that it is a city where the hotel rates are truly based on demand. If you tried to go this week - during the big CES convention - you'll find much higher hotel rates midweek, than you'll see on a weekend later this month. Hotels are also frequently changing their rates, depending upon demand.

  8. Default

    Thanks very much everyone for the tips - greatly appreciated. I realise that mt rushmore looks a bit way out but my girlfriend really has her heart set on it, but we do have some time up our sleeves so ill take a look at adding some things into that leg.

    Also after this we are staying in oregon for a bit then driving back down to SF, so we can drive down that coast for that part.

    When it comes to car hire - was looking at alamo? I imagine they are all fairly similar? Was thinking a compact SUV would be a good option for this amount of driving.

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

    Default

    As far as renting a vehicle goes just check your options as deals are changing all the time as they compete for your money. There are many consolidators that offer competitive rates, last visit I went with rental car.com. Don't forget to check rates on the right of this page in the RTA travel centre.

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

    Default No comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by gary-1981 View Post
    Also after this we are staying in oregon for a bit then driving back down to SF, so we can drive down that coast for that part..
    The Oregon coast is lovely, but nowhere as spectacular as the PCH/CA1 south of SF.... especially around Carmel, Monterey and around Big Sur.

    Lifey

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