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  1. Default Need help planning WEST road trip please!

    Hi all! My DH and 14 yr old son are planning a road trip out west in August. We will be leaving KY Aug 7th and headed to Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, San Francisco(Alcatraz, Golden Gate-Coastal redwoods etc), Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite NP's then to Reno for a convention the 17th -21st-Back on the road from Reno to Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon and Arches, NP - maybe Capital Reef, Canyonlands and?? Anything we should skip or add? We plan on driving about 500 miles per day and will need to be back home by 8-30 at the latest! Any ideas, hints, tips etc would be greatly appreciated!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default A few to consider.

    Hi and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    Do you have some good maps. These will show you all the places there are in the south west.

    If you possibly can, I would include the Pacific Coast Highway south of SF (a 2 d
    say drive) including Big Sur and Hearst Castle, and then cross over to Sequoia NP. Other areas to which you will be close are Monument Valley, Four Corners (which the 14 year old is bound to like) and Sedona/Oak Creek Canyon.

    If you do not already have maps, AAA have excellent maps (free to members), or a road atlas such as Rand McNally also has excellent maps.

    Driving 500 miles a day, every day will not leave you much time to really explore and get to know these places. It will also be most worthwhile to enrole your son in the Junior Ranger program. You can do all the activities together. You'll be amazed at how much you will learn.

    You might also consider the night time tour of Alcatraz. Not only is the old jail more spooky at night, but it is magnificent to see all the lights come on in SF across the bay.

    Lifey

  3. Default

    Realistically speaking I think you have to many places and to little time. If you really look at your time you are leaving on Aug. 7 and have until August 16 which is 10 days time to travel to make it to Reno with stops at Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, San Francisco, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite. You are looking at approx. 3300 miles just for this leg of the trip and each of the places on your list deserves a day at the very least and to properly do these park justice you need more time at most of them. There is a lot more to Yellowstone than just Old Faithful.

    Honestly, with just 10 days I'd would just do Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Yosemite before reaching Reno so you can really experience these parks.

    Aug. 17 - 21st Reno Convention (which I'm sure can't change)

    The second part of your trip has you departing Reno on August 22 and you have until August 30 to reach home. This is only 9 days to do Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Arches and maybe Capitol Reef & Canyonlands. You're looking at approx. 2,900 miles for this leg of the trip.

    I would just do Bryce, Zion and Grand Canyon and maybe Petrified Forest on the way home. OR the second option would be to do Capitol Reef, Arches & Canyonlands. Again all these parks deserve more than just a drive by.

    Like Lifey pointed out, you really need to sit down with a map and calculator and do your homework. BTW since I didn't know where in KY you were starting I used Louisville so your mileage might differ depending on where you live.

    Utahtea

  4. Default

    Thanks so much for the AWESOME advice!! I have a BAD habit of trying to stuff too much in at one time. I have maps, info from every state out west and tons of other planning stuff and have been working on this for months but still don't have it down! I thank you "old hands" so much for the eye opening advice and info!! The first 2 days we plan on mostly driving and not stopping to see much. We are arriving at Tetons first then Yellowstone. I want to stay 3-4 days in Tetons-Yellowstone, but hubby is not so sure. :( We will then head to San Francisco for a couple of days then off to Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite - ending up in Reno by the evening of the 16th. No we can't change the Reno convention- this was the main reason for the trip - DH DOESN'T like to travel and for him to agree to this 3 is weeks trip was monumental - I jumped at the chance as my younger son(14) and I will more than likely not ever get to go back or not for a long time!
    After Reno we will head to Grand Canyon hopefully going thru Death Valley NP on the way??
    Of course we would love to see all the wonderful parks in Utah but like you both said - there just is not enough time!
    Any suggestions for how to get to Sequoia- where to go in from San Fran? Is Sequoia-Kings Canyon and Yosemite doable in 2-4 days?
    Thanks so much again for all the info!! This site is the BEST!!
    BTW - You are close - We are 30 miles from Lexington, KY
    Homescool

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Okay, let's analyze this.

    It is going to take you 3 full days to get from Lexington to the Yellowstone/Tetons area. This is going via fastest route, if you want to enter via the Beartooth (HIGHLY recommended) add a 4th day.

    Yellowstone/Tetons to SF is a 2 day drive.

    When you add enough time to see Yellowstone/Tetons, you won't have time to do anything once you get to SF except head straight to Reno.

    You are going to have to do Sequoia/Yosemite etc. AFTER Reno. Take US-395 south out of Reno to CA-120 and enter Yosemite via Tioga Pass, leave Yosemite via CA-41 to Fresno, then CA-180 into Sequoia/Kings Canyon. Leave via CA-198 to Visalia, CA-99 to CA-178 to CA-14 to US-395 to CA-190 into Death Valley, then on to Las Vegas via the "locals route" (Stateline/Ash Meadows Rd to NV-160) and points east.

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by homescool05 View Post
    Thanks so much for the AWESOME advice!! I have a BAD habit of trying to stuff too much in at one time. I have maps, info from every state out west and tons of other planning stuff and have been working on this for months but still don't have it down! I thank you "old hands" so much for the eye opening advice and info!! The first 2 days we plan on mostly driving and not stopping to see much. We are arriving at Tetons first then Yellowstone. I want to stay 3-4 days in Tetons-Yellowstone, but hubby is not so sure. :( We will then head to San Francisco for a couple of days then off to Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite - ending up in Reno by the evening of the 16th. No we can't change the Reno convention- this was the main reason for the trip - DH DOESN'T like to travel and for him to agree to this 3 is weeks trip was monumental - I jumped at the chance as my younger son(14) and I will more than likely not ever get to go back or not for a long time!
    After Reno we will head to Grand Canyon hopefully going thru Death Valley NP on the way??
    Of course we would love to see all the wonderful parks in Utah but like you both said - there just is not enough time!
    Any suggestions for how to get to Sequoia- where to go in from San Fran? Is Sequoia-Kings Canyon and Yosemite doable in 2-4 days?
    Thanks so much again for all the info!! This site is the BEST!!
    BTW - You are close - We are 30 miles from Lexington, KY
    Homescool
    Yes you can see a lot of the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone in 3 - 4 days. Finding lodging at this late date might be hard. Try calling and calling to see if you can get in on a cancellation inside Yellowstone. If you can't get lodging in the park try West Yellowstone.

    If you do go to Sequoia - Kings Canyon, from SF take 80 across the bridge, the I-580 & 205 east to Hwy 99 and then south to Fresno then take Hwy 180 into the park. This is just over 260 miles and you will more than likely run into a lot of traffic in the bay area so plan on it taking a good part of the day. You might be able to squeeze in some of the major sites in the park. You will want to spend the night on the road before you go to Yosemite. From Sequoia to Yosemite is just 160 miles so try to spend two nights in Yosemite to have a full day there. Just so you know, there are giant sequoia's in Yosemite and Kings Canyon is like a mini Yosemite if you decide to skip these parks.

    I would skip Death Valley in August because the average temps are in the 115 degree range and getting out of your vehicle will feel like stepping into an oven! If you go, make sure your vehicle is in excellent running condition, let some one know you are going into the park and carry lots of WATER! There is little cell service in the park if you break down. Maybe consider Mesa Verde National Park, CO on your way home if you're not going to do the Utah parks.

    Utahtea

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    If you are going to do Sequoia etc. between SF and Reno, I'd enter from the south instead of the north - stay on 99 to Visalia and take 198 in.

    To get from 205 to 99, you have to go north a couple miles on I-5 and take 120 east to 99.

    If you follow my last suggestion on doing Sequoia after Reno, if you don't want to go to Death Valley you can simply take 99 to CA-58, which will get you to I-15 to Las Vegas or I-40 to points east.

    If you want to go from Reno to Las Vegas, you might as well go through Death Valley - take 395 to CA-136 to 190.

    With all the parks you will be visiting, buy an an annual pass ($80) at the first one you come to. It will pay for itself.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Perhaps Hubby would prefer a more relaxed pace.

    Honestly, with just 10 days I'd would just do Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Yosemite before reaching Reno so you can really experience these parks.
    I would agree with this, or else you are going to spend a lot of time driving and little time seeing. Who knows, hubby might get to like travelling if you slow down a little. ;-) Yosemite is a place worthy of a couple of days and driving all the way to SF and Sequoia would make all these places no more than a drive through by the time you have spent 3 or 4 days around Yellowstone, which it fully deserves.

    After Reno I would consider heading to the North rim of the Grand canyon by taking a more direct route across the desert. You could get to Springdale UT in one long day which is the gateway town to Zion NP. After heading to the North rim you could turn back north to Bryce canyon and then take scenic UT12/24 through Capitol Reef NP towards Moab, or head through Page to Monument valley and Moab.[Arches/Canyonlands]

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by homescool05 View Post
    We plan on driving about 500 miles per day
    Apart from the point others have made about deliberately taking time to see a bit more rather than just driving through places, my experience of Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon parks was that even though we did just plan to drive through them as a pretty route for getting from SF to Fresno, and then from Fresno to LA (as opposed to visiting the parks as an end in itself), the mountain twists and the business of the roads kept our speed way below what we'd expected. e.g. Google Maps says that SF to Fresno via Curry Village is 282 miles and a (just over) six hour trip; we were probably in the car nearer ten hours that day, and that's without stopping to look around. Maybe we were unusually unlucky with slow-moving RVs, but it was a very slow pace all around there.

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

    Default Not only you.

    Maybe we were unusually unlucky with slow-moving RVs, but it was a very slow pace all around there.
    That has been my experience as well, when I have simply driven through some of the large national parks. Only in Death Valley will you not be held up by slower traffic, but then, if I am not mistaken, it has its own speed limits.

    Lifey

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