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  1. Default Los Angeles to Denver Solo Road Trip

    Hello all :)

    I am planning to do a one-way road trip from Los Angeles to Denver area mid August. I will be doing this trip alone which is why I only want to drive one way and then fly back. The main reason for the trip is to visit the University of Colorado-Boulder and Colorado State University. I'm in need of a long solo trip so flying round trip doesn't really interest me. I have an idea of what I'd like to do but need help planning so all suggestions will be appreciated. Since I can't take more than 5-6 days off of work, I plan to rent a car on a Friday morning and take the Utah scenic route. I want to stop and visit a few national parks, Zion for sure and not sure of the others (to be determined). I'd like to arrive at Boulder by Monday to check out the town and school. I'd stay the night there and then head to Ft Collins the following day. So ideally I'd like my trip to be start Friday and End Tues night. Is that feasible? Kayak.com has rental rates for about $300 which isn't bad at al considering I'd be dropping off at a different location. The flight back averages about $70. I'm considering couch surfing as well. Any thoughts on all this? I feel like I have a solid outline but the nitty gritty details are overwhelming.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you do have a solid start to your plan, although I would really caution you to make sure you're getting the full picture on the car rental costs. The biggest issue is that if you're under 25, you're going to have an additional underage fee, and if you're under 21, almost no rental car companies will allow you to rent a car at all. You'll have to go beyond just looking at a search result from a site like Kayak, and get into the actual booking process to read the requirements for the rental. For that matter, make sure the 1 way fee is actually included in the price, as if that is also an additional fee, it might not show up as part of the search.

    Without stops for exploration, you'd need 2 days to make the drive from LA to Boulder. If Zion is a priority, I would probably only pick 1 or at most 2 other parks to do a little exploring in along the way - depending in part how early on Monday you want to get to Boulder.

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

    Default Not always that simple.

    Quote Originally Posted by aprilthegreat View Post
    I'm considering couch surfing as well. Any thoughts on all this?
    Are you already a member? Have you been verified? Do you have references to show your past activity? If not, I'd get onto it, but you have left yourself very little time. Few hosts will accept a guest who has not been verified, just as you should always choose to stay with a host who has been verified. These things are relatively easy to to achieve, but they do take time.

    Be sure to reward your host in some way - either with a modest gift or souvenir from your home town or help do the dishes, cook a meal, etc. It's a lovely way to meet others when travelling, but many hosts do not want someone to use it purely as a free bed. They like to spend time with their guest and get to know them.

    Good luck.

    Lifey

  4. Default

    Lucky for me, I'm 26 years old...a little late in the game. Fees shouldn't be too much of an issue. If I skip out on Zion, would that leave a little more time for exploring elsewhere? I am more than willing to compromise for the best experience possible. I'd like to get to Boulder around 9am.

  5. Default

    Member yes, as of today lol. My friend told me about it and I just checked it out. If I don't have time for all the verification stuff then it's okay. I really am just looking for a place to crash and hostels kind of scare me (not sure why). This trip is very last minute due to dropping a summer class unexpectedly so I'm just doing the best I can with the time and resources I have. :)

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

    Default

    You certainly shouldn't skip Zion if that's a place you really want to go. The only best possible experience is one that takes you to the places you want to go most. Being that you want to be at Boulder pretty much first thing in the morning, you've basically got 3 days to make a 2 day trip. That leaves you roughly a full day to explore. As with most National Parks, you should really give yourself at least a half day to explore. So if you did, say a half day in Zion, and then a half day in Arches, you'd have a pretty full trip already. If you make good time, or get up early on Monday, perhap you can do a quick tour of Rocky Mountain NP too.

    And certainly, there are several other great parks and places along the way - those are just some examples.

  7. Default

    Awesome. Thank you so much. I feel much better now that I know I have some room to play. :)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Scenic drives.

    You have a little wiggle room, but not much. If you get out of LA early and try and find a place to stay in Springdale UT, you might have time to take the shuttle bus into Zion canyon that afternoon/evening. The following day I would look at a scenic drive which would be to head out of Zion through the Mt Carmel tunnel and take US89 to UT scenic 12 to UT24. This is a fabulous drive where you could stop briefly at Bryce canyon Ampitheatre and admire the view, but if on a budget remember you will have to pay an entry fee unless you already own an NPS pass. Before Bryce there is Red Rock canyon and just after is the Mossy cave trail which are both nice little spots to stretch and enjoy the rock formations. On UT24 you will drive through parts of Capitol Reef NP that do not require entry fees and again is a nice area to stop. The whole drive is wonderful but slower going than Interstate. A full day on the road with brief stops and you could make it to Moab and then from Moab to Boulder. If you head to Moab you could make an early morning visit to Arches [entry fee] before leaving and then head up UT128 to I70 rather than 191. Another scenic detour through Red rock alongside the river, but this one doesn't eat up time. One more ! Take US6 at Silverthorne on I70 to Dillon and drive over the Continental divide at almost 12000ft on Loveland pass, great views for a 30 min detour. Enjoy !

  9. #9

    Default

    You've gotten a lot of good advice, so far, but I would concentrate on the Utah parks and leave those in Colorado for a future time, since you're probably going to be living there for a few years.

    I agree with SW Dave's routing, and he even gave a hint that I used a few years ago to get in a hike near Bryce Canyon without spending too much time - Mossy Cave is a nice hike with good hoo-doos and a small waterfall. It isn't in the park but is along UT-12 just east of the Bryce Canyon entrance. It shouldn't take you more than an hour to do it, but if you decide you must see Bryce Canyon itself, drive all the way down to Sunset Point at the southern end and then all stops along the way back are right turns, much easier and safer.

    Zion Canyon, which comes before Bryce, has several hikes, but you have to take the shuttle from Springdale to get to them. That will take some time, but the canyon is worth it. You might have to make a choice between Zion and Bryce due to the time limits, though.

    Dave's route also takes you through Escalante/Grand Staircase, which also has great scenery, so you are in for a treat no matter how you plan your three days to Boulder.

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

    Default Hostels.

    Quote Originally Posted by aprilthegreat View Post
    ..... and hostels kind of scare me (not sure why).
    As one who has used hostels extensively in North America, it puzzles me why they scare you. Read the comments about the hostels on a reliable hostel site, and follow a few simple rules.

    *Never stay in a hostel which allows sleeping bags. These are the prime cause of bed bug infestations.
    *Make sure that the hostel has a locker for every bed, which you lock with your own padlock. Bring a medium sized padlock. (Don't use lockers where you have to pay to get the key - management has access to them.)
    *Always wear footwear in the shower. (that goes for campgrounds and hotels as well.)

    Good hostels are a joy to stay at and an opportunity to meet other travellers. They have facilities to make your own meals, and many have tea and coffee on tap 24hrs.

    The Lazy Lizard in Moab left me with great memories when I stayed there in 2001. The hostel in Glenwood Springs is one I would not recommend, but of course it may have improved since 2001. There is a really nice one in Boulder. There are several great hostels in Denver.

    I know there are some which are not desirable, but if I had allowed the first hostel at which I stayed to cloud my decisions, I would never have enjoyed the many other great hostels along the way. And I would have blown out my budget on the road.

    Lifey

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