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  1. Default 3-4 weeks Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Vegas, SF and LA


    I am planning a roadtrip next year in September for a duration of 22-25 days for my family of 4. We will be flying in from Denmark, Europe.

    The main locations we want to visit are:
    Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Vegas, SF and LA with Yellowstone being the place we expect to spend the most time.

    The rough plan is to:
    Land in Salt Lake City and lent a car.
    Drive to Yellowstone and spent several days there.
    Drive to Grand Canyon stopping overnight 1-2 places inbetween and then be at Grand Canyon for a couple of days.
    Drive to Vegas stopping overnight 1-2 places inbetween and then be in Vegas for a couple of days.
    Drive to S.F. stopping overnight 1-2 places inbetween and then be in S.F. for a couple of days.
    Drive to L.A. stopping overnight 1-2 places inbetween and then be in L.A. for a couple of days.
    Drop off the car and fly home.

    I am looking for ideas on places that I should consider for the nights inbetween the main destinations on my list as well as routes to take. I prefer not to drive longer distances than 6 hours worth of driving each day but I could go with a few longer days.

    Comments both on the route I picked as well as on the choice of planner tool are most welcome as I am very much a rookie at this - and I wouldnt mind impressing (and maybe suprising) my wife with a great looking plan :)

    Jan Sorensen
    Last edited by AZBuck; 09-23-2015 at 07:55 AM. Reason: Inoperative link removed

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Close the Loop?

    Velkommen! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The first thing I noticed about your proposed trip is that there's a fair bit of backtracking, from SLC up to Yellowstone and then back the same way to get to the Grand Canyon, then north through California to get to San Francisco before heading south to Los Angeles. A more efficient use of your time, and possibly a cheaper alternative as well, would be to do a loop trip starting from your port of entry and returning to the same city for your flight home. Another advantage of a closed loop RoadTrip is that it doesn't matter where that port of entry is since any point on the loop can serve as the start/end.

    So let's look at a possible loop that includes all your listed destinations, but begins in San Francisco. From there, you'd head down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH/CA-1) to the L.A. area and then up I-15 to Las Vegas. After Vegas, US-93 south and I-40 east to Williams AZ brings you to AZ-64 which will take you up and through Grand Canyon National Park along the South Rim Road with multiple viewpoints. Leaving the Canyon, you'd take US-89 north past Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks to I-15 north through Salt Lake City. Next up US-89 is a nice scenic route into Yellowstone from the south. Leaving Yellowstone to the west on US-20 and I-15 south takes you to I-86/I-84 west to Twin Falls ID. From there US-93 south to Wells NV would put you on I-80 west through or near Reno, Lake Tahoe, and Sacramento before bringing you back to San Francisco.

    Now, I've described the route going counter- (or anti-) clockwise, but you could do it in either direction. Doing it this way has the single advantage that it puts the Pacific Ocean on 'your' side of the highway as you drive along it, making getting on and off the highway at various pull-outs that much easier. Also note the number of possible 'gateway' cities available to you. Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. Even Phoenix is not out of the question. Often a simple round-trip airfare is less than an 'open jaw' ticket where you fly into one city and out of a different one. And the car rental should also be cheaper since you won't have to pay a one-way drop off fee for returning it to someplace other than where you picked it up. You can also choose your gateway on the combined price of airfare/car rental rather than picking the cheaper of one and getting stuck with whatever the other is.

    Note that besides your stated objectives, there are a number of other great natural sites along this route, only a few of which I mentioned above. And for all the advantages of closing the loop, the entire route is only a few hundred miles longer than your original proposal. One other thing is worth mentioning. The distances in America are quite long compared to what you might be used to in Europe. The roads are better, especially the non-Interstate (non-motorway) roads, but still if you are going to limit your driving to around six hours a day, you would need to budget a full three days to get between the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone (for example), since about 350 miles is as much as you can count on driving in such a time span.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Planning well ahead.

    Since this trip is still a year away, you would do well to get hold of some good detailed maps. If these are not available locally, I'd suggest you purchase a Rand McNally road atlas from the RTA store via the link at the bottom of this page. You will see the attractions along the way on these maps, as well as the various routes you can take, with the scenic routes hilighted. If you order it now, you will have it in a couple of weeks.

    Your research on the in between places will decide where you'd like to overnight.

    If you would like to stay within some of the great national parks you will be visiting, then as soon as you have your dates fixed, get onto the booking site and book accommodation. The accommodation within national parks is much sought after, especially Yellowstone, and booked up many months ahead, even in September.


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