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  1. Default Western Parks Road Trip

    Hello.

    I am planning a road trip for next summer. I'll be traveling with three friends. We are (or should I say will be) aged between 19 and 27. We'll be arriving in San Francisco on July 21st and we'll be departing (also from San Francisco) on August 20th. This means we have 31 days to play with.

    We have not interest in spending our time in cities. Actually, the only city we want to see is San Francisco. We'll be in the States for the nature (national parks, state parks, monuments, forests, etc.). I'm hoping you, the experts can give me some advice on different itineraries, stops along the way and stuff like that.

    Here is the list of places we would like to visit:
    - Yosemite
    - Death Valley
    - Zion
    - Vermillion Cliff
    - Glen Canyon
    - Grand Canyon
    - Sedona
    - Monument Valley
    - Natural Bridges
    - Arches
    - Canyonlands
    - Grand Teton
    - Yellowstone
    - Crater Lake
    - Redwoods

    I am at the beginning of the planning process so all of our 31 days are free to use :)

    Thank you in advance.

    p.s. Sequoia NP was also on the list but I decided that it will be better if we drive the Tioga pass and go straight to Death Valley and save the miles for Crater Lake, since there are sequoias in Yosemite and Redwoods. Good choice, bad choice?

    p.s.2 As far as sleeping goes. Camping and nothing else if it's possible.
    Last edited by Pujsek; 12-10-2015 at 05:34 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default a fantastic idea

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You've certainly got the start of what could be a really amazing trip.

    since there are sequoias in Yosemite and Redwoods. Good choice, bad choice?
    Actually, that's not quite true There is a grove of Sequoias within Yosemite, however that area is closed as part of a restoration project and will not reopen until 2017. The Redwoods are also a fantastic area, but coastal redwoods are a different kind of tree than the Giant Sequoias you can only find in the Sierras. You pretty much have to go to Sequoia National Park to see Giant Sequoias. If you want to go to Sequoia, you could look at going from SF to Sequoia, then back north to Yosemite, and then up and over Tioga Pass.

    Otherwise, I will say despite a month being a great amount of time, it will go by faster than you think. Including San Francisco, you listed 16 places you want to visit. You'll also have close to 3,500 miles of driving - which is roughly 7 full days behind the wheel. With most of the places you want to see really needing at least a full day of your time, and some places (especially Yellowstone) really needing a few days, you've already got a full agenda. You might want to sketch out a rough day-by-day plan to make sure you aren't overextending yourself in areas.

    You should also look at making camping reservations in some of the most popular parks - as sites can fill up quickly. While you probably could camp every single day, I usually plan to spend about 1 night a week in a motel, to account for possible bad weather or just wanting a real bed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Thoughts.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Wow, that's quite a trip you have planned ! With the time you have your trip is possible but it will feel pretty busy by the time you add the miles and scenes to enjoy in the parks. Sedona seems a long way out from anything else, especially as you could visit the North rim of the Grand canyon after Zion NP and before Page and Monument valley. When planning you need to consider that places like Yosemite and Zion need at least a couple of days and Yellowstone and the Tetons combined, at least 3 to 4 days. National park lodgings and those nearby can get booked up quickly in the summer months so you would need to book in advance and as early as possible.

    When renting a car you need to be aware that anyone who wishes to drive and is under 25 years of age will face a hefty 'Young driver' fee and anyone under 21 may not be permitted to drive.

    The Mariposa Grove of giant Sequoia's is closed until Spring 2017 for renovation, although there is a hiking trail open which is a strenuous 12 miles and only offers views of a few giant trees. If you decided to go to Sequoia NP then you could consider going there first and then to Yosemite and over Tioga Pass, maybe even drive down the coast around Big Sur first.

  4. Default

    Thank you for a very quick response :) The places I listed are on our wish list which is not yet a must do list. For a must do list I will need a lot more researching and of course some good advice.

    As far as camping goes my plan is to make reservations at as many campgrounds as I can. I am also very fond of camping and usually don't miss my bed for at least a month.

    I read a lot of good things about Rand McNally Road Atlas. Is it really that good and useful?

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Sedona seems a long way out from anything else, especially as you could visit the North rim of the Grand canyon after Zion NP and before Page and Monument valley.
    This counts as one vote against Sedona :)

    I added Sedona because I was fixated on the Southern rim of the Grand canyon and never even considered Northern rim. I really don't know why. Probably because in my first try at making an itinerary we were going to Grand Canyon from Las Vegas and then to Zion. How do they compare? Does it make sense to skip North rim and drive all the way down to the South rim or is this just silly?

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    When renting a car you need to be aware that anyone who wishes to drive and is under 25 years of age will face a hefty 'Young driver' fee and anyone under 21 may not be permitted to drive.
    I am aware of that and we will not be throwing our money to the rental agency :)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    A good Atlas/maps is essential when on the road and good for planning purposes so order asap. You will need to check the nps.gov website for campground info and when the booking windows open and get in there as soon as you can, they book out fast !

    It's important to know that you are on the same page as your mates and that they get involved with the planning , for example, it would only take one not to enjoy camping as much as you and then things can get tense so you need to think of "We" and not "I".

    You can get loads of great info searching around this Site, lots of links at the bottom of the page and searching the forums is a goo way to start, especially places like the Road trip Field reports.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    I added Sedona because I was fixated on the Southern rim of the Grand canyon and never even considered Northern rim. I really don't know why. Probably because in my first try at making an itinerary we were going to Grand Canyon from Las Vegas and then to Zion. How do they compare? Does it make sense to skip North rim and drive all the way down to the South rim or is this just silly?
    Both are great and neither option would be silly. The south rim is more developed and has more viewing points whereas the North rim is quieter and offers less viewpoints, but equally as impressive. As you go about your day to day planning you will start to see what time is available to you and whether Sedona will fit into your plans but I warn you now, the more you research the more you will find ! ;-)

    As you continue with planning just keep asking questions as and when they arise.

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    It's important to know that you are on the same page as your mates and that they get involved with the planning , for example, it would only take one not to enjoy camping as much as you and then things can get tense so you need to think of "We" and not "I".
    Of course. Compatibility is number one concern. That's why the "team" was carefully selected. Every time you see an "I" in my posts you should take it as a "we" :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    but I warn you now, the more you research the more you will find ! ;-)
    That's exactly what I'm afraid of :)

    I have a rough draft of our itinerary but I really don't know enough about driving and road conditions in the States to be able to have a good idea about driving times. I'll post the draft here and I hope you can help me out a bit.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default Figuring drive times

    I really don't know enough about driving and road conditions in the States to be able to have a good idea about driving times.
    A couple of tips about driving times:

    * If traveling interstates, drive no more than 600 miles per day. On US or state highways, do lots less -- perhaps 450.

    * To figure mileage, either add it all up yourself using a paper map, or go to an electronic mapping program (like Mapquest). However, their "driving times" are fantasy, not real world at all. Use their mileage, divide by 55 (interstates) or 50 (other) to get your number of hours on the road. (I.E., 600 mi interstate = about 11 hours; 450 mi other highway = 9 hours).


    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 12-10-2015 at 06:52 AM. Reason: fixed spacing

  10. Default

    Thanks for the tips. I hope I will be able to avoid 600 miles drives. I would be OK with one such day. Maybe two.

    I know the math but I also know that theory is never reality. For example, I have absolutely no idea how congested are certain roads. I can only speculate.

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