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  1. #1

    Default Tips for Visitors to the American Southwest

    These tips and rules apply for all parts of the country, but are especially useful for those states in the western sunbelt: California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, West Texas and much of Colorado.

    1. If you are renting a vehicle, some of your party will not be able to drive the rental car due to age restrictions. If two are over 21, they will be the drivers. If only one is of age, that one will be the only one driving the rental. Rental agencies in some states charge extra for extra drivers, too, so take that into consideration.

    2. Anyone not driving has other duties to perform. You need a navigator, or map reader and a journalist. That's right, someone should write a trip journal for every day and every site visited. It can be done on a tablet or iPad, but otherwise that person should have a notebook and pen.

    3. Make rest stops every hour or so, and rotate seats so that everyone gets to sit in the front passenger seat at least twice each day. The view is better from that position.

    4. The first stop after getting the rental vehicle is at a Walmart, Target or any superstore with food, clothing and appliances. Purchase these items:
    Medium Plastic cooler
    Bottled water - 24 pack or larger
    Ice (you will need to replenish as necessary)
    Billed or brimmed hats for shade (Always wear it outside vehicle)
    Sunscreen and insect repellent (Use both when hiking)
    Sunglasses, if you don't have them
    Flashlight with extra batteries (Useful if camping, or in dark areas like caves)
    Inexpensive cell phone with usable minutes
    First aid kit (available in the automotive department)
    GPS unit (some are less than $100. Get it programmed at the store, if necessary)

    5. If you haven't purchased a National Parks Pass, get one at the first NPS Visitor Center you visit. Only one per vehicle is needed, and present it whenever there is an entry fee. You never know when it might work to waive the fee.

    6. Some state parks allow multiple entry to all parks with a weekly pass that you can purchase at the first park you visit. Always ask about it.

    7. You should have a road atlas and individual state maps for each state you will visit. If you don't have them, state maps are free at the first rest area/welcome center in each state.
    A Rand McNally Road Atlas can be purchased in advance from this website.

    8. Use water liberally. Take it with you whenever you hike, and drink at least 2-3 bottles each day. Don't allow yourself to get dehydrated.

    9. Stay on the marked trail at all times, and don't be tempted to go out on ledges or cliffs without railings. Many people die in our national parks every year due to carelessness and ignorance of park rules. Falls are a major reason, but confrontation with wildlife, especially rattlesnakes, is another cause.

    10. Don't overdo it. Know your limits and don't attempt anything you are not qualified or comfortable with. Rock climbing and other strenuous activities are for professionals.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 12-18-2015 at 07:15 PM. Reason: added some line breaks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    1. There is an exception, which is Fox. They allow 19 year olds to rent and drive. There are geographic restrictions, and a credit (not debit) card must be used to rent the car.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default Young drivers.

    Another thing often overlooked during the planning/budgeting stages is that anyone driving under the age of 25 years is more than likely to face a hefty 'Young drivers fee' added to their bill.

    If you haven't purchased a National Parks Pass, get one at the first NPS Visitor Center you visit. Only one per vehicle is needed, and present it whenever there is an entry fee. You never know when it might work to waive the fee.
    The annual pass will generally work for anyone planning to visit 4 National parks [or more] within a year, so it might not be best value for everyone. For example, an overseas visitor who only wishes to visit 2 or 3 National parks/Lands during their visit would be better off buying an individual entry fee.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Another thing often overlooked during the planning/budgeting stages is that anyone driving under the age of 25 years is more than likely to face a hefty 'Young drivers fee' added to their bill.
    It is my understanding that California does not allow rental car companies to charge fees for extra drivers, but your point is valid for most other states.

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    The annual pass will generally work for anyone planning to visit 4 National parks [or more] within a year, so it might not be best value for everyone. For example, an overseas visitor who only wishes to visit 2 or 3 National parks/Lands during their visit would be better off buying an individual entry fee.
    I cannot imagine anyone traveling the American Southwest not visiting at least 4 national parks. There are over a dozen within the Grand Circle, a 300-mile radius from The Four Corners.
    Last edited by Harry Kline; 12-19-2015 at 07:12 AM. Reason: Change quote/response fields

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    The annual pass will generally work for anyone planning to visit 4 National parks [or more] within a year, so it might not be best value for everyone. For example, an overseas visitor who only wishes to visit 2 or 3 National parks/Lands during their visit would be better off buying an individual entry fee.
    One benefit of the annual pass ($80) is that it covers four people in the vehicle, a savings over paying individual admission fees (sometimes $30 each) for even a couple going to more than one national park.
    Last edited by landmariner; 12-19-2015 at 09:56 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Kline View Post
    It is my understanding that California does not allow rental car companies to charge fees for extra drivers, but your point is valid for most other states
    True. Here is Fox's policy for LAX:

    Additional drivers must meet all qualifications as the primary driver in regards to age and license requirements. Additional drivers are not permitted when using a debit card or cash as payment at the time of rental.

    Minimum age for renters and drivers is 19. Minimum age for renters and drivers on government orders is 18. Renters and drivers under the age of 25 are subject to an underage charge of USD/15.00 per day.

    VEHICLE RENTALS ORIGINATING IN THE STATES OF ARIZONA, CALIFORNIA, COLORADO, NEVADA, UTAH AND WASHINGTON can only be driven within the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

    FOX vehicle may be driven into Mexico, but only if you have purchased Mexico insurance.

    Customers may drive a FOX vehicle into Canada, but only if the vehicle was rented from the FOX Seattle location.

    I was incorrect about the credit card restriction - that applies to the additional driver policy, not the underage policy.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by landmariner View Post
    One benefit of the annual pass ($80) is that it covers four people in the vehicle, a savings over paying individual admission fees (sometimes $30 each) for even a couple going to more than one national park.
    That's really not true, because nearly every National Park's admission policy covers everyone in a vehicle, even if you are only purchasing the short term park admission. The parks that charge per person are typically places more like historic sites where you don't generally tour them by car - and I don't know of any that come close to charging $30 per person.

    I will say the potential savings of the National Parks pass is going up and/or it requires fewer park visits to make it worthwhile. It used to be you had to visit at least 4 or more parks to break even on the $80 parks pass, as even the most expensive parks like the Grand Canyon only charged $25. However, in 2015, many National Parks increased that fee. The Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce Canyon all went from $25 to 30, and Arches and Canyonlands went from $10 to $25. Frankly, getting an entire car full of people into these natural wonders is still a huge bargain at that price, but it does mean the $80 parks pass can be a deal for anyone planning to see as few as 3 parks now.

    Of course, the National Parks website clearly lays out the fees for each park on its website, so it's easy to tell where the parks pass will be valid and how much it could potentially save you.

  8. #8

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    Midwest, you are correct about charging by vehicle instead of by persons in a vehicle. It was long ago that I was charged for vevicle plus per person. Seems like $30 is becoming the norm. A 7-day pass for Yellowstone and Grand Teton is now $50. It adds up quickly!

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