Hi, this is our first post to this site. I have read over a few posts, nothing I've found completely fits what we are potentially planning. We are a somewhat adventurous (like short hikes, off the beaten path sights, amazing beauty, wildlife) east coast (dc) family of five. Our 3 children will be 11/14/17 when we have our trip. We have been to Yellowstone and Acadia as a family, as well as Shenandoah, Smoky Mountains, and Everglades without the kids. We are working on planning this trip as a last major family trip before our oldest goes off to college. We camp sometimes closer to home, but prefer lodging when we are farther from home. We have created a REALLY ROUGH possible itinerary. Our kids don't mind being in the car for extended periods of time, we have been on some east coast road trips that have included 10-12 hours as part of the trip. (although...the youngest is ADHD and can sometimes drive us crazy, so maybe not TOO many 10-12 hour stints in the car)
We have about 3 weeks in July 2017 to take this trip. We are thinking about this:
Fly into Denver (4-5 hour flight), rent a minivan, drive to Alamosa, Co, sleep.
Day 1:wake up early, visit Great Sand Dunes, drive on to Durango/Mesa Verde--depending on arrival, sleep or visit MVNP.
Day 2:Visit MVNP in the morning if not the afternoon before. Drive to Grand Canyon North Rim (we are actually only including this bc we are close) stay at north rim lodge
Day 3:See North Rim, drive to Bryce canyon or Zion National park, stay nearby
Day 4: see Zion or Bryce?, stay same place
Day 5: Drive to Seqouia NP, (or somewhere nearish for lodging) sleep (we'd LOVE to break this drive up, but not necessarily thrilled about Las vegas)
Day 6: visit Seqouia NP (sleep in same place)
Day 7: Drive to Yosemite (visit a little, then sleep)
Day 8: visit Yosemite (sleep in same place)
Day 9: Either: visit Yosemite for 1/2 more day or drive to Big Sur in the morning (sleep at Big Sur)
Day 10: visit Big Sur, drive Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco, sleep somewhere north of San francisco
Day 11: Maybe drive to Redding and see Mt shasta? or go straight Crater Lake National park, sleep there
Day 12: Visit or drive to Crater Lake, sleep near Crater Lake
Day 13: Drive to Mt. St. Helens, sleep near there
Day 14: visit Mt St Helens, sleep in same place
Day 15: Drive to Mt Ranier, visit, then sleep there
Day 16: LONG drive to Glacier NP Sleep there
Day 17: Visit Glacier, sleep in same place
Day 18: GNP, sleep in same place
Day 19: GNP, sleep in same place
Day 20: GNP, sleep in same place
Day 21: drive to kalispell or missoula, drop off rental car and fly home
We know it's a little rushed, our purpose is really to give the kids (and ourselves) a taste of the variety of the scenery in the western half of the country. I know it would be a way better trip with more days in each park! But we are going for variety...that being said, if it seems completely undoable, or if you see something we may just as well leave out, please let us know. Or if there is something we should add, or something we should do instead. Also, Denver was kind of random--plane tickets were affordable, and seemed as good a place as any to start.
Our must sees are: Glacier, Redwoods/yosemite, some coastline--the rest are places we want to see, but are somewhat negotiable.
Thanks in advance for any advice!!