Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. Default Need help finalizing Spring / early Summer roadtrip

    Hi everyone!

    Given that this is my first post here, first of all my apologies if I missed any of the etiquette of this forum! I read through some threads before posting, so hopefully I have the general idea right.

    Background and current plan:
    I am 22 years old and will be travelling from Europe to the USA in the first week of May. In Las Vegas, I have rented a van for 48 nights which means I have to return to Las Vegas in the second to last week of June. The current (and most likely) plan is to travel solo. I have done previous roadtrips, including some solo ones, though none of them as long as the one I am currently planning. Concerning the van: it is similar to the vans that can be rented from Escape and includes a bed but no toilet. The main idea is to explore California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. I already did some planning have a good idea of which places I want to visit. However, I am not yet sure which order I should drive, which is why I am seeking advice here.

    Here are the two routes I am currently considering:

    Route 1: Death Valley - Yosemite - Lake Tahoe (only if the Tioga pass is open by that time) - San Francisco - Highway 1 - Los Angeles - Joshua Tree - Grand Canyon - Antelope Canyon - Monument Valley - Natural Bridges National Monument - Canyonlands - Arches - Capitol Reef - Grand Staircase Escalante - Bryce - Zion - Valley of Fire.

    Advantages and disadvantages:
    + The highlights of the trip (for me) are well divided across the trip with most of them being towards the end of the trip. This might make it less likely that I will get bored after being on the road for so long.
    + The route follows a more logical order than route 2.
    - The temperature might be (relatively) low in California early May, while it will be a lot warmer in parks such as Capitol Reef, Arches and Zion during the middle / end of June. The first is not an issue, the latter might be. Being a big fan of hiking, I fear the temperature may be too high to do longer hikes (4+ hours) while visiting those parks. I have previously asked family members who have done a similar trip and although they said I should be fine, I would like to have a second opinion on this. I would consider temperatures around 90F or 31C still acceptable if I take sufficient precautions, but feel free to comment on this.

    Route 2: (Death Valley) - Valley of Fire - Zion - Bryce - Grand Staircase Escalante - Capitol Reef - Arches - Canyonlands - Natural Bridges - Monument Valley - Antelope Canyon - Grand Canyon - Joshua Tree - Los Angeles - Highway 1 - San Francisco - Yosemite - (Sequoia?).

    Advantages and disadvantages:
    + The weather will likely be more temperate (relatively speaking) for the Utah part of my trip, allowing longer / safer hiking.
    - If I want to go to Death Valley, it has to be at the start of my trip due to restrictions from the rental company. However, this also means I have to drive back a bit.
    - More highlights early during my trip.

    I suppose it mostly comes down on a combination of the weather and the risk of getting bored towards the end of the trip. Therefore, I would like to ask your opinions on those matters in particular (i.e. will it be too warm to hike responsibly in some of the parks if I take route 1, and what route would you recommend?). However, feel free to comment on other parts of my trip as well, such as adding / removing destinations and practical matters. Any advice is most welcome!

    I can provide slightly more detailed information on request if necessary. Simply let me know if this is the case.

    Thank you in advance for your help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Figure 8

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think I would do a modified version of plan #2.

    The reasoning is mostly based on weather. In early May, Tioga Pass will certainly be closed, so going there first eliminates your ability to enjoy it, and just in general California is going to be cooler than Utah, so it makes sense to go there a little later.

    But I would switch things up a little bit so you end up doing more of a figure 8. After driving through Utah and the Grand Canyon, head back through Vegas to Death Valley, then go over Tioga Pass to Yosemite and onto SF, then down the coast to LA and back to Vegas to end your trip.

    This is thinking that you'd still be able to get to DV before your rental restriction kicks in, yet it might be late enough for Tioga to be open. It would also have you heading south along the coast, making it easier to enjoy the pullouts and overlooks. If Tioga is still closed at that point, then head from DV up to Tahoe and cross there. (Either way, if you want to do Tahoe, you should do it between Yosemite and DV so you don't have to backtrack over the Sierra's multiple times)

  3. Default

    Hey Michael, thanks for your advice!

    Unfortunately the restrictions kick in fairly early, which means I more or less have to visit DV first or not at all. It's still fairly close to Las Vegas though, so I suppose it's doable to go there and then drive back.

    The figure 8 is a good idea, though also with a downside. It means the drive from the Grand Canyon to Yosemite will cost me about 12 hours (or 14 if I still include Joshua Tree), without seeing anything in between. I'm not sure that's what I want. I was thinking though: maybe I can visit the Grand Canyon first, then complete the Utah loop and continue onwards to Yosemite? I am not sure, but I think that would shorten the distances slightly, without altering too much. It would also allow me to drive Highway 1 southbound, which I suppose is preferable.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Death Valley can be done as a day trip from LV - it's just over 2 hours each way if you use the "locals route" - NV-160 to Pahrump, Bell Vista Avenue to CA-127, then CA-190 into the park.

    To get from Utah to Yosemite, you pretty much have to go back through LV unless you take UT-56/NV-319/US-93/NV-375/US-6/CA-120. This is a pretty desolate route with minimal services, but it does take you on the "ET Highway", stop at the Lil Ale Inn in Rachel for some Area 51 memorabilia. There is NO FUEL between Ash Springs and Tonopah. There's a free RV park at Miller's Rest near Tonopah, you are allowed to park for up to 18 hours.

  5. Default

    Hi glc, thanks for the reply!

    Given the service level, I would prefer to pass LV before going to Utah, instead of taking the route you described. In that case, would it be best to take the 95 (UT-95?) from LV up to Tonopah and then into Yosemite? Is there more service on this route than the one you described?

    Also, I was wondering about the level of service on the other roads I will be driving? I think the majority will be fine given that there will be plenty of tourists on the road. The only part that might be an issue is from Arches down to Capitol Reef and Grand Staircase Escalante (i.e. UT-24 southbound from Green River to Torrey and then again south to Escalante over UT-12). Do you know if this part has plenty of service available?

    Your advice is greatly appreciated!

    P.S. Thanks for the tip concerning the RV park! I was not previously aware of it and it might come in very helpful if I will be around those parts.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you are going from LV to Yosemite and cannot go through DV, then US-95/US-6 through Tonopah/CA-120 is the most efficient. There should be a few services between LV and Tonopah. Fill your tank in Tonopah, gas is at least $1 a gallon higher in CA.

    There is fuel in Green River, Hanksville, Torrey, and Escalante.

  7. Default

    Thanks again glc!

    Just one more question remaining: the differences in the gas prices, are they due to differences in state taxes? And if so, which state will generally be the cheapest out of Utah, Arizona, California and Nevada?

    Once again thanks for your help. I haven't reacehed a final decision yet, but I feel much better prepared after my post here.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    California is the most expensive due to both taxes and environmental regulations.

    Use the Gas Buddy map to research gas prices. If you zoom in far enough, you will see exact prices at exact stations.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    When my husband and I travel over to visit my parents in Arizona, we always wait until we cross into Arizona before we fill our fuel tanks. It can be anywhere from 30c to 60c gallon LESS over in Arizona, vs our area of Southern California.

    Nevada isn't a whole lot cheaper than California, or at least, not the southern Las Vegas area of Nevada.

    Use Gas Buddy -- the app, if you have a smartphone, or the website. It's the best app on our phone when we travel!


  10. Default

    Hi Donna and glc,

    Once again thanks for the advice! I hadn't heard of Gas Buddy yet, though I don't believe we have something similar in Europe. I'll make sure to check it out though!

Similar Threads

  1. Chicago to San Diego - late spring or early summer
    By MilOst in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 01-28-2015, 08:47 AM
  2. Need Help Planning a Spring Break Road Trip
    By djorda33 in forum Spring RoadTrips
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 01-14-2012, 02:06 PM
  3. Spring Break 09, WI to ...? (we need some help)
    By jamer_890 in forum Spring RoadTrips
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 01-06-2009, 10:54 AM
  4. Roadtrip in RV from NY to CA summer 2008.. need help!
    By jonathanlee734 in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 09-27-2007, 02:12 PM
  5. Need help with planning a roadtrip for next summer
    By shmilcus in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 08-27-2006, 09:25 AM

Tags for this Thread


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name