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  1. Default First Family Road Trip. Starting Yosemite & Ending in Yellowstone.would love feedback

    I have been working on our 3 week trip out west. My husband and I will be traveling in a rented minivan with our 2 kids, ages 9 and 11. I was hoping to get some feedback and comments about the following itinerary. In addition, we would love any tips or recommendations you would be so kind to share. Thanks so much!

    Day 1. Monday June 20th. Arrive Oakland. Drive to Oakdale, CA stay the night in a hotel.
    Day 2. Tuesday June 21.One night in Yosemite Tuolumne Meadows
    Day 3. Wednesday June 22. Hike around Yosemite Tuolumne Meadows and drive down to Yosemite Valley to check into Half Dome Village (glamping) where we stay rest of time in Yosemite.
    Day 4. Thursday June 23 Yosemite
    Day 5. Friday June 24. Yosemite
    Day 6. Saturday June 25. Check out early and drive to Sequoia (stay in park)
    Day 7. Sunday June 26. Enjoy Sequoia for entire day and leave around dinner to drive to Ridgecrest, CA. Stay night at Ridgecrest, CA
    Day 8. Monday June 27 Drive from Ridgecrest (leave early) through Death Valley through Red Rocks Canyon to check into hotel in Vegas (we will be staying at time share in Vegas and just taking one road trip to Grand Canyon…here we can do laundry and relax a bit)
    Day 9 Tuesday June 28. Relax in Vegas by pool. Go see Cirque du Soleil at 7
    Day 10. Wednesday June 29. Get up early drive to Hoover Dam, take tour of dam and river canyon cruise. Then drive to Grand Canyon and stay over at Bright Angel Lodge
    Day 11. Thursday. June 30. Spend day at Grand Canyon then drive back later in day to hotel in Vegas.
    Day 12. Friday. July 1. Relax at hotel in Vegas
    Day 13. Saturday, July 2. Check out of time share midday and drive to Zion National Park; stay at hotel in Zion
    Day 14. Sunday, July 3. Enjoy Zion National Park
    Day 15. Monday, July 4. Morning at Zion then drive to Salt Lake City to stay over night.
    Day 16. Tuesday, July 5. Drive to Grand Teton and explore; then check into Canyon Lodge at Yellowstone.
    Day 17. Wednesday, July 6 Yellowstone
    Day 18. Thursday, July 7. Yellowstone
    Day 19. Friday, July 8. Yellowstone
    Day 20 Saturday, July 9. Wake up early and drive to Salt Lake City airport to fly home

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    Congratulations on doing some good planning and research. Nothing really jumps out at me as being too overly planned, it all sounds pretty relaxed.

    Fourth of July you have reservations in Zion or in Springdale yet? If not, time to start making some phone calls or online reservations! Same with Bright Angel Lodge if you haven't gotten reservations yet.

    What time is your flight out of Salt Lake City? That's the only "if" I see, and that's hoping you get from Yellowstone to SLC without any glitches. That's going to be a 7-8 hour trip, as you will take awhile to get from Canyon Lodge to I-15. So "early" is going to be just that, and then you'll have to be aware while on the road out of Yellowstone - wildlife is often out early and will create an "animal jam" even that early in the morning!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Since you will be so close.

    Yeah, looks like a great trip. You might also be interested in seeing the Earthquake Lake Geological Area since you will be so close. There is an interesting self drive tour, with short walks to the various sites, where you can still see the broken road and the cabins. A story that is bound to interest the children as well.

    Each national park has the junior ranger program. Be sure to sign the children up for it. You will all learn a lot about the park, and on completion the children will earn some souvenirs to take home. (For show and tell at school.)

    You might also like to encourage the children to keep a journal of the trip. At the end of each day, get them to note down in a small book, the most interesting parts of the day. It can include scraps from activities, such as stubs from tickets and souvenirs from the junior ranger program. Photos can be added later. Great to look back on, in years to come. Of course this works best if you keep a record of the trip as well.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Possible tweaks.

    Agreed, you have an amazing trip lined up, but here's a couple of thoughts.

    I would consider heading to Sequoia NP and then Yosemite and then to Tuolumne Meadows and then continue over Tioga Pass and down US395 and across Death valley. It's only slightly shorter and quicker, but a nicer drive in my opinion.

    I wouldn't back track to Vegas from GC, I would just enjoy my days in Vegas and then after the Grand canyon head up through Page AZ to Zion NP via the Mt Carmel tunnel. No back tracking and a much more scenic drive and probably less time.

    I would leave Zion around midday and drive all the way to Jackson WY. Not only would it save time going in and out of SLC traffic, you would be much closer to the Tetons. You could then decide whether you wanted to leave for SLC half a day early to see parts of it, or have the security in knowing you are there for your flight the following day.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    The only problematic thing I see that hasn't been mentioned is your plan to go from Yosemite to Ridgecrest via Sequoia in one day. That's probably too much, especially with your thought to go from Sequoia to Ridgecrest (a solid 4 hour drive) after dinner.

    As Dave mentioned, I would also recommend going to Sequoia before Yosemite, if possible, but if you are going to keep with this routing, I would probably leave Yosemite a day earlier and head to Sequoia so you can actually spend a full day there before continuing towards DV.

    I also agree that it doesn't make sense to double back to Vegas after the Grand Canyon - it is much shorter, and more scenic just to drive from GC to Zion.

    And, like Donna, I would also have concerns about getting from Yellowstone to SLC on the same day as your flight, especially when you say you plan to "wake up early" for it. Unless your flight is very late in the day, I think I would want to be closer to SLC to make sure you didn't have any issues getting to the airport on time.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    The only problematic thing I see that hasn't been mentioned is your plan to go from Yosemite to Ridgecrest via Sequoia in one day.
    Michael. The plan is to drive to Sequoia on the Saturday and explore Sunday. However I agree that you don't want to leave it until dinner time before departing.

  7. Default

    Thanks for all of your help! I was wondering what is the best route from Ridgecrest through Death Valley to Vegas to see the most by car. What are the main highlights we should see? We are planning to leave Ridgecrest first thing in the morning and hope to get to Vegas in the early evening.

    Thanks again!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default This time you can have it all.

    If possible pick up some information leaflets as you enter the park, they will have all the highlights on them. But even so, you can see all the main attractions, and the amazing landscape from the sealed roads. Just don't drive anywhere off the pavement. The visitor centre is a very interesting place to visit and the rangers there are most knowledgeable.

    If you get there early in the morning and do not need to be in LV till evening, you will have ample time to cover all the paved roads and see all the attractions. Make sure you all have hats, ample sunscreen and lots of bottled water. When I drove through DV in early May one year, I left the engine and airconditioning running while I was out of the car for brief periods. It only takes moments for the car to become unbelievably hot.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    There are no entrance kiosks on the west side of Death Valley, and the closest visitors center is at Furnace Creek. You will need to research the park on the web at the NPS site before you go. The site will have everything that you will need to plan your visit, electronically. If you wish to speak with a ranger, stop at Furnace Creek.

    I'd recommend you take the Trona Wildrose Road and Panamint Valley Road into the park from Ridgecrest.

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