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  1. Default Advice for NY to CA road trip

    Hi,

    I am moving from NY/NJ to CA this May 2016. I would like to get some advice on planning the sightseeing part of the trip. I have around 8-9 days for the entire trip(Sat - Sat). I do not have to see anything in either NY or CA(rem i am moving).
    I am traveling with a friend which will help share the driving time, and another friend is planning to join us somewhere in between.

    I am using the roadtrippers website/app for creating the trip, but it can't beat human experience and so am here.
    My current trip plan is available here.

    The major must see for me is the GrandCanyon and Salt Flats, and try to fill in as many sites as possible. I understand that sight seeing takes time and this is probably what i need advice on. I want help on how to arrange the things to see in a best possible manner and what should i avoid from my list to still have a worthy trip.

    Driving wise, i am okay driving 8-12hrs per day(i know driving 8 hrs would become 10 hrs with breaks, i have occasionally driven between NJ to DC and back). I definitely plan to have 8 hrs of sleep and 1 hr for some basic exercise and shower etc. I am not good with camping materials and so plan to stay in motels/hotels every night.

    Let me know what others think.

    Best,
    R

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default You need more time or less miles.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    I think you may be underestimating real world drive times with your planning and if you want time to see the Grand canyon and Salt Flats etc you will need to cut back. You have roughly 9 days of driving for 10 hours a day just to cover the ground and that's before you consider the many miles of slow driving through Yellowstone, which is huge and time visiting Arches and Canyonlands etc, it all takes time. If you are planning to drive from St Louis to Mt Rushmore in a single stretch then you will need to rethink, it's just not safe to do so. I would look at a more direct approach and head through Colorado on I70 and choose between GC or the Salt Flats. GC wins hands down in my opinion, but you have too much going on so you need to find some extra days or cut back.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Go whet your appetite for future trips.

    A 'drive-thru' Yellowstone is a wonderful thing, and will no doubt whet your appetite for return visits.

    Whereas it is a large park, and for those who can only visit it once, will take days to see, I have only visited the park once on a two day visit, and have 'driven through' the park on at least four other trips, always taking a different route.

    So don't be put off if you only have time to 'drive through' the park. In CA you will be close enough to visit it on future holidays.

    This goes for most of the other parks in the west, but I have to agree with Dave, you will have to cut down. You will not have time to visit all those places, not even for a drive through.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 05-01-2016 at 10:38 PM. Reason: multiple typos

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Also, it depends on exactly when in May you will be going - not all the roads in Yellowstone will be open yet:


    April 15: Mammoth to Old Faithful; Madison to West Entrance; Norris to Canyon.
    May 6: Canyon Junction to Lake; Lake to East Entrance (Sylvan Pass).
    May 13: Lake to West Thumb, West Thumb to Old Faithful (Craig Pass), and South Entrance to West Thumb; Tower Junction to Tower Fall.
    May 27: Tower Fall to Canyon Junction (Dunraven Pass); Beartooth Highway

  5. Default

    Thank you Southwest Dave, Lifemagician and glc.

    I understand that i cannot do what i have chosen in the list, but keeping salt flats and GC, what other things you guys think would be better to see on the way?

    Is it better to see some other similar canyons like Zion or Bryce Canyon or to go via SD and see Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone? I do intend to return or visit yellowstone(and almost every other place) after i get married :)

    I do intend to stop at hotels in between, but haven't added them yet.
    So what do you guys suggest, out of the gives places, which ones are worth to see and what is the average time generally people would spend near it?

    R

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Use the scenic routes.

    If this were me, I would keep those two destinations, and for the rest of the trip choose as many scenic (slower) routes as you can manage. For instance, from scenic I-70 taking UT 128 to US191 (with a stop in Moab), then UT 95 and 261 to US 163 will give you a wonderful drive where you sometimes feel you want to stop every mile just to take another photo. Then you can head to the Grand Canyon having had a good taste of what the UT national parks and monuments have to offer.

    Taking your time over a trip like that, and really enjoying it, will make your trip a trip you'll never forget. I certainly have not forgotten mine, though I did that more than a decade ago.

    Scenic routes are highlighted with a dotted line on all good maps, so get them out and check to see where they lead, and when they lead you to where you want to go.

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default

    As I mentioned in my earlier post, I personally would head through Colorado into Southern Utah and to the Grand canyon. The North rim is scheduled to open on May 15th so if your trip is later than this date it could a good choice, although check conditions as this could be delayed with late storms. Considering from Zion you could driver across Death valley and quite possibly over Tioga Pass [again not open yet so you would need to check before committing] through Yosemite, is it not worth considering the Salt Flats when you visit Yellowstone.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    If you really want to keep both the Salt Flats and Grand Canyon in the same trip, then I don't think South Dakota or Yellowstone are realistic options. They just add too many miles to have time to enjoy anything along the way. Even your most recent map, going through Colorado, down to GC, and back up to the Salt Flats puts you at more than 4200 miles, which puts you up at needing 8 days just to cover the miles.

    To hit both of your must sees on your 8-9 day timeline, I think you need to look at heading directly from NJ to the Grand Canyon, via I-70/I-44/I-40, then go back up to the Salt Flats, and continue to SF via I-80. Just doing that is already a 3600 mile drive, so you need a bare minimum of 6-7 days on the road just to cover the miles, so adding in time to see just those 2 locations, you're already pretty limited. Being that Zion and Bryce are right in between the two, you could probably fit in some time at one of them, although trying to get to both would really put you back into a significant time crunch.

    The reality is that GC and the Salt Flats don't work together very well on this trip, because you have to do quite a bit of zig-zagging to get to both. It certainly is possible to see both of them, but you might consider some of the other ideas that have been offered, hitting only one of the two, which will shorten your miles, and give you more time to actually see things along the way.

  9. Default

    Again thanks everyone for your valuable inputs.

    I have removed both Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore.

    One new thing is that i have a friend who wants to join from Denver, CO and will be available from Wed May 11, 2016 night(this is marked as number 12 on my updated map and i am guess that we are there around 11:00 PM night).

    Now lets say i want to do Grand Canyon mainly(how many days/hours do you think i need to see the main thing) and what all can i add on the way. I have planned Arches National Park. Is this feasible?

    R

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default

    Arches is perfect as it's on the way and a lovely place, you also have neighbouring Canyonlands NP. To get there come off I70 onto UT128 through Castle Valley rather than going to 191. It's a scenic detour following the Colorado river through red canyon walls in part, and it hardly adds any time to the journey. You could drive down through Monument valley on US163 to the South rim or you could take UT24 and scenic 12 through Capitol Reef to Bryce canyon. I would recommend at least a full day at the Grand canyon, meaning 2 nights nearby.

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