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  1. Default Is this itinerary for my first roadtrip Southwest USA doable or NOT ?

    Dear forum users,

    Next year in July Iím planning a trip to the Southwest of the Unites States.
    I have already mapped out an itinerary but since Iíve never been to the States I could really use some help/tips. I would really appreciate it if you could tell me if this itinerary is doable or not at all. Suggestions would be a great help. Thanks a lot!!!

    Type of trip:
    -In July
    -Itís our first time to the USA.
    -We prefer nature over the city.
    -We are fit but we are not used to hiking a lot.
    -I also suffer from mild fear of heights. Because of that we are not planning on doing strenuous hikes.
    -I do realize that the pace of this itinerary is pretty high (we are quite good at getting up early :-)).
    -We hope to have a good taste of the West in order to decide which places to come back to in order to experience them in detail.
    -We only have 21 days to do this trip in.
    Day 0: flight from Europe to NYC

    Day 1: morning flight NYC-PHX, get rental car, drive from PHX to Grand Canyon Village, stay in GC Village

    Day 2: day in Grand Canyon NP: hiking Bright Angel trail or ? , stay in GC Village

    Day 3: drive to Page, guided walk Antelope Canyon, Marble Canyon (The Wave), horseshoe bend, a little boat trip on the Colorado River, stay in Page

    Day 4: drive to Monument Valley, visit to Navajo National Monument + Monument Valley, stay in Monticello

    Day 5: drive to The Needles Overlook Point, drive to Moab, horseback riding in Castle Valley, stay in Moab

    Day 6: drive along scenic byway 128, drive to Island in the Sky (Green River and Grand river Overlook + hiking?) + visit Dead horse point state park, stay in Moab

    Day 7: drive to Capitol reef NP(Fruita, Gifford Homestead, scenic drive, hiking?), stay around Capitol Reef

    Day 8: drive to Bryce Canyon NP(viewpoints, hiking?, sunset) + horseback riding near Bryce, stay in Hatch

    Day 9: drive to Zion NP (Weeping Rock Trail, Emerald pools trail, Riverside Walk)
    + after sunset: drive to Las Vegas, stay in LV

    Day 10: day in Las Vegas, stay in LV

    Day 11: drive from Las Vegas to Death Valley + visit Death Valley NP, stay in Amargosa Valley

    Day 12: sunrise in Death Valley + drive to Bodie + drive to Yosemite NP, stay in Yosemite

    Day 13: day in Yosemite NP, stay in Yosemite

    Day 14: drive to Jamestown (railroad), drive to Virginia City (weíre Bonanza fans), stay in Virginia City

    Day 15: drive to Lake Tahoe, drive to San Francisco, stay in San Francisco

    Day 16: visit San Francisco + evening: drive to Monterey, stay in Monterey

    Day 17: coastal drive from Monterey to San Luis Obispo, visit a mission church, stay near SL Obispo

    Day 18: coastal drive from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles, stay in LA

    Day 19: visit Los Angeles, stay in LA

    Day 20: hand over keys rental car + flight LAX-NYC

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Good job researching.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You have obviously been doing your homework and have come up with some nice ideas but you certainly hit the ground running and then don't stop ! The main problem is that to try and fit in guided tours and horse riding etc will be difficult with the pace you are trying to travel at and 'The Wave' has very few permits to go around and if you haven't got one then it means joining the queues and 'Lottery' to see if you are luck enough to go. [Unless things have changed]

    You can spend a day at the viewpoints along the Grand canyon and do short walks on the rim trail and although you could hike part way down the Bright Angel trail, to go to the bottom of the canyon requires an overnight stay.

    Going from Bryce to LV while visiting Zion NP is going to feel rushed as well.

    Death valley will be extremely hot and Armagosa valley is close to Vegas which would leave you a lot to do to get into Yosemite. I would cross Death valley and look to stay around Bishop. Note that the last part of the road into Bodie is unpaved and could violate the terms of your car rental.

    Your trip is doable on paper, but personally I think you should tweak it a little to allow a bit more time in other places, a night in Zion for example. I would look to go from Page to Monument valley and on to Moab the same day and consider dropping the Needles overlook just purely so you are not rushing from one great viewpoint to another without time to enjoy it. There is also Arches NP to consider when in Moab, and to be honest, and despite the fact you are big Bonanza fans, Virginia City and Lake Tahoe add a lot of miles to your trip that could be better spent through the other parts of your trip, but of course that's just my opinion and something for you to think about.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Downtime?

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    What strikes me most about your itinerary is the lack of any time to just relax. While no individual day is outlandish on its own, collectively they are just too much. It's a relatively common mistake among first time travelers to a new area to want to make the most of their time there and see and do everything. But that's really self defeating. If you are always on the move, running from place to place, packing and unpacking every day, staying in a different bed every night, and devoting the bare minimum to each place you actually get to, you're going to end up exhausted rather than exhilarated. So my first recommendation would be to cut out a quarter to a third of the number of places you plan to visit, then try to stay in fewer places for more nights each. Relax!

    I'd also urge you to come to a final itinerary sooner rather than later since many of the sites on your current one, such as the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon, require reservations made a year in advance. And you should plan on buying a national parks annual pass at the first one you come to. For $80 it will take care of entrance fees (but not camping/parking/lodging) at all national parks and monuments. Nnote, however, that Monument Valley and Four Corners are Navajo Tribal Parks, not national parks. As for specific hikes at each park that suit your needs, your best bet is to check with the park rangers and guides at visitor centers, they are the most knowledgeable about their own parks, especially current conditions.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Some homework.

    May I suggest before your trip you read a book by Ghiglieri and Myers called Death in Grand Canyon. Despite its title it is not at all morbid, but reading it gives the reader an unbelievable picture of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River, their might and power.

    Quote Originally Posted by Charly09 View Post
    Day 2: day in Grand Canyon NP: hiking Bright Angel trail or ? , stay in GC Village
    For someone who does not want to do strenuous hiking, I am not sure if Bright Angel Trail is a great choice. Even though Bright Angel is the easiest of the hikes, there is a chapter dozens of pages long of those who have come to grief on Bright Angel Trail (and other trails), especially in July/August.

    Quote Originally Posted by Charly09 View Post
    Day 3: drive to Page, guided walk Antelope Canyon, Marble Canyon (The Wave), horseshoe bend, a little boat trip on the Colorado River, stay in Page.
    Right now I am up to the chapter which documents those who have drowned on commercial boat trips.

    I have been to the Grand Canyon several times, but now having read this book (I've not finished yet), I cannot wait to return, with a completely new mindset for what I am looking at. A book worth reading for all those who plan to visit the Canyon, even those just wanting to look over the edge.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Day 2: day in Grand Canyon NP: hiking Bright Angel trail or ? , stay in GC Village
    While you might want to take a couple of hours to walk down part of the Bright Angel Trail and then back up again, another thought would be to walk the West Rim Drive from GC Village instead of taking the (crowded) shuttle. Then drive the East Rim Drive. Be sure to do a sunrise or a sunset, since you're staying in the Village. It's well worth the time.

    I'm with Lifey -- Bright Angel Trail is not for wimps. My brother and a couple of friends went down that one. They almost had to have one of them airlifted back out (EXPENSIVE!) because his boots broke on the way back up. He walked up in someone's flip-flops.


  6. Default

    Thanks for all this great advice everyone!!!

    I will definitely consider the alternatives for the Bright Angel Trail since I’m afraid of heights.
    I will also add a night in Zion and drive to LV the next day.
    I will also add Arches NP to my plans. My guide isn't a big fan of Arches because of the crowds but the pictures look stunning!
    I will consider staying in Bishop since I will probably have to shorten/cancel? my visit to Death Valley due to the summer heat.

    The difficult part now will be to decide which places to drop...

  7. Default


    I am sure you are watching the weather. Record highs but it is summer and fires breaking out all over the southwest. By the time you arrive things might have changed either way. Make sure you have alternate plans. I think I saw Needles was 100 f. plus.

    I just returned from the Southwest and I did not go to Zion but I started reading an article that the park service is expecting record turn out in the the park this summer and traffic delays are expected with wait times. We stayed in Mesquite NV which is closer to Zion, than a short drive to Vegas.

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