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  1. Default San Fran - Denver - Vegas - 32 Days - Too Ambitious?

    Hey all, firstly, great website and I thank you all for taking the time to read and reply to my message :)

    My wife and I are flying into San Fran form Hawaii on the 14th of August and have 32 days for our road trip.

    We have 4 nights in San Fran and then we hit the road.

    Initially we were going to spend the next 28 days or so travelling to Denver via Capitol Reef/Moab/Grand Junction ending in Denver.

    Unfortunately, the flights out of Denver and onwards to Europe plus the one way car hire are proving an issue - if we loop back round to Las Vegas we could save $1500 and fit more in. Problem, is I'm worried we will be trying to do too much.

    I have created a trip map here: https://roadtrippers.com/map?a2=t!15...ource=copy&z=7

    In essence the route would be:

    SF
    Yosemite
    Mammoth Lakes
    Death Valley
    Las Vegas (stop over for the night)
    Capitol Reef National Park
    Arches National Park
    Rocky Mountain National Park
    Santa Fe
    Mesa Verde National Park
    Monument Valley
    Horseshoe Bend
    The Grand Canyon National Park
    Zion National Park
    Bryce Canyon National Park
    Las Vegas

    On paper I think it sounds reasonable but I'm not so sure.

    Our main interests are anything to do with nature, hiking is high up on the list.
    We're bringing our tent so happy to spend the night out under the starts!

    So, I guess, what I would really like is an opinion on how doable the above sounds, too much or OK?

    If it does sound Ok are we missing any obvious places we should be visiting? I feel like kings canyon should be there but I'm concerned it will add extra travel or cause us to miss Tioga pass.

    We've done EPIC roadtrips in the US before so we don't mind putting in big travel days if were not going to miss much.

    By way of example, we done a 10,000 mile loop in 9 weeks from from Seattle to Alaska via the marine hightway, upto Denali, back through the Yukon, Alberta, BC, into Banff/Jasper onwards to Montana, yellowstone and the grand tetons before ending up back in Seattle and that felt like a nice pace to us.

    Really looking forward to your views!

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default Easily done.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    With your time available you can easily achieve that trip, or you could even complete a loop back to SF. It doesn't make much sense to drive right past Zion and Bryce and then detour back to them on the return leg. From Vegas you would go to Zion, then Bryce and then UT scenic 12 and UT24 to Capitol Reef. From Page AZ you could then head to the Grand canyon south rim and back to Vegas via Hoover dam and if you were thinking of visiting the North rim you could do that between Zion and Bryce.

    Now if you were to do the complete loop, which might save you money you could include a drive along the coast around Big Sur. If you considered this to be an option then consider reversing your whole trip direction so that you first head south down the coast putting the ocean on your side of the road. Around the Cambria area you could head towards GC, continue on from there working your way back through Arches and Zion etc to Vegas, across DV, through Yosemite back to SF.

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

    Default Camping in the NPs.

    Do you have your NP campsites booked? If not, you might start looking right now to see if you can pick up a cancellation, especially in Yosemite and GC. These sites are booked up months ahead, are much sought after and are limited in number. Keep checking, even several times a day, as people's plans change and cancellations do happen.

    I too would recommend reversing your trip.

    Lifey

  4. Default

    Hi both thank you for your input!

    One of the main things we will be doing is multi-day hikes so I think the slower pace of travelling back to Las Vegas should work well I hope, happy to be corrected/other suggestions made.

    In terms of the current plan I have, would you suggest I still reverse my route?

    Unfortunately, this is a bit of a last minute trip so no camping booked in the NP, but, we're hoping to get our hands on the walk up wilderness passes - fingers crossed!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Getting into a popular park's campgrounds for a night or two is a matter of getting there early in the morning, usually between 7 and 9 am, when folks check out. All of the parks have non-reserved sites. The hardest time for you to get a campsite would be over the Labor Day weekend, which is Sept 2-3-4-5 this year, though one regular here usually has success in getting a site on the Sunday of a Sat-Sun-Mon holiday weekend.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "walk up wilderness passes". In the national parks, dispersed campsites are few and far between, and often would require that you camp a good 10 miles from the nearest anything. National forests are usually a little more lax about dispersed camping. Best information about this would be had from the ranger station!




    Donna

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    Getting into a popular park's campgrounds for a night or two is a matter of getting there early in the morning, usually between 7 and 9 am, when folks check out. All of the parks have non-reserved sites. The hardest time for you to get a campsite would be over the Labor Day weekend, which is Sept 2-3-4-5 this year, though one regular here usually has success in getting a site on the Sunday of a Sat-Sun-Mon holiday weekend.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "walk up wilderness passes". In the national parks, dispersed campsites are few and far between, and often would require that you camp a good 10 miles from the nearest anything. National forests are usually a little more lax about dispersed camping. Best information about this would be had from the ranger station!




    Donna
    Hey Donna thanks for the reply.

    I've actually managed to snag a tent site in Crane Flat for one night on the Thursday.

    With regards to the wildness pass for Yosemite, my understanding is that the rangers restrict the number of people accessing trailheads via a permit system but a certain percentage are for walk-ins. My partner and I are avid hikers so we're thinking off driving from SF early morning and exploring the park for a day, staying overnight in Crane Flats then we plan on trying to get a permit so we can head of into the backcounty - not sure what route yet but!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Not necessarily.

    Quote Originally Posted by AusClark View Post
    In terms of the current plan I have, would you suggest I still reverse my route?!
    The nicest, most comfortable and relaxed way to drive the PCH is from North to South. So we always suggest that if possible people factor that into their trip.

    However, all the beautiful scenery and the view points and overlooks and all the sea lions and ocean are still there heading North. It just takes a little more patience, as each time you pull into and drive out of the view points and overlooks you need to cross over oncoming traffic, on this narrow winding road.

    But many do it, so long as you are aware that it will be slow going, and may be frustrating at times. Probably will help if you are not there on a weekend.

    Still a beautiful trip and in my book, not to be missed.

    Lifey

  8. Default

    Most of the turn offs are on the ocean side, which makes driving south to north less convenient and just a bit more hazardous.

    So, IS there a good reason to travel that direction anyway? YES!

    As you travel north, the scenery becomes more and more spectacular. The best is always ahead of you. Each pull off is higher above the ocean than the previous one! After a while, going south becomes anticlimactic. That doesn't happen going north! It just keeps getting better.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default

    In terms of the current plan I have, would you suggest I still reverse my route?
    As the current plan does not include the coast there would be little point in reversing the order, unless for some reason the flights and/or car rental offers better value doing so. Or perhaps if you checked out camping reservations and it became advantageous to swap.

  10. #10

    Default

    Even with 28 days of road tripping the schedule looks ambitious to me when considering drive times, setting up the campsite (or finding a campsite) and visiting the parks, especially if you want to do any trail hiking. All the sights are wonderful, but if I were to tighten up the trip to build in more leisure time then lopping off Rocky Mountain National Park and Santa Fe come to mind. From Aspen, a sleepover/sight to visit could be the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, enroute to Mesa Verde.

    The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is also recommended (my choice over the South Rim for a wide variety of reasons). In many instances the North Rim is a significant route diversion but in this instance it would fit in nicely. If you visit Bryce Canyon NP on the eastern leg you could visit Zion NP on the western leg back to Las Vegas, saving some more drive time.

    If you can't book into the national park campgrounds not all is lost -- there are often National Forest campgrounds nearby. For example, Red Canyon, not far from Bryce Canyon NP.

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