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  1. #1

    Default 40 day road trip through western states - advise greatly appreciated

    Hi everyone,

    I'm from Germany (Munich) and are going on a 40 days road trip through California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, starting in mid August.

    Currently the route has a length of 9600km (6000 miles). I'm going on my own, so it's quite some driving, but I'm used to long drives and do enjoy it (at the moment the route has four longer drives, two at 800km/500miles and two at 600km/400miles per day, the other days less) and I plan to do frequent stops along the way.

    I already secured accommodation for the first 31 days (some of which is flexible), just because I needed to know when I will be in some of the national parks, because Yosemite/Yellowstone where pretty much almost completely booked.

    I'm looking for some tips on what to see and do along the route, some hidden gems. I'm big into photography, so any scenic drives, hiking trails, beautiful scenery/landscapes, local café / restaurants would be welcome.

    I'm also looking for some adventures, like rafting, jeep driving in the desert, fishing, mountain-biking or similar activities.

    And I definitely need advise on what to pack / not to pack and some roadtrip do's and don'ts.

    Day 01 Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Malibu, Morro Bay
    Day 02 San Simeon, Big Sur, Monterey, Santa Cruz
    Day 03 Santa Cruz, San Francisco
    Day 04 San Francisco
    Day 05 San Francisco
    Day 06 San Francisco
    Day 07 San Franzisco to Redwood National Park (Elk Prairie Campground)
    Day 08 Redwood NP to Lake Tahoe
    Day 09 Yosemite NP (Wawona Campground)
    Day 10 Yosemite NP (Wawona Campground)
    Day 11 Yosemite NP / Silver Lake (Silver Lake Campground June Lake)
    Day 12 Yosemite NP / Silver Lake (Silver Lake Campground June Lake)
    Day 13 Death Valley, Las Vegas
    Day 14 Las Vegas
    Day 15 Hoover Dam, Sedona
    Day 16 Sedona, Grand Canyon (Mather Campground)
    Day 17 Grand Canyon (Mather Campground)
    Day 18 Grand Canyon (Mather Campground)
    Day 19 Monument Valley
    Day 20 Albuquerque (visiting Friends, exploring NM)
    Day 21 Albuquerque (visiting Friends, exploring NM)
    Day 22 Albuquerque (visiting Friends, exploring NM)
    Day 23 Colorado Springs, Aspen
    Day 24 Rocky Mountain National Park, Rawlins
    Day 25 Rawlins to Yellowstone NP (Canyon Campground)
    Day 26 Yellowstone NP (Canyon Campground)
    Day 27 Yellowstone NP (Canyon Campground)
    Day 28 Yellowstone NP (Grant Village Campground)
    Day 29 Grand Teton National Park
    Day 30 Grand Teton National Park, Salt Lake City
    Day 31 Salt Lake City
    Day 32 Yuba State Park, Fishlake National Forest
    Day 33 Zion NP
    Day 34 Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
    Day 35 Bryce Canyon State Park
    Day 36 Grand Canyon (north)
    Day 37 Las Vegas
    Day 38 Las Vegas
    Day 39 Los Angeles
    Day 40 Los Angeles

    Thank you so much!

    Last edited by rothfink; 07-14-2016 at 03:17 AM.

  2. #2


    Wrong / too open questions?

    Just discovered I'm flying back on Day 41, so actually one more day for this roadtrip.

    I still need to fine tune the last couple of days. I added San Diego at the very end (second last night there, last night somewhere in L.A.). That leaves me with Day 32 (Thu) to Day 37 (Tue) , so six days to cover the national parks in south of Utah (coming from Salt Lake City) and get down to San Diego.

    I had Bryce, Zion and Grand Staircase-Escalate on my short list, but also saw recommendations for Arches, Canyonland, Goblin Valley, Capitol Reef. I know preference for one or the other is subjective, but are there any of those that are pretty much similar? How would you do it? Also looking for good camp places in those NPs. Checking the campgrounds in Bryce and Zion, they seem to be mostly first come first serve. Anyone an idea how busy they will be in Mid September?

    Day 32 leaving Park City near Salt Lake City in the morning, Capital Reef NP, Escalate
    Day 33 Grand Staircase-Escalate NP / Bryce NP
    Day 34 Bryce NP
    Day 35 Bryce NP / Zion NP
    Day 36 Zion NP / Las Vegas
    Day 37 Las Vegas / San Diego
    Day 38 San Diego
    Day 39 San Diego
    Day 40 San Diego / Los Angeles
    Day 41 Los Angeles (flight leaves 2 pm)
    Last edited by rothfink; 07-16-2016 at 12:40 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Quite the adventure !

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums ! [Apologies for the late welcome but a few regulars are also on the road at present]

    That's an epic trip you have planned there, although a bit rushed in places. As you have already booked the majority of your lodgings you seem to be tied into your plan, although I think it would of been more efficient had you visited Vegas, Grand canyon and the Southern Utah sites in one direction and had taken a more direct route from the Redwoods to Yellowstone. It's not a big deal but for others who might read this, heading south down the coast puts the scenic coastal viewpoints and the ocean on your side of the road.

    September is a nice time to travel and you should be ok for campgrounds but not guaranteed, especially if a major NP visit falls on a weekend with good weather. The Watchman campground in Zion is good and bookable if there sites available. Personally I would skip San Diego, not because there is anything wrong with it but just because you are rushing to get there at the end of a very long and busy trip. If you do want to chill by the sea for a few days then I would suggest you go from SLC to Zion to SD with perhaps 1 night in Vegas and skip the rest. Whatever you do I would recommend being in LA the night before your flight departs, trying to get through LA traffic, return the rental and arrive for a 11am check in could be painful.

    We always pack 'layered' clothing so you can layer up for warmth if needed. Packing one huge thick item can take up a lot of space and may not be needed.

    Along your trip you will stumble across your own "hidden gems" but if they are on the Internet they are no longer hidden. ;-) Instead engage with the Locals in the coffee shops, the gas station and so on and they are only to happy to tell you about their own personal hidden gem. The same in the National parks, talk with other visitors and swap info and the park Rangers are always on hand. Sharing a coffee in the morning with fellow campers is a great source of info, not only for the park you are in but possibly along the route you are travelling. If you have any specific questions then we can answer them, but for a trip of this size there would be tens of thousands of things to consider.

    Search the RTA site and keep studying the maps and you will find what you are looking for. The road trip field report section has so much info from other peoples trips and is a great place to start. Once you have opened the page you can scroll down to the 'Thread display options' and select Threads from the beginning and then scroll through the pages and click on those relevant to your trip.

    Any more questions just ask. Enjoy the planning !

  4. #4


    Roth from Munich,

    Last month I traveled a similar leg that you are planning:
    Day 31 Salt Lake City
    Day 32 Yuba State Park, Fishlake National Forest
    Day 33 Zion NP
    Day 34 Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
    Day 35 Bryce Canyon State Park
    Day 36 Grand Canyon (north)

    From Salt Lake City, we drove to Spanish Fork to provision camping supplies (food, dry ice, gas, etc.) then on to Salina, UT, spending the night at the Super 8 (near I-70). We ate a great Mexican dinner meal at the restaurant across the parking lot. The next day we drove to Bryce Canyon NP via Rt. 24 to Torrey and then Rt. 12 to the turn-off for Bryce Canyon NP. Rt. 12 is very scenic, great drive. Highly recommended. We stopped for a coffee/pastry at the Kiva Koffeehouse along the way (between Boulder and Escalante), to unwind for a half-hour. The Kiva is scenic, set in a "U" between three canyon gorges.

    Some of the National Park campgrounds take reservations during peak season but during the shoulder/off-season it is first-come, first-served. Another consideration is during non-peak season/colder weather months not all utilities are turned on (e.g., flush toilets vs. vault toilets, fresh running water).

    Be prepared for some cold overnight weather. During my recent trip (S. Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, N. Arizona) the overnight lows plummeted to the low-30s F., at or below freezing!!! In mid-July!!! The morning of my planned drive into Yellowstone NP via the Beartooth Hwy, it was closed due to icing and snow. Thankfully, for other reasons, I had already re-routed via Cody, WY, but was unaware of the closure until entering Yellowstone from the east entrance. Whew!

    The North Rim of the Grand Canyon was a very pleasant surprise. The drive down to the Rim Village was so very different than the approach from the south to the South Rim, in a very good way. We also found the vibe at the North Rim more relaxed. It is worth two nights (giving you a full day to explore and enjoy).

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