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  1. #1

    Default 3 weeks roadtrip in the west and rockies

    Hi, everyone!

    With 2 friends, we are planning a road trip across the Rockies and down the west coast.
    We will be starting in Las Vegas the 1st of June. Find our way to Denver. Drive north to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Turn west to Seattle (and stop by Yellow Stone) and cruise south to southern California.

    For an easier representation, here is a map that I made for this loop:
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1OT...7s&usp=sharing

    We have to be in San Fransisco the 20th or 21st, so the southern part California is optional (from Yosemite, go to SF directly)

    I realize that we won't have time to do everything. So I'm asking the community what is worth a stop of 2 or 3 days (to hike and explore). We only have 3 weeks unfortunately so I was hoping to do a few sites in the same day (like drive thru monument valley or stop at mount rushmore an hour).
    Any tips and advice are more than welcome.

    We were planning on camping in National Forests on the way. Except in some places like Yellow Stone where we need to take a reservation, is this possible?

    Thanks a lot!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default En un Mot: Non!

    Bienvenue sur les forums de RoadTrip Amérique. Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Even accounting for the fact that you have some places listed twice, and finding the most efficient route to connect all the places you have listed, you are looking at around 8,000 miles (13,000 km) of driving. That would be 18 of your 21 days spent sitting in the car to get to places (and even that's just to the entrances!) that you would literally have no time to see. So it's not just that you need to shorten by skipping small portions such as southern California. You need to cut out about half of what you've proposed altogether.

    If you are committed to landing in Las Vegas and disembarking from San Francisco, then I would leave out everything except the Southwest: Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California with maybe Mesa Verde in the very far southwestern portion of Colorado. That would leave you time to actually enjoy the parks and other sites you do get to.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Trimming with a chain saw

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The American West is a fantastic place, filled with great sites and places to explore, but it is also a very big place, and at the heart of the matter, that's probably the biggest problem with your plan.

    You've listed 30-some places you want to visit, you've got at least 5000 miles worth of driving - which works out to a good 10 days on the road just to cover the miles - all with just 20 days to do it. While not everything you want to visit will take a full day, many of them will take at least that. There are also some places - like Yellowstone - that are so large that you really need 2 or 3 days to see them.

    Camping certainly is an option, although I would caution that doing so requires extra time and extra effort. National Forest campgrounds aren't going to always be available - and they also aren't free. There are some areas within National Forests where you can set up camp (dispersed camping) for free, without any services, but you have to know exactly where those places are allow, and it usually requires a significant hike away from a road.

    So I would start by trying to trim down the distance of your trip. Since the majority of your stops seem to be concentrated in Colorado and Utah, I would probably focus there, perhaps make your way out to Denver, then head back through Yellowstone and some of your stops in California - cutting out places like the Dakotas and the Pacific Northwest. That's just one idea, but you're going to have to do some significant trimming.

    I would also recommend trying to plot things out day by day - that will give you a better idea of just how much you can do with the time you have, and will make it more obvious when you are trying to do too much.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default 3 trips in one.

    Have to agree with the above posts. In the quest to try and see everything you will end up seeing very little. You will need to double your time or halve your trip to really make it fun and don't think we don't like driving, we love to drive, but there has to be a balance. You really have about 3 trips planned into one there. I would start and finish in Vegas and decide on whether to do the Four corners region, Yellowstone, Utah and Arizona, Utah Arizona and California or head towards the Pacific Southwest seeing many of California, Oregon and Washington attractions.

  5. #5

    Default

    Hi to all 3 of you.
    Apologies for coming back here. Work called me.

    Thank-you for your feedbacks. I realized that this trip was a bit too long for 3 weeks time lapse. I asked my friends to choose by priority what they want to see and I'll try to make a better road trip.
    Will 3,000 miles for 3 weeks be better? Or do you think I can add up a little distance?

    I think I will do the northwest another time. Unfortunately, Seattle will have to wait.

    As far as sleeping. My issue is I don't want to book anything in advance to be free. If we like a place, we stay a little longer. Otherwise we move on. That's why I was hoping to camp in national forests.
    Do you know if from the 1st of June to the 21st, it is easy to just show up to a campground and book a slot there? I know that summer vacation in the US is around the corner. Seems like camping in national forests is a little too complicated. It was my understanding that we could reach out to a ranger from a forest and ask if and where it was possible to set a tent for the night. It seems like there is almost all the time a national forest next to a national park.

    Thanks again!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Some Rules of Thumb

    There are several simple numbers that many of us use when setting out the 'Big Picture' of a RoadTrip. You will see them mentioned in our responses from time to time. 500-550 miles is a solid day of driving that leaves a little time for brief breaks from driving, but not for major stops along the way. It takes a good five days, minimum, to cross from the Atlantic to the Pacific. And the one that is most pertinent to your case: If you are planning a RoadTrip that is as much about seeing things en route as it is about getting to your destination, then a 50/50 mix of driving and sight-seeing is a good place to start.

    So using the above rules-of-thumb three weeks (22 days) as your time frame, I'd say 6,000 total miles (about 9,500 km) is the most you should consider. Now software-based mapping routines are pretty good at giving you total miles but, (and this is important!) the driving times they give you are total fantasy and should NOT be relied on for any serious planning at all. That said, you could probably even do a coast-to-coast and return RoadTrip as long as your two east-west legs are relatively straight and you don't do a lot of north-south driving on either coast. But ultimately how to spread your 6.000 miles around is up to you.

    For the most part, you shouldn't need motel reservations except near major national parks or during time-specific events. Camping in national forests can be a bit dicier. It's just hard to predict how full a particular forest or park will be at any given time, and if you arrive to find it already full then your alternatives are going to be few and generally far away. That's not a situation you want to encounter late in an already adventure-packed day. Your best bet is to plan on stopping for the day early when you plan to camp to give yourselves the best chance at finding a open site or the time to find an alternative. If all the prepared sites are full when you check in at a ranger station, ask about distributed or dispersed camping. That's far more rustic and you might have to hike a fair bit off the road, but it is sometimes an alternative.

    AZBuck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    A thousand miles a week is pretty relaxed and will give you a nice amount of time to explore. Sure you could push a little more but your best bet is to work out a day by day plan and then leave it open to change. For example you may spend time in an area with lots to do and only travel 5 or 600 miles and then move to another area while clocking up a 800 to 1000 miles in a couple of days. There is no hard and fast rule, other than not driving so far that you get fatigued, (around 550 miles max) so see how your new ideas pan out and then we can help you fine tune and make suggestions. Winging it or booking ? It's a personal choice and you will likely find somewhere to sleep even if it's not your ideal choice.

  8. #8

    Default

    Hi all,

    So we have done some trimming and organized our trip a little more. It's going to be full and we will not have a lot of time to breath. We have 2 free days in total in case of issues or to be able to stay longer at some places.

    Here is the map:
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1OT...t8E4_vMOl4Oy7s

    With a total of 4100 miles (more or less)

    Let me know what you think.

    And here are the steps in a little more detail. Let me know what you think as well. If we should change a park by another. Maybe something that is worth seeing if we drive by,...etc:
    day 1
    - get the car around 9 am, grocery shopping
    - see the hoover dam
    - drive to Grand Canyon south rim
    day 2
    - visit grand canyon south rim
    - drive to the north rim
    day 3
    - morning: visit the north rim
    - afternoon: drive to monument valley (hoping to be there to see the valley during sunset)
    day 4
    - drive to Zion and visit the park
    day 5
    - visit Zion park a little more
    - afternoon: drive to Bryce Canyon
    day 6
    - morning: visit Bryce Canyon
    - afternoon: drive to Arches
    day 7
    - visit Arches and canyon land
    - end of the day, drive to Montrose (to see Black canyon)
    day 8
    - morning: visit Black Canyon
    - afternoon: drive to Rocky mountain (Estes Park)
    day 9
    - visit Rocky mountain
    - option to drive by night all the way to Grand Teton
    day 10
    - either visit Grand Teton then go to Yellowstone
    - OR drive to Grand Teton, passing by the dinosaur monument
    day 11
    - free day in either Grand Teton or Yellowstone
    day 13
    - visit Yellowstone
    day 14
    - visit Yellowstone
    day 15
    - visit Yellowstone
    - night drive to Death valley
    day 16
    - still on the road. Maybe stop by Great Basin
    - late afternoon: arrive at Death valley
    day 17
    - visit Death valley
    - end of the afternoon: drive to Yosemite
    day 18
    - free day
    day 19
    - visit Yosemite
    day 19
    - visit Yosemite
    day 19
    - visit Yosemite
    - end of the afternoon: drive to SF
    day 20
    - visit SF and surroundings
    day 21
    - around noon: drop off a friend at SF airport
    - drive to Vegas (until late at night)
    day 22
    - early morning: drop off a friend at Vegas airport
    - bring back car
    - fly back home

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    162

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kanadianDri3 View Post
    Hi all,



    day 15
    - visit Yellowstone
    - night drive to Death valley
    day 16
    - still on the road. Maybe stop by Great Basin
    - late afternoon: arrive at Death valley
    Yellowstone to Death Valley is more than 850 miles. Sorry, guys, that's a no-go, and to drive any of that stretch at night would be a little nuts (and a bit of a waste--you'd miss beautiful mountain scenery). You should re-think that piece of it.

    Rick

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    That's not the only questionable day. The whole trip is showing evidence of driving too much at one time. With the amount of time you are spending at attractions - and NOT spending at attractions - it's way out of balance. To do all that would really take closer to a month. Night driving after being up all day is NOT recommended.

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