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  1. Default 6 week road trip in fall

    Hi Everyone. My husband and I are wanting to take our first trip to the USA mid September to end of October 2018. We have 6 weeks to travel and are not really interested in the big cities. We are wanting to see more of the national parks and the real america and the people. although in saying that our first stop will be Las Vegas for 3 days. On our first leg after that we are wanting to do a loop from Bryce Canyon up to Yellowstone, back down to Moab, Monument Valley and Grand Canyon NP.We are hoping to do this in 2 weeks??? Do we need to allow for another week? After that we are thinking of going cross country through Texas to San Antonio. Is there much to see along the way, or are we better of flying to San Antonio and continuing our road trip from there.From there we wanted to see New Orleans then up towards Memphis and Nashville.After that we want to head back down towards Florida before heading home to Australia.Can we fit all this in 6 weeks?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,325

    Default Yes, No, and Maybe

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Yes, six weeks should be enough time to see every place on your list and even to spend a fair amount of time in two or three locations where you can settle down for a bit and meet your neighbors. And while I would warn you off of any trip to the Texas/Louisiana Gulf Coast in the near future, by October of next year things might just be getting back to normal in that area after the destruction brought by the recent hurricane, Harvey. Where and how to spend your time is entirely up to you, but I will note that for the trip you describe, ending up in Miami, you'd need roughly ten days of driving, leaving you with 32 days, more or less, to spend just relaxing and sight seeing. So your trip is certainly possible, but I would offer a few suggestions

    First, I would give serious consideration to closing the loop on this trip and returning to Las Vegas for your flight home. That will 'cost' you an additional three days or so of driving, but save you a significant amount of money vs. doing a [couple of] one-way car rental[s] and booking internal flights. You would also get to see more of the country. Such a routing would have you first heading up past Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks (NP) to Yellowstone. I'd do this early, even foregoing a couple of days in Las Vegas initially, because you're going to be pushing up against the winter closure of most roads in Yellowstone. Yes, winter comes that early in the Rocky Mountain north. Next cross through America's farmlands in Nebraska and Missouri to your stops in Memphis and Nashville and continue on to Florida from there. Head back west along the Gulf Coast to Texas and then continue through New Mexico and Colorado to Arches NP. Finally swing down through Utah and Arizona to hit Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon before returning to Las Vegas, dropping off your car where you picked it up (no one-way drop-off fees, no internal flights) and return home via a simple R/T flight from Australia (no 'open jaw' ticketing).

    Secondly, here are a few general tips for making the most of your trip. Foremost among these is to get a national parks annual pass at the first such park you come to. These cost $80 and are good for admittance of your car and everyone in it to every national park, monument, or other venues that charge admission. unfortunately, the pass will not cover Monument Valley, which is a Navajo Tribal Park, state parks, or concession fees such as camping. But otherwise the pass will pay for itself around the fourth national park you visit. Note that there are a lot more national parks and monuments along either your proposed route or the one I suggested than just the few you mentioned.

    Thirdly, you haven't mentioned how you plan to accommodate yourselves as you travel, but if you really want to meet locals and get the feel of living in America, then I would suggest that you consider using B&Bs or vacation rentals for most nights. B&Bs are best for one or two night stays where you typically will stay in the home of the proprietor, and (as the name suggests) have breakfast with them. Vacation rentals are for longer stays, roughly a week at a time, where you rent an entire house or apartment compete with kitchen and laundry facilities and would let you explore an area in some depth while shopping in local markets and cooking most of your meals in the comfort of your own 'home'. Your last choice would be motels and restaurants.

    So, price out the cost of the two different trips, especially the cost of the one-way car rental, and decide on which suits you better. Once you have a more defined routing, we can offer numerous suggestions for other sites along that route that will fill out your discovery of America.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 09-04-2017 at 11:59 AM.

  3. Default

    Thankyou for your ideas. You have certainly given us something to think about. We like the idea of the bigger loop and the b&bs. When we map out our new ideas with your suggestions in mind I'll certainly let you know for your valuable imput.

  4. Default

    Have taken on board your suggestions and have come up with:
    Zion np- 1 night
    Bryce Canyon - 2 nights
    Salt Lake City - 1 night
    Yellowstone - 4 nights
    Little Big Horn - 1 night
    Rapid City - 1 night
    Sious Falls - 1 night
    Kansis City - 1 night
    Louisville - 3 nights
    Nashville - 3 nights
    Memphis- 3 nights
    New Orleans - 4 nights
    Houston - 1 night
    San Antonio - 3 nights
    Fort Worth - 1 night
    Roswell - 1 night
    Albuquerque - 1 night
    Moab - 2 nights
    Monument Valley - 2 nights
    Horseshoe Bend - 1 night
    Grand Canyon - 3 nights
    Las Vegas - 3 nights
    We should have 45 days so gives us a few days to play around with. We were planning on going to Florida as well originally but thought it was all a bit too rushed. If you have any suggestions as to how we could improve on this would be really appreciated. We will be hiring a car from Las Vegas airport and hitting the road from there. We are also going to look at a few b& bs in the first week to book but after that we will be booking on the go.
    Thanks

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,507

    Default

    Please realize that Yellowstone may not have a lot of services open by the time you arrive. Since it is at a higher elevation and gets a lot of snow, things like stores, gas stations, campgrounds, and some of the lodging begins to close around Sept. 15th and is pretty well closed up by mid-October. You'll probably be fine, but be sure to catch fuel in Jackson or West Yellowstone, and have some picnic lunch stuff available as well because some of the lunch counters/restaurants may have already shut down. (It depends on the area of the park.)

    Also bear in mind that there are NO motels at Little Big Horn. You may be able to stay a few miles down the road at Lodge Grass (on I-90 southeast of LBH) or Hardin (on I-90 northwest of LBH).


    Donna

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    12,991

    Default

    A few quick thoughts.

    While I agree with the change you made to wait to explore Vegas until the end of your trip, you should still plan to spend that first night in Vegas. After flying from halfway around the world, you're going to need some time to recover from the traveling and jetlag, and you can't really do that if you get off the plane and then immediately have a 3 hour drive to Zion.

    I think I would do Moab after Bryce and then head directly to Grand Teton/Yellowstone after that, bypassing Salt Lake City. Where you've got it now at the end of your trip is quite a big detour north.

    When planning for Yellowstone, I would make sure you are also giving time for Grand Teton, but because of the size of the area, I would not try to see both parks from the same "home base." Spend a night or two around Jackson, and then continue north for another few nights in Yellowstone.

    When leaving Yellowstone, I'd leave via the Beartooth highway, if it is still open on the dates of your trip (this year it is scheduled to close on Oct. 10, although weather can always change that, check on the status of the highway as you leave Yellowstone!) and then spend the night in Billings. As Donna noted there aren't many motel options near Little Big Horn, but you could easily fit in a stop there on your way to Rapid City.

    Speaking of Rapid City, I'd give yourself a little more time here as well. You've got Devils Tower, Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Jewel and Wind Caves, and the Badlands all in that general area. You could easily spend a 2-3 days here.

    My only other observation is that after this point of your trip, you're almost exclusively focused on cities, until you get back to Monument Valley/Grand Canyon at the very end of your trip. That in and of itself isn't a problem, but it does seem a bit strange since in your first post you indicated that you aren't really interested in big cities.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,922

    Default From one Aussie to another.

    As Michael advises - definitely spend that first night in Vegas. After the 14+ hours across the Pacific and the lay over in LAX, it would not be wise to hit the road, especially with the change to left hand drive. It takes a little getting used to, and its not wise to do that when you are tired.

    Might I suggest that you bring a small flag to put in the rear window of your car. Show them you are not a local, and they might be more patient with you and forgive any small driving/traffic indescretions.

    After that we are thinking of going cross country through Texas to San Antonio. Is there much to see along the way, ....
    Do you have some really good maps to help you plan this trip? If not, I would highly recommend you purchase a Rand McNally road atlas from the RTA store via the link at the bottom of this page. If you order it now, you will have it in a couple of weeks - giving you a good twelve months to study it. I have just checked my atlas and note that on many legs of your trip you have the option of dozens of routes. The maps in the atlas show (as all good maps do) what attractions and towns there are along the way. Scenic routes are highlighted to help you in your choice.

    If you are a member of your local auto club (RACV, NRMA, etc) be sure to take your membership with you. This will give you access to tourism information from the AAA wherever you travel. Very handy for last minutes changes to your plan, and local information.

    Lifey

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