Roadtrip to the Western USA....and the National Parks
I'm beginning to plan a trip for summer-fall 2004...yes I know it's a long way's off....but at that time I am eligible for a sabbatical leave consisting of 8 weeks payed leave from my job...wooohoo. I could possibly extend it as long as another 2 weeks making a grand total of 10 weeks. I am also planning to meet several people at different points along my trip, so would like to have an idea ahead of time approx, when I will be where. Thus, I am trying to piece together an Itenerary and tenative route for the trip.
I am an outdoor person and plan to visit most of the major National parks during that time. I plan to do some 4-wheel driving and adventuring, camping, hiking in between the parks...basic communing with nature stuff. I currently am hoping to keep the driving down to no more than 4-5 hours a day if possible, maybe some days with more....some with less or none. As an avid photographer my goal is to get as many great pictures as possible. The list of possible stops includes (grand canyon NP, canyonlands NP, bryce canyon NP, glacier NP, yellowstone NP, rocky mountain NP, arches NP, Grand Teton NP, Dinosaur NM, White sands NM, Carlsbad Caverns NP, ....and many many more...more than I will be able to do in 10 weeks I am sure, which is another reason I am planning this out ahead of time. I am wondering if anyone else out there has done this sort of trip and if so what advice do you have. Also I will be travelling with my Labrador Retriever Max...and would love to find some nice trails to hike on with him however it looks like most of the parks are very restrictive on where dog's are allowed...anyone out there know of some good places to hike in close proximity to the national parks, that would allow dogs.
I am currently outfitting my truck (Toyota Tacoma 4x4 Xtracab) with a bed canopy and foam matteress for sleeping about 75% of the time, the other 25% or so I would like to stay at dog friendly hotels, giving us a place to freshen up and get clean between travels. I would like to add a 12v fridge/icechest, gps, toolbox (with various tools to fix the truck when off the beaten path). Any other ideas?
Generally the idea is to get off the beaten path see some wonderful scenery and wildlife with man's best friend..all while trying to avoid civilization as much as possible.
Please respond with your ideas...where would you go, how would you outfit for the trip, what path would you take, what sites are a must see?