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  1. #1
    mudshark Guest

    Default summer '06 trip to rocky mtn and SW parks

    Hello, I am a 19 year old art student planning on doing a trip from Maryland to the Rockies and the Southwest sometime early in the summer of '06. I'm not particularly interested in the Midwest, so I'm thinking about this itinerary:

    Glacier - Yellowstone - overnight in Salt Lake - Bryce or Zion - Grand Canyon - Petrified Forest - Great Sand Dunes and then back home to Baltimore.

    There will be two of us and we're essentially doing this on a college budget, so we're planning on buying the Nat'l Parks Annual Pass and maybe a KOA pass. We're planning on spending three to four weeks on this trip - anything in particular of interest in these parks, or should we just do the "Tour the Park in a Day" deal? We're most interested in Yellowstone and Bryce/Grand Canyon, but would be willing to spend a little extra time in the other places, too. I read something here that leaving at 7 am and driving until 1:30 pm is good for sight-seeing stops - do you agree or would you suggest something else?

    Essentially, this is our first road trip and we're both extremely looking forward to it. Thanks for any help! :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Park in a day

    Quote Originally Posted by mudshark
    Hello, I am a 19 year old art student planning on doing a trip from Maryland to the Rockies and the Southwest sometime early in the summer of '06.
    Welcome to the Forum!
    Glacier - Yellowstone - overnight in Salt Lake - Bryce or Zion - Grand Canyon - Petrified Forest - Great Sand Dunes and then back home to Baltimore.
    Your expected time period of 3-4 weeks looks great -- I would suggest that you plan to spend more than 1 day in each park. It is possible to drive through each of the parks in one day, and such a time would be great -- but even two days would enable you to see so much more.
    I read something here that leaving at 7 am and driving until 1:30 pm is good for sight-seeing stops - do you agree or would you suggest something else?
    It really depends upon where you are. I don't know how to suggest a hard-and-fast "rule" for a road trip.

    Mark

  3. #3
    mudshark Guest

    Default

    well, we're going to be overnighting in several of the parks (particularly glacier, yellowstone and the grand canyon), but some of them are just on there because we happen to be going that way. :)

    is going-to-the-sun road as spectacular (and hair-raising) as it seems?

    mt. rushmore: worth the stop in the summertime (crowds, weather, etc), or better just to keep on truckin'?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Going-to-the-Sun Road

    Quote Originally Posted by mudshark
    is going-to-the-sun road as spectacular (and hair-raising) as it seems?
    Yes. Here is a field report from a trip last summer.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default Rushmore

    Personally, I think Rushmore's overrated, or it might just be that I'm still annoyed that the monument is "free" but you're required to pay to park in their ramp. That said, if you've never been, its probably worth stopping for a look.

    I would make sure to drive through the badlands if you're in the area.

    A small warning about Going-to-the-Sun, if you're heading there in early summer it might not be open. I was at Glacier the last week of June a couple years ago and the road hadn't opened yet. It was a particularly bad year when I went, but you never know what the weather will bring.

  6. #6
    mudshark Guest

    Default thanks for all the help!

    That trip sounds lovely, Mark. I want to see a bear, but at the same time, I don't - know what I mean? :)

    Thanks for all your help so far, everyone. Only a few more questions:
    1. Gen's article about getting truck stop waitresses to 'keep an eye out' made me feel a little better, but the other person coming along with me wants to bring along a shotgun (!!!). I think he's kidding, but are there any gun restrictions in the parks (so I can give him an official reason to leave it at home)?

    2. Any of the fisherpeople on the forum have a particular favorite fishing spot in Glacier or Yellowstone?

    3. Lastly, just for conversation, if you could only stay in a hotel at one of the parks, which would you pick? I'm thinking I would pick the Grand Canyon, because of the extreme temperature changes, but I'm open to other ideas.

    Thanks again for all of your help!

  7. Default

    Guadalupe Mountains!

  8. #8

    Default Glacier Opening

    The National Park Service maintains a page of live web camera images of Glacier at http://www.nps.gov/glac/whatsnew.htm as well as further links to the status of park roads and photos & videos of the park. To see what the early summer looks like check out the videos of the snow blowers & plows opening the road. They are amazing videos! For the average opening date, check out http://www.nrmsc.usgs.gov/research/gtsr.htm - more than you ever need to know about the road.

    As to the road istelf - We have driven it both directions many times. I wouldn't call it hair-raising unless you are driving something oversized (it is a bit narrow in places), only one of the most beautiful drives in the country. See some photos at State & National Parks

  9. Default Regulations on weapons

    I think he's kidding, but are there any gun restrictions in the parks (so I can give him an official reason to leave it at home)?
    For National Parks, the rule is no weapons allowed. A weapon may only be transported through a national park if kept out of sight, cased, broken down or rendered inoperable, and the ammunition must be kept locked in a separate compartment from the weapon.

    The odds of your being in any danger in a national park in the United States where a weapon would be of use are so slim as to be laughable.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France
    Posts
    761

    Default

    Mudshark,

    You should consider stopping by Arches National Park and Canyonlands on your way to Bryce/Zion. It's only a little detour off I-70 and if you're willing to do some light hiking, you can get spectacular views, like Delicate Arch for instance.

    I read something here that leaving at 7 am and driving until 1:30 pm is good for sight-seeing stops - do you agree or would you suggest something else?
    Personally, on road trips I just "go with the flow", if I feel like sleeping until noon one day, I just do it. No pressure, no stress = best way to enjoy a road trip. Just don't forget about check-out time in motels!:o) And of course, the hardest part is you have to go back home after a while.

    Usually, I plan my trips way too much and I never follow the itinerary I originally planned. I enjoy planning every single thing in meticulous details but I rarely manage to stick to it.. I'm just a road trip nerd I guess!:o) However, everyone's different, some people probably enjoy following tight itineraries and look at their maps every 10 minutes.

    As for the shotgun issue, I totally agree with Bob, I really don't think it is necessary to carry a gun on a road trip, especially if one or both of you are men. I'm a girl, I've traveled by myself all over the States and Quebec and nothing ever happened. I always carry a small knife and a pepper spray just in case, I never used them. I ran into very few bad people on these trips, but mostly I met very friendly folks and some wonderful people with whom I became friends.

    Happy planning!
    Gen

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