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  1. Default Western Road Trip- August 2007

    A friend and I are planning a roadtri from August 6-28. Leaving LA, driving up the coast to Seattle, then heading to Vancouver and Whistler. Then coming back around through Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. We are interested in car camping (as we aren't really wanting to bring a tent and all that other stuff, nor are we really the types to be able to set up camp!) in a couple of places: the Grand Canyon, somewhere near Salt Lake City, Helena MT, and maybe Whistler BC. Anyone have any suggestions? Everytime I start looking at stuff to plan this I get overwhelmed because there is SO MUCH information (and a lot of it is useless and just taking up space).

    Any advice on the entire trip would be much appreciated. These are the cities/towns in which we plan on sleeping:
    San Luis Obispo- madonna inn for it's tacky factor
    San Francisco
    Eureka, CA- quality inn
    Cave Junction, OR- a treehouse hotel
    Reedsport, OR- anchor bay inn
    Portland- comfort inn
    Seattle- w/ friends
    Whistler- residence inn OR CAR CAMPING
    Kelowna BC- English Rose Garden B&B
    Cranbrook BC- Heritage Inn
    Glacier National Park(mt)- North American RV Park Yurts
    Helena MT- Quality Inn Airport OR CAR CAMPING
    Jackson, WY- w/ friends
    Salt Lake City- ??
    Grand Canyon- ??
    Vegas- ??

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Sounds Like a Great Trip

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Depending on how long you're going to be spending in each of your destinations, I think you've got a very good mix of driving and sights for a three week RoadTrip. For the first part of your trip I can't offer better advice that our resident Pacific Northwest guru, Judy, so have a look at some of her posts, including this one and this one, and also follow the links therein and the links to similar threads at the bottom of each. There are in fact a host of suggestions, recommendations and observations scattered throughout these forums, so be sure to make liberal use of the Search function!

    Just a few, random places I've enjoyed along your route:

    Between Kelowna and Cranbrook, there are no bad roads through he Canadian Rockies, but see if you can make a little detour to the town of Nelson on BC-6/BC-3A. This was the set for the movie Roxanne and was chosen for a reason. If you do that, continue on east on BC-3A to Balfour and take the ferry across to Kootenay Bay for a relaxing change of pace and then BC-3A and BC-3 will bring you to Cranbrook.

    I recently described a couple of scenic options between Yellowstone and Salt Lake City, so be sure to check those out. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by car camping, but I have never gotten a good night's sleep in a car (I'm 6'3"). Also make sure that if you are not in a campground, but rather in a WallMart or truck stop parking lot, that you have the permission of the owner and that someone knows you're there.

    Other than such general suggestions, we'd have to know a little bit more about what you're hoping to see, do, and get out of your trip, but you are going to be traveling through some gorgeous country.


  3. Default

    Sorry, by car camping I meant going to a camp ground and just sleeping in the car rather than getting out a tent, etc. We're both pretty small girls so sleeping in a car for a night every so often during the trip won't be bad. But neither of us are interested in just parking in a parking lot and sleeping.

    Thanks AZBuck for reply. I'll go to the links you sent.

    As far as what we are interested in: Anything really. I'm really into photography so I'll be taking a ridiculous number of photographs each day (digital and film). But we really are open to anything. We both have time off and the chance to do this and we are pretty much open to all suggestions. We're both 25 year old females if that makes a difference in the suggestions. And I'm most excited about the zipline in Whistler!

  4. Default

    Also, we'd love to sleep on the beach somewhere if possible (safe,legal---or not TOO illegal:) )

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Buy a tent, seriously

    Getting a tent would seriously be the best $30 you could possibly spend for a trip like this.

    I don't care how small you are, the seats of a car are not designed for sleeping comfort, and likely won't provide that great of rest night in and night out. I'm of the opinion that if you are a solo traveler, and can lay down on a bench seat, you can be ok, but its hard to find a way for two people to sleep comfortably.

    Cars also aren't designed to be all that comfortable when they aren't running. If you have two people inside sleeping, it will get quite stuffy if you leave the windows rolled up. If you roll the windows down, then you are subject to the elements, including both weather and bugs.

    On top of all that, there is simply an element of getting out of the car. You'll already be spending all day in the car, so just being able to be out of the car for the night can be relaxing in and of itself. There's also the element that when you live in a really small space, things can get pretty rank pretty fast, and sleeping inside the car will only add to that issue.

    When you consider that you can buy a small tent perfectly sutable for 2 people that will likely take less than 5 minutes to set up and tear down for a cost of around $30, I don't know why you would want to try and sleep in your car. You'll already be spending around $20 per night to park at a campground, so its a really small price to pay for a whole lot of extra comfort.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Ontario Canada

    Default re: car camping

    I get a few chuckles reading the posts. Just to let you know myself and my travellin' pardner (two girls) have gone across the good ol' USA several times, the two of us sleeping in the bucket seats of a Corolla or Accord size car.We also had folks bugging us to take a tent. We did so, and were shown how to set up this SIMPLE, easy to use tent prior to our vacation. Well, after an hour or so struggling with the stupid thing, finally we flagged down some passing pedestrians in the campground who offered their suggestions, and by the end of it all, two or three other campsite families had joined in on the process. It was pretty funny afterwards, but it seemed a HUGE waste of time & energy for just one night at that location before taking it down in the morning and moving on to the next place (where, FYI, we decided NOT to bother setting up the tent but just go back to our sleeping-in-the-car plans).It does work. It does get uncomfortable. It does get either cold or hot & stuffy, depending on the climate/season, but it CAN be done. I recommend you get a motel or hostel every third night or so just for a break and to "lay out flat". Good for the back & circulation!Enjoy your trip~~!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Tents? Cars? And where to go...

    I'm a big fan of tent-camping while traveling. My tent does set up easily in 5 minutes and takes down in 5 minutes. And, yeah, it's nice to get out of the car and stretch out. But I've slept in my car, too. I can see where bigger guys would be uncomfortable. My husband won't do it either. But I've often spent a night in the car if it's too late to find a campground or I'm being cheap or whatever. Just a few weekends ago, I was coming back from a meeting in Bellingham. At about 10pm, I realized that there was no way I was going to make it home without falling asleep. My eyelids were getting way too heavy. So I pulled over to a casino parking lot, called home so my husband knew where I was, wrapped up in a blanket and slept like a rock for about 4 hours. I woke up refreshed and drove home, then went back to bed for a few more hours. This isn't unusual for me to do. I was comfortable and could have easily stayed there all night if need be.

    I wouldn't want to do that every night but kapast only lists a few nights on the entire trip where they intend on doing this so I think it will work. I do agree that if I were going to shell out the campground fees, I'd rather put up my tent. (If you get a backpacker's style tent with 2 poles that go either go through sleeves or clip-on, it really shouldn't take more than 5 minutes. My tent has 3 poles and I can do it in 5 minutes. I've timed myself so I know I'm being accurate. But 2 poles would be even easier and quicker.) I've done the sleeping in the car thing at a few campgrounds when I've gotten into camp way too late to put up the tent without bothering other campers. It's nice to have a shower in the morning.

    I would love to hear about the stay at the treehouse in at Cave Junction. I've read about this place. It looks very cool but I haven't seen it yet.

    I think your route looks reasoanble. The driving times from place-to-place are reasonable. However, I'm not sure why you're going to Cave Junction unless it's for the treehouse lodging because you're then going back out to the coast. It's added extra miles but the treehouses will probably make it worth it.

    You won't be able to fit all these stops in, but I'll mention some places to explore and play along the way:

    Eureka, CA- well, the Redwoods, of course!

    Cave Junction, OR- the Oregon Caves

    Reedsport, OR- there's so much to see on the Oregon Coast that you might want to do a search here for good posts about that. You're in the heart of the Oregon Dunes in Reedsport so take the time to ride the dune buggies in the dunes. Great fun.

    Portland- downtown has a wonderful walk along the river. This may sound bizarre but my favorite place in Portland is Powell's Books. Amazing place. On the way to Seattle, try to take time to visit Mt. St. Helens. When you come to Castle Rock on I-5, go east about 1 hour to the Johnston Ridge Visitor Center with fabulous views into the dome and the blast area. They have a great visitor center there, too.

    Seattle- Since you're staying with friends here, I'll let them be your guide.

    Whistler- Whistler is awesome. Ride the lifts to the top and hike or bike around. In Vancouver, check out the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Stanley Park. Gastown is kinda fun, too.

    Salt Lake City - Check out some of the major Mormon temples. From SLC to the Grand Canyon, it's easy to swing over to Bryce NP and Zion NP. Definitely worth doing. Also, don't miss the less-visited North Rim. If you're going to do all of these, you'll definitely need to add another night here. Kanab, UT, or Page, NV, might be good options unless you're able to get lodging at the North Rim. It kinda depends on how long it takes you to get through the parks.

    Grand Canyon- If you want to car camp here, you will want to get your reservations in soon. It's very busy here. If you can't stay in the park itself, staying in Page before going to the South Rim, or staying in Williams after. Valle might work as well but I don't recall how many lodging options they have.

    Hope this helps a bit.

  8. #8

    Default Great Trip

    What a great trip. I could only dream of doing a trip like this.

    So many photo opportunities on a road trip like this.

    On your way to SLO, along Hwy 101 you could stop at:
    Santa Barabara
    State Street is the main drag
    McConnells Ice Cream is a local favorite
    Santa Barbara Mission

    Danish themed town.
    Sideways Tour (pdf) - inspired by the movie

    San Luis Obispo
    Marsh Street exit leads to the main business district.
    Farmer's Market on Thursday evenings
    Montana de Oro State Park, hike along the bluffs at Spooner's Cove

    Are you continuing up Hwy 101 to SF or going along Hwy1?

    In SF, there are many interesting sights and photo opportunities. I put
    together a Google map with some SF Bay sights.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Tent Testing

    We did so, and were shown how to set up this SIMPLE, easy to use tent prior to our vacation.
    Of course the lesson here is that you should always set up a new tent yourself BEFORE you hit the road! There's no substitute for doing something yourself, especially when you are in a comfortable, rested, and unrushed environment.

    Speaking from experience, I bought a tent a couple years ago, tryed to set it up in the back yard, and the poles broke! I was able to take it back, but needless to say, If I'd waited to try until I got on the road, I would have been very angry!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Bay Area, CA

    Default re:tent testing, car camping

    I so agree. We've been camping for over 2-3 years now. Initially, it would take 2 of us such a long time to coordinate & do the right things on time(not anymore!!!). It used to be such a pain, but when I see the stars up above at night, it all seems worth it!

    Setting up a tent hardly takes a few minutes. But that first time, i tried setting up my tent in my parking lot, did save me from a lot of surprises.

    I've done car camping a few times myself. But those would generally be if it is too late to get anywhere, or too sleepy to drive further. I would personally not prefer car camping unless there is no way out. But again, that's my preference.

    If you are prepared & know what you are doing, go for it. You will have no one to blame.
    Its such a wonderful trip. I am sure you will have fun!


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