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  1. Default 13000 Mile Drive Around the USA

    Was so busy the week leading up to my trip I couldn't get my placemaker start done, and have been too tired since the trip started, but now here will be a tale of 1 man, 1 350Z, 1 Rebel XT and 13000 miles of driving and sights around the country.
    Last edited by Twilight; 06-16-2007 at 07:30 AM.

  2. Default ***Day 1:Mon Jun 11th

    After getting my house ready for someone to stay for the summer, figuring out how to pack a 350Z (small car inside) (My Car) with enough stuff for almost 3 months, and other random last minute issues, and a basically sleepless night because I was too amped up, I finally left around noon.

    First destination Yosemite. I've been there several times, so I was only planning a short stay in the valley, but with the late start, I figured I'd pass on even that and just go straight up to Tioga Pass and Tuolomne Meadows.

    Highway 4 out of the Bay set the tone for 2 lane highway driving. But it was still the Bay Area, as it was slow going until Stockton. Onto CA-49 at Angel's Camp, then to CA-120 for the North Entrance for Yosemite. (Finally getting the pass I'd been planning to make a lot of use of.) Yosemite was it's normal gorgeous self. The trip up to Tuolomne Meadows isn't as awe inspiring as the Valley, but it is still a great way to start the trip. There is still plenty of beauty to keep your attention for the entire ride up and over. Even though it snowed a week ago, there was just a smattering on top of a couple of peaks. Considering Tioga Pass wasn't open yet last year, a definite change weather wise.

    Didn't stop anywhere other than the pullouts, as it was getting late and tonight was a camping night, so I continued on, and crossed from the lush, green alpine beauty that Yosemite is into a rather desolate, dry trip down the back side of the mountain. It had it's own sense of beauty, but a hugely different feel than in the park.

    The view of Mono Lake at the end of that stretch of CA-120 is impressive in a lot of ways. The dry desert terrain surrounding a lake that has obviously shrunk as much as it has is just kinda sad. Mono Lake, and the rest of the days pics

    Camped just off of June Lake. Was exhausted getting my tent up (My back was also hating me for a lot of abuse getting ready) but finally did, and after a quick walk around the area, fell asleep just after sunset. Incredibly quiet, except that the frequent Jet flyovers that seemed extra loud up there.
    Last edited by Twilight; 06-16-2007 at 08:14 AM.

  3. Default ***Day 2:June 12 495.2 Miles

    Out of the Campgrounds by 8, todays destination was a hotel just outside Zion. One of my longest driving days of my first leg of the trip.

    Take CA-120 past Mono Lake after breakfast. No stop to see the Tufa, as it isn't a paved road (I'm rather protective of my car), so on to the roller coaster. Several miles of this stretch of 120 has steep hills followed by drops into very short valleys. A couple of times I wondered if I would bottom out from the appearance at the top of the hills. But it was a fun ride.

    The Nevada desert is not really a scenic route, but it is beautiful in it's own way. NV-6 isn't as pretty as US-50, though, but it's as empty. Gassed up in Tonapah, with seemingly half it's buildings old and abandoned. And then, eventually, NV-375, the Extraterrestrial Highway. 120 and 6 had been quiet roads, with the other cars spaced out pretty well. But the hundred odd miles of 375, I had TWO cars going in the other direction. That, with the road seeming to go forever in front of you, is impressive in it's own way.

    Hit Rachel, and the Little Ale E Inn. An unabashed tourist trap merged with your local bar. A few locals were having a beer at the bar, while a couple of tourist familes were having some lunch at cafeteria type tables behind them or looking over the cheesy souveniers. This combo gives it a surprisingly cool feel that I liked. The UFO photos on the walls, the plastic Alien waving out the front window all were nice touchs.

    Heading out, with quick pictures of the Inn, Wrecker with Flying Saucer attached, and the Twirling dust devil in the distance., I was off. After 375, the scenery improved as the views shrunk in scope on NV-93. Overall, I liked 50 better to cross Nevada, but I was glad I did this route once in my life.

    The border crossing to Utah was a big shift. From desolate terrain with pockets of people to obvious farmland, the shift was interestingly quick.

    One final stop for the day before getting to my hotel, and that was the Kolob Canyon portion of Zion National Park. And it was a very nice starter for the Utah portion of my trip. The red paved road fit well into the bright red canyon. Early Evening wasn't the best time for pictures, as most of the cliffs were in shadow, especially with the clouds coming in, but it was still a worthy stop. The final stretch to Springdale is amazing on it's own, with so many National Park level views roadside, but seems to be very typical of all of southern Utah. Every road seems worthy to be a Scenic Highway with the amazing cliffs always visible on at least one side of the road.

    Hit the Hotel around 7:30 or so, and was too tired to do anything but get dinner and crash, so that is what I did.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-16-2007 at 10:30 AM. Reason: added link to RTA's article about the ET highway

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Thanks for the Reports

    I, too, was struck by the desolate beauty of central Nevada. You actually saw more cars than I did when I drove the Extraterrestrial Highway!. Look forward to more observations and pix.


  5. Default Day 3:130.6 miles

    Not much driving this day.

    Spent the morning in Zion. Impressed with the number of Shuttles. You really never worry about waiting for a bus as they are very close together.
    Didn't do any of the big hikes, just a couple of short ones. The Temple of Sinawava walk was nice for how small the canyon gets. I didn't finish it though, as I didn't want to have to wade the river, which is required to get to the end. The Weeping Rock was impressive on the amount of water seeping out of the rock itself

    Overall though, while nice, it isn't that different than a lot of the views you get elsewhere. Maybe if I did some of the more extreme hikes (there is one to the top of Angel's landing that induced some heights nervousness just from seeing people at the top (barely)) I might feel differently, but now, it's just on OK on the Nat. Park scale.

    Very nice drive out of the park to the East. I actually enjoyed some of the views in the East part of the park better. Such as this one of Checkerboard Mesa.

    The shift in terrain comes quick after you leave Zion, becoming a lot more Pastoral.

    Once you get onto UT-12, however, things crank up again to breathtaking. The entrance to Red Canyon in the Dixie Nat Forest introduces you to a shade of red that just doesn't seem possible, which continues on for a few miles.

    Eventually, you reach Bryce Canyon. Where as Zion was about impressive features in a tight canyon, Bryce is all about insanely breathtaking views of nearby features or 50 mile vistas. The 18 mile scenic drive is such there isn't a single stop that you can pass over. You are looking at the Hoodoo's in small or huge concentrations, every one different, with at least 50 miles of countryside serving a backdrop for the entire scene.

    The campground was pleasant here, if cold at night (it was in the 30's according to the Visitor's Center)

    The Night Sky in Bryce is worth noting as well. Bryce is one of the least light-polluted places in the country, and the difference in the night sky vs home(the Bay Area) is just amazing as well. They had a festival for Astronomy buffs actually starting when I was there, with a lot of telescopes set up one of the Parking lots.

  6. Default Day 4:121.6 Miles

    Got up early to hit Sunrise Point in Bryce, and did most of the Queen's Garden Hike. However, me still in my warm weather clothes due to the cold night, started to quickly overheat as it warmed up QUICK. So I went down most of the way, then went ahead and turned back up the hill.

    And so now it was off to take one of the best scenic routes I've ever driven.

    UT-12 continues the themes of yesterday, with Nat. Park level rock formations roadside and views of the seemingly the entire state. Thanx to here, I kept very close to the speed limit through Escalante, where a cop had someone else pulled over (Can you say Speed Trap, I know you can).

    Being as I don't have a 4x4, there wasn't much of the Grand Staircase NM to explore, except for one part. The Calf Creek Recreation Area (About 15 miles past Escalante) has a 6 mile round trip hike to a 135 waterfall in a box canyon. Be warned, this is a much more grueling than your average hike. A good portion of it is over sand, and there was very little shade. But the payoff is This. The water is a little too cold to swim, but it did feel good to step into after the heat of the hike. I just kicked back, had lunch, and enjoyed the view for an hour. As a note, the pool is fed not only by the waterfall, but by similar seepage as Weeping Rock in Zion.

    As fantastic as the hike was, it wiped me out, so change of plans. I had planned to camp on the shore of Lake Powell, but instead just hit a hotel on the outskirts of Capitol Reef. So I finished the drive along 12, which includes a climb to over 11000 ft and it's accompanying vista's, got my room, then hit the hot tub with This view. (Best Western Cap Reef). A nice way to end the day.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Where is this hot tub?

    Quote Originally Posted by Twilight View Post
    So I finished the drive along 12, which includes a climb to over 11000 ft and it's accompanying vista's, got my room, then hit the hot tub.
    Wow, what a view! Was the hot tub sufficiently warm? Thanks for the field reports thus far -- sounds like you are having an incredible trip.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tustin, California, United States

    Default Exact same route and stop!

    Ha, you must have stayed at the exact same Best Western we did, located on the outskirts of Torrey, UT. We were taking pictures out the back of our hotel room as well.

    Well, they were. I was still too pissed at the time. Haha.

    Glad your scenic route for the day fared well. I assume you're taking Route 24 to 95 and dipping south. You'll absolutely love the Glen Canyon drive if you're going that way (or already went that way by the time you read this).

  9. Default Day 5: 311.5 (1336 Total) Miles

    Yep That was the Best Western Capitol Reef, It looks kinda run down on the outside, but my room was very nice, and, as I said, the (10-12 person) hot tub felt fantastic and has a great view.

    And you pegged the route Kinless.

    Started the morning in Capitol Reef. Some fantastic views, but there isn't much unless you are willing to go off-road on the unpaved roads. That, combined with the fact that I've been seeing these fantastic rock formations roadside non-park for the past couple of days meant I didn't stay too long.

    So down UT-24 to UT-95, which still continues the theme of unbelievable views roadside. Stopped for gas at a very cool Phillips 76 Station in Hanksville. The Lake Powell Overlook at Hite Crossing is another one of those WOW spots that keep popping up.

    Then onto the very quiet Natural Bridges National Monument (Which officially put me $1 in the black on my National Parks Pass :) Around 4 other cars touring at the same time was it. The bridges themselves were only worth an eh, but the total area effect made the stop very worthwhile.

    Onto 4 Corners through the SE corner of Utah, which brings me to one of those things that proves this adventure makes a great comedy sometimes.
    I pass through Montezuma Creek, and see flashing lights turn onto the highway behind me as I make a right turn to keep following UT-262. The lights are all red, so I know it's not a cop. Eventually, the Ambulance passes me and continues on. After about a mile, I catch up to it. That is because it is stopped at a Hay Truck that is in off to the side of the road up in flames. Some moron threw a cig out the window, and it landed in the back. So it's up in flames. The Fire Dept. is working on it, but not very successfully, as it even starts brush around it aflame a few minutes after I've arrived. Pic Here

    Well, they have a local directing people onto a dirt road that goes around the affected area. it's an access road for some Oil Rigs in the area. I'm in my 350Z, which, as I've said before, isn't an vehicle I want to drive off-road. So I decide to try to wait it out. I pull off to the side and start reading. 45 minutes, and a 30 degree increase in my car later, I again try to inquire how long they figure it would be. Quite a while, as they had to bring a flatbed to get a lot of debris off the road as well as the truck itself.

    So I decide to go ahead and risk the dirt road. What I didn't realize that the hill down was not dirt, but sand. Soft sand about 6 inches deep. You can guess where this is going. Two minutes later, I've blocked the detour and am stuck.

    An hour later, we've dug out my car thanx to a couple of shovels from the firefighters, placed a large flat rock and some vegetation, under my rear wheel, and I'm finally on my way again. One more smaller sand patch that almost caused me to change my pants, and I'm back on the road.

    I soon get to Four Corners, kinda shaking my head at the amount of people here (still in the middle of nowhere) vs Natural Bridges. Oh well. The Indian Bazaar surrounding the monument was kinda surprising as well, but it seemed appropriate for as Tourist Trappish a site as 4 corners is.

    And one note for parents. Your kids probably will think it silly. It was a needed laugh watching 4 separate families get death glares from the kids (9-16 ages) when the parents made them get in a positions covering all 4 states. Especially since the metal monument was frying pan hot, resulting in even more complaining while holding their poses for the insistent parents.

    I ended in Cortez, Colorado. A note there, the Main Street Brewery serves the best food (and beer) I've had on my trip so far, so a big recommendation there.

    (The Rest of the Day's set

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Awesome photos and report

    I can't believe you went down that sandy road in the Z! Yikes. Glad it worked out OK though. Really enjoying your field reports!


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