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  1. Default Six Weeks Road Trip (Desert Southwest) at the planning stage of a 6 week road trip starting in march san fran, but having difficulty with the first section. wanting to go from san fran to alburquerque ( before heading south on the I25, along I10 to new orleans, north on the I55, before eventually heading west on the I94 and I90, finishing in seattle.

    I was hoping to head south from San Fran to the big sur,
    cutting back to yosemite,
    down to vegas via death valley and barstow,
    going to zion np, arches, canyonlands, mon valley, north rim grand canyon, then across to alburquerque via flagstaff

    just wanted to ask....

    ......does this seem too complicated? i going to be backtracking too much doing the big sure and yosmite?...should i miss out the big sur?

    ......also, at that time of the year ( march ), is camping okay in any of these areas to this time?

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts.....

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default red flags

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    You've got a couple of problems with your trip, mostly that it will still basically be winter when you are traveling.

    That means that Tioga Pass through Yosemite will be closed, so you will have to go around the Sierras to get to Death Valley. I also don't know why you would include Barstow in this area. Unless you've got a special reason to stop there, its quite a ways out of the way.

    You also will not be able to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon at this time of year. It will still be closed for the winter. If you want to visit the canyon, you'll have to visit the South Rim, which you could do after vegas and then go back up and around into Utah. You could then work your way south down through the 4 corners area to Albuq without going all the way back west to the Canyon.

    Camping will be possible, but you'll need cold weather gear. While days can be pleasant, it often still dips down into some pretty cold temperatures at night.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Six Weeks is a Lot of Time

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    But it's not forever. San Francisco to Las Vegas by the most direct route available in March is 571 miles. A route that includes Big Sur, Yosemite and Death Valley would be 1080 miles, or nearly double. The road east out of Yosemite through Tioga Pass will not be open in March, so as you are aware, your proposed route would entail a lot of backtracking. There is, fortunately, a middle ground. While it would be a shame to miss either Big Sur or Yosemite, one of them must be jettisoned from your trip. I would suggest that you leave out Big Sur and instead plan on an extra day and night in San Francisco and use that time to take a day trip over the Golden Gate Bridge and up along the coast of Marin County including Point Reyes National Seashore and Bodega Bay. This gets you some California coast without forcing you into a whole lot of frenetic driving. You can then proceed to Yosemite and see its western valleys, skirt around the Sierra Nevadas to see Death Valley, and continue on into Las Vegas.

    Similarly, I think I'd do Zion as a day trip from Las Vegas, and head for the south rim of the Grand Canyon (as Michael pointed out, the north rim will be closed) before continuing to Monument Valley and Arches before taking a short jog over to Grand Junction Colorado to see Colorado National Monument and use the Million Dollar Highway (US-550) down to Durango (and maybe a side trip to Mesa Verde) and Albuquerque.

    Yes, in a nutshell, I think your present plans are a bit too complicated. I think you're trying to see too much. Even though six weeks would probably be sufficient to let you fit everything in, at the end of it, I think you'd regret having spent so much time driving from place to place and not having spent enough time at those places. And yes, you will run into problems in many of theses places trying to camp in March, particularly anywhere on the Colorado Plateau or in the Rocky or Sierra Nevada Mountains. March is still winter and many of these places are going to be over a mile in elevation, both of which mean snow and cold. Come prepared, either with serious cold-weather camping gear or ready to 'camp out' in motels.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 09-07-2007 at 08:49 AM. Reason: fixed the link

  4. Default how long???

    thanks for your speedy replies.....yes, i thought i was trying to squeeze in too much...ill miss out big sur, too much backtracking. i meant to say the south rim of the grand was an error.
    as we are going in the winter, what is the best road to get from yosemite to death valley that will be open? since the pass is closed to the east, do i have to go all the way to bakersfiled via fresno, north in the 395, then east on the 190 to death valley?
    also, how long should be approx allow for the san fran-albq section?....3 weeks enough???


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Good, the Bad and ...

    Yes, reality does have a way of rearing its ugly head. The route from Yosemite to Death Valley in the absence of Tioga Pass is to leave Yosemite on CA-41 south to Fresno, then CA-99 south to Bakersfield and CA-58 east to Mojave and CA-14 north to join US-395 north. Finally (!) CA-190 will take you into Death Valley National Park. On the plus side, you could drive from San Francisco to Albuquerque in as little as two days, so three weeks id plenty of time to see the sights along the way.


  6. Default ..alt route?

    Thanks for the good info....

    been studying the map and guide books...sounds like a good route. was kinda hoping to get to the bruce canyon np though, is it possible to visit zion and bruce canyon in a 1 or 2 day trip from vegas? thanks

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Possible is not the Question

    A round trip from/to Las Vegas that included both Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks would entail just over 530 miles of driving. So it's possible to do as a two day trip. Trying to do it in one day would just leave you doing a lot of driving for little more than a ten minute photo-op at each park. The other problem is that in March, while the parks are technically open, a good portion of the access roads are subject to snow closures. Certainly most if not all the hiking trails will be closed or too treacherous to contemplate. Finally, Bryce Canyon is relatively isolated, so before you decide to include it in your plans, make sure that accommodations are available. If you limit yourself to just Zion, then I think you can have a quite pleasant morning's drive up from Las Vegas, spend a few hours in the park and have a relatively short drive back to the city. Again, you have the time to do what you've proposed, but you need to balance other factors to determine which will be the most rewarding itinerary and schedule for you, and only you can do that.


  8. Default ...continued planning...

    hi there...had a previous thread and managed to work out a route good route with your help from san fran via 4 corners and down to new orleans via the I-10 for most of the way....

    just some advice on my next stage would be great....( from new orleans )

    highway 61 to memphis ( with a side trip to nashville )
    I-55 ( N ) to st louis
    highway 61 to hannibal
    highway 36 to st joseph ( hannibal sounds nice, and dont reckon theres much to see in kansas city?
    I-29 ( N ) to sioux falls, then ( W ) on the I-90 to rapid city ( past badlands, rushmore etc )

    does this sounds an okay route to anyone???

    also, my final destination is seattle..once i hit buffalo, should i just continue all the way west on the I-90, or should i go another route.
    finally, is mt glacier worth a detour to?? should get, if we decide to go, around middle april, will the roads be open...

    thanks in advance for any comments/suggestions

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default Sounds good


    Your trip through Tennessee and Missouri sound reasonable.

    Kansas City has several good attractions (I used to live there) but I wouldn't necessarily encourage you to change your plans, especially if you are big Mark Twain, Pony Express and Jesse James fans.

    In Glacier National Park, Going to the Sun road will be closed in April so you could visit the east side, and drive around the west side, but the park is a long way out off the beaten track if you are pressed for time. That said, it is spectacular in late spring.

    The other highlights I don't see on your itinerary are Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks. The roads in Yellowstone don't open until May so that is out, but the main roads through the Tetons should be open, though the visitor centers and campgrounds will be closed. Check their websites as you get closer.

    As I'm sure you are aware, the trip through the plains and across the Rockies will be dependent on the weather. Storms are possible in this area well into May. You will likely have to play it by ear and take advantage of openings as they arise, and hunker down for a day or two if the going gets too rough.

    Regardless, you'll have a great adventure,

    Craig Sheumaker
    co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years

  10. Default ...great advice

    thanks alot for the info, alot to think about.
    i was planning on going to yellowstone, though you are saying it will be closed?...checked the website and it says although some sections are closed this time of year, some roads are open through yellowstone....i was just a bit concerned when you said it would dbe closed?

    also could you tell me the main sections of my route that i will have to be wary about regarding the weather/possible unpassable routes as you mentioned....

    thank you

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