My fiancee and I are planning a 2 month trip out west/southwest starting in mid/late April. We plan to fly to Portland, OR and pick up a car that we're able to borrow, then follow this general outline:
-Drive down Portland coast to Redwoods Forest in CA
-San Francisco, then drive along Big Sur/Route 1 coast
-Cut across to Joshua Tree NP, CA
-Tucson, AZ/Saguaro desert NP
-Santa Fe, NM
-Back to AZ for Painted Desert/Petrified Forest and Grand Canyon
-Bryce Canyon, other parks in UT
-Mesa Verde, Boulder, and Rocky Mts in CO
-Points of interest in WY and many days in Yellowstone/Tetons
-To circle back to Portland, either go up through MT all the way to Glacier NP, then down and over to Portland, or drive through Southern MT and Idaho back to Portland.
We don't have a set idea yet how many days to spend in each place, but we're giving ourselves about 2 months to be able to mosey, explore, and enjoy the scenery.
Budget question: we don't have to rent a car and our borrowed car gets good gas mileage, so that will cut down $$. We also want to spend most nights camping or coachsurfing near the national parks, and in cities either couchsurf or stay in hostels. We plan to make/pack many of our meals, but do want to enjoy restaurants/diners once in a while so we don't go too crazy.
Given all this, what would be a reasonable budget to plan for? I've read a few people on this forum advising $100/day per person, but that would run us about $12,000 total! Since our expenses are so frugal do you think it's safe to budget less than that?
Just looking to you seasoned travellers for advice -- this is our first journey on the open road and this forum is awesome! Thanks :)
PS- on a separate note, the reason we're starting the trip with California and southwest first is because I figure it gets really hot in the desert in late spring/early summer, so if we start off in those places in late April/early May then by the time we get to WY/MT, it will be mid-late June which I've heard is optimal visiting time for Yellowstone and other WY/MT parks. Agree??