Trip to West Coast and Mid West
My wife and I are planning to take my parents (aged 74 and 62) on a trip to the US next summer (June 2010). We have about 28 days in total and out of this we are spending 7 days in the East coast covering New York, Niagara and Washington. This leaves us 21 days for the West coast and Mid West.
We are not too fond of the big cities, but would like to spend a day or so in major ones such LA, San Francisco and Vegas.
We have thought of the following route:
1. Fly into LA
2. Drive to Yosemite NP
3. Then San Francisco
4. Redwoods NP
5. Drive to Seattle (may be see Crater Lake NP on the way)
6. Vancouver (not really looking to spend a lot of time here, we are here because we need to catch the Rocky Mountaineer the following day)
7. Take the Rocky Mountaineer to Calgary (2 days)
8. Drive from Calgary to Yellow Stone (see Glacier NP on the way)
9. See some of the major attractions in the Great Circle (Archers NP, Glen Canyon, Monument Valley and Grand Canyon and others if time permits)
10. Los Vegas (see Hover Dam on the way)
11. Death Valley NP
12. Back to LA
Google puts the total mileage around 4800 and if we take the Rocky Mountaineer part out it is about 4200 miles. We can fly between some of the destinations to save time if we really have to, but our first preference is to drive.
It would be great if we can get some advice on the following:
1. Are we trying to do too much in 3 weeks?
2. Any other attractions that you would recommend based on our route?
3. We would like to hire a car for part of the trip and then to take a RV for other part (perhaps for the attractions in the Great Circle), any views on this?
4. I have not rented a RV before, would you recommend it on a trip like this?
5. Any recommendations on car and RV rental companies?
Many thanks in advance
easy and more difficult
Welcome to the RTA Forum!
I'll start with the easy one. I would not recommend trying to rent a car for part of your trip and an RV for another. That would dramatically increase your costs, as you'd be paying for two one-way drop fees. Just picking one or the other will be much cheaper.
As far as which is better, it really is a lifestyle choice. Cars/motels will usually be cheaper, but RVs mean you don't have to pack and unpack, and you get to spend your nights right out in nature.
The tougher question is if this trip is too busy. You are trying to pack a lot into 3 weeks, but it certainly could be done. The real question ends up being, does doing this trip require you to go at a pace you would be comfortable with. If you don't mind doing a quick overview, it will likely work, but if you really want to dig in and explore these areas, it won't. I would start by actually doing a sample day-by-day itinerary, which will let you see just how much time it would take to fit in everything you've decided you want to do, and how much time that would leave for extra time to rest, relax, and enjoy things.
I agree with Michael across the board but I would like to add that if you feel comfortable with the pace, I think it could be a bit too much "on the go" for your parents to enjoy. I know it would be too much for the over 70's in my family.
Another hurdle would be renting a car in Canada [Calgary] and dropping it off in the USA, as far as I understand it is not possible.
It's tough as there is so much to see and do. If Vancouver/Calgary is a "must do" for you, then I wonder if you could relax things a little by flying into Vancouver and doing your Calgary tour and then create a one way trip starting in Seattle and finishing in LA.
Many thanks for all your comments and advice.
Dave, regarding your suggestion about flying into Seattle and then finishing off in LA, what is your advice on covering places such as Grand Canyon (and other places in the Great Circle) and Yellow Stone?
One of many options.
There are many alternatives and there would be sacrifices to be made, so to do this you would have to research and find what works for you best at a pace you are happy with.
My thinking was something along the lines of making your way towards Yellowstone [possibly Glacier NP] and South through the Grand Teton's towards Utah and Arches NP. From there you could head down to the Grand canyon and Vegas. Some highlights could include Capitol Reef, Bryce canyon and Zion NP's and/or Monument valley and Lake Powell. From Vegas a trip across Death valley and head North to CA120 [Tioga pass] and into Yosemite valley. From here you could head across to San Fran and take the spectacular coast road to LA. Crater lake and the Redwoods would be off the list but you could visit some giant Sequoia tree's in Yosemite.
Like I say, these are just my thoughts and it's your trip and for you to decide. It's still a lot to get through so have a look at your options and when you think you have a nice balance of time and places to suit you, let us know and we can help "fine tune" it.
Enjoy the planning !