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  1. #1

    Default California-Nevada-Arizona-Colorado-Utah-California

    Hi all,

    I'm busy planning a road trip for myself and my boyfriend (both from the UK) for late June-early July this year. We have 18 days and want to see a lot, have been wanting to do this for years! I've planned out a detailed route partly with the help of this brilliant website (thanks!) but now am finalising and wanted to check it was realistic.

    Day 1 - arrive LA late pm
    Day 2-3 - around LA
    Day 4 - LA to Palm Springs via Palms to Pines Highway - 150 miles
    Day 5 - Palm Springs to Las Vegas via Joshua Tree NP - 220 miles
    Day 6 - Las Vegas to Williams, Route 66 - 230 miles
    Day 7 - Williams to Bluff, via Grand Canyon South Rim, Cameron, Monument Valley - 280 miles
    Day 8 - Bluff to Durango, Durango to Silverton on San Juan Skyway, Silverton to Monticello on CO-145 & US-491 - total 300 miles
    Day 9 - Monticello to Tropic via Capitol Reef National Park and Escalante (on UT-95, UT-24 & UT-12) - 300 miles
    Day 10 - Tropic to Las Vegas - 250 miles
    Day 11 - Las Vegas to Bishop via Death Valley - 280 miles
    Day 12 - Bishop to Yosemite NP via Tioga Pass (stay night in Mariposa) - 200 miles
    Day 13 - Mariposa to San Francisco - 160 miles
    Day 14 - 15 San Francisco
    Day 16 - SF to San Simeon - 200 miles
    Day 17 - San Simeon to LA - 200 miles
    Day 18 - depart LA am

    I've been working out distances/time on GoogleMaps and I'm aware that on days 7 to 9 especially we're covering a lot of ground. The towns we stay in for the mid part of the trip are less important than what we see whilst driving - I just want to make sure I'm being sensible in terms of the distance we can cover as it is my boyfriend driving/me navigating, we're not sharing the driving (I don't have a license, he enjoys driving). We'll be sensible in terms of lots of breaks and setting off early but I'd love to have some reassurance from experienced road trippers that we won't be struggling to cover the miles and exhausting ourselves.

    My only other question is what type of rental car would you recommend we opt for? We'll be doing a lot of freeway driving but also roads like the Tioga Pass and some twisty roads in Colorado/Utah so would an 'Intermediate' rental car be suitable or do we need something more specific?

    Thanks for any help you can offer!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I've been working out distances/time on GoogleMaps
    The first thing to do is add 20% to the predicted drive times.

    A standard intermediate rental car will be fine. All the roads you will be driving on were designed for cars, you will not need a utility or 4wd vehicle.

    I would like to point out that between Tropic and Las Vegas, there's Bryce Canyon and Zion. We don't do "must sees" here, but if anything is a "must see" those 2 parks rank way up there.

    You can cut some time off the route by bypassing Las Vegas on the way out and going directly from Joshua Tree to the Grand Canyon. This would give you a little extra time in the Grand Canyon, and you will be going through Las Vegas anyway on the way back.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default It's doable, but .....

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Beyond what glc has already mentioned, I would like to add that although your plan is doable you are going to be rushing through some spectacular scenery and National parks. If you are happy to do so, then it isn't a problem, but sometimes less is more and if you wanted to spend a little more quality time I would consider heading from Monument valley to Bryce and Zion and cutting out Bluff/ Durango and back through Capitol reef and scenic 12. It is a wonderful drive up the Million dollar highway to Silverton and along scenic by way 12 to Tropic, I just think that you don't have enough time to enjoy the GC, Yosemite, Monument valley and the like with your present schedule.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Quote Originally Posted by cathgoof View Post
    Day 5 - Palm Springs to Las Vegas via Joshua Tree NP - 220 miles
    Day 6 - Las Vegas to Williams, Route 66 - 230 miles
    Considering that you are planning to revisit Las Vegas later in your trip, and considering how much you are planning to do in days 7-9, this routing doesn't seem to be ideal. I'd skip Vegas here and drive straight for Williams. That will give you some more much needed time around the Grand Canyon.

  5. #5


    I agree with the comments about the route and Las Vegas and about Zion and Bryce and I too would lose Durango if I had to to fit them in.

    However, I would take a step back and ask yourself the following question. Is this a once in a lifetime trip or do you think you will do something similar again ?

    If this is a once in a lifetime, stick with an exhausting plan because it is worth it. You will be seeing some of the most spectacular scenery on earth and you want to see as much of it as possible. You can rest when you get back.

    However, if you think you will be back in the future, you should cut the itinerary down to half or a third of the places you list and spend a day or two at each of the parks to see more of what they have to offer. See the other places agin at a more leasurly pace in later trips.

  6. #6


    Thanks for all your help everyone.

    I have taken your advice re. Las Vegas and we will just spend one night there when heading back West. I wouldn’t mind dropping the Palm Springs day but it seems to be that it wouldn’t be possible to drive directly from LA to Williams in a day? Thus we’ll probably have our Day 4 stop in Needles rather than Palm Springs so that we are closer to the Grand Canyon for Day 5. The ‘extra day’ we will use to have that bit longer around the Bryce Canyon and Zion area - these do look amazing and I don’t want to ‘just’ drive through them.

    We’ve also thought long and hard about doing as Southwest Dave suggests and cutting off the Colorado and Highway 12 part altogether - but I’m really keen to do both and don’t want to regret not doing them. In answer to UK’s comment it probably is a once in a lifetime thing for us (unfortunately!) so I guess we will probably will stick to the plan if people think it is doable - on balance we’re willing to see more and relax less. If I ever win the lottery we can come back and spend a week in each place :-)

    A slightly amended plan is below, if there’s any further advice let me know e.g. should we actually spend more time driving on a certain day to leave us with 2 nights in one area?

    Day 1 – arrive LA late pm
    Day 2 – LA
    Day 3 – LA
    Day 4 – LA to Needles via Palm Springs/Joshua Tree
    Day 5 – Needles to Grand Canyon, stay in Cameron
    Day 6 – Cameron to Cortez via Monument Valley
    Day 7 – Cortez to Dolores via San Juan Skyway
    Day 8 – Dolores to Boulder via Scenic HW 12
    Day 9 – Bryce Canyon NP, then stay in Springdale
    Day 10 – Zion NP a.m. then Springdale to Las Vegas
    Day 11 – Las Vegas to Bishop via Death Valley
    Day 12 – Bishop to Yosemite NP via Tioga Pass, stay in Mariposa
    Day 13 – Yosemite NP a.m. then Mariposa to San Francisco
    Day 14 – San Francisco
    Day 15 – San Francisco
    Day 16 – SF to San Simeon Route 1
    Day 17 – San Simeon to LA Route 1
    Day 18 – depart LA am

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    LA to Williams can be done in one day fairly easily - it's about 8 hours via I-10/I-15/I-40.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Some thoughts.

    Fair enough, I can certainly understand trying to make the most of the time available to you.

    I would definitely be looking to getting a lot closer to the Grand canyon and maximise your time there as you head through to Cameron. With an early start from Cameron I would push on to Durango or even to Silverton and then take it easy around the San Juan skyway, visiting the towns of Silverton, Ouray and Telluride, wonderful drive, wonderful towns ! Equally I would consider pushing on past Boulder to Tropic or even "Ruby's Inn" complex at the head of Bryce canyon to max your time between there and Zion. A long day but worth it in my opinion.

    When you are at Bryce it is best to drive to the far end of the Canyon and stop at the view points on the way back up, this puts them all on your side of the road and will save you having to keep pulling across the traffic.

    From Springdale you can get the free shuttle bus into Zion and the riverside walk is a great place to stroll through the canyon alongside the Virgin river, A short but steep trail to Weeping rock is worth the effort as well and Emerald pools is a nice walk but time could be against you.

    When in Yosemite try and find the time to drive up to Glacier point, it will show you a view you will never forget ! That could be a possibility in the morning before heading for San Fran.

    I would definitely recommend a tour to Alcatraz while in SF as the Island is a great experience, as is the boat trip, with views of the City and Golden gate bridge. If it is something you have considered doing then it's advisable to book in advance with official tickets via the NPS.

    Either way I think your trip will work out well and you will have an amazing time in this amazing and diverse area, and I would love to here all about it if you have the time to drop in when you return !

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