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  1. #1

    Default Unexpected 2 week loop from LAX...

    Hi everybody.

    A cancelled 2 week break in Palm Springs with my (ex)girlfriend in September has now presented me with a chance for a solo road trip (I'm not one for just refunding a flight ticket).

    I land at LAX on saturday 18th sept. and have a room booked that night, pick up a rental car on the morning of the 19th. Return the car on the tuesday morning 5th october. This gives me 15 nights on the road.

    Now, I know that LA loops are fairly popular on here, but if I have a great time on this trip then I will come back again, so therefore if I miss some "must-sees" on this trip, I can always catch them next time.

    I've had a play around on google maps and some other routefinders and plotted some places I'd like to visit. So I'd like to see Death Valley, Crater Lake, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Canyon and maybe a drive along US-50 across Nevada, obviously the order is not set yet. Does anybody have any recommended routes to take all that in? Is it even feasible with my 15 nights?
    Plenty of miles does not bother me too much, I got a good taste last summer doing nearly 2000 miles on a "relaxed" fortnight in southern california.

    Hope that was not too drawn out!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO



    With 15 days, you could essentially go anywhere west of the Mississippi.

    I threw something together for you which hits all your desired sights and adds a little more, it's 3000 miles.

    LA to DV via CA-14/US-395
    DV to Zion via Pahrump, NV-160, Las Vegas, I-15, UT-9
    Zion to GC via US-89 (Optional - North Rim via Alt-89) and AZ-64
    GC to Monument Valley via US-160/US-163
    Monument Valley to Capitol Reef via UT-261 (Moki Dugway, you would be going up)/UT-95/UT-24
    Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon via UT-12 (one of the greatest scenic highways anywhere)
    Bryce Canyon to Reno via US-89/UT-20/I-15/UT-21/NV-487/US-50/I-80

    Now, you may be running out of time and may have to skip Crater Lake. If so, just stay on I-80 to Sacramento and take I-5 back to LA. You could take US-395 to Lee Vining and take Tioga Pass (CA-120) into Yosemite.

    If you have time for Crater Lake, take US-395 from Reno to Susanville, CA-44/CA-89 to I-5, I-5 to OR-62.

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

    Default Lot's of choices.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    As nice as Crater lake might be it does add a lot of miles to your trip, wanna trade ? Depending on the pace you want to set yourself you could possibly add, by removing Crater lake, Monument valley, Arches NP, Canyonlands, Yosemite, San Fran and the PCH round Big Sur back to LA. You can trim to suit your needs but at 2500 miles it is doable and one way of doing it is; LA>Grand canyon South rim>Monument valley>Moab [Arches and Canyonlands]>Bryce canyon [via Torrey and Utah scenic 12] > Zion>Death valley>Yosemite [via Tioga pass [CA120]>SF > coast to LA.

    There really are thousands of options so I would look around the forums with a good map to hand and start adding some dots. When you have done so I am sure we could help to "fine tune" your trip.

  4. Default Another vote for ZION ... You GOTTA hike the NARROWS!

    Again, I'll put in a vote for wonderful Zion National Park, and the incredible walk IN the virgin river, through the NARROWS. It is mile after mile of breathtaking views of canyon walls towering hundreds of feet above you, and as you walk further upstream the walls of the canyon get closer and closer. There is no other experience on earth, as far as I've seen.

    You can take a day hike, or even sign up with an outfitter for an overnight trip. It is IMPERATIVE that you check the water levels and avoid flash flood conditions.

    Google ZION NARROWS WALK, or check out these links.

    A video that gives you some idea of what to expect, although NO video can reproduce what your eyes will see.

    If you want a really unique experience, you HAVE to go here. And if you have the time, you can easily spend several days here.

    Have a great trip.

  5. #5


    Thanks for the replies.

    I really like the look of the route that glc posted. The Moki Dugway looks like a fantastic road to drive, but would I be allowed to take my rental car along that stretch with it being gravel?

    Should I take in the GC via just the North Rim or should I schedule another day to see it from both north and south?

    Anyway here is a tentative plan so far (pretty much following glc's route suggestions):

    Sunday 19th September (Day 1) - LAX to Lone Pine
    Day 2 - Lone Pine to LV via DV and Pahrump
    Day 3 - LV to Zion (Overnight near the park, possibly Rockville?)
    Day 4 - Zion to GC North Rim (Overnight inside the NP or nearby, any suggestions?)
    Day 5 - GC North Rim to Mexican Hat via Monument Valley
    Day 6 - Mexican Hat to Torrey
    Day 7 - Torrey to Bryce Canyon (Overnight nearby, possibly Tropic?)
    Day 8 - Bryce Canyon to Ely, NV
    Day 9 - Ely to Reno or Lake Tahoe

    That leaves me with 6 days spare on the road, so I can either spend extra nights at places I've already listed or if I get to Reno/Tahoe on that timescale I have a couple of options:

    1. Head up to Crater Lake for a couple days and then take I-5 all the way back down to LA.
    2. Head south and take the Tioga Pass into Yosemite, and then west to spend a couple days taking the PCH down to LA.

    Decisions, decisions...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The North Rim is the rim less traveled. The South Rim has all the amenities. They are both spectacular. Lodging is very limited - the one lodge inside the park is generally booked far in advance, the next closest lodges are 18 and 45 miles away.

    If you don't want to chance the Moki, you can stay on 163 to 191 and pick up 95 before Blanding. I'd probably chance it as long as the weather's good and it's been graded fairly recently. Blanding has some decent lodging choices if needed.

    At Bryce, you can stay at Ruby's Best Western right outside the gate or head into Panguitch. The "New Western" is acceptable but not up to Best Western standards - it used to be one. Tropic has no hotels.

    At Zion, I'd stay in Springdale.

    Another option to look at would be to take 191 to Moab and see Arches and Canyonlands, then take I-70 to 24 to get to Tropic.

    With all these national parks, be sure to buy an annual parks pass at the first one you get to - it's $80 and will save you money when you will be visiting more than 4 or 5 parks.

  7. #7


    There is 1 drawback of arranging a trip like this with only 7 weeks notice; I'm getting a lot of "sold out" messages when looking at lodging, especially around the GC North Rim and Bryce. If I have to drive further to find a room on the day then so be it. Suppose I could get a tent and check out campgrounds as a backup option.

    Cheers for the heads-up on the NP Pass, good money saver.

    Unless the weather is atrocious (and I hope it isn't in late Sept.), I'll go for The Moki Dugway. I was just concerned whether or not driving a gravel road would contravene my Avis rental car contract. Mind you, I did a few miles on sand and gravel around Landers, CA (trying to find a large boulder :/) last summer and Avis were none the wiser ;)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    It's a numbered state highway, so it may not trigger the GPS. It's a very short unpaved stretch, it's paved on both sides of the cliff.

    I would almost bet you could find lodging in Panguitch with no problem. For the North Rim, you may have to look at Kanab or Page. My only personal recommendation there is do not stay at the Super 8 in Page.

    North Rim Camping

  9. #9


    Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but seen as I am leaving in just over a weeks time, I thought I'd check back in with my plans (or lack of them) and a few questions.

    The only things I have booked at the moment are the hotel near LAX for the first night and the rental car, so I'm nervous and excited at the same time, gotta love the freedom of a trip like this. I'm still planning on sticking with the itinerary posted in reply #5 until I've had a look around Utah. Once I've done that and taken stock of the time I have left, I'll then decide whether or not to head up through Northern Nevada or just head straight back to LA.

    I'm taking a laptop and planning to use it every morning to plan the day ahead and possibly book a hotel for the upcoming night but I'd like to have some decent paper maps as a back-up. Anyone got any recommendations for good maps and where to get them from on my first day heading north from LA?

    I've got a budget of $200 a day for gas, lodging etc so I think that should be OK I think as long as I don't get wasted in Vegas and fail on the poker tables. I'm probably gonna pick up a tent just incase lodging gets a bit tight around 1 or 2 of the NPs, even if it doesn't, I quite like camping and it could be a nice change from a motel every night. I would like to be able to donate the camping gear to some form of charity after I'm done with it, I presume that be fairly easy to do somewhere near LA before I depart for home?

    Anyway sorry for the long post, I'll try to log on here and maybe post pictures/experiences and seek advice while on the road.
    Last edited by timdalefan; 09-08-2010 at 12:09 PM. Reason: spelling

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    You shouldn't have any problems getting maps from gas stations to get you going. Your budget seems fine so no problems there. For Zion I would look at stopping in Springdale, it's right on the doorstep of Zion and the free shuttle buses into the canyon run from town, Ruby's Inn at Bryce is pretty cool as well.

    Good idea with the camping, although there is no guarantees that you will find camping in the NP's either, but hopefully.

    Looking forward to the updates, have a great time !

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