Results 1 to 4 of 4
  1. Default Vancouver to Santa Fe for Xmas

    We are pondering a road trip from Vancouver to Santa Fe for Xmas (along with our dog). We are not in a big hurry, but were thinking of taking 5 or 6 days to get down but need to get back in 4 for New Years. We are most interested in natural scenery and parks (maybe with the odd short hike to stretch the dog's and humans' legs) and have camping gear but given the season are assuming we'll have to spend nights in hotels (preferably small towns with some local character) since winter camping with a dog sounds like a drag. I was thinking of heading down the coast to somewhere around Bakersfield and cutting across would avoid most snow related problems. (We'll carry chains but won't be in a SUV or other 4x4--some midsize rental). I know that's a lot of geography to cover, but any tips about where the best points of getting over the mountains (or ones to avoid at that time of year), or particular towns to shoot for would be most appreciated. Thanks! Good local food or inn recs also very welcome.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Time is Your Friend, Miles are Not

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Generally when advance planning a winter RoadTrip, you want to minimize miles and maximize the amount of time you have to drive them in order to allow the greatest flexibility in dealing with weather. Planning to drive more miles in an attempt to avoid possible storms is just counter-productive. You can't know more than a day or two in advance where any trouble spots will be and having to cover more miles in the same or less time just means that you will, perhaps, have to press on into unsafe conditions because you have not left yourself any other choice.

    With all that said, you only have 4 days for your return drive, so I'd plan on using the shortest route possible, namely US-84/US-160/US-491/US-191/US-6 through Durango and Moab to Salt Lake City, and then the Interstates I-15/I-84/I-82/I-90/I-5/BC-99 through the northern mountains to home. Such a route needs 3 solid days of driving but leaves you a full day 'extra' to sit out any inclement weather. Besides, it's a very scenic route and if the weather looks like it will co-operate, you can use that extra day to visit Arches National Park, the Great Salt Lake, the Thousand Springs of the Snake River and other attractions en route.

    Coming down through Bakersfield adds around 500 miles and a full day of driving to the trip, and so would leave absolutely no margin for error or weather on your return drive, but would be just fine for the drive southward if there are things along that route that you want to see, such as Crater Lake, Mount Shasta, the Grand Canyon, etc. But it is not an inherently safer route. And as far as places to stop every few hours to let the three of 'you get some exercise, they abound everywhere.


  3. Default Vancouver to Santa Fe for Xmas

    Thanks for the reply. I had assumed the coastal route would be milder in winter than the interior, but even if it aint necessarily so, we still would like to take different routes down and back. Our whole reason for driving instead of flying is to take our time and see some stuff. We need to be in NM on Dec 20, but can leave whenever we like from BC. I am now thinking we need more like a week to give us ample cushion to see things and in case of weather detours.

    Here's what I am thinking for the southern route. Day 1: Grit our teeth down I-5 to Portland and over to the northern coast. (6-7 hrs?) Day 2: toodle along the coast road to Arcata or somewhere nearby, OR cut back inland down to Shasta. (6 hrs?) Day 3: Hammer down as far as we can stand toward Bakersfield. (Any recs on how to do that most painlessly?) (maybe 9 hrs?) Day 4: explore the Mojave and head toward Grand Canyon, or maybe detour down to Joshua tree (not more than 4 hrs driving). Day 5: arrive Grand Canyon (Any recs on small towns to stay on this route?), Day 6 stay around the canyon and painted desert. Day 7 onto Santa Fe (~6 or 7 hrs?). Any particular side roads worth taking along this route most appreciated, as well as trouble spots to avoid?

    On the return we are more constrained because we can't leave until Dec 27 and need to cross the border in holiday traffic and be at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal just south of Vancouver by 6pm on Dec 31. So we'll take the hypotenuse route and stick to interstates. I am thinking the first day of just getting to Moab UT, then push toward Boise on Day 2, then we have 2 days to get over the WA mountains (any recs for the best route through the mountains at this time of year?) or detour to Portland if the weather is bad. Any suggestions about the best routes to take along this general plan or towns to shoot for, and special trouble spots to avoid or keep our eye on the weather as we go?

    Thanks for the help!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default And Now a Few Words...

    ...from reality. Unfortunately, your estimated drive times for getting to Bakersfield are wildly optimistic. It will take you three full, solid days of 10-12 hours 'in the saddle' to get to Bakersfield by the route you have outlined. That includes time for meals, fuel and rest stops, but NOT major sight-seeing visits. The most painless way to do that is not to 'grit (y)our teeth', 'hammer down' or go 'as far as (you) can stand', but rather just keep up a steady pace of 450-500 miles a day with a few short breaks each day for mental and physical R&R. Trying to push beyond your own comfort limits on a given day means that you'll be trying to decide when your too tired to think and drive rationally when you're already too tired to think and drive rationally, and then you'll just be starting the next day already behind the curve. Just plan on overnight stops at roughly Newport, OR and Leggett, CA if you want to get to Bakersfield by the end of the third day.

    Then if you intend to go from Bakersfield to Joshua Tree, you will perforce be driving through the outer fringes of the L.A. Basin making the need for proper rest on the previous days all the more important and slowing you down a fair bit in getting to the park. You should probably plan on being ready to make your visit to Joshua Tree relatively short and then pulling up for the night in Needles, CA. That would leave you time the next day to visit the Grand Canyon and end up in Flagstaff for the night and then complete your drive to Santa Fe on the next (sixth) day. And again, you should try, if at all possible, to budget another day for this drive to allow you mire time to see things along the way and/or if the weather turns nasty.


Similar Threads

  1. Xmas Boston Miami
    By soxfan508 in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 10-24-2009, 08:53 AM
  2. Vancouver to Santa Barbara. Need advice
    By court in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 03-04-2009, 03:01 PM
  3. Vancouver Mt Rushmore Xmas 08
    By Geoff Sadler in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 11-26-2007, 07:20 AM
  4. SEA-Santa Barbara-Vegas-Calgary-Vancouver-SEA
    By alec in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 02-27-2004, 01:47 AM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts