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  1. #31

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    We visited quite a few of the places on your list in May and I really don't think you will get 'canyon fatigue' - some you see up close, others from a distance and different angles, and they're all different and with amazingly different colors to them.

    One thing I would say, though, when you're planning these days, some of the sites in these parts are at their best at either sunrise, late afternoon light or sunset. So you should try to experience some of them at these 'magical' times, which will mean some early mornings and/or late nights. For example, I drove out to Horseshoe bend just before sunrise and intended to stay for maybe 20 minutes. I was still there two hours later, sitting down on the cliff edge, just marvelling at how the colors of the river and the canyon and the sky were changing....

    And another thing: you'll see some amazing night skies on your trip, especially if you're camping away from the major towns. My biggest regret was not to have a tripod with me (even a small travel size one) to get any good night photography, so if you can take one, I would highly recommend it.

    We drove to Muley Point (fantastic views and it's quiet there, which is very nice) in a rental car and found the dirt road quite safe and manageable. I wouldn't drive it if it was raining though.

    Have a great trip!

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,532

    Default Alcatraz.

    Harry gave you some excellent suggestions while in and around San Francisco, but the one thing I wouldn't pass up is a trip to Alcatraz. I would also recommend you book the boat in advance to save standing in queues at the ticket office and run the risk of not getting on the next boat. If this appeals then check out the National parks site to book your boat ticket, it's the only official booking office where you will not pay fees or have to buy other tours you may not want, which is another way agents make their money.

    What you could consider doing is driving over the Golden Gate bridge and visiting the Marin Headlands etc at the start of your trip and then take a couple of days to relax in SF at the end of your trip. I think there is a good campground at Kirby cove. You won't really need a car in the city as it's easier and cheaper to use the trams and your legs to get around. You might also find camping in SF very limited and expensive, so you should consider looking at a motel room, some of the best value lodgings with easy access to Piers and City are found along Lombard/Gough St.

  3. #33

    Default

    I have a couple of questions.

    Where do you live? Not specifically, but where will you be coming from to SFO.
    I know that one of you is 27 and one is 19. How about ages for the other two?

    I have never been to Alcatraz, but it would be another interesting facet of SFO. However, regarding the car, while it will require some parking fees, you do want to drive those two streets I suggested, so you need it for that. I think the drive out to Fort Point and around to Sea Cliff would also be better with a car.
    Last edited by Harry Kline; 12-17-2015 at 08:49 PM.

  4. Default

    Thank you for your San Francisco suggestions. I will make a plan for the city after the rest of the trip is planned.

    We are from Slovenia but we'll be flying from Venice (Italy) to Istanbul (Turkey) and then to San Francisco. The other two are 24 and 27 (hopefully - he is on the fence. If he decides not to go, the back up is 24 years old which means I'll be the only one driving).

    This is our second attempt:

    Day 1 [Wednesday, 20th, July]: Venice, Italy to Istanbul, Turkey

    Day 2 [Thursday, 21st, July]: Istanbul, Turkey to San Francisco, CA [37 miles]
    Sleeping: Anthony Chabot Regional Park

    Day 3 [Friday, 22nd, July]: Anthony Chabot to Yosemite Village [170 miles]
    Sleeping: one of the campgrounds

    Day 4 [Saturday 23rd, July]: Yosemite National Park [0 miles – shuttles]

    Day 5 [Sunday 24th, July]: Yosemite NP to Convict Lake [144 miles]
    Stops: Mono Lake and Devil's Postpile

    Day 6 [Monday 25th, July]: Convict Lake to Hilltop Campground (Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest) [360 miles]
    Stops: Death Valley Sights:Mosaic Canyon, Mesquite Sand Dunes, Devil's Golfcourse, Artist's Palette, Zabriskie Point
    Sleeping: Hilltop Campground

    Day 7: [Tuesday 26th, July]: Hilltop Campground to Watchman Campground (Zion) [215 miles]
    Stops: Valley of Fire State Park
    Sleeping: Watchman Campground in Zion NP

    Day 8: [Wednesday 27th, July]: Zion NP [0 miles – shuttles]

    Day 9: [Thursday 28th, July]: Zion to Jacob Lake Campground [164 miles]
    Stops: Grand Canyon North Rim
    Sleeping: Jacob Lake Campground

    Day 10 [Friday 29th, July]: Jacob Lake to Page Campground [90 miles]
    Stops: Vermillion Cliff, Cliff Dwellings, Navajo Bridge, Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon, Glen Canyon Dam
    Sleeping: Page Campground

    Day 11 [Saturday 30th, July]: Page to Natural Bridges [200 miles]
    Stops: Agathla Peak, Monument Valley (from the parking lot – dirt roads), Mexican Hat, Gooseneck's State Park, Moki Dugway
    Sleeping: Natural Bridges Campsite

    Day 12 [Sunday 31st, July]: Natural Bridges to Willow Flat Campground (Canyonlands) [170 miles]
    Stops: Needles overlook (Canyonlands), Dead Horse Point State park
    Sleeping: Willow Flat Campground

    Day 13 [Monday 1st, August]: Willow Flat to Devils Garden Campground (Arches) [55 miles]
    Stops: What is left of Canyonlands, Arches sights
    Sleeping: Devil's Garden Campground

    Day 14 [Tuesday 2nd, August]: Devil's Garden to Morefield Campground (Mesa Verde) [155 miles]
    Sleeping: Morefield Campground

    Day 15 [Wednesday 3rd, August]: Morefield Campground to Saddlehorn Campground [250 miles]
    Stops: Million Dollar Highway, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado National Monument
    Sleeping: Saddlehorn Campground

    Day 15 [Thursday 4th, August]: Saddlehorn to Colorado Springs [310 miles]
    Stops: Garden of the Gods
    - Sleeping:motel

    Day 16 [Friday 5th, August]: Colorado Springs to Capulin [235 miles]
    Stops: Pikes Peak, Capulin Volcano
    Sleeping: Capulin RV Park

    Day 17: [Saturday 6th, August]: Capulin to El Morro Campground [378 miles]
    Stops: Take US64 through Taos, Banderas Volcano and Ice Caves
    Sleeping: El Morro Campground

    Day 18 [Sunday 7th, August]: El Morro to Cave Spring Campground [290 miles]
    Stops: Petrified Forest/Painted Desert NP, Boynton Canyon Road (over Sedona)
    Sleeping: Cave Spring Campground

    Day 19 [Monday 8th, August]: Cave Spring to South Rim [145 miles]
    Stops: Sunset Crater Volcano, Wupatki National Monument
    Sleeping: Mather Campground

    Day 20 [Tuesday 9th, August]: South Rim [0 miles – shuttles]

    Day 21 [Wednesday 10th, August]: South Rim to Mojave National Preserve [409 miles]
    Stops: Old Route 66, Hoover Dam
    Sleeping: Hole in the Wall Campground

    Day 22 [Thursday 11th, August]: Mojave to Hungry Gulch Campground (Lake Isabella) [260 miles]
    - Stops: ???
    Sleeping: Hungry Gulch Campground

    Day 23 [Friday 12th, August]: Lake Isabella to Grant Grove [155 miles]
    Sleeping: Sunset Campground

    Day 24 [Saturday 13th, August]: Sequoia NP [0 miles – shuttles]

    Day 25 [Sunday 14th, August]: Sequoia to Kirby Cove [340 miles]
    Stops: Point Reyes National Seashore
    Sleeping: Kirby Cove

    Day 26 [Monday 15th, August]: Golden Gate Recreation Area [??? Miles]

    Day 27 [Tuesday 16th, August]: San Francisco

    Day 28 [Wednesday 17th, August]: San Francisco

  5. #35

    Default

    First, you seem to have a very well-planned trip. I hope to add a few suggestions, but basically, you've done a good itinerary.

    Don't assume that only you can drive the rental. California is the most liberal state in waiving fees, so ask first about underage second driver. However, anyone not driving should have a task to do, either as journalist - yes, you definitely want to keep a record of your trip - navigator/map reader, or entertainment locator on the radio. Also, try to switch seats every hour or so, so that everyone gets a ride in the front passenger seat. The view is always better from there.

    Once you have your rental, make a stop at a Walmart or Target supercenter, and (if you don't already have these) buy a medium-sized plastic cooler, a 24-pack of bottled water, a bag of ice for the cooler, a good flashlight (torch) with spare batteries, a GPS unit and mount for it, and a first aid kit. You should already have a current Rand McNally Road Atlas, but if not, get one here too. State maps are usually available free at the welcome center as you cross into each state on an interstate highway.

    When you get to Yosemite buy the 'America The Beautiful' Annual National Parks Pass for $80. You only need one for everybody in the car, and it will gain you entrance to all national parks and monuments on the trip. (You have about a dozen on your itinerary) Show it at every park entrance.

    On day 11, you could pay for the Navajo Tour of Monument Valley ($75/person) to see everything there, but you will have some really nice hiking at Natural Bridges, so I agree with your plan to skip the tour. If the dirt road looks good going south from the top of Moki Dugway, you might want to drive out to Muley Point anyway. The view there is great!

    Up in Moab on Days 13/14, you could go to the tourist Center and inquire about the three scenic drives if you have some time to spare. I recommend the Potash Road drive, where you could hike out to Corona Arch and Bowtie Arch, but all three drives are excellent.

    On Day 15 I have a suggestion for you. If you take exit 240 on I-70 near Idaho Springs, you could drive up http://www.mountevans.com/. It is a little higher than Pikes Peak, is the highest paved road in the lower 48, and on a clear day, you'll see downtown Denver from the summit. Allow at least two hours to do it, but you won't regret it.

    Two more tips... Always drink lots of water, as it is easy to get dehydrated in the Southwest. Replenish your supply as needed, but try to drink 2-3 12-ounce bottles every day. And always stay on the marked paths in the national parks. Lots of people lose their lives every year either by falls or wildlife confrontations. Don't let any of your party be one of them.

    Other than those few points, you have a good plan. Make sure to reserve those campsites early, as the ones in the parks fill up fast.

  6. Default

    Today we bought plane tickets (the one that was on the fence, finally decided and said yes). There are two major changes. The first one is the date. We moved up the trip to 23rd June to 22nd July (because of work). The second change is the destination. We'll be flying to Los Angeles. I found an extremely good price for the plane ticket so it was a no-brainer.

    The trip will basically remain the same. The first thing we need to decide is which direction should we take. Should we start with Sequoia-Yosemite-Convict Lake... or Mojave-Hoover Dam-South Rim... ? What do you think?
    Last edited by Pujsek; 12-22-2015 at 07:43 AM. Reason: Mistakes

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,532

    Default

    I would choose to head to the GC first and Yosemite towards the end and then if you can fit it into your schedule take a couple of days to get from SF to LA via the coast highway around Big Sur. From GC head through Monument valley to Natural bridges, Mesa Verde, Colorado Springs via Million dollar highway etc and then head back to Arches and Canyonlands on I70 and then take UT24 and scenic 12 through Capitol Reef to Bryce, Page, North rim and Zion.

  8. #38

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    Sorry Dave, but I disagree. While UT24/UT12 through Grand Staircase-Escalante is good, they would be trading everything in New Mexico for it, Capulin Volcano, Taos, Banderas Ice Cave and El Morro.

    The LAX arrival doesn't change the original itinerary too much. Drive up to Bakersfield and camp there the first night. Go on up to Yosemite the following day and follow the original routing. You have everything on your itinerary that you asked for, so I wouldn't alter it too much.

    Since your fence-sitter got on board, I think you have at least two drivers now. Am I right? That will help immensely. Let us know what you decide, and plan on giving a field report when you actually make the trip. It is always nice to get a follow up on how it turns out.

    Harry

  9. #39
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,532

    Default It's good to share different views.

    No need to apologise Harry, we all have our preferences and base suggestions on them. One of the reasons to reverse it was that if they are still going to Point Reyes and SF they will be heading south down the coast putting the ocean on their side of the road and besides that it really doesn't matter what direction a loop trip takes, you can still go to all the same places. Having said that, I would still prefer Capitol Reef, Bryce canyon and Big Sur to New Mexico, but that's me. Add to that the fact it would then be possible to visit Rocky mountain NP as well and it's kind of appealing. Of course the most important thing is the OP does his own thing while we just put the suggestions out there and help piece it together.

    Dave.

  10. #40

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    Yes, I agree that Capitol Reef and Bryce, along with that drive down UT12 are spectacular. If that does become the choice, I always recommend driving all the way to the south end of Bryce Canyon so that all turnouts are to the right on the way back, just like on the California coast. There is plenty of time to fine tune the itinerary, and like you mentioned, it's his trip and we're just making suggestions.

    Harry

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