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  1. Default Southwest hidden gems? Nature + LA road trip. Suggestions?

    So I am trying to plan a 10ish day road trip in the Southwestern United States. I live in VT and my 15 year old daughter and I will be flying out together. This will be our second trip out. The last time, we went from Las Vegas to Area 51 (Rachel NV) to the Hollywood CA area, and back to Vegas. We drove through the Mojave desert, and visited Red Rocks Canyon along the way She likes the bright lights/big city. I like the natural beauty. We try to do both. We do need to go back to LA, but beyond that, I am open to suggestions. I do not hike. We prefer to view from the car, and get out and explore just a little bit. I have been researching Yosemite, and Sequoia. Death Valley sounds interesting but will most likely skip it because it will be a mid summer trip and I am sure quite hot. I also love the red rocks, and would love to see places like Bryce Canyon or areas similar. Valley of Fire is close to Vegas if we go back there. I hear it is awesome, but i feel like other places may be far better. One final point I would add is, although I am not totally opposed to a famous park loaded with tourists, I would love to find the hidden gem, where we can feel a bit more at one with the land around us, much as we did in the remote areas of Nevada. Any and all suggestions are welcome and appreciated!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A few thoughts to start with.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    A roadtrip through the South West is probably the most discussed trip on the trip planning forums. You might like to delve through them and see how others have planned.

    However, just a few thoughts - Just because it is summer and it WILL be hot, is no reason to skip Death Valley. You mention you prefer to view from the car with only some short hikes. Death Valley is ideally suited to that. You can admire most of it from the car with perhaps a very short walk to the main points such as Badwater and Zabriskie Point. When I was there it was late spring, I left the car and airconditioner running while I popped out of the car for a few minutes to take some photos. Just be sure you have a hat, sunscreen and lots of water.

    Your daughter likes the cities, whereas you prefer nature. You could combine these by including San Francisco, and then taking the Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1) to LA.

    As for hidden gems..... if they are in guide books or on the internet they will no longer be hidden. As on your last trip, they are the things upon which you stumble when exploring any area.

    Sounds like a great trip.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I tend to agree with Lifey -- if it's in a guide book, mentioned on the Internet (Facebook, these forums or otherwise) -- the gem is no longer hidden.

    That said, however, there are still many less-visited places that are absolutely worth the trip, not nearly as crowded, and some of them are really inexpensive. I agree that you might want to take the time to drive through Valley of Fire, though in July 2015 it was hot (though not quite as hot as Death Valley). Bryce Canyon is less visited than Zion, and Cedar Breaks National Monument has even less visitors than Bryce.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default A few (of many) options.

    Yosemite and Sequoia are beautiful parks which you can enjoy without the need for serious hiking so you could visit those and then head inland to San Fran and head back down the beautiful coastline around Big Sur via Monterey. There are a couple of quieter Redwood parks north and south of SF with Point Reyes National seashore and Golden Gate Rec area to the north if you should want to drive into SF over the Golden Gate bridge. Alcatraz I would recommend. An alternative trip could take you from LA through Joshua Tree NP to the Grand canyon south rim and then through Page AZ (Antelope canyon, Horseshoe bend, Lake Powel) to Zion NP and through Valley of Fire to LV before returning to LA. Monument valley, Bryce canyon and Death valley would be options to consider along with the less visited Coral Pink sand dunes SP and Mojave National preserve.

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