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  1. Default 8-day road trip over CO, AZ, and NM

    Hello everyone,

    I am new to here and glad to find this informative forum. I am planning an 8-full-day road trip (7/15-24) starting and ending at Denver, CO. I am thinking of doing a counterclockwise circle to visit following places:

    Rocky Mountain National Park
    Grand Junction, CO
    Canyonlands National Park
    Monument Valley
    Page, AZ (Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area)
    Sedona, AZ
    Phoenix, AZ
    Saguaro National Park
    White Sands National Monument
    Carlsbad Caverns National Park
    Santa Fe, NM!17616629

    Although I have a couple road trip experiences, I am not sure if my plan is too ambitious or it's manageable. All suggestions and advice are very much appreciated!! Thanks a lot!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Too Ambitious by Half

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Yeah the simple fact is that you'd be looking at needing at least five and a half days just to drive to the entrances of each of those sites (or pass through town on the Interstate as the case may be). That would leave you all of two hours, on average, to get into each of them see whatever you could and be back on the road. That's just not going to be fun, or worth it, in the end.

    What to cut out to make it more enjoyable is up to you, but whatever you cut, it would have to remove at least 300-400 miles from your driving and three or more stops from your itinerary. That would argue for skipping the southern Arizona and New Mexico destinations, making I-40 a rough southern boundary for your trip. If you do that maybe you could substitute Petrified Forest National park and Petroglyph National Monument instead.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default do the math

    I have to agree with Buck, there's just no way to do all of that in 8 days and hope to have any time at all to see any of it!

    Look at it this way, you've listed 18 distinct places you want to see. Even before you even factor in the driving, that means you'd have to visit more than 2 different places each day! Once that drive time is factored in, then, as Buck said, you'd have at most a couple hours at each of these places - many of which deserve at least a full day of your time.

    I'll also note that it does seem a bit strange that you'd come within a few miles of the Grand Canyon and that is not something you've put on your list - but since the Grand Canyon isn't a priority, I think I would recommend an even bigger cut than Buck. Rather than using I-40 as your border, I would limit yourself to 2 states. Either do the things you have planned in CO and UT or do the stops you've got planned in CO and NM. In either of those cases, you've already got more than enough to fill up a weeks worth of time.

    I would also strongly suggest that you look at plotting your trip out day by day - doing so would show you just how impossible it would be to complete the plan you've laid out, and should give you a much better idea of how much you can actually fit into 8 days.

  4. Default

    Thank you for the suggestions!! The Petrified Forest National park looks really amazing. I'll definitely include it and trim down other parts of my itinerary.
    another question: is Havasu Falls worth visiting?
    Thanks a lot!!
    Last edited by kaikaiscar; 04-29-2017 at 02:14 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    To be honest you don't have time to visit Havasu Falls as it's a difficult and time consuming place to get to. You probably need to half your mileage and decide what's more important and then decide whether Denver or Vegas would be the best start point.

    Example Denver; RMNP, Colorado National Monument, Arches and Canyonlands, Mesa Verde, (maybe a detour to Four corners/Monument valley before Mesa V.) drive the 'Million dollar Highway' (US550) through Silverton and Ouray, Black canyon, Currecanti National Recreation area (US50) Great Sand dunes(?) Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods back to Denver.

    Example Las Vegas. Zion NP, Bryce canyon NP, Capital Reef NP, Arches and Canyonlands, Monument valley, Page, Grand canyon, Sedona and back to Vegas.

    We all start out by listing way to much to see and then it's a case of trimming back. You can attempt to see too much and end up actually seeing very little of these amazing places. There are also many other options, as aid the above are just a couple of examples that will keep you busy but at least have time to enjoy.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Daily timing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    I would also strongly suggest that you look at plotting your trip out day by day - doing so would show you just how impossible it would be to complete the plan you've laid out, and should give you a much better idea of how much you can actually fit into 8 days.
    Whilst you are doing that, be aware that whereas computer mapping programs will give you accurate mileage, their timing is not to be heeded. Those programs live in the cyber world and their timing is cyber timing. For you to lay out a day by day itinerary you will need real world timing. Count on covering an average of 55 miles each hour whilst travelling on interstate highways. On US highways and other minor roads it will be less, sometimes considerably less. This timing allows for traffic hold ups and congestion, road construction hold ups and essential stops such as fuel and rest areas. 550 miles is a full day behind the wheel with little or no time for sightseeing.

    I tend to agree with Dave's suiggestions from Denver. Actually the State of Colorado has so many attractions, scenic routes and national and state parks that you could spend a month there and not cover the same road twice. Be sure to pick up a free State issued map of the State. CO issues a very good one, with attractions which sometimes are not on any other maps. It helped me discover some gems.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Phoenix, Arizona

    Default Havasu Falls


    Just as information, since you asked about Havasu Falls? That's not really a road trip destination, it's a hiking destination (unless you're wealthy, in which case you can hire a helicopter to take you there). Regular people have to drive to a place called Hualapai Hilltop, which is really nothing but a parking area on the edge of a cliff, in the middle of nowhere, 166 miles from Flagstaff. To reach the village of Supai, you have to leave your car in the lot, and hike the best part of 10 miles down into the canyon. There are actually three waterfalls along Havasu Creek; Havasu Falls is merely the most famous. To reach the falls, you have to hike a couple of miles more beyond the village. This isn't a day hike, because, naturally, you have to hike back out again (and uphill is a lot tougher). Most visitors take three days for the trip, staying two nights in the canyon.

    Accommodations in Supai are very limited--one tiny hotel, and a campground. Rooms and camp sites must be reserved well in advance, but here's the hardest part: to go there at all, you need to purchase a visitors permit from the Havasupai Tribe. These can only be obtained by calling a special phone number, and, just like tickets to a big rock concert, all the permits for the entire year are generally snapped up in a matter of hours, the first day they're made available. Most of them are bought in bulk, or even pre-sold to tour operators, who then re-sell them to their clients for a significant profit. That's become a bit of a scandal, because it's so unfair. I've heard they're thinking of changing the system; I'm not sure where that effort stands.

    Havasu Falls is a magical place, but it's been spoiled rather badly by its popularity. I've only been once, and that was almost 30 years ago. Even then, you had to plan ahead, but compared with today, it was easy. I feel very lucky to have had that opportunity!


  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    To help you even further, one of the easiest ways to do the next step of planning (the cutting back after deciding what's priority) is to start outlining each day's itinerary. Lifey suggested using the mileage that online map programs give you and divide by 55 (50 if they are on 2-lane roads), that's how many hours it will take to drive somewhere. Then allow time to see it.

    Most of the national parks take at least a full day to see. Antelope Canyon requires that you sign up for a tour (AFAIK), so you'll need to keep that into consideration.

    Bear in mind also that Phoenix and Tucson will be around 110-115 F in mid-July. It may behoove you to wait on this part of the trip until you can do it in Nov-April, if you don't like that kind of (dry) heat. Fortunately, Saguaro NP is mostly a drive-through, but there are two sections: the section of old growth, and the section where it's a forest. It's lovely in the spring, but HOT in the summer. The most pleasant time for summer is at daybreak.


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