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  1. Default Thanksgiving Road Trip - Southwest or PNW - Need Inspiration!

    Hi All!

    My husband and I (33) are planning our annual Thanksgiving trip and this year we would love to explore somewhere new. We live in San Diego and are open to either driving from here, or flying somewhere and renting a car. In past years we have done the California coast up to Big Sur, Seattle down the Washington and Oregon coast to the CA Redwoods, and Portland to Hood River to Idaho.

    We would love to explore somewhere new! We loved Washington and Oregon coast so much in November. We don't mind the rain, in fact - we embraced it and enjoyed the lack of crowds and lower price hotel rooms!

    I'd love to know what ideas you may have for some inspiration. We would be traveling from Friday, November 22nd to Sunday, December 1st. Olympic National Park was an idea, but I'm not sure what else to pair that with. I also have never been to Utah, New Mexico or Colorado - so I'm not sure if I should head that way.

    We would be looking to stay in nice accomodations (would love your ideas on the best/nicest hotels to focus on) and we love to drive around and explore, we like easy hikes or nice walks more than huge hikes and LOVE food/wine/spirits.

    Is this enough to have you guys throw around some ideas? Please let me know anything else you may need to help!

  2. Default

    I should add - we have never done Grand Canyon..

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

    Default Lots of options.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    It's really tough to help someone decide where they should go, it's much easier to help them plan once they have decided what works best for them. Olympic NP is wonderful but you would be covering much of the same ground as you have visited before. I love the National parks of southern Utah and Colorado is beautiful, but you are travelling at a time when the weather could throw almost anything at you, including pleasant days and cold nights to snow and ice storms. A trip out to the Grand canyon and into Utah offers some amazing drives with even more amazing scenery. One thing you could do is to research and make a plan 'A' and a plan 'B' and even a 'C' and leave it open until you know what the weather will be doing and where. Staying south doesn't guarantee you will see better weather but it's often warmer than at higher elevations such as in the Rockies. Big Bend in Texas is a lovely remote National park and you could possibly make an interesting loop trip out there and back through Arizona and New Mexico, but with so many options you will have to research. Search the forums and check out the other trip planning pages in the tool bars for some inspiration and once you have a few ideas put together we can help with the details.

  4. Default

    Thank you - if we wanted to do Grand Canyon/Utah - what would your highlights be knowing we were going in late November?

    I love your idea of having some back up plans, but what are maybe two cities we should look to use as base points that would have good hotels and restaurants? This will help me start to plan!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    How many days will you have available for this trip? That will make a huge difference in how far you can go and how many places you can visit.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default A few ideas.

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    How many days will you have available for this trip? That will make a huge difference in how far you can go and how many places you can visit.
    George. The original post states "We would be travelling from Friday, November 22nd to Sunday, December 1st."

    Thank you - if we wanted to do Grand Canyon/Utah - what would your highlights be knowing we were going in late November?
    We all have different travel styles and the pace we travel at can vary, I usually keep on the move while having time to enjoy my surroundings. To answer your question, if it were my trip I would look at heading to the Grand canyon south rim, perhaps via Joshua Tree NP. Then through Monument valley to Moab UT for Arches and Canyonlands. Next after a short stint on I-70 I would take UT24/scenic 12 through Capital Reef to Bryce canyon before heading to Zion NP and back towards SD via Las Vegas. Weather would be of concern, even at the Grand canyon you could see snow and ice and more likely at Bryce, which sits at between 8000 and 9000 feet in elevation. Another option would be to head towards Mesa Verde/Durango after Moab and head south, perhaps to the Petrified forest and home through the Phoenix area. If either felt too far for you you could cut Moab out and make a shorter loop to include some of the other places.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Hi...welcome to RTA!

    My husband and I live in San Diego County, and found that the Grand Staircase Tour that we just did was lovely. Of course, you're going in November, and the weather could be iffy and one place we did, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, closes by mid-October.

    Still, it would be reasonable in a week to do the South Rim of the Grand Canyon (open all year but subject to snow in winter because it's at 6500' elevation), Zion (lower in elevation) and Bryce Canyon (both open all year but Bryce could have roads closed because it's at 8000' and 8500' elevation). One year we took our tent trailer (pop-up) to the Grand Canyon South Rim in April, and it was COLD.

    Here's another thought to throw around, but it may not be cooperative in terms of less-expensive hotel room rates: head east on I-8. Tucson, lots to see there including Saguaro National Park (both districts, east and west) and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Keep going east. Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands National Monument, Guadalupe Mountains -- all in southern New Mexico.


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