Southwest in September? Need advice
Hello all, I'm planning on visiting the Southwest in a couple weeks, for about three weeks on the road, and I'm wondering if it might be too hot, and if not, I'd love to hear suggestions on what to see. The plan is to start in LA and go through Death Valley, just to see it, check out Vegas for a night or two, see the Grand Canyon and environs, and then spend a couple weeks total between Arizona, Utah, and perhaps further north before cutting across Nevada and back down California to LA.
I will be with a friend but she's "letting" me do most of the planning. Our interests are outdoors, natural beauty, hiking, some camping. We are going to rent a car. Might I have a problem with getting a rental company to allow me to cruise around for three weeks in the desert? Anyone have advice about renting from California (probably a mid-size or full-size for safety and convenience) and driving around through several states?
Also, will it be just too darn hot to enjoy anything? We don't have to make fast time on the road, we have plenty of time, so we won't need to average more than a few hours a day of driving I would think. Where should we go to be able to camp and hike and dunk our bodies in some cool water? And to be able to wander around impressive rock formations?
The alternative, if it really does seem like it wouldn't be enjoyable, would be to head north, but the forest fires look like it will be all smokey (and nearly as hot) in the northwest.
Thanks for any suggestions you might have! Feel free to email me or post.
The hot weather in a normal year is pretty much gone by the middle of September in Nevada, Utah, northern Arizona and Colorado. But, it can be remain close to triple digits for southern California and southern Arizona until Halloween. So far, this has not been a normal year for any of the southwest -- hotter and drier.
On the other hand, October is just about the most perfect month there is for road trips. Less people on the road, cooler days and nights. So you should be fine.
Death Valley is one of our favorite places in the world. Great hikes, amazing canyons and unusal light patterns. There is stretch near Badwater that is, according to NASA, the closest earth terrain to that of Mars and is often used to test theories about equipment.
Las Vegas is truly an adult playground. You will be hard pressed to see all of what is available to explore in 2-3 days. South Rim of the Grand Canyon is busier than the north Rim, but well worth a visit. Don't miss Zion, Bryce or Canyonlands. And Arches, has some of the most incredible rock formations you can imagine.
Rental companies are not crazy about renters crossing state lines. There is a new book written for British visitors (but really applicable for us mere Yanks...) that has the very best information we have ever seen about renting cars in the USA, for more information check out http://www.roadtripamerica.com/read/uk.htm Plus on that page, you will also find plenty of resources.
Have a blast!
One of our favorite vacation destinations is the southwestern United States, we live in California (near San Francisco) and several of our best vacations have been in the southwest. Our first vacation took us through Las Vegas then to Zion National Park, then to Bryce National Park - we went to both the North Rim and South Rim of the Grand Canyon and spent a few days touring the Navajo reservation. We wandered through the beautiful state of New Mexico and fell in love with the food and sights there. If you are there the first week in October, they have the Balloon Fiesta in Albuqueque - an event not to miss. We found Santa Fe New Mexico to be magical for us as well. Future vacations drew us to the beautiful country in Southern and Eastern Utah - Lake Powell, up to Canyonlands and Arches national park are just spectacular. Hiking through Zion, Bryce, Arches and Canyonlands is like nothing else we have ever experienced. If you ever get tired of the glitz of Las Vegas, we would recommend Laughlin, Nevada - a mini Las Vegas without the high prices and without the crowds of people - it is right on the Colorado River. This September we will be staying a week in the Flagstaff, Arizona area - close to the Grand Canyon and Navajoland - at an elevation of around 7000 feet - the temperature should be rather comfortable. We are planning a Steam Train trip from Williams, Arizona to the Grand Canyon, and a smooth water raft trip on the Colorado River from Page, Arizona to Lee's Ferry. And then we will be spending another week in New Mexico enjoying Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and the surrounding areas.
Hope you have a wonderful vacation as well!