1st Trip to the West
My husband will be leaving Pensacola, FL by car on May 17th and heading to Santa Cruz, CA. We have two weeks to make the round trip. We normally spend our vacations in the Smokies. This will be our first trip out West. I'm having a difficult time deciding what sights to see on the way. We are definately not city people and like to spend our vacations in the woods with Mother Nature. We are very partial to green mountains, waterfalls, and solitude. The only place we've decided on so far is Yosemite. I'm hoping that we'll be able to do Kings Canyon and Sierra N.F. but, I can't imagine going all that way without seeing the Grand Canyon but, then that's so close to CO and UT. I could spend a month in each of those states alone. And then of course I ran across a site on Paria Canyon. Wow! There's just so much to choose from and from my experience driving through mountains I know we can only do a few things. If anyone has any suggestions I would really appreciate the help. Thanks
Is two weeks 14 days?
It a fer ways to go from Pensacola to Santa Cruz. Going by the most direct (& fastest) route the round trip is still nearly 4,850 miles. If you take some of the side-trips you mentioned, it will add about 800 miles minimum (probably closer to 1200) to the trip. Which means that if you drove every day you need to cover at least 400 miles every day (with gas stops and etc that means about 7 hours per day).
There is some incredibly beautiful land on the way -- but it will be tough to find time to seek "...green mountains, waterfalls, and solitude... at the pace necessary to cover that much ground. On the other hand, if you are able and willing to include a couple 700 mile days on either end of this odyssey -- we can share some favorite places with you.
We may extend the trip a few days
We thought we would drive 12 hours the first two days just to get past TX and then start our sight-seeing. Once we get to CA, we'll be there for a few days and plan on going to the Henry Cowell Park to see the Redwoods and driving down Hwy.1. We're looking at taking two different routes going and coming back so we get to see more. Go ahead and tell me how crazy I am but, just make sure to tell me what your favorite places are. :) If I can find enough to do in CA we may skip the other stuff. Thanks for your help.
I think your instincts about having to see the Grand Canyon are good and it's not too far out of the way if you come through northern New Mexico and Arizona. Like Mark, I think adding the other side trips you mentioned might be (to paraphrase Cornelius Ryan) a site too far. Southwest Colorado and southern Utah are worth a trip of their own but might detract from being able to see the areas you are already planning on. In addition to the areas of California you mentioned, other possibilities are Sequioa NP, Hwy 49 along the Sierra foothills (gold rush country), and the redwoods north of San Francisco (close to Santa Cruz). I'm sure other posters will have additional suggestions and you'll still be faced with choosing from way too many great options. Have a wonderful trip.
It would be very easy to spend the entire time in California. We figure we have seen about 25% of the state and have driven 30,000+ miles of exploration. Hwy 1 is great anytime -- but remember with photo breaks and the general wonder of it all, you will be hard-pressed to average anything over about 40 miles per hour. Hwy 1 from Santa Cruz to LA is a about 14 hour trip, compared to the 5 one can do on the interstates.