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7 weeks Canada and USA. Help with itinerary please.

7 weeks Canada and USA. Help with itinerary please.

Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 08:30 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 646
7 weeks Canada and USA. Help with itinerary please.

We are an Australian family (Mom, Dad and 20 year old Daughter) planning a trip to North America (July / August). Daughter is heading to North America on university exchange – exact university she is accepted to will not be known for a couple of months yet. However, as we are acutely aware that this is peak season in USA, we need to get booking as soon as possible.
We generally love the “great outdoors” (beautiful scenery, great walks (but not serious hikes), cycling, photography), and think we will largely leave the cities to daughter to see on her own during her 6 months there (however, we are open to all ideas). As a general rule we like to stay in self-catering apartments or cottages, but realise this may not always be possible. Generally we like to stay in places for 5 – 7 days and travel out from there, hence avoiding moving around too much (although this itinerary does not really look like it).
Any comments on our planned itinerary (not yet booked so still able to alter) will be most appreciated.
29th June. Fly Sydney to Vancouver.
3 nights Vancouver (Times Square Suites Hotel).
Fly to Calgary & Collect Hire Car.
5 nights Banff area (probably Tunnel Mountain Resort)
1 night Icefields Parkway (Glacier View Lodge if we can get a room there). If no accommodation, the extra night in Banff area or Jasper?
4 nights Jasper (Patricia Lake Bungalows)
Return hire car to Edmonton Airport and fly to Jackson Hole USA. Hire car at airport.
1 night Teton National Park area (probably Jackson Lake Lodge)
4 nights Yellowstone National Park. Have not yet looked into accommodation here, but wondering about staying in 1 place, or 2 places to see different parts of the park
1 night Bozeman Airport (because early flight out next day). Return hire car.
Fly to Sacamento or Reno. Collect hire car.
2 nights Lake Tahoe (south?) Or perhaps 1 night.
3 nights Yosemite. (Probably Yosemite View Lodge - all accommodation is frightfully expensive at this time of the year)
3 – 4 nights San Francisco. Any suggestions for affordable, well located accommodation will be gratefully accepted.
Then Mom and Daughter have a further 20 days to see the country after Dad goes back to work. Seeing the National Parks is on the list. Thinking Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Moab, Monument Valley, (Arches and Canyonlands National Parks), Bryce Canyon and Zion NP. Have not nailed down this part of the trip yet. Long way with one driver?
Thanks for any suggestions offered!
PRLCH is offline  
Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 11:02 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Check for fees when returning a car in another state. If there is a big difference even with a one-way rental in the same state, rent the car in Sacramento.
Michael is offline  
Old Dec 4th, 2013, 04:32 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
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I would echo the concern that the U.S. southwest desert destinations in summer will be very hot, so the California coast suggestion described above is a good alternative, or more of the Pacific Northwest (Seattle/Mt. Rainier/San Juan Islands/Portland, Oregon/Cannon Beach). For Yellowstone, you need to book accommodations as soon as possible because many people plan their visits a year in advance. Go here: http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/lodges.htm to make reservations inside the park, which is desirable. You can also get information about lodges in any national park from the National Park Service website, but it's a little tricky to figure out, so be persistent. If you can't get accommodations anywhere in Yellowstone (or other national parks), re-post a question about where to stay outside the parks. This sounds like a great trip. All the national park accommodations, but especially Yellowstone, need to be booked well ahead of your visit.

Good luck!
voyager61 is offline  
Old Dec 4th, 2013, 05:42 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
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I really love southern Utah but, as mentioned above, it will be very hot. Driving along the coast from San Francisco (or Sacramento) - you could go either north or south. If it were my trip, I'd go north. Lovely possibilities include Point Reyes National Seashore, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Mendocino, and the national and state Redwood Parks in the very northern end of California. If you go inland, Lassen Volcanic National Park is very nice.
Shanti is offline  
Old Dec 4th, 2013, 09:53 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Consider taking the train from Vancouver to Jasper and renting your car there - good scenery on the way. That route is on Via Rail, the Canadian national railway. If you can afford it there is also the private Rocky Mountaineer going to Banff, but I found Via Rail to be fine.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Dec 4th, 2013, 10:23 PM
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Check to see if your desired accommodations allow you to cancel without a fee.

If they do, go ahead and book them now. If the dates you picked turn out not to be the dates of your actually trip, you are no worse off than if you had not booked them (you just cancel with no fee). And if your trip comes together on the dates for which you made the reservations, then you have the places you wanted!
Cranachin is offline  
Old Dec 4th, 2013, 11:47 PM
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I would not rule out the Southwest National Parks--they definitely are worth a visit. If staying in motels, try to choose one with a pool to cool off at the end of the day. The car will have AC as well as the rooms and the eating establishments. It will provide a respite even if the outdoors is blazing hot.
Michael is offline  
Old Dec 5th, 2013, 06:03 AM
Join Date: Nov 2011
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So many choices. As for Lake Tahoe - south shore has more to do but north shore is also very beautiful. And check out taking the ski lifts up for great views and mountain biking down.

As for summer temps - it's not humid in the West - so I don't think it's that bad when it's warm - and if you are at a little bit of elevation (Zion, Bryce Canyon, Park City in Utah, Aspen and Vail Colorado, Grand Canyon, Az) - it's a bit cooler.

Think the California coast - from San Diego to SF - is an incredible journey - as well as enjoying your time here in San Diego - "America's finest city".

And I am originally from the Northwest - and love Oregon, Washington, Idaho, etc.
Tomsd is offline  
Old Dec 6th, 2013, 05:04 PM
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I agree with Michael and Tomsd. Take the opportunity to see the southwest. It'll be hot but get out early in the morning for hiking and choose lodging with pools.

Don't miss Zion and Bryce and be sure to take scenic route 12 from Bryce over to Moab - an incredible drive. With 20 days, you have plenty of time to do the Grand Circle some serious justice!
sharondi is offline  
Old Dec 6th, 2013, 05:17 PM
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Thank you to all for your suggestions. Flights Sydney - Vancouver - Calgary booked with returns from San Francisco for Dad, from LA for Mom and from Vancouver for daughter. So it is all happening! Will start booking accommodation and car hire this weekend and will be doing further research on all above suggestions. It is interesting to see the varied comments on South Western National Parks. Definitely going to be hot, but daughter absolutely set on seeing them. Will perhaps pair that (say 10 days) with something very different. Even thinking spending a week in an apartment in New York (I know! I know! Criss-crossing the country, but it is all relative I guess).
PRLCH is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2013, 05:28 AM
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If you're lucky - you will see some great wildlife on your tour - and then you can see some wild two legged ones in the Big Apple.
Tomsd is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2013, 02:28 PM
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Banff is a little more than an hour from Calgary. The Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park is only about 3 1/2 hours directly south of Calgary.

Spectacular scenery and wildlife there as well.
Myer is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2013, 05:47 PM
Join Date: May 2005
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New York is fabulous, and you should definitely go if you have the chance, but just want to fore-warn you that apartment rentals are illegal in NYC. There are many wonderful hotels, but plan for prices to be quite a bit higher than they are in most of the rest of the country.

Overall, I like your plans! Have a wonderful trip!
msteacher is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2013, 06:50 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
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Your already late for Yellowstone and Yosemite. Book ASAP!!

I've been to all of the places you mention. I wouldn't touch the Southwest Parks in July/August.

I would do Oregon/Crater Lake, Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, Olympic National Park. Probably include a day or two at both Seattle and Portland. You could include Redwoods National Park too.

I think Yosemite is better experienced in June when the waterfalls are going. They could be going a bit in July/August, but could be totally dry. I like to see them rocking full blast.

Is it possible that your wife and daughter could come ahead of you and do Southwest and Yosemite in June?
spirobulldog is offline  
Old Dec 9th, 2013, 07:06 PM
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So many great suggestions - thank you. Interesting to note the differing opinions regarding the S/W National Parks and the weather.
Dear Daughter has her heart set on the parks, but we are still looking at all options. For the last 3 weeks (just Mom and Daughter) we are considering the following:

• Arrive Las Vegas early morning (approx. 9am) Drive to Grand Canyon
• Lake Powell (2 nights) – self catering accommodation
• Monument Valley (1 night) – outside the park?
• Moab (3 nights) – self catering accommodation
• Bryce Canyon National Park (2 nights)
• Zion National Park (1 night)
• Las Vegas (1 night)

Then we will head across country for a "City Break".
Maybe 7 nights Philadelphia (Rest and relax, American history, opportunity for day trips into Amish country, Coast (?), etc) and then 2 nights NYC

Grand Canyon – From Las Vegas it appears to be approximately the same distance to the north or south rim. Which is better? We would like to go to some lookouts, maybe some short walks in the cooler hours of the day. Don’t like crowds so leaning towards north rim

Moab / Monument Valley – As we only have one driver, are we being overly ambitious in attempting to reach Moab? (would love to visit the national parks but is it too much for one driver.....)

Thank you once again for sharing your invaluable insights.
PRLCH is offline  
Old Dec 9th, 2013, 07:40 PM
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I prefer the views at the south rim, but there are fewer people at the north rim and it is a little higher in elevation, so will probably be a bit cooler. Once you get away from the lodging area there are not many people in any case, since most folks tend to take the pictures from there. I would suggest you do take a hike down into the canyon at least a little way. I'm assuming that you are planning on spending a night there. Which you go to may depend on where you can get lodging. If you can't get lodging in the park, there is some in Tusayan or at Cameron Trading Post for the south rim, but it will be a long drive from the nearest place to the north rim.

There is lodging in Monument Valley and also in Kayenta, just south of it and Mexican Hat just north of it. It is only 3 hours or so from Monument valley to Moab, I would spend part of the day in MV then head for Moab in time for a quick hike before sunset.

If the park lodging says it is full, make a reservation elsewhere that can be cancelled the call the official park site back as the time gets closer and hope for a cancellation there and cancel the prior one. Don't depend on the web site as sometimes the cancellations don't get posted.
emalloy is offline  
Old Dec 10th, 2013, 05:20 AM
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By the way if you want a bit of an adventure, when you leave Monument Valley, head for Mexican Hat then take rt 261 which has a section called the Moki Dugway (3 miles of unpaved switchbacks with no guard rails), up to 95 and then over to 191 to Moab. Stop in for a couple of minutes for pictures at Goosenecks of the San Juan state park. You could also stop at Natural Bridges NM if you wanted another park.
emalloy is offline  
Old Dec 10th, 2013, 07:40 AM
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I like the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. As emalloy points out, it is cooler and there are fewer people.

Look around Grand Teton National Park for Yellowstone Lodging. It's pretty close.

I think you have too much time in Philadelphia and too little in NYC. While we love Phila., two days are enough to get a good view of it, as the historic area is very compact, while the one day you'd have in NYC is not nearly enough. Amish country is interesting, but VERY commercial--I wouldn't take time from a trip to the US to see it.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Old Dec 10th, 2013, 08:15 AM
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The North Rim is only 2.5 hours from Zion and it is a beautiful drive. I much prefer it to the South Rim, especially in summer. The lodge at the North Rim ( named Grand Canyon Lodge) has cabins that are inexpensive and located very close to the rim. There are some nice walks along the rim, and a short walk down into the canyon on the North Kaibab trail is well worth the effort. The short trail out to Bright Angel Point ( about 1/4 mile, paved) will give you amazing views of the canyon. I like to walk out there at sunrise and sunset.

Reserve a cabin or room at the North Rim from Forever Resorts:


Their website shows cabins available throught July and August, but you should book ASAP. They have a good cancellation policy if your plans change.
enzian is offline  
Old Dec 16th, 2013, 03:13 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
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I would agree that you need more nights in New York City, unless you have already been there. There is so much to do and see there and never enough time. I would reduce the time in and around Philadelphia and add it to New York.
voyager61 is offline  

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