coast to coast

Apr 4th, 2006, 11:04 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Hi, nikki!

I'd agree with gardyloo on the heat issue. But probably not with his itinerary.

There is so much to see in Arizona alone, not just the Grand Canyon. Don't miss the Navajo Nation with Monument Valley or the Canyon de Chelly - there's a small hotel run by the Navajos themselves (forgot where it is, probably Chinle) which may interest you as there are few hotels run by American Indians. In July, you should try and get a tour to Antelope Canyon to see the slot canyon, schedule your arrival at Antelope Canyon as close to noon as possible. All of these places are filled with lifetime memories - at least for me. I hiked down to the the White House in Canyon de Chelly (pronounced canyon deshay) and will never forget that hike along with the old Navajo woman we met along the trail, dressed in all her Navajo splendor, with plenty of silver and turqoise.

You should also not miss Zion and Bryce National Parks. It's no use driving all that way and miss some of the most beautiful and memorable sights in the West.

After that you can cut across Kansas and Oklahoma, two states which will interest you with how different they are from the states you have just left: Nevada and Arizona. Plan on about two days fast driving to cross this area.

Avoid West Texas. As the others have said, it's a long drive over nothingness. In west Texas, we once came around a bend (yes the road actually made a bend!) after hours of driving and the only live things we saw were a bunch of huge vultures sitting there eating something on the road! They wouldn't even move for us! Ugh! We drove more miles in the heat and saw nothing else live or dead. Take a more northerly route.

If you have to, see Dallas, but I'd even suggest missing that also and getting into the American South, which has so many more interesting places to see. I'd let the real Southerners tell you of the charms of the Southern US.

Have a good trip! Drive safely.

Oh, BTW, take lots of drinking water when you are crossing the desert. Also bring lots of sunscreen and a big hat wouldn't hurt. Try and drive the desert, e.g., LA to Las Vegas, as early as possible. If you start out at 5 am that'll be a good time. Have fun!
easytraveler is offline  
Apr 4th, 2006, 11:06 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 8
Thanks to everyone for your help in putting together a list of places for our trip and giving your advice, especially on the heat!

We havent been scared off by the heat, and if not for the fact that the intention of our trip was to do the US coast to coast, we would definitiely split it up into 2 or 3 zones and fly between.

So here's what we have come to, based on your comments and a few weeks of background reading and surfing on the web. You have all confirmed our thoughts regarding the mid country stretch!

SF 3 nts
Pacific Coast 1 nt
LA 2 nts
Las Vegas 2nts
Grand Canyon 2 nts (North and South rim camping!)
Zion NP 1 nt
Escalante 1nt
Moab 1 nt
Durango 1nt
Santa Fe area 2 nt
Dallas area 1nt (burn across Texas)
New Orleans 2 nts
Tallahassee area 1 nt
Orlando 2nts (visit Mickey)
Tampa/coast 1 nt
Everglades area 2nts
Miami Beach 2nts

So, a lot of driving for a couple of days between Santa Fe and New Orleans, but it should be do-able?

I am SOOOO looking forward to it!
nikkiSweden is offline  
Apr 4th, 2006, 11:09 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,473
In Las Vegas, we enjoyed staying at Paris more than Bellagio. It is right across the street and then you get to look at Bellagio.

kelliebellie is offline  
Apr 4th, 2006, 11:11 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2006
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EasyTraveller, I was posting as you were posting, so I missed your suggestion. Anteope Canyon I hadn't heard of before, so I will hceck that out. Monument Valley as well as Death valley are on our list of places to see. I love the idea of staying in the navajo hotel! I will definitely check that out.

Thanks everyone for your input, anyone else who wants to comment, I will look forward to reading your ideas!
nikkiSweden is offline  
Apr 4th, 2006, 12:17 PM
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You might be able to do Santa Fe - San Antonio in one 12 hour day, using the Interstate. But it is 800 miles.
Michael is offline  
Apr 4th, 2006, 12:32 PM
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Michael, if that is a vote for San Antonio instead of Dallas, I second it!


It is looking pretty good but I have one suggestion for the Grand Canyon----if you try to camp at both the South Rim and North Rim you will spend all your time driving in between. consider going from Las Vegas just to the North Rim, which is higher, cooler, less crowded, and (in my opinion) much nicer in the summer. If you camp 2 nights there you will have a full day to hike around and enjoy the canyon---even hike partway down and back up, if you like. From there it is an easy trip to Zion, Moab, and so on.

I suggest you make your camping reservations for the Grand Canyon as soon as your dates are firm to avoid disappointment. The website is here:
enzian is offline  
Apr 4th, 2006, 12:51 PM
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nikki, drive from New Orleans to Orlando. No reason to stay in Tallahassee. It's inland Florida and hot. Spend two nights in Orlando (stay onsite Disney if you are there to see the mouse). Do Tampa, coastal drive and Everglades in one day.

Spend your original five nights (if not six) on a beach in Miami. Trust me, you'll thank me.
Apr 4th, 2006, 12:59 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1,222
A few more thoughts:

If you're spending 2 days in Vegas, you won't be in your hotel room much. Save the $$ and stay in the Paris, Aladdin, MGM or NYNY. They're all clean and Vegas-glitzy. You HAVE to watch the Bellagio water show (it's free!), but I personally wouldn't splurge on the hotel.

Your revised itinerary looks good. You may want to break up the shot across Texas, but you can play that by ear if you pass something semi-interesting along the way. I would also aim for San Antonio instead of Dallas. (By the way, it was Gardyloo who made the comment about staying in the air-conditioned car doesn't even have A/C!)

I agree with the previous poster who said you don't need to do both sides of the Grand Canyon. Stay on one of the Rims, take a break from driving, and wander. I'd also cut the Everglades to one night and tack the extra night onto Disney (see an extra park) or Miami Beach (one last day of relaxation!).
karameli is offline  
Apr 4th, 2006, 02:28 PM
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You may want to consider the Everglades NP as a day trip, a drive down and back with the windows up and the A/C on. That time of year is off season and you will have the park mostly to yourselves, it will be hot, humid with daily thunder showers. It will be difficult to do the nature walks because of the mosquitoes.
RedRock is offline  
Apr 4th, 2006, 03:45 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Hi, nikki!

Here are a couple of websites:

One of the best websites to see what it looks like in Antelope Canyon is

Getting a tour that arrives at noon will afford you the most sunlight getting into the canyon and give you the most awesome views of the sunlight playing on the cliff surfaces. You want to get as much of the magnificent reds, oranges, and yellows as possible.

Also bring a small flashlight as parts of the canyon can be quite dark.

The Navajo hotel I was telling you about is in Many Farms, Navajo Nation (Arizona).

This is not a fancy place. It is where Navajo youths train for the hotel business. It's very basic but also very clean.

It was the Navajos at Many Farms who told me about Antelope Canyon.

easytraveler is offline  
Apr 4th, 2006, 09:40 PM
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The view from the south rim of the Grand Canyon is far more impressive than from the north rim.
Michael is offline  
Apr 5th, 2006, 05:09 PM
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NikkiSweden, you will certainly enjoy your trip across the United States. Perhaps I can help you with your Dallas leg.

Dallas is a logical destination between New Mexico and New Orleans, but reaching it from New Mexico will be a long drive.

The Dallas metro is one of the 5 largest urban areas in the United States, with a population of about 6 million people... larger than Berlin or St Petersburg. As you might imagine, it has many things to see and do, some of the best restaurants and hotels in the United States, and many things to delight the visitor.

For only one day in the city, I'd suggest...
. Visit the 6th Floor Kennedy museum, depicting the times and circumstances of the assassination of John Kennedy, former president of the USA.
. Visit the Dallas World Aquarium. It is actually a zoo as well as an aquarium, is housed in an enormous building, and will give you an interesting jungle adventure, while escaping the July Dallas heat. On weekends, it features dancers in Mayan costume dancing in front of a Mayan temple.
. Ride to the top of Reunion Tower, about 200 meters high, for a very good view of the city. It has 3 levels... one is an observation deck, one a restaurant, and one is a cocktail bar. As you sit in the restaurant or the bar, the entire room slowly revolves, giving you a complete view of the city.
. Finally, go to the museum complex in the Arts District, at Ross and Harwood streets. It has 3 art museums, but the best (or most famous) is the Nasher Sculpture Center. Other museums include an Asian arts museum, and the huge Dallas Museum of Art.

The activities above are mainly indoors and will get you out of the weather. Also, they are in the center of the city, fairly close to one another.

Good travels...
xbt23 is offline  
Apr 18th, 2006, 04:50 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 91
Hi Nikki -
I like your revised itinerary! The Ca coast between SF and LA is lovely. Be sure to visit a mission church and go to a winery. Or five.

I agree with the others that you do one rim of the Grand Canyon.

I'd go to Capital Reef NP - it's our favorite of the national parks. If you have camping gear the campground at the park, at Fruita in Capital Reef is lovely - green grass, a river, surrounded by red rocks. I prefer that to Zion that time of year as the elevation is higher (Zion is just too hot for me then), the rock formations so colorful and the drive between Escalante and Torrey is beautiful and fun. After a day and a night at Capital Reef it's a nice drive to Moab.

I would also take the fastest, straightest route from Santa Fe to New Orleans. What's interesting there is how vast the great plains are. Best to get across as fast as possible!
McShane is offline  
Apr 18th, 2006, 06:20 PM
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Posts: 7,090
Way too much to read, but I'll add you should check out Monument Valley in Arizona (probably covered under "Navajo Nation") and Mesa Verde, which has amazing cliff dwelling of people long-gone.
In FL, St. Augustine is a great Spanish city. If you can zip up the coast to Savannah, you will get some of the old south. Charleston SC is farther up still, and is also wonderful.
Of course, you could do a northern route, through the OR coast, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Seattle, the San Juan Islands, then east to Glacier NP, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons. Then zip over to Chicago and drop down from there paralleling the MS River, on your way to NO. You could go through Vicksburg on the way. After NO, go north through Atlanta and east to Savannah, down through St. Augustine, to Orlando.
Orcas is offline  
Apr 18th, 2006, 07:28 PM
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I haven't read everything here, but have you considered skipping LA entirely? Of the large cities you mentioned, I'd say SF, LV, NO and Miami are good choices, but I don't get the allure of LA. Skipping it would allow you to drive from SF to LV via Yosemite and Death Valley.

I doubt you can work it in, but west Texas is not all wasteland. It may appear that way, but there are quite a few things to do, and it would certainly fit the bill for experiencing some small towns. Big Bend NP is great, and from there you can head east to San Antonio and Austin on your way to New Orleans.

The other thought I had was that you're shortchanging the Rockies by only staying 1 night in Durango, while spending a total of 5 nights in S. Utah/N. Arizona canyon country.

You could spend 4 weeks in any of these areas and not go wrong, so you're going to have to pick the big highlights and maybe skip some of the smaller things. Just keep in mind that whatever you cut, someone will tell you that it's a must-do, and whatever you add, someone will tell you that it's not as good as something else.
Apr 22nd, 2006, 11:04 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,379
Skip LA? Not a chance. It's the whole world in one place, but unlike any other place in the world. Its sheer vastness makes it hard to "get"-- I've lived here 20 years and am still exploring. But there's a lot of allure and glamour. As someone else noted, it's a patchwork quilt of over 100 cities (including some large cities like Los Angeles itself, Long Beach, Santa Monica, etc.) over 4,800 square miles and two counties. Some extend the area to San Diego County, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties and Ventura County. Bigger than many countries.

Where to cut time? Texas. Hit a couple of smaller cities (Austin! Yeah!), skip the overgrown suburbs of Houston and Dallas, speed over to far more charming and interesting New Orleans.
rjw_lgb_ca is offline  

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