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Hoping for Road Trip Help...does South West trip this sound ok???

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Jan 7th, 2012, 02:41 AM
  #1
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Hoping for Road Trip Help...does South West trip this sound ok???

Ok so we are planning a road trip, (well part flight) and as a Londoner don't know a whole amount of about this places, so wanted to get some views of whether the trip is missing anything super obvious are driving distances realistic in a day with some mini stop offs. We are planning for April time.

Many many thanks in advance

Ok Heres the plan.....

1. Fly London- New Orleans ( Stay 3 nights)
2.Early morning flight to Denver, than pick up rental and drive to somewhere in Colorado (Stay 3 nights Colorado)
3.Colorado- Santa Fe (Stay 3 nights SF)
4.Santa Fe- Mon Valley (Stay 1 night MV)
5.Mon Valley - Grand Canyon (Stay 2 nights GC)
6.Grand Canyon- Vegas (Stay 3 nights LV)
7.Vegas- Death Valley (Stay 2 nights DV)
8.Death Valley- Yosemite (Stay 3 nights Y)
9.Yosemite- Big Sur/Carmel (Stay 1 night C)
10.Big Sur- San Fan (Stay 3 nights SF)

Some comments.

-24 nights is our absolute max
- 3 nights in san fran, new orleans, las vagas pretty much set for us
-3 nights in santa fe- we have friends there so want 3 nights there too
-although we could do more 1 nights stops we are trying to avoid them to make is a little less intensive stop start-stop start (first road trip for us!)
-Would love some ideas of where to spend the 3 nights in colorado- it doesn't need to be on direct route from denver to santa fe, we can detour but would prefer to spend all 3 in same place.
-Would also love to have an idea of good mini stops within leg 3 and leg 4/ best route etc etc.
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Jan 7th, 2012, 03:01 AM
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Congrats!

Super hard to find you wedged inbetween the 10
sports spambots du jour the mods cannot seem to stop.
stanleyhotel.com my fav where Stphen King wrote the Shining
have stayed ther would be my first choice for you in Colorado
gobreck.com is cute little further out cheaper on your way

visitsedona.com between SF amd GC.
El Tovar AWESOME at GC yosemite.com
Ahwanee my fav Wawona cheaper
treebonesresort.com Big Sur
stay in a yurt super cool
and/or
carmelcalifornia.com where
Clint Eastwood was mayor.
Make your day.

classic.mapquest.com
directions distances
for route planning.
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Jan 7th, 2012, 03:18 AM
  #3
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wow, thanks so much am off to check these sites our now. Thank you !!!
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Jan 7th, 2012, 04:36 AM
  #4
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in fact...after more research we are now considering switching Death Valley for Sequoia/Kings Canyon national park....oh so many choices!!
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Jan 7th, 2012, 08:51 AM
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I loved Mesa Verde in Colorado (just a bit west of Durango and close to the border with New Mexico) but I'm not sure you need 3 nights there. There are very nice ranger-lead tours so don't miss those if you decide to visit Mesa Verde.

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is open all year but you might still have some bad weather in April. Some roads within Yosemite are closed in April and don't open until mid-May or later, depending on snowfall (light this year so far).

After the wow! factor of the Grand Canyon I think the most impressive park is Bryce Canyon in Utah. Unfortunately, it's a bit out of your way.

http://www.nps.gov/brca/index.htm

It sounds like a nice trip.
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Jan 7th, 2012, 08:58 AM
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Wow, there are so many places in Colorado to head to for three days but I think you definitely ought to find your way to Durango and take the drive between Ouray and Durango via Silverton. Love it. You could combine it with Mesa Verde which needs at least a day.


With so much else to see I'm not sure I would stay three nights in Santa Fe unless there is something in particular there you were looking forward to. One or two would be fine. That would give you some more time for the places in California.

Sequoia is a great park and worth the visit. If it is summer time then I'm not sure you want Death Valley anyway, much too hot.
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Jan 7th, 2012, 09:07 AM
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I would cut Death Valley to one night and make Carmel/Monterey/Big Sur a two-nighter.

Car hire from Denver to San Fran.. I don't think most companies offer this, maybe Hertz , and pricewise they are usually very UK-friendly. Make certain that insurance is included.
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Jan 7th, 2012, 09:12 AM
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I wouldn't do Death Valley in the summer.
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Jan 7th, 2012, 10:39 AM
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OP stated this trip is in April. Great time to visit Death Valley.

Not sure where you should stay in Colorado, April isn't the best month to visit. Snow is starting to melt so the lower elevations are wet/muddy and the higher elevations are still snow bound.

You are going to be tired in Colorado. Jet lag, time zone change plus the elevation will combine to make you feel wiped out at the end of the day. Denver or Boulder is not a bad place to spend your 3 nights - you can day trip to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park and have the option of seeing things in the city at night. Plus you'll be at a lower elevation so that will help alleviate the elevation issues.

Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon - not sure that April is the best month to visit those parks. But since your dates are set just make the best of it, the scenery will be beautiful. I would stick with your plan of 2 nights in Death Valley, it is very different from the other places.
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Jan 7th, 2012, 10:54 AM
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spiro: it isn't summer - they are going in April. April is the best time in DV.

HG001London: The first half of your trip looks fine. But a couple of minor problems w/the California bits.

• It is a looooong hellacious drive from Las Vegas or DV to either Sequoia or Yosemite.

• One night in Carmel after driving over from Yosemite and then leaving again the next morning will give you essentially no time there.

Normally one cannot drive across the mountains from DV (or LV) to Yosemite between October and May but who knows this year. Tioga Pass road is still open (almost unheard of since the road was built). If we get any snow between now and April (which we REALLY need) the road will close and you'll be stuck going the long way around through Bakersfield which is a nasty/boring/ugly drive.

No solution is ideal - but what I'd maybe consider is -- drop the car in Vegas, fly to Sacramento, pick up another car, Drive to Yosemite for 2 nights, drive to Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur for 2or 3 nights, Drive to SF, drop the car and stay for 3 or 4 nights.

If you still wanted to squeeze in DV, I'd do an overnight from LV and back and then fly to Sacramento. Unfortunately Sequoia would be a hard fit. It can only be reached from the west.
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Jan 7th, 2012, 11:10 AM
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Oops, I missed seeing April.
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Jan 7th, 2012, 12:28 PM
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I agree with InSandy that if you stop in the Durango Colorado area you could get to see Mesa Verde and also some of the spectacular scenery on the Silverton/Ouray area too. Durango is about six or seven hours drive from Denver, so it would mean a bit of a longish, but beautiful drive to get there.

You might find it cost effective to get an annual pass for the National Parks at the first park you enter, they are $80 and let you and those in your car into all of the National Parks/Monuments for free for a year. Since entrance into Grand Canyon is $25 and Yosemite and Mesa Verde are probably about the same that covers those with DV and some other sites as a bonus.

If your friends in Santa Fe would like a little outing, Bandelier NM is about an hour away and would be an interesting comparison to Mesa Verde.

Vegas to Yosemite is a long drive in April, Tioga Pass will probably still not be open. Do do be aware that you will lose some days just driving between the sites.

I do love Death Valley, I would leave Vegas early in the morning, go to Death Valley and either do a quick tour of the most interesting places and then head towards Yosemite or even spend the night and then head out in the morning.

Hope you enjoy both the trip and the planning for the trip.
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Jan 7th, 2012, 01:45 PM
  #13
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oh wow, this site is so helpful- i don't know where to start with all the comments!! hmm thank you all i will properly look into it. Having done a bit more research i had switched my idea to...

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: 3
ESTES PARK COLORADO: 3
SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO: 3
MONUMENT VALLEY, UTAH: 1
GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA: 2
LAS VAGAS, NEVADA: 2
SANTA BABARA, CALIFORNIA: 2
CARMEL, CALIFORNIA: 2
YOSEMITE:CALIFORNIA: 3
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: 3

but it may need to change now!!!
il have a look through all the comment suggestions for sure

i figured fly to dever then 2 hr trip to estes park for a 3 day break and then do one huge old trip to Santa Fe and decided to skip death valley for santa babara in order to do the coastal route up to carmel.

(am also considering switching estes park for gunnison)....ooh so many choice- my map has pen marks all over it!!

Thank you all!!! thinking cap on for me!!
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Jan 7th, 2012, 01:57 PM
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Your California bits look much more doable now

Be sure to pre-book your Yosemite accommodations ASAP. Yosemite Lodge if you can get in. You really don't want to stay outside the Valley unless it is a last resort. Travel times in/out of the park/Valley will eat up a lot of time.
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Jan 7th, 2012, 02:10 PM
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Since you are now coming from Louisiana, I would skip Estes Park and go toward Albuquerque, NM (NO to Estes Park is 1400 miles while to Albuquerque is only 1100 miles). Either drive represents long hours through relatively uninteresting landscape.

From New Mexico you could visit sites in southern Colorado, such as Mesa Verde, or take the Durango-Silverton train ride if it is running in April.
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Jan 7th, 2012, 02:13 PM
  #16
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Hey Michael, sorry i should have mentioned we are flying from london to NOLA and then flying on Denver to start the road trip there. We would find the drive fro NOLA to New Mexico too long so thought we were fly that lap and we figured Denver was the best place to fly into but now not too sure.....
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Jan 7th, 2012, 02:15 PM
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I re-read your itinerary. It appears that you plan to fly to Denver from New Orleans. Why? In April, Rocky Mountain National Park's through road might be closed. The same might be true of the road between Ouray and Durango. It might make more sense to fly to Albuquerque and drive north from that city to visit Santa Fe, Taos and southern Colorado sites.
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Jan 7th, 2012, 02:23 PM
  #18
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Hi Michael, yeah i think you might be right ( i was trying to avoid it as there doesn't seem to be a direct flight and i am petirfied of flying so was trying to avoid changes)

Will look into hat option too, i am kindoff ruling out north olorado now as it seems to be the wrong time of year.

Thanks for your help
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Jan 7th, 2012, 04:10 PM
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If you drive between Santa Fe and Gunnison, don't speed in Saguache (pronounced Sawatch) voice of experience here.

You might look into Southwest and see if they have any flights into or out of Albquerque that fit your itinerary or America West (is that it? what goes west to Arizona?) and eliminate some of those long drives between New Mexico and Arizona/Utah
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Jan 8th, 2012, 06:15 AM
  #20
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Ok....my latest plan is to fly from new orleans straight to New Mexico instead of up to Denver and then instead of doing north colorado, to go with the south. So 24 nights as this....

(Figured driving times a bit more reasonable- i hope!!)

New Orleans : 3 (they fly to Alberqueque)
Santa Fe : 2
Taos: 1
Durango: 3
Monument Valley: 1
Grand Canyon: 2
Las Vegas: 2
Santa Babara: 2
Carmel: 2
Yosemite: 3
San Fran: 3
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