Possible National Park trip

Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 09:32 PM
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Possible National Park trip

My family is looking at taking an extended trip this next summer to some of the national parks out west (we live in Michigan). As of right now, there are 5 that we have collaboratively thought about - Rocky Mountain, Grand Canyon, Redwood, Glacier and Yellowstone. My concern is that we might be biting off more then we can chew, and my big question is, is Redwood worth the extra 1200 miles we would be driving? Our most important stops are the Grand Canyon and Glacier. i wish we had more time, but were trying to do as much as we can before our son graduates from high school in a couple of years, so were trying to slam as much in as we can in 18 days. is there any other suggestion that we do not have listed? Thanks so much!
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Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 09:50 PM
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Why not skip Redwood and hit Bryce and Zion in Utah? Perhaps Carlsbad cavern in New Mexico?
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Old Oct 24th, 2013, 01:06 AM
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I don't know where in Michigan you are starting from, but using Detroit I came up with about 5,100 miles and that was leaving off the Redwoods. I would definitely forget the Redwoods on this trip or all you will be doing is driving and seeing the parks from your vehicle.

If you are flying into Glacier and renting a car and flying home from Denver I would say you had plenty of time but if you're driving all the way, then I think you will be spending to much time in the vehcile for all you want to do.

Here is an example of what you're looking at:

Day 1, 2 & 3 will be driving almost 600 miles per day from Detroit to East Glacier. (1790 miles)

Day 4 & 5 will be Glacier since it's high on your list you will want to spend two days here at the very least.

Day 6 You will drive from Glacier to Yellowstone. (360 miles)

Day 7 & 8 For Yellowstone. Yellowstone is so much more than just Old Faithful, so plan on at least two days here but it would be easy to spend a week here.

Day 9 & 10 to drive to the Grand Canyon. Make sure you at least drive thought the Grand Tetons when you leave Yellowstone. (785 to 835 miles depending on route)

Zion and Bryce were mentioned as places to hit. It wouldn't add much in mileage but they would take up another two nights and two days of your trip. Carlsbad Cavern's would be to much out of your way.

Day 11 & 12 Two days at Grand Canyon since it's also high on your list. You can visit all the scenic overlooks.

Day 13 & 14 to drive to the Rocky Mountains is 755 miles

DAy 15 to see Rocky Mountains.

Day 16, 17 & 18 to drive back home 430 miles per day.

In summary you will be doing 11 long days of driving of this 18 day trip. You want to make sure your son WANTS to take another trip with you! If this was my trip with my son's I'd either add more days to the trip or I'd save the Grand Canyon for another trip. On that next trip you could add some of the other beautiful parks in Utah like Zion, Bryce, Arches and Canyonlands.

Utahtea
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Old Oct 24th, 2013, 06:51 AM
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I've been to 43 national parks, many of them more than once, and I can say, unequivocally, that Redwoods is NOT worth an extra 1500 miles in driving. Yosemite & Sequoia together, MAYBE (best to save California NP for another day), but Redwoods alone, absolutely not.

Eighteen days just to see the other four NPs, when starting from Michigan, will be quite an ordeal, so leave off Redwoods.
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Old Oct 24th, 2013, 10:20 AM
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I would not consider the amount of driving it takes to go from Montana to Arizona (Grand Canyon) in an 18 day trip. Either do the northern half (Rocky Mnt. NP and north) or the southern half (southern Utah NPs, Mesa Verde NP, Indian country in Arizona, and possibly northern New Mexico). Leave out anything in California. Even so, it will be a rushed trip.
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Old Oct 24th, 2013, 10:35 AM
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Black Hills, Glacier, Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain makes way more sense than trying to squeeze in the Grand Canyon and/Redwoods.

Black Hills is right on the way anyway, you might as well take a few days there. I would save the Utah/Arizona/California parks for a separate trip(s).
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Old Oct 24th, 2013, 10:49 AM
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I tend to agree with Paul and Michael.
My proposed route: Fly to Las Vegas (cheap rental cars) - See in this order - Hoover Dam, South Rim Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Mesa Verde NP, Moab (Arches, Island in the Sky Canyonlands), Salt Lake City ((Mormon Tabernacle), Yellowstone NP (minimum 3 days), Glacier NP, Rocky Mountain NP. When you get back to Denver head back to Las Vegas. If you still have a little time left when you get back to LV, you could catch a couple of hours in Death Valley NP.
You might want to skip Rocky Mountain NP next year because of the forest fire which were followed by a big flood. There will be a lot of rebuilding and some unattractive scenery in that area.
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Old Oct 24th, 2013, 10:54 AM
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I tend to agree with Paul and Michael.

I don't think so if from LV you suggest a trip that goes all the way to Glacier NP.
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Old Oct 24th, 2013, 11:25 AM
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I live RNP but it does not make sense to include it in this trip. I would also drop the Grand Canyon.
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Old Oct 24th, 2013, 12:24 PM
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Well, you might be a bit late already to try and book "in park" lodging at these places. Which, IMOP, if by far the best option. How much hiking/kayaking/horse riding/etc. do you like to do at each of these places. I could spend a week in Glacier and Yellowstone and still have not scratched the surface. Some people like to spend just a couple of days.

Let's say your allowing 4 days for the driving, so that leaves you with 14 days.

Black Hills(which would include Mount Rushmore, Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, Badlands, Crazy Horse, Custer State Park), Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and Glacier. You really don't want to be in Glacier until about Mid-July to make sure the roads are open.

Or you could do Arches, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion,Grand Canyon, and Mesa Verde. Plus other good spots in Utah. Best done in late April and May. After June 1 things get brutally hot.

Or do a California route. Sequoia, Yosemite, Channel Islands, Redwoods. Personally, I like Sequoia trees far better than the Redwoods. Sequoia National Park to me is all about the trees and they are amazing there. Now, the Redwoods are certainly amazing too, I just like Sequoias that much better.
Probably best done 1st or 2nd week of June

Finally, A Pacific Northwest trip is cool too Mount Rainier, Olympic, San Juan Islands, Seattle, Portland, Coast, Columbia River Gorge, Crater Lake, Mount Hood, and Mount Saint Helens. Probably best done Late July/Early Augst
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Old Oct 24th, 2013, 01:04 PM
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The nice thing about I-15 is that you can get from LV to Idaho Falls via SLC in 9 hours of Interstate driving. From Idaho Falls take US 20 through West Yellowstone to get into the park. Or, go via Driggs and see Grand Teton on the way into the south entrance of Yellowstone.
Final night in Yellowstone should be at Mammoth to get to Glacier before sunset the next day.
I would pass on Rocky Mountain because of the recent devastation. You should see at least 2 of the southern Utah National Parks even if you don't go to the Grand Canyon.
Include Redwood NP in a 10-12 day California National Park trip sometime in the future.
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Old Oct 24th, 2013, 06:39 PM
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Thanks for all of the feedback. A lot of it depends on if we HAVE to go to Vegas or not. My daughter is a cheerleader, and cheer nationals is there in late July. We are planning this trip around that. We are coming from Grand Rapids, MI, and after talking to some friends, were thinking we may just head north and hit Glacier and yellowstone then make the stops we need to along the way. We are camping, so we are def driving as I'm not hauling all of that gear on a plane!
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Old Oct 25th, 2013, 08:17 AM
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Be aware that a lot of the National Park campgrounds DO NOT have showers or hot water.
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Old Oct 26th, 2013, 10:59 AM
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Rocky Mountain isn't as bad off as it sounds. At least not based on the current updates from the park's website:
http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/flood_alert.htm
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Old Oct 26th, 2013, 01:28 PM
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Camping in the summer in the National Parks might require reservations or VERY EARLY arrival times to get first come, first serve camping. I don't think I'd take a chance at the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone for first come, first serve camping.

Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon do have pay use showers in the parks. The showers might not always be in or near the campground you stay at so it might take some driving to get a shower.

Camping will also eat up more time setting up and tearing down so keep that in mind. If the Cheer leading camp in Las Vegas is part of that 18 days, then you will have even less time to do the parks.

Utahtea
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Old Oct 30th, 2013, 01:53 PM
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The other thing to keep in mind with Glacier and Yellowstone especially is that both parks are huge and that you will be spending a lot of time driving within the park once you arrive. You can still expect snow in the higher elevations at Glacier, but the Going to the Sun Road should be open. It normally opens around June 21st, but has opened as late as July 13 due to record snowfalls that winter.

http://www.hikinginglacier.com/glaci...e-sun-road.htm

Most camping is first come first serve within Glacier, but I think St. Mary campground does take reservations. Try to stay on the east side of the park, as it's the most scenic area - particularly Many Glacier.

http://www.hikinginglacier.com/glaci...rk-camping.htm

There are a few campgrounds outside the park in the St. Mary area - Johnson's of St. Mary, St. Mary KOA and Elkhorn Cabins and Campground in Babb.
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Old Oct 31st, 2013, 10:34 AM
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Fish Creek AND St. Mary's take camping reservations. All others are first come first served
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