Road trip out west- HELP!

Jul 12th, 2009, 03:51 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 3
Road trip out west- HELP!

Me, my sister, and our friend are flying to Vegas in August to go on a 18 day road trip. We think we are definitely trying to pack too much stuff into the time we have, but we want to be able to see as much as possible. I was wondering if I could get some feedback on our rough draft itinerary about what places we should skip if you don't think we can make it to all of them, what places we definitely cannot miss, and what amazing places we have left off if there are any. We don't mind driving over night a few times to make it to our destinations with time to spend exploring during the day. Also in the big cities, we just want to hit the major sites...we know we won't have time to see all that they offer. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Fly into Las Vegas
Spend the night
Pick up rental car
Drive to Death Valley, CA- 142 miles
Drive to Sequoia National Park
Spend the Night in Sequoia National Park
Drive to Yosemite National Park
Explore Yosemite
Camp outside of Yosemite
Drive to San Francisco
Drive or Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge!
Visit Musee Mecanique
Lombard Street
Eat in Chinatown!
Spend the night in San Francisco
Buy an 11 dollar ride all day pass for public transport/Take a cable car
Spend the Day in San Francisco
Start the day in Fisherman's Wharf
Go to Alcatraz-- 16 dollars for the Blue and Gold Fleet in Fisherman's Wharf
Alamo Square/Full House Houses
Camp outside of San Francisco (cheaper)
Drive to Oregon
Redwood Forest
Spend the night in Siuslaw National Forest, Oregon
Portland, OR
Around Portland
Mt. St. Helens/Hood/Rainier
Drive to Seattle, stay outside of seattle
Seattle/Around Seattle
Drive to Olympic National Forest
Spend the night in Olympic National Forest
Around Washington
Drive to Montana
Camp in Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park
Drive partially to Yellowstone
Stay near Bozeman, Montana
Drive to Yellowstone
Explore Yellowstone
Stay around Yellowstone
Drive through Grand Tetons
Drive to Denver
Stay in Boulder, CO
Denver/ Around Colorado
Spend the Night in the Great Sand Dunes National Park
Drive to Taos, New Mexico
Santa Fe/Taos
Spend the Night in Albuquerque, NM
Drive to Sedona
Sedona, AZ
Drive to Tuba City, AZ
Spend the Night in Tuba City or Cameron, AZ
Painted Desert
Drive to Grand Canyon
Explore the Grand Canyon
Drive back to Las Vegas
Spend the night in a sweet casino
Fly Home 9:30 am

At the moment, the only thing we are really trying to change is to make more time for the Grand Canyon. All ideas/comments/criticisms welcome!
starshapedleaves is offline  
Jul 12th, 2009, 04:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 4,044
Too many driving days in a row in major national parks without being able to actually enjoy them. You will see virtually nothing of any of these parks by driving in one night and driving out the next day to a destination 4 or more hours away.

Doesn't sound like a very pleasant trip.
Placename is offline  
Jul 12th, 2009, 05:00 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 367
I enjoy whirlwind road trips and I'm planning one of my own right now, but even I feel like this needs to be broken up into a minimum of 3 different trips - or a long 2-month trip.

Just quickly plotting your points on a map, I am getting somewhere around 4,800 miles (86 driving hours). Over 18 days, you would be driving an average of 267 miles/day, or 5 hours a day.

What are you wanting to do at these places? If it's just a quick drive-by, then it's probably possible to do this, but I'm not so sure it would be enjoyable.

I advise that you look more into what you want to do in each location and see how that affects your plans.

Personally, I would take out everything between San Francisco and Sedona, skip Death Valley (it's August - too hot), and add in at least one of the national parks in Southern Utah (Bryce, Zion, Arches)...and even that would be packing a lot of scenery and driving into 18 days, but it would give you time to actually enjoy the places you are driving a very long distance to get to. That trip would probably be in the realm of 2,800 miles (26 driving hours) - an average of 155 miles/day or 1.5-2 hours driving per day.

Leave the Pacific NW for its own trip someday. And Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Colorado for another.
mrkindallas is offline  
Jul 12th, 2009, 05:53 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,673
Gosh, I'm sorry to say, but your itinerary sounds like a comedy skit song by the Arrogant Worms. I cannot imagine spending 18 days in the car without getting out for at least a potty break, but that's what it sounds like you are planning.

We have been to all the places you list. Trying to fit them all into 18 days is ill advised. August is dangerously hot in August. Driving from Vegas to Death Valley to Sequotia NP is 15 hours (per AAA), without stops.

In Yosemite, allow 1 hour to drive from the entrance to the valley. Factor in high summer season traffic in addition. Do you have reservations to even enter the park at this time? At any rate, allow at least 2 days for that.

Growing up, we used to drive from San Francisco to Seattle every summer; it took 3 days of driving. If you want to go I-5 all the way it will be faster, but ugly and boring.

As for the rest, I think your itinerary covers basically drive time. Do you ever plan to get out of the car?
sludick is online now  
Jul 13th, 2009, 12:07 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,189
I plotted your itinerary and came up with 5,300 miles. That's 300 a day every day.

Around Portland
Mt. St. Helens/Hood/Rainier
Drive to Seattle, stay outside of seattle

This is approx 566 miles and it's not 75 miles an hour driving. You are looking at 12 hours of just driving, not counting stopping to do any site seeing, gas and eatting stops.

As others have said, cut this down by a third and ENJOY your trip and come back another two times.

utahtea is offline  
Jul 13th, 2009, 03:02 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 1,719
I second mrkindallas recommendation about making your drive from Denver W on 70 (great mountain scenery) to Grand Junction. Then spend at least a day out of Moab to do Arches and Bryce. As you head south, you will catch Monument Valley.

On your route you will see plenty of SW desert. Death Valley is nothing special. Drop the destination, miles and enjoy some more time at one of the beautiful places you are planning on zooming through at 80 mph.
stumpworks73 is offline  
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