West Coast to Denver?

Old Jul 28th, 2013, 05:54 PM
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West Coast to Denver?

I'm planning to visit a friend in Denver in September. I'll fly up from New Zealand to either LA or San Francisco. Instead of flying on to Denver I'm wondering about taking a road trip, an opportunity to check out the landscape. Any advice on the best place to start (as in LA or SF) and the best route? Also the best road transport option - rental vehicle or bus - and if so which bus company? How many days would you allow - not counting sightseeing diversions? I guess you're going to say it depends what I want to see, well there is so much along that way, hence this query! I guess maybe LA through Utah or Albuquerque with a detour to the Grand Canyon could be one stand out - anyway open to suggestions. Thanks
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Old Jul 28th, 2013, 08:38 PM
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Fly to San Francisco. Take the Amtrak California Zephyr train from Emeryville to Denver. The advantage to the train is that you go through the Nevada desert during darkness.
You could have your Denver friend come west to Glenwood Springs to meet you in the afternoon.
Please don't try to drive it or take a bus.
Emeryville to Glenwood Springs on the train is 26 hours.
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Old Jul 28th, 2013, 09:56 PM
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Ah the train - great to know about that! And I guess you'd recommend a sleeping car too? That cost seems quite a bit higher but I guess it includes meals. Thanks for your thoughts - and stern advice re driving!
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 03:50 AM
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For the train you need to know that that is Tom's only method he recommends. Trains in the US "can" be scenic, but they are not always reliably on time, which may not matter to you.
For getting to Denver, however, a car rental, with a return trip to your port of entry/exit might be best.
I don't think we know your length of stay--just that you want to hike in the mountains.
If you arrive in LA there is the Grand Canyon that could be on your way (driving)==also Hoover Dam, and maybe Las Vegas (I am NOT a fan!!).
then you might even see Mesa Verde (incredible ancient Indian settlement) in the corner of Colorado before heading up toward the mountains. Around Aspen there are some wonderful hikes (Maroon Bells). You might not even need to go to Denver, although I love it there. ;o)
So, we need to know how long, and if that is what you are interested in.
I have no experience with buses in the West, but in our area, bus service is poor, and really not very nice. Just true, unfortunately. I DO think a car rental would be best, and a return to the original location to keep from a big drop off charge.
You might look into Las Vegas as an arrival--for a good fare, and maybe a cheap rental, and you are already "inland" if you don't want to particularly see LA which I think can be daunting.
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 03:52 AM
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Despite tomfuller's warning you certainly could drive from the west coast to Denver--it would take a minimum of 2-3 days without any diversions for sightseeing. It does require driving many miles through deserts.

A route from Los Angeles to Albuquerque (with a detour to the Grand Canyon in Arizona)then north to Santa Fe then on to Denver is certainly doable.
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 03:57 AM
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Sorry--see you are visiting a friend in Denver--you'll certainly want/need to end up there!! ;o)
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 05:32 AM
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It is certainly an opportunity for a nice classic American road trip if you have the time, and the fall season can be so nice. It will still be hot in the desert, though. You could include Santa Fe/Albuquerque, catch a few Route 66 sites off I-40, and of course as the iconic Grand Canyon and Vegas on your way to LA. How much time do you have?
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 05:45 AM
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You could go from LA to Las Vegas then Zion and Bryce NP, down to Lake Powell and backtracking some, the Grand Canyon, then Petrified Forest, Gallup New Mexico and from there either through Albuquerque and I-25 to Denver or through Durango/Mesa Verde NP and through the mountains to Denver
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 06:02 AM
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Oops, sorry-- I thought you were leaving from Denver. Same suggestions, reverse order.
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 07:37 AM
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Fly to San Francisco. Drive to Yosemite, then over the mountains and thru Death Valley on your way to Vegas. From there, head to the Grand Canyon, then go back into Utah and head to Moab before continuing on to Denver.
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 07:47 AM
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I think giving a nice idea for a tour of the west by including SF and Yosemite is interesting.
Another possibility of just seeing SF and Yosemite would be to just keep on going east to Denver. not as much time spent, but also not as much touring.
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 12:51 PM
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Wow, I can see I'm just going to have to retire and come over and do all these options! I'm only going to have about 5 weeks all up and the main point of the trip is to visit my Denver friend. Thanks heaps for all the ideas - let me mull it over a bit more and maybe I'll come back for some fine tuning thoughts.
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 01:58 PM
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If you have that amount of time, and your friend isn't available for the weekdays, PLEASE do think about some trips. Don't know your budget--or ability to have a rental car.
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 02:21 PM
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Well, the trip from San Francisco to Denver by the route I suggested should take at least a week if not longer. There's a lot to see on the way. That still leaves a lot of time to visit your friend.
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 03:25 PM
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If you are thinking of a one-way rental car-- pickup in CA and drop off in CO-- that can be very expensive.
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 06:58 PM
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Yes the one way rental expense could be inhibitive. I'm very much into a 'value for money' budget, if that makes sense? Also the thought of driving out of a big city that I don't know would be challenging - but hey, we're meant to give ourselves a challenge every day, right?
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 06:59 PM
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Can your Denver friend take some time off to join you for an adventure in Colorado?
My style of travel when traveling alone, is to ride the train to a logical destination and then rent a car and make a large loop in places where the trains don't go. How about riding the train to Grand Junction Colorado and renting there?
By the schedule it is 24 hours from Emeryville California to Grand Junction Colorado arriving a little after 10AM Mountain time. Even if you are a couple hours late, you have plenty of daylight to get where you want to go.
So far all of my Amtrak travel has been in coach seats. At some point next year I will switch to a Roomette with Amtrak Guest Rewards points.
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 09:16 PM
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Have you checked to see what a car rental would be? From other topics, it seems that foreign travellers are able to rent without a one way drop off fee depending on who they book it with.
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 09:22 PM
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Just put of curiousity I checked the price of a one-way rental from SFO to DEN for 10 days in September. It was pretty expensive, over $750, but the drop off fee was less than $200. Just based on that quick search, I wouldn't say the drop off fee is going to make or break this trip.
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 09:32 PM
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There is an agency that rents cars very reasonably to British tourists--it is not available to Americans. Perhaps if you do a little googling on this site you'll find it and with luck it also is available to New Zealanders? I'm sorry I can't think of the company name right now!
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