To plan or not to plan?
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Jun 20, 2012 6:22 AM Last Post By: carracar
Jun 19, 2012 8:06 AM
To plan or not to plan?I'm currently planning my first road trip that will start and end in Austin with the following stops: Santa Fe, Mesa Verde NP, Zion NP, Grand Canyon NP, Albuquerque balloon fiesta and Carlsbad Caverns NP. This is a 2-week trip in October.
So far, my plans are pretty well defined. I mean, I don't know exactly what each day will consist of, but I do know in which place each day will start and end. One of my friend, who is an experienced road-tripper, says it's best not to plan too much. He prefers to be more free so that he can spend more time in some place if he loves it or just deviate and visit something unpredicted. Now, I'm not the kind of person who has to know everything in advance and I do like surprises, but I really want to do all the things on my list and I'm afraid that if I just wing it and deviate from the plan, then I won't have time to do any of the things I want to do and I'll come back home frustrated.
So what do you think? How much planning is too much planning? How much planning is not enough planning? I guess it depends on your personality, where you are going and when.
For instance, I plan to camp in Zion and Grand Canyon. I have looked at the reservation website and there are still tons of spots available. So should I reserve now? Same for hotels in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
I'm very excited about this trip. We'll be spending 2 days in Grand Canyon and I want to do the rafting trip. Must be an awesome experience. I'm also very excited about Carlsbad Caverns. I'm thinking about doing the Lower Cave tour. Should I reserve?
Jun 19, 2012 8:22 AM
1The Rafting trip is out of Page & is conducted on the Colorado just below the dam in Marble Canyon ... For your Albuquerque & In the GC Park lodging, I suggest reservations... That is not to mean you should not plan... Simply develop one around what attractions interest you...happy trails... carracar
Jun 19, 2012 8:25 AM
2During the Balloon Fiesta, you will need to make reservations for accommodations in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. There is a hostel in Santa Fe and there are many motel options. I do not know what the transportation system is like for the Balloon Fiesta -- it is not in Albuquerque, but several miles north along Interstate-25. Liftoff is early in the morning and in the evening, so you would not be standing around in the middle of the day at the field.
Jun 19, 2012 8:54 AM
3Reservations may not be less expensive but may be more available in Santa Fe... The early morning drive from the North, will be less subject to traffic on weekend mass launch days... On the Carlsbad Caverns query ... a recent traveler reports, on a different site, that on a non weekend day all tours in the main cave had been reserved... So yes, you will need to pre book ... carracar
Jun 19, 2012 9:11 AM
4Some roadtrips are great w/o reservations if you don't have any real plans. . .
if you know where each day will begin and end make your reservations before you go.
Also, if you know there is a tour you want to take on a certain day, reserve it! That time of year isn't peak season, but you never know when a random group might show up and you could be out of luck.
As long as your days aren't too filled with driving, you'll still have plenty of time to explore.
Jun 19, 2012 9:57 AM
5There's an awful lot to see between Albuquerque and Grand Canyon. You have only mentiined the obvious places.
Jun 19, 2012 10:39 AM
6Yes, probably, but I don't know if I have time. I prefer to make fewer stops and really enjoy the places than seeing everything briefly.
I have a day to drive from Grand Canyon to Albuquerque. I know that I could stop at Flagstaff, Sedona, Petrified Forest, El Malpais and maybe more, but will I have time? I was planning on sleeping 3 night at Grand Canyon, so maybe I could go sleep in Flagstaff on the last night so that I have less driving to do to go to Albuquerque.
Jun 19, 2012 11:36 AM
Jun 19, 2012 11:39 AM
8"Planning" and reservations do not limit your options. They keep your options open. You want to see Grand Canyon and Balloon Fest. When there is going to be a huge crowd and accommodations are limited you need reservations. If some happenstance makes the reservations superfluous you simply cancel them before your arrival date or time. 99% of the time there is no penalty for doing this. You should always read the reservation agreement to be sure of this.
In places like the southwest U. S., you also need to have a general idea of where you are going and what you want to see. In many places, the next gas, food, water, and accomodations are tens of miles away. You don't need to follow your plan but you need to know your options. Blundering around aimlessly wastes time and money at best and can leave you stranded in a very unpleasant place at the worst.
Jun 19, 2012 12:26 PM
9yes, thanks zeldasdad, that makes sense.
You need a permit to camp in the backcountry, but not to hike, right? I was thinking of spending 2 days at Grand Canyon: 1 to hike and see the views and 1 to do the raft trip.
It does suck that the raft trip is almost 3 hours away from the Canyon though. I guess the best thing to do would be to drive from Zion to Page, take the raft trip, then go Grand Canyon. And then the next day hike in the Canyon and see the views.
I had planned one day to drive from Zion to GC then 2 days in the Grand Canyon, but now I realize that I can make the trip from Zion to GC on the same day that I take the raft trip, so that would mean I have an extra day to spend! Where would be the best place to spend it? Taos ? Bryce Canyon? Flagstaff? Sedona?
Jun 19, 2012 1:17 PM
Jun 19, 2012 10:16 PM
11You NEED reservations during the Balloon Festival. You should also have reservations at Grand Canyon, and Zion if you'll be there on a weekend, and te cave tours at Carlsbad. You can probably wing it for the rest of the trip, if that's how you want to roll.
Let's clear something up: the rafting trip you're considering is NOT "in the Grand Canyon". I guess "on the Colorado River near the Grand Canyon" is close. It is a flatwater cruise on a motorized pontoon raft, through the very end of Glen Canyon (the rest is flooded by the Lake Powell). The scenery, while pretty, is not at all similar to the Grand Canyon. Lees Ferry is a scenic place, and seeing the very start of the Grand Canyon (which begins where your rafting trip ends) is an interesting counterpoint to the massive gorge it becomes. But do calibrate your expectations accordingly, and make sure you're interested enough to allocate time for this.
In your one-day drive from ABQ to Grand Canyon you have time for one or two stops, Petrified Forest, Meteor Crater, Walnut Canyon, and Sunset Crater Volcano/Wupatki Ruins are all worthwhile and right on the way. El Morro is a detour but should be doable. Sedona is too far afield.
I can't say how much you have time for, because maybe I missed it, but I don't see anywhere that you've laid out your overall itinerary. Is the order you listed the stops in the same as your intended route? So the end of your trip (Zion>GC>ABQ>Carlsbad) seems pretty locked in. That'll take something like 8-9 days, leaving you with about 5-6 days to get from Austin, through Sante Fe and Mesa Verde, to Zion. You might have an extra day in there, and there is a ton of stuff to see between Mesa Verde and Zion. Just taking the scenic route through Cortez>Hovenweep>Goosenecks SP>Mokee Dugway>Hwy 12 through Capitol Reef>Bryce>Zion will give you more options than you know what to do with, and is a classic drive on top of it.
Edited by: FlagStuff
Jun 20, 2012 6:14 AM
12Oh, I have an itinerary. Here it is:
Day 1: Austin - Lubbock
Day 2: Lubbock - Santa Fe
Day 3: Santa Fe
Day 4: Santa Fe - Mesa Verde
Day 5: Mesa Verde (and then I was thinking about going to sleep in a motel in Blanding to give me a head start on the next day trip)
Day 6: Blanding - Zion (while passing through Capitol Reef and Bryce)
Day 7: Zion
Day 8: Zion - Page (for the raft trip, I am a bit disapointed that it's not in GC, but I'm sure it's still real fun) - Grand Canyon
Day 9: Grand Canyon
Day 10: Grand Canyon - Albuquerque
Day 11: Albuquerque
Day 12: Albuquerque - Carlsbad
Day 13: Carlsbad Caverns
Day 14: Carlsbad - Austin
Is that too much? It seems good to me. And I have an extra day to spare. I just need to figure out where I want to spend it.
Jun 20, 2012 6:22 AM
(3 star Hotel)
From US$174.00 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$149.00 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$88.99 per night