Road trip Ideas - western USA 2-3 weeks Ideas anyone??
Replies: 24 - Last Post: Nov 13, 2013 10:01 PM Last Post By: sbubnou
Nov 18, 2012 11:33 AM
Road trip Ideas - western USA 2-3 weeks Ideas anyone??Hey!
Me and a few friends are hoping to do a road trip next year exploring western USA. We would only have 2-3 weeks. Maybe flying into San Fransisco.
Am just looking for some suggested itinerary's as we are struggling a bit to plan it out. I think we would like a bit of mix, national parks (really keen on hiking), great cities and the coast.
Does anyone have any ideas? and how much to roughly budget for on a daily basis(there would be 3 of us)?
Any suggestions would be brill!!!
Edited by: Lithy
Nov 18, 2012 12:47 PM
1Budget $300 a week for a rental car (more if at least one of you isn't at least 25 years of age) plus 15 cents a mile for fuel. Hotels will run about $75 a night; if you bring camping equipment, you could cut that cost considerably outside of the cities. Meals roughly $30 a day per person at the low end; you could save some money by getting a cheap cooler and cooking gear, and buying food in grocery stores, but you will need to know what you're doing on the cooking side of it.
In 2-3 weeks you can't "explore" the West, because it's too big. You'll need to study the possibilities and make choices. Look in the FAQ, especially posts #129, 144, 146, 150, 156, 210, 236, and 282. Many Europeans come here and inquire about campervans and/or RVs. This is a high-cost option in the United States. See FAQ posts #188 and 194 for details.
A reasonable travel pace is 200 miles a day; less if you spend much time in the cities. That might seem like a lot of miles to work with, until you look at a map. I checked your other posts and saw you're from Yorkshire. To give you an idea of how big the American West is: Oregon, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona are each approximately the size of the entire United Kingdom. California and Montana are bigger yet, while Washington is "only" two-thirds as large. It's a vast region.
Nov 18, 2012 12:55 PM
2A couple of issues to think about...
1. Time of year will matter if you want to see particular things in the wild (waterfalls, blooming desert wildflowers, mating elephant seals, "butterfly trees," whale migrations, etc.)
2. Don't overlook state, county, or even municipal parks for hiking opportunities.
3. Could you define what makes a city "great?" I'd hate to recommend interesting gardens in Portland and then find out that you really want to go to a theme park and ride on a bus tour of celebrity homes in suburban L.A.
4. What do you want to do on the coast? Along much of the coast and for much of the year, the water is colder than you might think.
5. Since "western USA" has a couple of definitions, are you thinking of the 3 adjacent coastal states (Washington, Oregon, California), the southwestern states, "western" places as far east as Montana and Wyoming, something else?
Nov 18, 2012 12:57 PM
Nov 18, 2012 2:23 PM
4to emphasize previous posters:
Time of year. This is very important. In the western mountains winter snows start in September can linger into May while the coastal areas are wet and windy. In summer the western deserts reach 40+ centigrade. The absolute best time to visit the U.S. is September into October.
Costs: Budget hotels from $75 or so - some allow goups so share rooms. Like hiking around? Are you campers? If so, there are millions of hectares of public lands i the western U.S. where you can camp for free, or for very little BUT, you must have a car.
Great cities? This is pretty subjective, but my favorites on the west coast are San Francisco and Seattle.
Nov 18, 2012 10:33 PM
5Yep. Time of Year is vital. The general direction of your loop will depend on the weather and your tolerance for extremes. Where are you from? What sort of hiking are you after? You don't want to be slogging around Death Vally in July, or Crater Lake in January.
As always, the more time available, the better.
With two weeks, something like SF - Yosemite - Tahoe/Reno - Ft. Bragg - SF makes sense. (Just one of a zillion possible area loops.) Don't go all crazy and try to see half the continent in ~9 days. (All you'll have left after a few days in SF and 18~24 hours in the car.)
With 3 weeks available, much of the West becomes accessible. Again, you'll spend much of those extra 7 days sitting in the car, so don't try to combine the Grand Canyon AND Yellowstone, etc. Try to limit your primary area of interest to one state-sized region or less.
Nov 19, 2012 12:29 AM
Nov 19, 2012 5:03 AM
Nov 19, 2012 9:41 AM
8Poster #6 may be a SF-basher, but he does make a good suggestion. Don't do a round-trip flight from San Francisco; do an open jaw ticket instead. If you only have two or three weeks, why not fly into Seattle, and fly home from San Francisco, and spend the intervening time exploring Washington, Oregon, and northern California? Between all the various parks (Olympic, Mt. Rainer, Mt. Saint Helens, Crater Lake, Lassen Volcanic, Yosemite, just to name a few) and Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco, you'd have plenty to see and do, and a nice balance between city time and hiking/nature time.
Nov 19, 2012 11:25 AM
9IMHO, the very best thing about the USA is the National Park System. They are beautiful and unique from one another. Renting a camper to tour some of the parks might be cheaper than staying in hotels. Lots and lots of hiking opportunities.
Do some research, because destinations will vary depending on the time of the year.
San Francisco is an amazing, though pricy city to visit and the California coast is spectacular .
Personally, I would avoid Las Vegas, although it does make a good starting point for the Utah parks, the Grand Canyon , and my favorite, Death Valley.
Nov 19, 2012 11:29 AM
Nov 19, 2012 6:36 PM
11I have to agree with the last poster. SF is a great place to fit into a vacation, though I like both Portland and Seattle as well. Maybe fly into one leave by the other. As far as budgets go, there is a great deal of leeway in potential costs. There are a lot of places where you can camp or backpack free that are as beautiful as the more popular and well-known national parks.
Still, I'd recommend that you not miss Yosemite: it's spectacular! If you begin in SF, you could easily drive from there to Yosemite in a day. Very hard to get camping reservations in the Park proper, but you could (for example) drive through Yosemite, spending the day visiting, but continue over incredibly scenic Tioga Pass down to Highway 395 (a beautiful drive) and find some cheaper and easier-to-get camping on some National Forest land nearby. Oh, and near Yosemite on 395, you can also visit Mono Lake and Bodie State Park. Mono Lake is other-worldly and Bodie is a marvelously preserved ghost town and California State park. Then perhaps work your way north past Lake Tahoe and on up to Washington. Oregon is nice, but personally I prefer the mountains and parks of both Washington and California. In Washington, Mt Rainier, Olympic, and Mt St Helens are all fantastic, but my personal favorite is probably North Cascades Nat'l Park
In any event, my personal opinion is to not spread yourself too thin by covering too much area in too little time. Better to spend more time on the trail and less time sitting in a car!
Nov 19, 2012 6:41 PM
12...and another thing: if you intend to be visiting a lot of National Parks, buy a Parks Pass. That will give you free admission to any National Park (though not state parks).
And also: Seattle has an excellent hostal. In the Sf area (where I live) there are some excellent hostals nearby, my favorites being Pigeon Point and Pt Reyes.
Nov 20, 2012 7:10 AM
13To follow on hickwithastick (#12) regarding Seattle hostels:
In Seattle the City Hostel located in trendy Belltown is near Pike Street Market, jazz clubs and restaurants http://www.hostelseattle.com/
Also, the more crusty but totally adequate Green Tortoise Hostel is located immediately across from the main entrance into Pike Street Market http://www.greentortoise.net/
Nov 20, 2012 7:23 AM
14If you do decide to go to Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe is great! There's a lot to do even if you don't ski/snowboard. You can go to the casinos and clubs across the street in Stateline. Heavenly resort is right in town and Sierra-at-Tahoe is a shuttle ride away. They have great hiking / snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, etc. Plus, there is the usual shopping. Take advantage of the casinos because you can get lots of free stuff. The hotels are over-priced in South Lake Tahoe, and there are TONS of vacation rental properties there. I know a couple who have a great condo at a very reasonable price right in town and only a mile from the slopes. For the same price as one room in a hotel (where 3 people will be squished), you get a more cozy homey environment with a fireplace, hot tub, etc. You can save money by cooking in your own kitchen. Here's a link if you're interested, tell them Laura sent you! :-) http://www.ripkecondo.com/
Edited by: lullmann
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