Western USA 3 weeks trip and rental car advises
Replies: 94 - Last Post: Feb 2, 2013 2:19 PM Last Post By: NYCRoadTripper
Jan 17, 2013 9:33 AM
60PS: let's not fight about a small subject...Just, do you think if I (unluckily) am stopped by a cop on the Hole-In-The-Rock road (out of the road 12) he will tell me anything ?
Oh, I'm not fighting. I just want to be sure that you get the right information about what "prohibited" means in the context of a rental agreement. For one, there won't be any cops on Hole-in-the-Rock road. For two, the police don't even remotely care if you're violating your rental terms (its not a law, its an agreement, under the terms of which you'd be assuming all the risk for any damage to the car, and/or any other penalties that will be spelled out in the agreement). For three, it may not even be explicitly prohibited, depending on the language of your agreement (Hole in the Rock is a gravel road, but it is definitely "improved", "surfaced" and "maintained").
I now consider this dead horse thoroughly beaten.
Jan 17, 2013 9:43 AM
Jan 17, 2013 9:45 AM
Jan 17, 2013 10:03 AM
63I'm not sure this is a consideration or not (for reasons mentioned below), but ...
There is a geological formation called the Mancos Shale (farther west in Utah, the Tropic Shale) which, when thoroughly wet, can be almost undriveable on insufficiently improved dirt roads in a normal passenger car. You will be driving in April, when winter wetness may not have fully dried out.(i.e., the "mud" season may not be over). If you encounter the stuff on such roads and are not very cautious, you might possibly get stuck - which could be very expensive, especially if extracting you caused any visible marring to the car.
Now, I've not driven any of the dirt roads you are considering during the "mud" season in recent years, and I don't remember whether or not they cross Mancos/Tropic Shale, or, if they do, whether they are sufficiently improved to eliminate any possible problems. "Improvements" to protect you when crossing over wet Mancos Shale are not trivial - even when paved roads traverse the stuff, it can be nearly impossible to keep the surface smooth (though the paved roads on it are perfectly safe if you obey the often reduced speed limits).
So, be careful venturing off pavement in Utah without 4-wheel drive in April. I don't doubt that there are non-problematic roads, and I don't doubt that there are problematic roads. In many cases, I'm not sure which is which - but you might need to be.
Jerome is a sizable old mining town, whose copper mines shut down about 50-60 years ago. It has become something of an arts colony, and is interesting (and the drive down to it out of Flagstaff is scenic), but I don't think it's worth the longish detour on your tight schedule. It is not one of the "ghostliest" western Ghost Towns, nor one of the most colorful.
Jan 17, 2013 10:09 AM
Or more on your route, Navajo.
Jan 17, 2013 10:10 AM
65Fixing my link, Mesa Verde.
Can we have the edit button back, please?
Jan 17, 2013 10:45 AM
66Why not sedona and Jerome ?
You have limited time, and I think Arches and Canyonlands far outshine the Sedona area for scenic interest. Don't get me wrong, I like the Sedona area, there is a ton to do and see, and I still spend time there occasionally (my family lives nearby). Notice I said "Sedona area" not "Sedona". The town itself is a high-priced tourist trap with a bunch of new-age psuedo-spriritual window dressing. Not that Moab is a great town either, just a different flavor of tourist trap, but Arches and Canyonlands are truly special and not to be missed. I agree with #63's assessment of Jerome.
Also regarding dirt road travel, in reference to "mud season". I think the best policy is to just plan on checking with the local visitor centers about current road conditions. April is usually fine in the lower terrain, but that said, I've had some exciting times on Cottonwood Canyon Road in April. Hole in the Rock is troublesome right after a rain also. No one should venture on these back roads, in any sort of vehicle much less a passenger car, if conditions are muddy.
Jan 17, 2013 10:52 AM
Jan 17, 2013 11:04 AM
68I found this website. It's interesting, We'll try to pick one of the best on the way...
Jan 17, 2013 11:24 AM
70First forget what Max is telling you. He's banged up more rental cars than one can count, I remember the New Mexico debacle.
Use common sense and safety is more important than worrying about should I use chains, Heck if you rent one out of SLC some will provide chains. I would bring a pair at that time of year unless you stay in the southwest. Just bring the car back in the condition you got it, no worries. Do get full coverage.
As for sleeping free at road side rest stops, it's fine just stay 1 night per. Most have BBQ pits and tables so you can cook.
There is a ton of free remote camping in the S Utah area. Make sure you stop at NF and BLM offices in towns and ask them about maps for free camping and always ask about road conditions.
Once you decide on your route I can give more specific directions for great remote camping with killer views and hikes right out of camp, some not at all that far from the main,paved road.
As for getting pulled over, never saw a cop on the hole in the wall rd, you will quickly realize how remote the area is. They do not care about you driving a rental. Even city cops won't care.
Monument Valley is a great drive by on the main route but no free camping,everything is on Indian land and it will cost you.
By the way Flagstuff knows the area and gives accurate information, he doesn't have a dog in the hunt. bzookaj is reliable as well.
The S. west area your looking at is so vast and huge it's hard to comprehend the distances but it's all worth it. The most underrated beautiful places in the states/world IMO.
Jan 17, 2013 12:49 PM
Yeah, the "being pulled over by a cop on hole in the rock road" was more un example to say that I wasn'tso much worried of being arrested because I am drinving off-road with a rental car. I am driving a lot since the last 8 years of road-tripping, and I will continue to use common sense before entering an off-road, or continue on it. And, if really something happens, I will be driving so slow that it will be unlucky to have serious damages.... But Thanks a lot for the advises !
Here what the trip will look like (more or less and subject to change !)
We'll do it in 16 days, from LAS VEGAS to SAN FRANCISCO.
Fell free to continue to give me such good tips, and build the trip over again !
Jan 17, 2013 12:53 PM
72Wow. There are two issues I see with that route.
1) You drive more than you need to.
2) You bypass, literally, some of the best places in that area.
This is a much better route.
Jan 17, 2013 1:10 PM
73apparently the bidge over the start of the grand canyon on the road 89A is wonderfull, people said previously, so I arranged the way to see it with the info of Flagstuff and everybody... but yeah the highway nort of LAS VEGAS doesn't seems to be interesting. We'll probably arrive in the evening, so I reckon I could drive to Moab by night and start directly in the morning. But you trip is shortter too, it's nice
Jan 17, 2013 1:12 PM
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