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Old 02-25-2008, 08:47 PM   #1
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Cross Country Trip Help

My wife and i are going cross country starting in late April ending july or so. We want to visit as many of the best NP's as we can. We start in NW Alabama and head west on 40, with our first stop at Petrified NP. From there we were thinking of going to the south rim of the grand canyon, then to Zion NP, Bryce NP, Capital reef NP, Arches NP, Canyonlands NP then back to the North rim of Grand Canyon around may15th when it opens.

Then Hoover Dam/ LV, Death Valley,Sequoia NP, Kings Canyon NP, and Yosemite NP. That is the first part of the trip. I don't know if this route would even work? And is there any one of those parks really not worth visiting? Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated. This is our first long trip, so we are rookies, lol. Thanks very much George
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Old 02-25-2008, 09:29 PM   #2
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They are all worth visiting. The only problem you may have is finding space at their respective campgrounds, especially once school is out.

It can also be right toasty in Northern Arizona and Utah -- we saw 116 degrees last Summer and our A/C laughed at us...

Do not overlook State Parks or National Forest campgrounds near the National Parks -- you can often find a spot when the NP's are full and many of them are as beautiful as their big brothers.

mike
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Old 02-25-2008, 10:35 PM   #3
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We've been to most of the parks on your list. All are great.

Good luck on your trip, and safe travels.

If you sre taking a PC with you, keep us posted and send pictures.
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Old 02-25-2008, 10:58 PM   #4
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It looks like you have a good itinerary. I agree with Mike that Utah and AZ NPs can be brutal in the summer, but you should be fine as long as yet get them in prior to June. I made the mistake of visiting Zion and Capital reef in July a few years ago and will never do that again. It sounds like you'll be getting into the California parks before it heats up too much. Then all you need to do if you have time is head North. I'd love to have the time off of work to take a trip like that, but the darn Job thing gets in the way. As it is we're lucky to be centrally located where we can pick and choose our weeks in these areas.
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Old 02-26-2008, 11:12 AM   #5
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That is a great itenerary. One small add on is to be sure to give yourself a short stay at Monument Valley. It is truly awe inspiring. We stayed at Moab and drove down for the day and were left wishing for more time.
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Old 02-26-2008, 11:34 AM   #6
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As deauxrite wrote, Monument Valley is really a must see. Christmas 06, we travelled west down I-40 to Gallup, NM. From there we headed NW to the Hubbell Trading Post in Ganado, AZ which is part of the National Park System. Then from there it is a short drive to Canyon de Chelly in Chinle, Arizona. It was worth the trip. We hired a Navajo guide who rode with us in our 4wd truck down into the canyon. He was a wonderful tour guide. 4wd is a must, if you don't have it some of the guides do. There is a lot of history all through that canyon.

From there we went north to Monument Valley. There is a very nice campground in (Oljato?) Goulding, UT just across the border. It sits high in a box canyon overlooking the mittens. While cell service was sketchy, it did have wifi. There are also sites a few miles closer at Monument Valley, but the campground had full hookups. I can't remember if it was a KOA or not. Monument Valley was breathtaking. You literally step back into an old John Ford western.
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Old 02-26-2008, 08:04 PM   #7
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Thank you for the replies. We will add Monument Valley to our trip, we might only be able to do a big trip like this once so i appriciate all the help. After Yosemite will will go to Oregon and take 101 up the coast, i heard that is very beautiful. Again thanks for the replies and if you know of any other nice spots, please share. Will will take plenty of pics and will share them as we travel. George and Kym
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Old 02-26-2008, 08:40 PM   #8
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If you're coming this far west, the coast is nice, but consider Hwy 1 if you have time. Not sure where you'll head from Yosemite, but Hwy 41 out of there heads west, then ties in to Hwy46 to Cambria via Paso Robles. From there you take Hwy 1 up to Monterey and points north. Beautiful rugged coastline with scenery you'll recognise from the many ads filmed there. Hwy 1 eventually merges with 101 and continues north.
It sounds like the trip of a lifetime, congrats on the opportunity to do it.
Dave
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Old 02-26-2008, 09:30 PM   #9
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You said this was the first part of your trip. Are you planning on going back East into Yellowstone after you go up the Coast, or spending time in Olympic? I did Olympic, Ranier, Redwoods, and Lassen volcanic last year in a big loop. As much as we enjoyed it if you've never been to Yellowstone I'd take that over the other 4 combined.
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Old 02-26-2008, 09:45 PM   #10
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Make reservations now...

Your trip will be super wonderful. We took six weeks and went to many of the major western NPs last summer and it was unbelievable.

My main tip is to make reservations at national parks now. Like..immediately. That way you know a spot is waiting for you. I'd recommend three nights minimum for a short-stop park. That way you have two days to explore without travel.

As the others have said, it is hot in Southern Utah in late summer. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is just lovely that time of year though and the North Rim has the added benefit of being less crowded.

My list of what I loved about parks:
Zion - so gorgeous, great campsites right in the park. Wonderful little town at the park entrance.
Yosemite - six nights wasn't enough. It was wonderful, but don't plan on going for supplies once you are in the park...it is a long long drive from anywhere
Lassen - an under appreciated park with beautiful alpine hiking.
North Rim Grand Canyon - gorgeous campground, nice hiking...but if this is your first trip to the canyon, don't miss the South Rim (oh the views!)
Bryce - Really wonderful, amazing to hike below the rim, unbelievable star gazing
Arches - hot in the summer, wish we had spent more time. Moab is a great town very nearby.
Grand Teton - a trip highlight, we loved it and saw wildlife galore. Jackson is nearby if you need a little civilization
Yellowstone - plan plenty of time. The wildlife was wonderful and there were several other airstreams!
Glacier - wow, wow, wow...love it. Stayed outside the park at a great RV park and it worked wonderfully.

Lastly, Oregon is a great place to visit and the state parks have wonderful facilities. Troll the state park website and find a good spot. The coast is simply amazing and a great place to visit from July through September.

Happy Travels! Here's a pic of Bryce to whet your appetite:
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Old 02-26-2008, 10:00 PM   #11
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Thank you Dave, i would have missed that, Rt 1 looks like a great route up the coast. Oh i forgot the GG bridge, would there be to much traffic in that area? George
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Old 02-26-2008, 10:34 PM   #12
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Hi Charlie, we do plan to go to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NP. I guess if we decide to take Rt 1 up the coast then Lassen NP would be out, how nice of a park is that one? We are going to Redwood NP for sure, and probably Olympic NP and either Cascades NP or Glacier NP unless they are both awesome parks? Which ones did you like the best? After Teton NP we plan to go down to Colorado or we will head towards Mass to see my Dad. It will depend on how tired i am of driving, we have never done a trip like this one. I have no clue how tiring it will be. Colorado could be a whole trip by itself from what a couple of friends tell me, i'd really like to see Rocky NP area. Thanks Charlie George
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Old 02-26-2008, 11:00 PM   #13
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Hi dmroot, loads of information in your post thank you. We plan on hitting the S rim of Grand Canyon in the middle of April, i hope that is a pretty good time to visit? And how many days would you stay there? I was wondering how many days to stay at each park, 3 days sounds good. We want to be at the N rim when it opens on may 15th or so, is that worth more than 3 days ? Will i have to make reservations that early in the year at the Utah parks? I know i'm going to love the Oregon coast, we can't wait, thanks for the great pic and the help. George
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Old 02-27-2008, 01:15 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by mrchinup1
Hi Charlie, we do plan to go to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NP. I guess if we decide to take Rt 1 up the coast then Lassen NP would be out, how nice of a park is that one? We are going to Redwood NP for sure, and probably Olympic NP and either Cascades NP or Glacier NP unless they are both awesome parks? Which ones did you like the best? After Teton NP we plan to go down to Colorado or we will head towards Mass to see my Dad. It will depend on how tired i am of driving, we have never done a trip like this one. I have no clue how tiring it will be. Colorado could be a whole trip by itself from what a couple of friends tell me, i'd really like to see Rocky NP area. Thanks Charlie George
We moved to Colorado from Alabama 6 years ago and are fortunate enough to be in the mountains. Although having my airstream snowed in until mid April doesn't seem that fortunate right now. Even on a long trip you can't do it all justice. Saving Colorado for an other visit is a good idea. With the National Parks in the state it's worth a trip all its own. Everyone's going to have their own opinions about the parks out west but here are mine. Lassen is very nice and not very crowded, but Yellowstone offers everything on a much grander scale. I wouldn't take it in at the cost of cutting time down in Yellowstone or Yosemite. I was less impressed with the parks in Washington then I thought I would be. Olympic is neat, but you spend more time outside the park getting around to see it then you do in the park. There are almost no roads inside the park and you just circle around it for hours to get from one vein in to the next. Ranier was nice but a lot of the roads were closed at the time I was there last year so it had the same access issues as Olympic. I was impressed with Mt. St. Helens. Yellowstone is in a league of it's own. What ever you do don't spend less then 5 days at Yellowstone, it is a magical place that is so large 5 days will barely do it justice. Yosemite is almost as awesome, the Giant Sequoias will leave a lasting impression. Redwoods was a really nice park as well. If you stay there try to stay in Jedediah Smith Redwoods park. You get to camp right in the middle of an old growth Redwoods grove. The spots along the river have the biggest trees in the campground. I think this is the only campground of it's kind. I haven't done Glacier in a few years but it is worth the trip (big grizzlies). Search some of the threads on the forums for recommendations about campgrounds around the parks. I would second the motion of booking campgrounds in the national parks. I think most take reservations, and it's worth it. Even if you miss out on a night that you've paid for due to changes in your plans you're only out $15. They fill up very quickly. We usually reserve months in advance.
Charlie
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