Saturday, March 27, 2010

San Francisco to Grand Canyon, via Death Valley

>> Hi Jamie,
>> I hoping you can give me some advice on a road trip planned for May 2010. There will be 5 of us and I shall be the chauffeur!
>> The other 4 members( my parents, aunt & uncle) are easy going about what we see, but there are a few must sees! Such as Sacramento( my dad & uncle had family there many moons ago), the Grand Canyon & Yellowstone.
>> I have originally planned to fly into San Francisco & make our way from there to the Grand Canyon, via death valley, back up to Yellowstone via salt lake city and over to South Dakota. I think that this itinerary may be a little too full as we only have approximately 18-21 days.
>> So I'm thinking maybe we should leave South Dakota for another time and start with San Francisco and finish somewhere after Yellowstone.
>> I suppose I wondering what you thoughts are on this trip, bearing in mind our time frame. Are we doing too much or could be do a little more !
>> Thanks for your time, have a great new year
>> Susan
>> Ireland


Hi there Susan --

Thank you for your good wishes, and I hope yo are still planning to make your big road trip around the western USA!

The first parts of your trip sound ideal -- SF is a great place to kickoff your USA tour, and from there you can go via Yosemite (not on your list, but a truly fantastic place, especially in Spring when all the waterfalls are in full flow!), over the mountains via Lake Tahoe to Death Valley (which in May should still be fairly cool - under 100 degrees F!), then on (via Las Vegas?) to the Grand Canyon. Counting a few days in SF, you could do all this in the first half of your 18 to 21 days.

For the second half of your itinerary, I think you are right -- South Dakota is indeed a long way away. Even Yellowstone, at about 1200 miles from San Francisco, might be a little ambitious, and to be honest a lot of Yellowstone isn't really "open" until June (In May, the ground will still be covered in deep snow -- Yellowstone is located 2 miles above sea level! )

That said, Yellowstone's main roads, lodges and cafes are usually open by May, so if you really really want to go -- by all means, GO! Yellowstone is an amazing place...).

But there are some other amazing places to see, which you haven't mentioned. The "Wild West" area of Arizona to the east of the Grand Canyon is truly spectacular: this is where you will find the famous red rocks of Monument Valley, the Native American communities of the Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo nations (here and across the border in New Mexico, near scenic Santa Fe ).

And to the north of the Grand Canyon, there are the breathtaking national parklands of southern Utah (Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef -- truly stunning scenery).

All of this is well within your reach on this trip -- as is the gorgeous coastline of California (Big Sur and Monterey to the south of SF, or the "Wine Country" regions of Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino to the north of SF).

There is lots to see and do and enjoy -- all without spending _too _ much time behind the wheel of you car.

Let me know how things take shape, and good luck with the trip.

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


Hi Jamie,

thanks so much for mail & your great advice. Indeed the prospect of the long drive to Yellowstone proved a little too daunting for me so I've settled on starting in San Francisco and flying home from Denver. The tickets are booked, spirits are high & both mind and body are willing!

Looking forward to seeing all the sights & the Wild West sounds perfect for the two old gunslingers in my posse:)

I will let you know how we get on.

Thanks again & take care.

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