Monday, June 14, 2010

Hi Jamie!

I'm 26 and I just finished my first year of dental school in Batimore, Maryland. My friend and I have 5 weeks off following a tough national board exam. We really want to go across the country for an epic-last-summer-without-work trip! The places we want to hit are Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and the California coast. The problem is that we have no idea how to plan this.

Do you have any suggestions for us? Should we fly somewhere then rent a car? Or just head out? We'll send you toothpaste and unlimited floss in exchange for your expertise!




Hi Ashley --

Many thanks for your message. Sounds like you've earned a nice big road trip -- and Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon are great places to head off to!

I think a nice big loop makes sense -- so maybe plan your arrival city by where you can get the best prices for flights and car rental. I suspect Las Vegas could be the best option, but no matter where you fly to, you can get to all the places you mentioned. If you do start in Las Vegas (which is a good place to "blow off steam..." for a couple of days / nights) you can get to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in a nice day's drive. Have a night or two there, so do some hikes down into the spectacular gorge.

From there, you can work your way up toward Yellowstone by way of the many national parks of the "Four Corners" region (Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado).. I really like the ancient cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelley, both of which are at the heart of native America. Take your time here -- and maybe explore some neat little towns like Telluride and Taos.

Approaching Yellowstone (where you'll want to make your accommodation plans asap!) , make sure to see Jackson WY and the Grand Tetons. Cody WY makes a good option if all the inside-the-park lodgings are full. I cover this stretch in the US20 route in Road Trip USA (BTW, the book is more up to date than the material on the website.)

Now you can head west -- Idaho has some amazing scenery (Craters of the Moon is a vast lava flow, and Sawtooth Mountains around Sun Valley and Stanley, covered in my US93 route, are pretty fabulous, too.)

You have enough to make it to Portland and even Seattle, if these sound appealing -- but there's plenty to see along the California coast, for sure.

Hope this helps you plan a fantastic escape --

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


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