The plan so far is this:
Fly into Dallas and borrow a car from my sister. Time frame is around July. Next destinations being roughly:
1) Flagstaff area & Grand Canyon
2) San Francisco
3) Yosemite NP
5) Colorado Springs
6) Back to Dallas
Looking for any suggestion on anything along that route that's a "must see" ? We're interested in nature and unique sights rather than big city monuments and Disneyland. Unless that really is the "must see" of course. thanks in advance.
And how much time have you budgeted for the driving? As you know, Interstates will be the fastest, but certainly not the most scenic. Check out RoadsideAmerica for some odd attractions (largest ball of string, the Jackalope, Scotty's Castle in Death Valley, etc.).
- 1: From Dallas, head to New Mexico and see Carlsbad Caverns.
Ooh, and they just opened up the SkyWalk at the Grand Canyon. Take your anti-nausea medicine for that one.....
About 2 weeks. But it also depends on certain events in far away europe.
Mostly we'll be staying to the interstates. We were thinking to do more wandering in Colorado.
The RoadsideAmerica site is mostly man made attractions. We're more interested in nature this time. Carlsbad is a good idea. The sky walk shouldn't be any more scary than the window on top of the CN Tower. But yeah, I'd forgotten about that.
Make sure that you don't stay on the highways in Colorado...drive up from Carlsbad and make sure you hit Santa Fe as well as Taos, NM. Fins a good Mexican restaraunt while you close to Carlsbad or driving through New Mexico....you can't miss that.
The must sees of the southwest are Grand Canyon (of course), Monument Valley (not a national park only because it is entirely an Indian reservation--and thus not owned by the government), Bryce Canyon National Park, Lake Powell and the Rainbow Bridge, Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, the area around Moab (including Arches National Park), Carlsbad Caverns, and Mesa Verde National Park (the only national park in the country dedicated to Indian dwellings and not to just the nature itself).
Death Valley would also be interesting, but EXTREMELY HOT in the summer (think 118 degrees average).
The problem in a nutshell is that Yosemite (and Sequoia) are really far away in the middle of California from the others on this list--which are all in the so-called "Four Corners" region (Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico).
My suggestion is start west from Dallas heading on I-10 towards El Paso and get off and visit the Carlsbad Caverns. Then head north towards Albuquerque (stop at Roswell to see the alien museum if you have time), then head west on I-40 towards Flagstaff (you will go through the Painted Desert when you take this route). Head north to the Grand Canyon.
Now you have to decide if you want to go west to California or not. If so, head west to Las Vegas, stopping to see Hoover Dam on the way (just an hour east of Las Vegas) then south on I-15 to Barstow, west to Bakersfield on Hwy 58 and north to Sequoia and Yosemite. Then repeat to get back to Las Vegas.
If you decide this is too far, leave the Grand Canyon and head north towards Page, Arizona. Just outside of Page is Lake Powell. Take a boat on the Lake to see the Rainbow Bridge (a 4-hour round trip journey).
Go northwest from here on Hwy 89 to Kanab and up to Bryce Canyon.
Then cut across on I-70 to Moab, visit Arches National Park, drop south to Canyonlands National Park (not worth a visit unless you really have a lot of time), then down to Monument Valley (right on the Utah--Arizona border--it's about 60 miles east of Page, where you were earlier). Make sure you take the jeep tour--and try to get to Artist's point near sunset. Then cut back north towards Durango, Colorado, stopping at Mesa Verde on the way. If you have time, there is an old railroad locomotive that goes up to Silverton (a mining town) from Durango--it will take you back 100 years in time--but this takes almost a whole day--so it's your call. Then from here, head south to Santa Fe (one of the oldest cities in the US--and known as the southwest culture capital)-go to Maria's for great Mexican food--then drop south to I-40 and head straght east to Dallas to end your trip.
If you do all of this, you will have seen tons of southwest nature--and some of the most scenic spots in the US.
Here are links to pictures of a couple of spots on this list:
Bryce Canyon/Lake Powell/Rainbow Bridge/Hoover Dam:
Here is the correct Bryce Canyon/Hoover Dam/Lake Powell/Rainbow Bridge link: