Two week road trip to some of the best National Parks !

Travel Forums North America Two week road trip to some of the best National Parks !

1. Posted by Jessi- (First Time Poster 1 posts) 15w Star this if you like it!

So Andrew ( my husband) and I had bought this sweet SUV in Quebec as we were staying there for a while and in need of a vehicle. We were now ready to go back home to Vancouver Island. Two options presented themselves to us, either take the plane or drive.

Taking the plane would require of us to sell the cool car we recently purchased.

The driving option, though very exciting, required the comodity of time which we were not sure we actually had. You see Andrew is this super awesome pilot but at that moment had only 3 weeks off work and did not intend on spending the entirety of his time off work on the road.
After close analysis of google map and data daydreaming collection I came up with a very reasonable strategic roadtrip plan. (As all innovateurs of crazy ideas will tell you ; " initial resistance is normal... just give it time and you will warm up to the crazy idea and soon realise it is not crazy, it's simply awesome" )
My plan was very simple:

"we have a car, there are roads, let's pick the best ones and end up home ! "
With google map there is this fun thing were you can check out distances, I figured that the trans-canadian, while the most direct route (50h drive time) seemed also quite ... boring .... for the most part. ( sorry my canadian friends :/ )

For only an extra 20h or so of driving we could do Quebec - Colorado- Utah -California -Vancouver Island!
Why this unusual route you ask ? Well... Andrew is from Colorado and most of his family still lives there ( familly time!) , Utah has the Arches and Zion National Parks, California has Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks ... I mean ... do I need better arguments then these? ;)

Andrew did not need much convincing, just a bit of time to let the long driving idea to transform itself into a pretty cool idea along with the assurance that we were gonna make it to Vancouver Island for him to have at least 1 week home before he had to get back to work.
I had now a plan and a time table ; 2 weeks to go from Quebec to Vancouver Island passing by Colorado, Utah and California.
From my few travels I have learned that for me to enjoy a trip I need :

a bed, to not freeze to death, to not be continually wet or in constant rain, a means to wash myself, accessible drinking water and food. With This trip I would be able to hit all those target needs as we were passing through the desert areas of the USA. Little did I know that a new relationship would be born from this trip with a certain desert that would consequently add a new item to my list of needs for my next trips.
We left mid-may for a 2 week roadtrip!

Quebec to Colorado

-I was mostly in constant sweaty body mode and angry at the road for being so boring.

-I also noticed that I did not feel bankrobbed or on the abyss of poverty when we fueled up the car once on the USA side.


We stayed a bit in Colorado and mostly had family time. Almost had a few car accidents when I was driving and discovered that Colorado highways have lots more traffic lanes than Quebec.

Also had a new unwanted blister-friend the size of a $2 (CAN) coin under my foot as a secondary effect of a long walk in downtown Denver.

Colorado -Utah
1- Beautiful roads!

2- Freaking hot weather
First stop, Arches National park!
We arrived in Utah by driving the I-70 through grand junction. The natural rock formations will leave you speechless if you ever do that road as they did for us.

When I was planning our trip, all the campgrounds where fully booked so we had to mostly book hotels for the majority of our trip, not really knowing why just assuming it was very popular places we were going to go. Once in Utah we realised that the reason for booking challenges was explained by the fact it was memorial day weekend... ops! Fortunally, we managed to book 2 nights in a campground near Arches National Park called Kane Creek Campground

We did the reservation online for 2 nights at 40$ / night. It was a bit untraditional in the sense that it had no reception . We had to figure how the reservation system for the camp spots worked. Based out of an honor system you pay your fee either online or put the amount in small wooden boxes at the entrance of the campground, then you grab one of the small pieces of paper beside the boxes and indicate on it the days you will be there, pin the filled piece of paper to the small wooden post on the camp spot of your choosing... anyway thats what we got from the whole system after we found someone nice (that was as confused as us and that had someone else help them) help us out and happend to share fajitas with us!

There were clean showers to my great joy. The campground was surrounded by red sand stone high cliffs making the area look surreal. Easy to access but with no clear indication on how to and where at.

The first day in Utah we hiked Arches National Park. We really wanted to enjoy the park so we decided to get an early start. At the entrance we noticed that the reception was not yet open to pay the $20US access fee, but had the same kind of honor system as our campground. If you are thinking of going to explore this wonderful National Park , first of all : " do it!" secondly I must suggest that you arrive early as the park gets crazy full quickly and once it is they will refuse access to it.

The main attractions or arches are easy to access as you can drive to most of them. The trails to the arches are short and mostly accessible to everyone. It was a beautiful and awesome drive through the park that awaited us and we enjoyed every second of it. We also did a kind of backcountry hike of about 8 miles round trip that was pretty cool ( even though I was walking like a wierd cartoon wobbeling my way through the trail due to the huge blister under my foot) but definitely not accessible to everyone as steep and some mild climbing is required. (The fact that you can drive to lots of the arches made it very time-efficient as we were on a schedule.).

The second night we left at 3 am and drove to Zion National park were we did the bus tour, which was nice in big part because we were both exhausted.

- Side note- We saw crazy people rock climbing some of the really high rock formations (but did not attempt to measure our climbing skills to theirs).

In all honesty we were not as impressed with Zion as we were with Arches but it was worth the detour. We did hike a bit and ended up doing the trail to the pools. It is an easy access / wheel chair access to the 1st pool, the second one still quite easy just more rocky and steep with a sandy trail.

The next part of this trip was for this Quebec girl probably the most challenging one as we drove through Death Valley National Park...( dramatic music)

I would describe this experience as long and hot.

Not the fun kind of hot, nope, the one that comes with a 48 degrees temperature at noon with no shade, no wind and super white sand dunes.

I confess the sand dunes are pretty cool but not enjoyable when combined with heat stroke.

So if you are thinking of doing a roadtrip like this, prepare yourself for a 2-3 hr drive across the park and a total of 6 hr drive to cross the desert area ( not many gas stations) and to make it even more killer fun ( sarcastic) there are signs everywhere on the side of the road telling that you need to turn off your AC to not overheat your car engine, so brace yourselves to feel like crap and fully understand the significance of death in the word Death Valley.

The drive to Sequoia National Park...

After hating the desert you will experience the hate of road engineers for the unbelievably twisty road this drive has to offer. After heat stroke, why not a bit of car sickness ( or motion sickness) but I must admit that I was feeling very grateful for the trees after not seeing any for over 6hrs.

The trails we hiked in this giant tree park were: moro rock , congress trail , & general sherman...

The trails were short and easy to access, but there is the possibility to do longer trails. Again there is the possibility to drive to most of all the main attractions of the park.

The Moro rock trail will give you little giggles in your heart as you climb the very narrow and steep trail to the top but it is so worth it for the 180° view of the park.
And yes the sequoia trees in this park are big... like super big.

Yosemite National Park was with no doubt our favorite park, not only for the challenging trails but also for the views it offered.

The awesome drive into the park blew us away by the crazy view you are introduced to once you exit the tunnel.

We did the hike called nevada falls with a distance of 9 miles round trip (a good 1 day hike to consider) . It was steep and challenging but we wanted to keep on going. The trail is slippery because it is mostly by the waterfall ( which is so awesome!!) so the rocky ground is often wet. I saw a few people fall including me ( broke my front tooth) .

Yep! On our way back from the top of the trail there was a very wet/muddy big slab of angled rock section ... As I was thinking to myself : " O this looks slippery, I should be careful " , I fell face first which resulted in a half broken front tooth. I was covered with mud but more upset that I had broke my tooth ... (It took me the 5 miles walk back to finally laugh at the situation.)
Back home we go!

We then drove I-5 all the way up to Oregon then Washigton, took ferry at Tswassen (reserved our ferry tickets in advance online ) 
 and got home safe, happy but thootless. ;)

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Aug-2018, at 12:18 by Jessi- ]

2. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 840 posts) 15w Star this if you like it!

Hi Jessi. Welcome to TravellersPoint. I hope you have your tooth fixed by now.

What you have started here probably should be cut and pasted into a travel blog. The Forum is for asking and answering travel-related questions. The Blogging function is for telling others about your trips. If you look in the banner above you will see "Your Blogs" somewhere in the list. Just click on that to get started.

Looking forward to the rest of your adventures.

3. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 837 posts) 15w Star this if you like it!

Yes - this would be a good blog

I did the Mist Trail in Yosemite, and I too fell on the slippery rocks. But I didn't break a tooth because I fell on top of my 5 year old daughter who was in front of me. Both her front teeth turned black - fortunately they were baby teeth.

4. Posted by ToonSarah (Travel Guru 759 posts) 15w Star this if you like it!

I agree, this would make a great blog - especially if you have photos of the trip to include too!