Need advice on 6 day road trip through the West

Travel Forums North America Need advice on 6 day road trip through the West

1. Posted by arunmit (Budding Member 9 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

I had got some fantastic advise from this forum earlier, on a tour involving AZ and UT for a road trip that I planned for my older relatives from Germany- but I have been told that it is just too hot out there in mid May. I am now thinking instead, of covering more of the West, where it will be cooler. My relatives are more of the scenic beauty/national monuments kind of people. Also I am sure they will not want to walk/hike too much.
I would like to cover San Fran, Grand Canyon and Vegas if possible. But I understand there are so many more beautiful places around SF- Yosemite, Red woods, Tahoe, Yelloe Stone(?) etc. Since i don't know that area at all- could someone please give me a suitable routing including some of the above and any additional. I would greatly appreciate it

2. Posted by Ladymacwil (Full Member 170 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

California is such a huge state that you could probably spend all six days there and not see enough. I would direct your relatives northward from San Francisco up interstate 101 through Ukiah, Garberville, (The Gateway to the Giant Redwoods) up through Eureka and Klamath. The stop to the Trees of Mystery is well worth the visit in Klamath. From there they could either continue up the coast to Oregon's Gold Beach and take a rafting tour on the Rogue River which is lovely. On the return to San Francisco I would route them from the Rte 101 to HWY 1 and drive through Fort Bragg and Mendocino via Bodega Bay into San Francisco. (Providing no one is leary of winding, coastal roads). May is a lovely time of year for coastal Northern California and the temperature will not be nearly as warm as it would be in Yosemite or Sequoia National Park for example, (nor as crowded). The Giant Redwoods are spectacular and a "must-see" and one of the few "free" parks left in California.

Another tip for seeing the West in the summer is avoiding Arizona and looking at Utah, New Mexico and Colorado as options. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon, (In Utah), is 1,000 ft. higher than the crowded South Rim, (In Arizona) and you drive through Zion National Park which is lovely. Utah actually has more National Parks than any other US State. Also, Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico are very unique and are much cooler than most of the Southwest States during the summer months and Colorado is only about a 5 hour drive where the landscape changes dramatically.

Hope this helps.

3. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2004 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Well, actually it usually doesn't get extremely hot in Arizona and Utah until around mid-June through mid-September. May is usually okay.

Having said that, if you want a cooler trip you need to consider that if it's hot in Utah, it will usually be hot in California's Central Valley, and Death Valley is the hottest place on earth during the summer months. Therefore, you should keep your travels limited to places closer to the coastline of California or the higher mountain elevations.

My suggestion is to fly into SF, then head north from San Francisco up towards Oregon--as mentioned by the previous poster. The Trees of Mystery really are interesting. However, rather than stay along the Oregon coast, I suggest you go into southern Oregon then east to to Crater Lake, then cut south down to Lassen Volcanic National Park back in California, then southeast to Reno in Nevada, visit the western mining town of Virginia City, then head back to the forests and beautiful water at Lake Tahoe, and casinos on the south side of the lake. (This is a real tourist area, also).

From here head south through the "Gold Country" to Yosemite, then either south down to Los Angeles or southwest to Santa Barbara. From here head north and take Highway 1 up along the coast (Hwy 1 between San Luis Obispo and Monterey), stopping first at Cambria, and then visiting Hearst Castle (book tickets online way in advance since they are always sold out) before heading up to Monterey.

At Monterey take the 17-mile drive past the Pebble Beach Golf Courses, then go see the Monterey Aquarium at Cannery Row, and/or see the Fisherman's Wharf there. Then drive up to Santa Cruz, then north through the redwoods just north of Santa Cruz, (stop at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose if you have the time), and then take Highway I-280 back up to San Francisco to complete your trip.


4. Posted by arunmit (Budding Member 9 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Thanks a lot..
But the MUST-SEE on their list is Grand Canyon.. so I need to get ideas from you'll that include that...:)

Is this feasible:
SF-Sequoia NP-Bryce Canyon-Las Vegas- Grand Canyon?

If I have to skip SF in order to make it doable in 5-6 days then please let me know.:( Also what would you suggest as the route and airports to fly IN and OUT of in order to avoid "back tracking"


5. Posted by Ladymacwil (Full Member 170 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

If the Grand Canyon is the top of their list I would probably skip California all together. My suggestion would be to fly in to Las Vegas and head north on I-15 to Zion National Park, Utah, which is the route you would take to the North Rim, (which I greatly prefer to the lower South Rim). If time allows they could do a side trip to Bryce Canyon National Park which is slightly out of their way. The North Rim has a lovely Lodge/Restaurant perched right on the edge of the canyon. (I've actually watched lightning from above from this Lodge as bolts strike below into the canyon. Spectacular!)
Rather than backtrack their route, they can head to Page, Arizona and cross over near Lake Powell heading towards Flagstaff and Williams. Williams is about an hour's drive from the South Rim of the Canyon and they have train service if they would like to do the "Western Themed" thing for fun. From the South Rim they would head West, back to Las Vegas via Kingman and crossing over Hoover Dam. Even though they start and end in Las Vegas they are basically making a large circle around the canyon without ever backtracking and they'll see three States,(Plus part of the Navajo Nation), and BOTH rims of the canyon via wonderful National Parks.

6. Posted by arunmit (Budding Member 9 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Thats a very good suggestion and very helpful. I will research the route a bit more and find hotels etc- but maybe you can provide me a starting point--

Where would you suggest the overnight stops? (Las Vegas is a given- atleast 1 night)
What is Williams, Page and Kingman famous for?
Is it usually very hot in the end of May in the regions you mentioned?
How long will I be driving on an average everyday?

7. Posted by Ladymacwil (Full Member 170 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!


From Las Vegas to Zion Lodge, is only about 2 and a half hours away. Zion National Park is huge and they have shuttles and free buses to take to different areas so they may want to stay a day. If they decide to go to Bryce Canyon it is two hours each way, out of your way to the Grand Canyon. Should they skip Bryce Canyon and continue from Zion to the North Rim it is again, about a 2 and a half hour drive.( ) From the North Rim to Williams will be the longest drive at nearly 5 hours. They could stop in Flagstaff as opposed to Williams which would lessen the drive by about 45 minutes. Williams is a small, western, railroad town that is known as the Gateway to the Grand Canyon as when you reach Williams is when you turn north into the park. (Hence why Williams offers railcar to the South Rim of the canyon which is only about 30 minutes each way). From Williams back to Las Vegas is a 3 and a half hour drive.

Here's a possible itinery:
Day 1: Land in Las Vegas, enjoy the evening
Day 2: Spend half the day in Vegas and head to Zion
Day 3: Shuttle around Zion and leave late afternoon to Bryce Canyon
or the North Rim, either one 2 - 2 1/2 hours drive
Day 4: Spend the entire day on the North Rim
Day 5: Leave early and drive the 5 hours to Williams, then to the South Rim. Depending on when their flight leaves they may want to continue to Las Vegas that evening unless time affords them otherwise.

You can click on to each of the 3 parks for lodging and information at I would however, only use this site as a reference as if you book through them they charge an additional 10%.

By the way, 90% of visitors to the Grand Canyon go only to the South Rim as it is right off the main Interstate, I-40. That means larger crowds and much more commercialism. It's worth the stop just to have the views from both sides of the canyon though I wouldn't spend the entire day there. I-40 replaced the old Route 66 which you can still see parts of so they may find that kind of fun getting their kicks on Route 66.