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  #1  
Old Posted Sep 24, 2008, 9:15 PM
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Road Trip Through the Western States

Help me plan it

I live in Vancouver, BC and I have about 25 days to kill in the winter time, so I'm thinking: ROAD TRIP. I already did one this summer across Canada and the northern states and I really enjoyed it.

This time around I would like to see the West Coast: Portland, San Fran, LA, and San Diego.

I've heard good things about the Oregon coast. Any particular spots that you guys recommend?

Is it worth dipping into Mexico? Is there anything close to California down there that would be worth visiting? How safe is it to park my car there? I've heard bad things about Tijuana...

Anywhere in the Cali. interior that'd be cool to drive through? Death Valley?

Now, for the way back: I wanna see cities and geographic features. Is Las Vegas worth seeing? I can't drink or gamble in the US . Anything amazing in northern Nevada?

What's the best part of the Grand Canyon to see?

Phoenix is a little out of my way, is it worth the trip?

I might be visiting people in Denver so for now I want to include that in part of the trip...

Thoughts on New Mexico and Utah? I've never seen Mesas or anything like that. I've heard that New Mexico landscape is "magical" and the Utah salt flats looks interesting in satellite photos.

I was in Yellowstone for my last trip so no need to pass through there again I don't think.

Last location: Southern Idaho. I went through the skinny northern part last time, it was just a normal mountain pass, nothing to see. Anything to see in the south? Boise?

To give you an idea of the things I want to see, my favourite stops on my last trip were Chicago, the Badlands, and Big Horn Mountain Pass (Wyoming).

I camped most of that last trip, and I'd like to do that again because there's no way I can afford hotels the entire way, but this is a winter adventure, and i'd be completely unprepared for below freezing camping. How cold does it get in these places I've listed? Will I have trouble with some of the roads? Need chains? Maybe I'll just do this next summer instead...



Anyways, thanks in advance for ANY advice you can give.
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  #2  
Old Posted Sep 24, 2008, 9:27 PM
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In exchange for help, a couple shots from my last trip:







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  #3  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2011, 2:50 PM
wolvertoncopm wolvertoncopm is offline
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Originally Posted by touraccuracy View Post
In exchange for help, a couple shots from my last trip:







Awesome,

Thanks
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  #4  
Old Posted Nov 15, 2011, 7:06 AM
icerafting icerafting is offline
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I think this is awesome
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  #5  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2008, 12:13 AM
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the fact that you can't gamble or drink and its winter so maybe no lying the pool either will mean you won't get the most out of vegas. nothing wrong with trying the white knuckle rides on top of the 1149ft stratosphere tower on the north strip though. northern nevada has lake tahoe which is really nice but the later you leave it the more chance roads in and out will be closed.

Grand Canyon Village at the south rim is the most accessible and most famous viewing point, lots of hiking trails near there too.

make sure to visit the big 5 in southern utah (arches, zion, bryce, canyonlands and capitol reef), Moab is a good base in utah with which to achieve this; personally i think Salt lake is a lovely city and well worth a visit; i wouldn't go out of my way to visit Phoenix

btw the best time to visit the west is spring, death valley is a sight to behold around march/april time

Last edited by lfc4life; Sep 25, 2008 at 11:51 AM.
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  #6  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2008, 12:26 AM
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For sure go through Seattle and Portland, and then follow the coast, there are a lot of great places, such as Depoe bay, Linlcon City, Newport etc. Then for sure go to SF, and LA and San Diego, and since you are so close, why not go to Mexico (you can get your drink on there). Then I would go through Vegas, because even if you can't drink, gamble, you can have a lot of fun, and there isn't any place like Las Vegas in Canada. Then I would go up to SLC, and at least check out Temple Square, some really nice architecture there. Then through to Boise and back home.

Oh, I forgot you had to go to Denver too. If so, go through southern Wyoming and check out Fort Cody. It's good for at least a leg stretch.

You asked about weather. It can be brutal in the winter along I 80, and right now, there is a lot of road construction going on in the Utah stretch. Getting out of Washington could be tough too. Maybe a summer road trip would be better. Camping will be OUT OF THE QUESTION for all but Southern California. Bring chains.
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  #7  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2008, 7:34 PM
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You DEFINATELY have to go through the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Yellowstone, and as many National Parks as possible!
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  #8  
Old Posted Sep 27, 2008, 9:27 AM
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Believe me, this hurts like none other - but I have to agree with crash. America's National Parks unreal. Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, and California collectively offer the best natural wonders I've seen on Earth.
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  #9  
Old Posted Oct 22, 2008, 12:37 AM
SunDevil SunDevil is offline
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Northern Arizona and Southern Utah is amazingly beautiful country. If landscapes are you thing at that point in the trip I would advise going trough that area. Maybe plan on staying in Flagstaff, AZ for a night while you catch a couple of the sights and then you can cruise on to New Mexico on I-40 or something. I have to admit that as far as urban areas go, there isn't too much to miss in Phoenix when compared to Seattle or San Francisco. I have overnighted in Salt Lake numerous times and have never really had the desire to see more of the city. Though I guess it could be interesting so far as it is the center of the Mormon faith. Can't say I saw too much of anything interesting on my drives through southern Idaho the drive up through Montana is more interesting to me. I would like to tell you a lot about Vegas but my memories of that place are always hazy

As for the climate, The coasts shouldn't get below freezing, and of course will get warmer as you go south. The northern 1/2 of AZ (the mountainous areas) get snow in the winter. The lower the elevation the warmer, but even that doesn't save Salt Lake from getting Snowfall nor does it stop snow from falling on the Mountains around Vegas, though Vegas itself rarely gets any snow. Basically, it will get very cold overnight everwhere but the coasts, Southern Cal and Southern AZ, and maybe the lower elevations in souther Utah and Vegas.

At least this is what I have observed in driving from Phoenix to Spokane a couple of times in the last 1 1/2 years.
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  #10  
Old Posted Oct 22, 2008, 4:34 PM
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Quote:
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Believe me, this hurts like none other - but I have to agree with crash.
It's not something that most people would disagree with.
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  #11  
Old Posted Oct 22, 2008, 5:04 PM
Cottonwood Cottonwood is offline
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If you are traveling in the winter most of the Northern Rockies, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, even western Oregon and Washington, will most likely be buried in snow which limits what you can see and do because you are stuck to the main highways unless you snowshoe, cross country ski or take time to ski at resorts.
If you have time, try driving Highway 95 from North Idaho into Southern Idaho (Boise) is probably one of the most naturally diverse and scenic drives in the West.
Idaho has been touted as one of the most mountainess states in the nation so there is a lot of scenery to take in. The Interstate across southern Idaho misses a lot of the scenic attractions in the South. If you head off of the interstate and take Highway 30 you will be following the route of the Oregon Trail and will see canyons and springs and such which you will not see from the Interstate.
Same for North Idaho--head off of the Interstate and you will see some of the prettiest mountains, lakes, forested scenery anywhere. The largest collection of natural mountain lakes in the West is in North Idaho as is some of the largest stands of forests.
The mountain scenery outside of Boise is gorgeous, but if there is snow you are basically stuck to the main highways.
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  #12  
Old Posted Oct 22, 2008, 8:44 PM
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This would be my recommended route if you had to go from Los Angeles to Denver.



On this route:
-Las Vegas
-Hoover Dam
-Flagstaff
-Grand Canyon
-Horseshoe Bend
-The Wave*
-Zion National Park/Bryce Canyon (I think the road to this from Zion may be closed in the winter though)
-Arches National Park
-Canyonlands National Park
-Mesa Verde National Park
-San Juan Skyway
-Ouray, CO
-Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
-Leadville, CO (at 12,000ft, the highest incorporated city in the U.S.)

Not that I did this route myself but I have been to those places and I enjoyed them immensely. Some Coloradans here might have to clarify if this route is even possible during the winter as I'm sure some of these roads might close for the winter.

I don't have any knowledge about Oregon and Washington, but if I were coming down from Vancouver I would want to check out the Olympic penninsula, then head down I-5 from Seattle to Portland (be sure to check out the gorgeous scenery around the Columbia River). But once in Portland head west to the coast then take the whole coastal route down to LA. The coast from central Oregon to central California is a gorgeous drive as you weave in and out of lush forests, pastoral valleys and dramatic ocean cliffs. And since it will be in the midst of the winter rains, the whole route should be lush and green.

*The wave is a stunning geographic formation in southern utah, but its tricky to find. You need to secure a permit to go there and a little geographic know-how since there aren't marked trails to get there.

Last edited by Echo Park; Oct 24, 2008 at 6:29 PM.
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  #13  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2008, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Echo Park View Post


On this route:
-Zion National Park/Bryce Canyon (I think the road to this from Zion may be closed in the winter though)
It might be closed from the east, but if you go straight west from Colorado City to St. George, UT you can go back from there to Hurricane and the "front" entrance of Zion National Park, and it's not that much farther.

I went to Zion for the first time this summer, it was really amazing. Also you can camp in the park (although it is likely to get down below freezing in the winter). I made the mistake of not doing this and instead going to a KOA campground in Cedar City was was way more expensive and sucked. Really, the route through Southern and then Central UT from St. George UT to Grand Junction CO has some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen right near it, but going over the high mountains in central UT would be tough in winter, esp. camping. I wouldn't be surprised if even Interstate 70 gets closed for snow sometimes in central UT.

Actually I think a lot of this trip might be pretty tough to camp during the winter. Oregon coast will probably not be freezing but it will be unpleasantly cold and wet. The Oregon coast highway is really the way to go, since it's beautiful, but I wouldn't want to drive it if it's raining - there are a lot of winding sections with sheer cliffs.

If you go down Interstate 5 through Oregon's inland central valley (Eugene, Medford, etc.) then you are going to hit freezing weather and you won't see nearly as much scenery. Same goes for Idaho and Eastern Oregon -they are "desert" areas but they can get very, very cold (I am especially talking about the pink line on the OP's map).

So while I think the trip is a great idea, most of the route is probably better as a nonwinter trip, if you have be camping.

On the other hand, if you make it down to Southern CA, that is probably the best time to be here because it's cooler and you still don't have that high of a chance of rain. Death Valley is best in the winter because it is a nice temperature in the day (it does usually get down into the 30s at night there though).
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  #14  
Old Posted Dec 18, 2008, 6:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Echo Park View Post
This would be my recommended route if you had to go from Los Angeles to Denver.



On this route:
-Las Vegas
-Hoover Dam
-Flagstaff
-Grand Canyon
-Horseshoe Bend
-The Wave*
-Zion National Park/Bryce Canyon (I think the road to this from Zion may be closed in the winter though)
-Arches National Park
-Canyonlands National Park
-Mesa Verde National Park
-San Juan Skyway
-Ouray, CO
-Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
-Leadville, CO (at 12,000ft, the highest incorporated city in the U.S.)

Not that I did this route myself but I have been to those places and I enjoyed them immensely. Some Coloradans here might have to clarify if this route is even possible during the winter as I'm sure some of these roads might close for the winter.

I don't have any knowledge about Oregon and Washington, but if I were coming down from Vancouver I would want to check out the Olympic penninsula, then head down I-5 from Seattle to Portland (be sure to check out the gorgeous scenery around the Columbia River). But once in Portland head west to the coast then take the whole coastal route down to LA. The coast from central Oregon to central California is a gorgeous drive as you weave in and out of lush forests, pastoral valleys and dramatic ocean cliffs. And since it will be in the midst of the winter rains, the whole route should be lush and green.

*The wave is a stunning geographic formation in southern utah, but its tricky to find. You need to secure a permit to go there and a little geographic know-how since there aren't marked trails to get there.
You forgot Victorville on your list!! lol, that looks like a great trip. so many amazing places in America. i want to do all the trips on this thread.
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  #15  
Old Posted Oct 22, 2008, 3:22 AM
seaskyfan seaskyfan is offline
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Stop by the Oregon Vortex - one of my favorite roadside attractions.

http://www.oregonvortex.com/
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  #16  
Old Posted Oct 23, 2008, 6:39 PM
JDRCRASH JDRCRASH is offline
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^Good list! You even included DTLA as the starting point!
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  #17  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2008, 5:24 AM
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Like others have said, the National Parks are a must. Through Lake Tahoe in there if you haven't been (if possible...it's a little out of the way for the route you want to take).

A little home town bias here, but I'd suggest you don't pass up Sacramento (only the central city though, the rest of the metro isn't much to look at(kind of a sad reality for a metro of 2 million people)). Very under the radar for most outside the state and even some from CA, but has been getting noticed more recently.

Hit me up when you pass through SLO.
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  #18  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2008, 9:56 AM
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i guess i was a little high off of my previous adventure when i posted this because there's no way this could be done properly in the winter, and i like to do things right.

this will now hopefully take place right after the semester ends in late april/may, if i have enough money. in august at the latest.

all of your suggestions are awesome and i've transferred most of them, plus things i want to see, into a custom google map. i'll link to that when i figure out how.

now all i need to do is find a friend that is willing to give up 3 or 4 weeks and a little bit of gas and campground money.
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  #19  
Old Posted Dec 21, 2008, 2:53 AM
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Idaho in winter....not so much in a car.
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  #20  
Old Posted Aug 13, 2010, 3:25 AM
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ugh.. bump. i'm finally going after nearly 2 years!
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