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Thread: If I had 3 weeks in the States in October ...

  1. #1

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    If I had 3 weeks in the States in October ...

    What would you guys from over there recommend I include on the itinerary? I will be coming all the way from Oz with my wife and my 4x5. She is very supportive and we both enjoy shortish (10k or less) hikes and getting a bit off the main track. We have been to US before and this time wanted to focus on some of the iconic national parks in the west. I have a keen interest in some of the desert parks like Arches, Zion etc. and would love to get to monument valley if feasible (happy to hire a Navajo guide etc). She is pretty keen on Yosemite (as am i) and will want to see the canyon. The grand one. Something is going to have to get dropped. It can't all be done.
    We could maybe stretch the 3 weeks to 4 if really needed. We'd fly into LA but could get home via Seattle of Vancouver if I can get Glacier or Yellowstone on the list. Obviously we don't mind a bit of a drive. Camping may not be practical I guess. Happy to fly between main bases too of course. Or use buses. Whatever works.
    I have read a bit but really wanted to see what those in the know had to offer. Any advise gratefully swapped for travel tips for the land down under!

  2. #2

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    Re: If I had 3 weeks in the States in October ...

    If it were me in your shoes I'd start driving in San Francisco with the Golden Gate, then Yosemite, Death Valley, Las Vegas, Zion, Bryce, North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Page/Lake Powell, Monument Valley, Arches, then I-70 to Denver.

    There is so much along this route that you could easily use up the whole 3 weeks.

    From Zion to Denver you'll actually find a lot of great stuff between the big destinations. Kodachrome Basin, the Wave, Horseshoe Bend, slot canyons, Goergetown loop, the Rockies may very well have snow on the peaks.

    Denver to Yellowstone is not that interesting until you start getting close but the net travel time might not be any faster by air and the scenery is a bit more interesting than an airport terminal but just barely.

    Haven't been up to Glacier so I'll let others guide you there.

    Running that route backwards wouldn't be bad either, that would give you the option to go up the coast and see the Redwoods and the Columbia River gorge.
    You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. ~ Mark Twain

  3. #3
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: If I had 3 weeks in the States in October ...

    If you drive , I am sure the west coast photographers on this forum can route you the trip of your life... When my wife and I travel , we prefer the States and find it most enjoyable to just put car in the right direction and find a simple place to stay each night. If you can handle the full time on the road , New Mexico, Colorado , Wyoming , Montana, Utah would be on my wish list. Taos is a special area of the world.

    Safe , friendly and lots of fun,, I hope you have a great trip...

    Also if you can afford it hire Eddie as a travel guide , he is big , and has the right stuff to keep you out of trouble.

  4. #4
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    Re: If I had 3 weeks in the States in October ...

    You need to think about how you like to travel. Sure, you could fly into San Francisco, rent a car, drive down to Carmel (for the pilgrimage), then to Yosemite, and then across the Great Basin desert (aka, Nevada and western Utah) to southern Utah, up the Hurricane Cliffs to the top of the Colorado Plateau (which extends for another 150 miles or so), and then see Cedar Breaks, Zion, Bryce Canyon, then take the back road through the Escalante up the Aquarius Plateau and over Thousand Lake Mountain to Capitol Reef, across the San Rafael Upswell to Canyonlands, Arches, and then down through Blanding and Bluff to Monument Valley, then down through Kayenta and Tuba City to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. You'll be a long way from your starting point (and a long way from an international airport), but I think it's possible to see all those places in three weeks.

    I'm not sure it's possible to really experience them, though. I think you'll end up with a bad case of sensory overload, and by the time you get about halfway through that itinerary, you'll drive by a red sandstone canyon wall that would normally have you weeping in wonder, and you'll be thinking, "just another freaking rock wall." You'll also be spending a lot of time in the car, though the view is always nice.

    If Yosemite and the Grand Canyon are requirements, then realize both of these are quite crowded with tourists. Actually, they are all crowded. But if there's one spot in all that list I might want to spend a few days, it would be Bryce Canyon, simply because of the good hiking in that park. Arches has good hiking, too, and also some out-of-the-way corners. Canyonlands is more jeeping than hiking, or lots of jeeping first and then some hiking. So, pick three spots, spend a nominal week at each, and see them up close. You'll still end up with sensory overload, probably. But you may also be planning a return trip for the next three spots.

    Read a lot before you go. Some required reading: Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang and maybe even Black Sun would be first on my recommended reading list. That will give you a sense of the terrain better than any guidebook. A good picture book to whet your appetite would be Slickrock, with photos by Philip Hyde and text by Abbey. If you like murder mysteries, read a few of the fun mystery novels by Tony Hillerman--they will give you considerable insight into the modern attitudes of the area's original inhabitants. A Thief of Time is probably as good a place to start with his work as any. You'll be able to polish off two or three of those just on the plane ride over.

    Rick "who needs a trip out there badly" Denney

  5. #5

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    Re: If I had 3 weeks in the States in October ...

    Quote Originally Posted by rdenney View Post
    Rick "who needs a trip out there badly" Denney
    Yes sensory overload is a distinct problem with these trips.

    Mark "who thinks Rick should get off his duff out west soon" Barendt
    You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. ~ Mark Twain

  6. #6

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    Re: If I had 3 weeks in the States in October ...

    Color or B&W?
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  7. #7

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    Re: If I had 3 weeks in the States in October ...

    You could always go more or less up the West Coast and check out Sequioa, Yosemite, Redwoods, Crater Lake (Oregon), then into Washington- Mt St Helens Volcanic Monument, Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, North Cascades National Park. That iternary is probably too much for 3 to 4 weeks though.

  8. #8

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    Re: If I had 3 weeks in the States in October ...

    I guess I'd look for landscape that is distinctly different from Oz (and NZ since you've probably been there too). I think the Northern California Redwoods and the Marin County hills and wine country are unique, perhaps start with a drive up to Big Sur and the San Francisco Bay area and up to wine country and the Redwoods, loop back to SF and fly to Salt Lake City, Utah for cultural and scenic shock. Head South to Moab and do a loop around the Four Corners (Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado) and see Canyons and Native American sites.

    Sure the most popular places like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon are good to see, but it usually is the smaller sites and the oddball locations that you remember.

    But think in terms of going to a city and making loops rather than trying to drive some spaghetti route everywhere!

  9. #9

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    Re: If I had 3 weeks in the States in October ...

    depends on what you shoot..but

    Venice Beach on a weekend is..um..memorable... and don't miss Las Vegas

    otherwise.. that's a good list you already have

  10. #10

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    Re: If I had 3 weeks in the States in October ...

    Boinzo, I spend about 3 months every year driving across the US to shoot. I've been to pretty much every national park. Here are my thoughts for you.

    First the fact that you are coming in October creates some issues. Many of the Parks close in October. Glacier and Yellowstone most likely will be closing So if those parks are important to you hit them first.

    If you're interested in Yosemite and then maybe Mono lake, fly into San Francisco. While you risk in October that the Tioga pass my close, if it's still open after you've seen Yosemite, then you can get to see Mono lake, drive down rte 395 and stop at Death Valley, from Death Valley drive to Zion, which in October allows vehicles free access (stay at Zion Lodge) and from there hit Bryce, Arches, Canyon lands. Then drive back to LA stopping at Monument valley on the way. That's plenty of parks in 3 weeks and to fit in any more would be taking away the pleasure of each. Glacier and Yellowstone are out of the way and will be shutting down, so maybe you just skip them this trip.

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