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

  1. #41

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

    I think the odds of fog or snow on the North Rim are pretty low. Not impossible mind you but fall is normally a dry season on the Colorado Plateau.

    Worst case scenario if Antelope canyon is on the menu is driving a few hours south from there and sliding in the east entrance.

    The Capital Reef idea is good too.

    There's a good lesson in that Ruby's story, it is worth calling ahead.

    Accommodations of any type can be in short supply.

    At Yosemite, Bryce, Death Valley, and the Grand Canyon accomodations can on any given day be completely full.
    You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. ~ Mark Twain

  2. #42

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Barendt View Post


    Accommodations of any type can be in short supply.

    At Yosemite, Bryce, Death Valley, and the Grand Canyon accomodations can on any given day be completely full.
    It all depends on where you plan to stay and of course using some common sense. In more than 20 long distance extended trips it has never been a problem, unless you really want to stay at the absolute best places on short notice, i.e. the Ahwanee, the View, Zion lodge. But in October this is much less a factor as kids are in school, the weather is less pleasant, etc.

    If I were planning on Yosemite as a first stop, I'd book that in advance as it's stay is a given time period already and the Ahwanee is always in demand, but there are several large motels just outside the gate. In mono lake, there are several motels and I have never had a problem getting a room there on short notice, but as it is the second stay, one could make an advance booking. But once you get down to Death Valley, between stovepipe, Furnace creek inn and ranch there's an awful lot of rooms.

    I've had no problems getting a room at Zion lodge in october, and I think there will be little issue getting a room at any of the Utah National parks unless you just show up that same day. I'd try to book rooms no less than 5 days in advance and after having checked out the weather forecasts for that area at that time. But if you are more comfortable booking all in advance, and that is what I do when I travel abroad, then do so. The only risk to that is that you might get stuck sitting out bad weather because you were locked into that booking, whereas you could alter your trip based on following the weather you prefer if you don't have locked in reservations. But in any event just check the cancellation requirements for each hotel as some may allow you to cancel the day before, or even the proposed day of arrival.

    One thing, as you plan to visit many national parks, buy the annual pass at the first NP you go to. It's like $75 or 80. It will save you money. As most of the parks are like $20 admission each.

  3. #43

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

    Thanks again for all the advice everyone. Some really useful posts there for sure!
    Brian - I have been jumping back and forth between Google Maps and your posts (I have re-read the thread at least 10 times!) figuring out a route. I appreciate the thought and detail everyone has provided. I will try to work out something with approximate driving times and then post to see what you guys think.
    I take the point about weather - with some juggling our trip would be mid September through the first week of October. Hopefully that might diminish the risk of early storms or road/park closures.
    The Awanhee sure is expensive! But looks like a great place to stay (maybe a treat for the trip!)... Zion Lodge is pretty much booked already so I would need to get moving on that it seems.
    I obviously have some tough decisions to make on what will work and what to leave out - but all the advise here has been really great. I'm sure I can formulate a workable plan over the next week or so!
    If any of you guys are ever thinking of heading over here be sure to get in touch. I'll map you a cracking trip from the desert to the reef via some waterfalls... :-)

  4. #44

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

    Ok. So we have spent a fair amount of time in web browsers today ... accommodation is a bit of a night mare. Wow - things seriously book out fast.
    Here's what we have in mind. Some of it is a bit of a drive by shooting - but we have tried to span some long drives with at least a few days to do some hikes and have a reasonable look around. I realize it is possible to spend weeks in some of these places and I am making some big compromises and will just get a taste. Hopefully I am somewhere between seeing it all but seeing nothing and seeing everything of just one place.
    Would love some feedback on this - we need to book some things because, as I mentioned, most of the accommodation is already booked out. The list below includes rough drive times (based on Google). Do I have too much time in some places - not enough in others? Is the whole idea insane?
    Should I drop Zion / Bryce and go there on another trip sometime? time in Los Angeles is required to allow the wife and daughter some photography recovery at Universal etc.... :-)

    Day 0 Bris Vegas
    Day 1 San Francisco Flight
    Day 2 San Francisco
    Day 3 Yosemite 5 Hours
    Day 4 Yosemite
    Day 5 Yosemite
    Day 6 Tonopah 5 Hours
    Day 7 Zion 5 1/2 Hours
    Day 8 Zion
    Day 9 Bryce Canyon 2 Hours
    Day 10 Bryce Canyon
    Day 11 Arches / Canyon Lands 4 Hours
    Day 12 Arches / Canyon Lands
    Day 13 Arches / Canyon Lands
    Day 14 Monument Valley 3 1/2 Hours
    Day 15 Monument Valley
    Day 16 Grand Canyon Village 3 1/2 Hours
    Day 17 Grand Canyon Village
    Day 18 Grand Canyon Village
    Day 19 Las Vegas 4 1/2 Hours
    Day 20 Los Angeles Flight
    Day 21 Los Angeles
    Day 22 Los Angeles

    Madness? Or achievable? Pitfalls?

    Thanks again you guys.

  5. #45

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

    Very achievable.
    You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. ~ Mark Twain

  6. #46
    8x20 8x10 6x9 John Jarosz's Avatar
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    Re: If I had 3 weeks in the States in October ...

    If I understand you correctly you are flying from Las Vegas to LA. Were you planning on renting a car in LA? If so, I'll suggest you drive to LA from Las Vegas. It's only 260 miles and with returning your car at Las Vegas, airport security, baggage, getting a new rental car in LA, the time spent in flying is likely to be longer than driving. That said, you'll need to plan when you hit LA as the traffic can be terrible.

    After all that time in the wilderness you may find Las Vegas somewhat distasteful. That happened to me after camping on the South & North rim of the Grand Canyon. After the peace and quiet of the wilderness Vegas seemed like an asylum to us. But maybe you'll be craving some goofyness.

    Doable? Sure, it sounds like a nice trip. LA will seem like a shock after all the remotes spaces you'll be hitting.

    The ride from Tonopah to Zion will be very long thru extremely remote ares. I'd think about driving thru Death Valley to Las Vegas from Yosemite, then take the interstate up to the Utah parks, and go to LA directly from the Grand Canyon. I think it will save you some miles and break up the trip better with Vegas in the middle.

    My opinion anyway, I'm sure you'll get lots of comments.

    John

  7. #47
    8x20 8x10 6x9 John Jarosz's Avatar
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    Re: If I had 3 weeks in the States in October ...

    Of course, the ride between Yosemite to Vegas is very long too, and thru some of the most beautiful country you will see (on highway 395 and then on in to Death Valley), so you need to think about how long, what you want to see , etc. It's not easy to strike things off the list.

  8. #48

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

    When you mentioned mid-Sept it opens up the chance for Yellowstone. CA can be blistering hot then (even into Oct). Sep is a bit early for color in most parts of UT. Peak in WY, MT is usually last week of Sept/first week Oct (wind and weather dependent)

  9. #49

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

    Boinzo, mid september changes everything. That's a pretty peak time for many of the National Parks because of fall foliage. The Ahwanee will be tough to get booked even now as will Zion lodge. Never the less there are motels and hotels just outside the parks. I noticed that you have a stop in Tonopah, is that because a 10 hour drive is too far for the family, because ordinarily I would do that myself. But if you're going to do the stop at Tonopah, add 2 hours overall and do a drive around Mono lake. You'll be right there anyway and it's worth a stop. If you stop there then have lunch at the Mobil Gas station. It is a gas station, and cheaper for a fill up than at Yosemite, but's it's an amazingly good restaurant.

    I second John Jarosz' point about driving down to Death Valley and then getting on highway 15. Not only will you get a chance to drive through DV, although you can't really see much of the actual sights, it's still a great drive and will on more populated and safer roads than rte 6 and is nearly the same time and drive length. In fact spend one night there. But DV in sept will be hot the hotels have AC. But for one night you can handle it. Stay at the Furnace creek ranch, or if you can spend more, the furnace creek inn.

    BTW when driving in the south west deserts, make sure there is PLENTY of water in the car. Figure several liters at least for each person.

  10. #50
    Tautatis tautatis's Avatar
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    Re: If I had 3 weeks in the States in October ...

    My advice will be to visit some of the local (West Coast) photographers. I do not believe long rides to these majestic, a million times photographed places will make you produce anything different you have seen from the tourist of coffee table books. Each year, my wife and 2 young kids spend three weeks heading west. Two summers ago we drove from New Mexico to Seattle, going through all parks in NM, Co, Wy, MN, ID and WA state. Driving is brutal and you miss most of the really interesting light. This past summer we did it again, from SoCa, OR, and end in WA. What I came to conclude is this, study a loca photographer's work and spend 3 days in their neck of the woods. For me, I love
    http://www.romanloranc.com work. We took our time in CA and spend several days in places he has photographed. It was worth it. Even though you are a visitor, you don't feel like a stranger to the area. You plan when to go shooting and where rather than stopping and driving just because you happen to be there at say noon! It is a beautiful country, whatever route you decide you will enjoy it.

    Good luck,

    Tautatis

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