American West road trip
December 18, 2003 9:51 PM   Subscribe

A buddy and I are going on a road trip starting the 28th of December for 8 days. Our first destination is the Grand Canyon but after that, who knows. Being the anal retentive that I am, I sort of plotted out a route that took us from the GC to Zion then Bryce then Salt Lake City then across upper Nevada to Tahoe. I was wondering, is this too ambitious? Are there cooler things to see or places to visit? How about places to avoid?
posted by inviolable to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Chaco Canyon is very cool. Especially late in the afternoon.

Zion and Bryce are "musts" imho. You can spend weeks in Southern Utah and still be amazed every day.

Did you see that thread where we were all giving advice to Miguel? That one has some good info on the American Soutwest.
posted by gen at 10:26 PM on December 18, 2003

Be careful on the Sierra Nevada passages in the winter (going west from Tahoe) as they can close or be pretty rough when the snow starts falling.
posted by mathowie at 10:37 PM on December 18, 2003

If you take 80 through Nevada, don't miss Thunder Mountain Park, which is basically just off the side of the road. It's fanciful, strange, and best experienced at twilight for maximum spookiness. And take mathowie's advice.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:16 PM on December 18, 2003

As long as you are in for natural wonders, I would recommend a supernatural one. On my GC roadtrip, we stayed at the Monte Vista in Flagstaff, which is said to be haunted. The rooms are pretty cruddy, but it's one of those wonderful old grand hotels gone to seed. The staff is very good at scaring you with tales of bumps in the night and they even had me going. If you don't stay, it's worth visiting the bar and hearing some of the stories.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:01 AM on December 19, 2003

Your itinerary is doable.

If you go around the other way after GC you can fit in Arches National Park, dinosaur tracks, Monument Valley, and several other great locations. That's at least an extra day, and makes for some hellaciously long drives through the desert. But it's jam packed with cool stuff.

Bryce is a one trick pony. You can see Bryce in less than one day if you get up to the ridge just before sunrise, marvel at the glowing colors, and then do a short hike through the hoodoos.

Consider hiking up Zion Narrows. Get gear at Zion Adventure Co if you do. Get to the trail head ASAP.

Death Valley is also very close to your path, but is at least a day's worth.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:20 AM on December 19, 2003

Vegas is a fun break for a day or two if you get tired of all that nature.
posted by amberglow at 5:24 AM on December 19, 2003

totally doable. i would totally recommend y6y6y6 's arches, dinosaur tracks, monument valley trek.

i haven't done that trip but a few years ago, i landed in albuquerque and did a loop around which included monument valley, mese verde, a few missions, four corners, the vla (very cool) and miles of amazing landscape -- 8 days and 1500 miles. well work it (all with a chihuahua in my lap).
posted by heather at 9:15 AM on December 19, 2003

Bryce and Zion are the coolest natural places I have been -- in the sense that I'd only seen anything like them in those Sunday full-color Calvin and Hobbes comics where Calvin is dreaming of being Spaceman Spiff. Tahoe's cool, too. I did all this in the summer in about the timeframe you're talking about, but I didn't stay too long at any one place.
posted by callmejay at 9:44 AM on December 19, 2003

I live in Flagstaff, and can vouche for the Monte Vista, as well as all the downtown here. (stay at the hotel weatherford) Visit the Grand Canyon (take the old railroad from Williams...) , see Las Vegas - Two musts. Sothern Utah is amazing as well, but I think you are pushing your luck, and will cramped for time if you include Tahoe etc. Its a long long ways from GC to SLC to Tahoe. There are some pretty fantastic places you will stumble on and wish you could explore, but won't be able to with that itineray. Email me if you want advice on No.Az.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 12:31 PM on December 19, 2003 [2 favorites]

You might want to check out Hoover Dam. It was a lot better in the good old days before 9/11 (when you could go inside during the tours), but it's still worth seeing, and makes a great photo op.
posted by vorfeed at 12:53 PM on December 19, 2003

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