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Help with western US itinerary

Marcellus, New York
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Help with western US itinerary

We are a family of four, two adults and two kids 9 and 11. We had our trip for July and August all planned and then had to make some changes, and I would appreciate your help with the modifications.

We will be flying into Denver, taking the train to SLC and then picking up a car and heading up to Idaho. We have the following penciled in:

Days 1-3 - camping in the Sawtooths

Day 4 - Boise (stopover on drive from Sawtooths to Columbia River Gorge)

Day 5 - Hood River, OR

Day 6 - Columbia River Gorge to Mt. St. Helens

Day 7 - Visit Mt. St. Helens, drive to Cannon Beach area

Days 8,9 - OR coast

Days 10, 11 - Camp Jed Smith SP

Day 12 - Crater Lake

Days 13-16 - travel to Las Vegas <-- I could really use some help finding things to do and see along the way, and ideas for where to stop and overnight

Days 17-18 - Grand Canyon

Days 19-20 - Zion (might not opt for this - suggestions for how to change things if this goes?)

Day 21-23 - head north through Idaho Falls (visiting family in IF)

Days 24-30 - Glacier NP

Days 31-34 - back through IF to SLC, fly home

Suggestions, recommendations? I know that it is an aggressive itinerary and we will be doing lots of one-night stays, but I am hopeful that it will be okay. We can cut out Zion if necessary and perhaps space things out more by doing so, but I am at the whim of hotel availability in many places at this point. Thus, some of the timing is less than ideal, but it's what I could get. We had originally not planned to do Glacier, but hubby really wants to visit that park as it is one he has never seen, and so all the plans/reservations we had for central and southern CA (as well as my precious GCNP hotel ressies so carefully made nearly a year out) were out the window.

Thank you for any suggestions or comments on these tentative plans.

New York
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1. Re: Help with western US itinerary

To me it is not aggressive but to others it might be. I dont see why you would skip Zion...you shouldn't. Not overly familiar with the route from Oregon to LV, but sounds like you might be cutting through Yosemite and Death Valley. maybe a stop off in DV, granted it will be super hot, but so will Vegas. Id avoid Yosemite since you won't have the time nor the place to stay there.

What route does your itinerary say to go from Crater to LV?

Sounds like a great trip

Tacoma, Washington
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2. Re: Help with western US itinerary

Have you done grand teton and yellowstone before????

I would skip doing Las Vegas Zion part...its alot more extra driving.and spend those 7 days elsewhere.

You live in Syracuse so save Las vegas, Grand Canyon, zion, and Bryce for next summer and do a trip in Southern UTah/Northern Arizona

If you were someone flying from overseas I wouldnt say this because its usually the only trip they will do so they want to see it all.

Why flying ointo Denver then taking a train??? Why not just fly in/out of DEN or SLC? there is a ton of stuff to do in Colorado that you could save for another trip.

I would honestly just limit this trip to WA, OR, ID, MT, and WY.

New York
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3. Re: Help with western US itinerary

But Dan, if they have nearly 4 weeks, why not? I guess it depends if they want to spend more time ..they already have 6 days for Glacier alone.

Tacoma, Washington
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4. Re: Help with western US itinerary

day 1-3 satooth...last night to Boise

day 2 drive boise to Klammath Falls

day 3 crater lake..nigh Grants Pass/Medford

day 4-5 Crescent City/Redwoods

day 6-8 Oregon coast..last day to Portland

day 9-11 Portland, Columbis gorge, Mt Hood

day 12 St helens

day 13 Mt Rainier

day 14 Seattle

day 15-16 North Cascade/Mt Baker area

day 17-18 drive to Glacier through WA, ID and MT

day 19-25 Glacier

day 26 drive to Idaho Falls

day 27-29 family in Idaho Falls

day 30 to Salt Lake city

you look to add 5 more days---you include Yellowstone and Grand Teton for 5-6 days

Atlanta, Georgia
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5. Re: Help with western US itinerary

If doing Glacier then also do Yellowstone, Tetons and Cody and possibly the Black Hills. It really makes sense to do that in order to cut down on the amount of driving. Especially since you are visiting family in the area.

Do the Pacific NW- Washington, Oregon and northern California in another trip. We did that last July and had plenty to do. It was a great trip.

The AZ and UT parks along with the SW section of CO would make for another great trip. It is called the Grand Circle and there is a great article by OhioHick on the Utah forum. We did most of that trip two years ago and again a great trip.

Just my two cents!! We do road trips to the west at least once or twice each year.

USA
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6. Re: Help with western US itinerary

It looks like Gracie & family have been to YNP & GTNP quite a few times already.

With Glacier at the end of your trip, Gracie, I would jump on reservations there right away, campgrounds perhaps since it sounds like you'll have camping equipment. In August when you are scheduled to be there the grizzlies should be out & about on the berries!

Will you look for more lodging at Grand Canyon? Sorry you had to give up your gem there.

Edited: 12 February 2014, 00:49
Vestal, New York
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for Auburn, Finger Lakes
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7. Re: Help with western US itinerary

I agree with Dan P. about skipping Las Vegas and Utah - there is plenty to do/see in OR, WA, ID and Montana.

Oregon: northeast Oregon/the Wallowas is serene and beautiful and Hells Canyon offers plenty of exploration and adventure. For a real adventure and scenery you won't forget, check out the Steens in the SE section of the state

Washington: Mt. Rainier and the Lake Chelan area are highlights as you head east from MSH. The boat ride in the Cascades on Lake Chelan to Stehekin is memorable.

Idaho: the panhandle is possibly the most beautiful part of a beautiful state - Sandpoint and Priest Lake are highlights worth exploring.

Montana: Missoula is a vibrant, fun town surrounded by beauty. The Flathead Lake region is lovely as well.

N. Idaho
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8. Re: Help with western US itinerary

Sorry you are back to the drawing board!

I would re-order the beginning. I would do the Sawtooths, Idaho Falls, Glacier then west to Spokane and work your way down to I84 thru Washington state and pick up the rest of your trip from there, ending in SLC. That way you are not having to do the not-particularly-scenic parts of SE Idaho twice.

Even better would be SLC to Idaho Falls, then Sawtooths, up US 93 to Glacier, then Spokane and down to I84. I suspect you have reservations in the Sawtooths so you might have trouble changing the dates on that.

Pam

Marcellus, New York
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9. Re: Help with western US itinerary

Thank you for your comments and suggestions. As far as Yellowstone and GTNP, we tend to visit those areas at least most years - we were just in YNP in August and December - and so we will be skipping those this year.

The wonky itinerary for including Las Vegas and GCNP is a necessity - we skipped GCNP in 2012 and promised my son we would get there this year (it was #1 on his want-to-see list). The original plan for this summer had been do do OR and CA, then GCNP and back to Idaho. For a number of reasons we decided to skip CA this time around (except for the redwoods in far norther CA) and save that for its own trip in the future.

As far as Zion, we were there in 2012 as part of a loop of UT than included Arches, Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point SP, Goblin Valley SP, Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion. While I would love to visit all of those parks again, the reason for visiting Zion is really as a stopover from GCNP to Idaho Falls. It is a way to break up that drive and since we'll need to stop anyways and we had a day or two, I thought we might do the Narrows again - my daughter was only 7 at the time we did the Narrows before and she and I only made it to the start of Wall Street before turning around. Now that she is older, she'd like to go and see Wall Street like her big brother and dad did. :) If we had to skip it, though, it wouldn't be the end of the world...although it is pretty high up on my personal list of favorite places.

As for the Black Hills and all, we did those in 2012 as well - we drove from NY through SD and did Badlands, Black Hills (Custer SP, Mt Rushmore, etc), Devil's Tower, Little Big Horn, Beartooth Highway, etc, on the way to Utah. It was a great trip, but we are trying to cover new ground this time.

Oh, and the Denver/train thing - we all really wanted to take the train out west but it was prohibitively expensive. So we got inexpensive open jaw airfare and are just doing the train with roomettes from DEN to SLC. We are hoping for some pretty scenery through the Rockies on that portion of the trip, and this will be our own little version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles (for those of you old enough to remember that movie!).

Lastly, the weird loop of OR then Glacier at the end is to avoid having to cancel and try to rebook all the camping and lodging reservations I already had for OR. I have Crater Lake Lodge, Jed Smith, Beachside, Cape Blanco, etc., some of which will be difficult, if not impossible, to rebook. I did manage to at least get GCNP lodging for our new dates, and I do have something for all our nights in Glacier except one. If nothing opens up for that one, I'll reserve a campsite (we are already camping two nights on the west side of the park at Fish Creek, then a night at Rising Sun, then that pesky open night followed by two nights at Swiftcurrent). If I toss all of it up in the air, I am fearful that we might run into serious problems with having nothing available! And the extra 8-10 hours of driving isn't a big deal. In 2012 we did 8000 miles in 35 days - this trip looks to be 3500 or less total miles driven, which should be a piece of cake. :)

What I am most concerned about is that open spot where we are trying to get from Crater Lake to Las Vegas. I'm trying to figure out a route and lodging suggestions for those nights. Any ideas?

Marcellus, New York
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10. Re: Help with western US itinerary

Missed the window to edit, but mileage should be 4500 or less. Still better than 8000. :)