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American Southwest Itinerary

Long Beach...
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American Southwest Itinerary

Hello. I'm looking for some feedback on my road trip itinerary. I think it's fairly comprehensive (in terms of major desintations) and efficient (in terms of time allocated to each destination). As outlined below, the trip is 11 days. I probably won't have anymore days to play with, so any suggested changes to the itinerary should be confined within an 11-day time frame. I'll be taking this trip with my girlfriend in May, September, or October, (yet to be decided). We're very active and would like to camp where possible. Your thoughts (including on WHEN to go) are much appreciated! Thank you.

THU night: LA to St. George

FRI: St. George to Zion in the morning; spend day and night in Zion

SAT: Spend day and night in Zion.

SUN: Zion to Bryce in the morning; spend day and night in Bryce.

MON: Leave for Cortez, CO; stop at Monument Valley for a hike along the way; spend night in Cortez.

TUES: Cortez to Mesa Verde in the morning; spend entire day in Mesa Verde; spend night in Durango.

WED: Durango to Chaco in the morning; spend day and night in Chaco.

THU: Spend morning in Chaco; Chaco to Roswell, arriving at Roswell in the evening.

FRI: Roswell to Carlsbad Caverns in the early morning; spend day in Carlsbad Caverns; overnight in Carlsbad.

SAT: Spend half-day in Carlsbad Caverns; head to Alamogordo and check in at hotel; take in sunset at White Sands.

SUN: Spend morning in White Sands; continue on to Tucson to stay with family.

MON: Tucson to LA.

(Note: I have a similar post in the New Mexico forum. I don't mean to spam the TA forums. I was initially going to limit my trip to New Mexico, but as time has gone on, I've developed and succumbed to some serious wanderlust.)

Edited: 07 August 2014, 17:59
Tacoma, Washington
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1. Re: American Southwest Itinerary

Ths is nrealistic....alot of drving.

Bruce to Cortez with a top at mnument valley is an all day drive. F you did this n late may you would have mre daylight to try and attempt this.

With Mesa verde getting ticket for the same day can be hard. Usually tickets are given out the day before the tour.

Traveling between memorial day and labor day both westherill and Chapin are open. Before/after only Chapin is open.

I would nstead do

Thu LA o Springdale, ut

Fri Zion

Sat Zion AM, Bryce PM

Sun Bryce AM, Capitol reef PM, night Torrey

Mon AM Capitol reef, PM Cortez

Tues Mesa Verde..night Durango

Wed Chaco canyon night in ABQ

Thu -Sat pick and choose what you want to do getting to Tucson Saturday night

Sun with family

Monday drive home

Peachtree City...
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2. Re: American Southwest Itinerary

I went to Mesa Verde in September last year and had no problems getting tickets same day. Though I also hit places as soon as they're open, too. I thought the weather was absolutely perfect at that time of year.

I really enjoyed the hike at Monument Valley - I am truly shocked that so few people take it. I dare say I got as much out of it as I did my back country tour. Your plan for that day doesn't look unrealistic to me, personally - I did a day very similar to it last year and it was a true lifetime memory.

Can't comment on much of the rest of it but it looks awesome to me!

Park City, Utah
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3. Re: American Southwest Itinerary

Definitely an aggressive plan with lots of driving. But it's do-able. About the most notable advice I would offer is go the extra 45 minutes on first day to stay at Springdale - no reason to do St. George. That will buy you some time you can use later, like maybe staying over at Monument Valley for the night.

Have fun.

Uden, The...
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4. Re: American Southwest Itinerary

Of course you can spend as long as you wish at places like Carlsbad caverns and White Sands but we found 4 hours for CC (Natural Entrance/Big Room up by elevator) enough both times we went. And for White Sands app 2 hours.

Drive into Chaco can be bumpy because it's partly unpaved. Drive in from 550 and not from other directions.

Not sure why you don't want to spend the night in Mesa verde Far View lodge is a great place (basic but a good restaurant) and sunset is great with wildlife roaming the area.

Also suggest to spend 2 nights in Springdale.

Bryce to Cortez with hiking in Monument Valley more or less on the way will indeed be a very long day.

Tet

Long Beach...
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5. Re: American Southwest Itinerary

Great input, everyone. Thanks!

I realize there are a few days in which we'll be driving quite a bit (4-7 hours), but I think I was at least able to separate those days with shorter driving days (1-4 hours). I'm very open to suggestions on this matter.

I originally wanted to overnight in Monument Valley in order to shorten that particular day, (Bryce to Cortez). Given my 11-day time frame, I'm not sure where I would cut the time and how I would rearrange the remaining days... Maybe I can trim down our time at Carlsbad, as Tet14 suggested.

(Here's my Google map: http://goo.gl/maps/6DiYr)

Edited: 08 August 2014, 15:38
Uden, The...
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6. Re: American Southwest Itinerary

Maybe:

Thu: LA-Springdale

Fri:/Sat: Zion

Sun: To Bryce

Mon: To Monument Valley

Tue: To Mesa verde

Wed: To Chaco

Thu: To Roswell

Fri: To Carlsbad visit caverns

Sat: To White Sands, visit White Sands

Sun: To Tucson

Ohio
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7. Re: American Southwest Itinerary

agree you can pick up time at Carlsbad and White Sands. 4 hours for CC and 2 for WS. Tet has that pegged.

Long Beach...
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8. Re: American Southwest Itinerary

Thanks, Tet and wings.

Dan P made the point that we would have more daylight to work with if we go in May. Can anyone comment on the weather in mid- to late-May? September looks to be the ideal time to go in terms of weather, but how would May compare?

Tacoma, Washington
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9. Re: American Southwest Itinerary

weather in late May will be similar---you will have more day light. In late May its about 14:30 of daylight vs 12:00 in mis September.

Weather wont be that much different between mid/lateMay and mid/late sptemebr. In september you generally have a higher risk of wildfires occuring thuse potentially closing roads or towns and needing to change plans and you have a higher chance of getting heavy rainfall will be higher from remains of hurricane rfrom the mexican pacfic shore.

Wednesbury, UK
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10. Re: American Southwest Itinerary

We often go to the US West in May, and whilst we have had some late wintery weather in Utah a few times,it's never been enough to cause to too much problem.

As May progresses risk gets less, but having said that the worst snow was around Bryce on a Memorial Day weekend 2008. May is a strange unpredictable month in my experience.

Often it's been a mixture sunburn one day, snow the next! and I've done that trip in March too and it was cool but nice and quiet, also did much of it it in late October in 2012 and the weather was great.