California, Las Vegas and the Zion Narrows choices…

Picture 9

As we are refining the plan, we should probably think about whether or not we want to include the Zion Narrows hike

It was not originally in our plan, but while researching the route, and looking for stopping points between Las Vegas and Moab, we discovered it… and it seems like it could be really AMAZING…

In early drafts of the plan, we had it as an optional stop along the route… but if we want to do the hike and overnight along the river, we will need to get a backcountry permit soon (there are only 11 campsites along the route)

Estimated time for the hike itself is 12.5 hours walking (based on the estimates of the National Park Service, which says it takes into account allowances for rest stops and slower hikers), and about 60% of the time is walking through the river. So it is definitely a two-day activity.

Timing-wise, the shuttle that takes us to the departure point (Chamberlain’s Ranch), leaves twice a day — at 630am and 930am.

The estimated drive time to the park from Las Vegas is about 3 hours (so calculate based on 4 hours for this segment of the drive). We would have to leave Las Vegas by at least 430 or 5am to make it in time for the 930am shuttle.

Assuming we have a campsite close to 6 hours in, we will have at least 6 hours to walk the next day… there is no way we will want to do the 7 hour drive to Moab the same day! So we will have to overnight somewhere near Zion NP, with the plan of leaving for Moab the following morning…

Then, instead of doing the rapelling the first day in Moab, we should plan to go directly into the white rim that first day… and leave the rapelling for the last day…

Here is how our schedule looks now:

DAY 22 – Leave LA — DRIVE 12 hours along Pacific Coast Highway — ARR San Francisco Hotel

DAY 23 – San Francisco Visit Day – morning free , optional visit to Fishermans’ Wharf in the afternoon, 4pm – cruise to Alcatraz – tour Alcatraz 730 pm arrive back at Fisherman’s Wharf (night in hotel)

DAY 24 – Free Day – (can use as San Francisco Visit Day 2 or to go part way to Death Valley or direct to Death Valley)

DAY 25 – DRIVE to Death Valley (8.5 – 10.5 hours from San Francisco) — ARR Death Valley Wildrose Campground

DAY 26 – Death Valley Day 1

DAY 27 – Death Valley Day 2

DAY 28 – DEP Death Valley — DRIVE 2.5 – 3.5 hours — ARR Las Vegas Hotel

DAY 29 – Las Vegas Visit Day

DAY 30 – DEP Las Vegas — DRIVE 8.5 – 11 hours — ARR Moab hotel (with possible short visit to Zion NP to stretch legs)

DAY 31 – Canyoneering in Moab (hotel)

DAY 32 – Canyonlands – White Rim trail day 1 (backcountry camp)

DAY 33 –  Canyonlands – White Rim trail day 2 (backcountry camp)

DAY 34 – Canyonlands – White Rim trail day 3 (backcountry camp)

DAY 35 – DEP Moab

and here is how we could do it if we want to include the Narrows:

DAY 22 – Leave LA — DRIVE 12 hours along Pacific Coast Highway — ARR San Francisco Hotel

DAY 23 – San Francisco Visit Day – morning free , optional visit to Fishermans’ Wharf in the afternoon, 4pm – cruise to Alcatraz – tour Alcatraz 730 pm arrive back at Fisherman’s Wharf (night in hotel)

DAY 24 – DRIVE to Death Valley (8.5 – 10.5 hours from San Francisco) — ARR Death Valley Wildrose Campground

DAY 25 – Death Valley Day 1

DAY 26 – Death Valley Day 2

DAY 27 – DEP Death Valley — DRIVE 2.5 – 3.5 hours — ARR Las Vegas Hotel
(leave DV early in the morning, arriving by noon in Las Vegas… see the city… do our shooting range… sleep)

DAY 28 – DEP Las Vegas 4:30am — DRIVE 2.5 – 4 hours — ARR Zion NP for 9:30am shuttle to Chamberlain (departure point for the Narrows Hike) — HIKE 6.5 hours — CAMP along river

DAY 29 – HIKE 6.5 hours to exit — shuttle back to parking — hotel or campsite TBD (somewhere in or near Zion NP)

DAY 30 – DEP Zion NP — DRIVE 5.5 – 7.5 hours — ARR Moab hotel (or Canyonlands White Rim first campsite?)
(if we leave early enough, we can potentially make it in time to go directly to the White Rim first campsite — the one we had last time)

DAY 31 – Canyonlands – White Rim trail day 1 or 2 (backcountry camp)

DAY 32 – Canyonlands – White Rim trail day 2 or 3 (backcountry camp)

DAY 33 –  Canyonlands – White Rim trail day 3 or 4 (END at hotel)

DAY 34 – Canyoneering in Moab (hotel)

DAY 35 – DEP Moab

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have No Comments

St. Louis to Tulsa to Amarillo camping options

After discussion the other day, we decided that we will try to split this segment of the trip with shorter drives over a few days rather than trying to do St. Louis to Tulsa in one day, then have a rest day, then do Tulsa to Amarillo in one day, followed by a rest day, as our original plan indicated (and we can always go back to that formula if we come across something super interesting to do in a specific location).

So, on Day 5, we are spending the day canoeing at Meramec state park, then visiting the Meramec Caverns. The ideal scenario would be, if after visiting the Caverns, we can get a start on the next day’s drive by moving forward about an hour and a half or two hours (not sure how far we can get, depending on hour tired we might be, but any mileage we can do will make the next day a bit easier).

We have the great list of campgrounds put together by the folks at Route 66 News, but i decided to research the National Forest and State Park campgrounds in Missouri and Oklahoma as we might prefer more primitive camping options.

Was able to come up with a workable list of state parks/national forest areas that could make good stopping points along the way (none are that far off the Route 66 itinerary, though they may not exactly be “on” the route itself).

state park locations along the segment from St. Louis to Tulsa to Amarillo.

state park locations along the segment from St. Louis to Tulsa to Amarillo.

Here’s the best scenario (with some options):

The first possible National Forest stop is near Rolla MO, about an hour and a half west of Meramec state park. At the Mark Twain National Forest, dispersed camping is allowed. According to the main campsite page for the forest:

<< Dispersed Camping areas have few, if any, amenities or other facilities. Primitive Camping is allowed throughout the forest except in day use areas, administrative sites, within 100′ of springs, stream, caves and other natural features or archeological sites, or where otherwise prohibited. Follow Leave No Trace principles and protect the forest resouces. >>

Depending on time, we could try to find our own spot, but might be best if we head for the Cole Creek Trail, which is actually for horses, but hikers are welcome and primitive camping is allowed along the trail. The reason i suggest this, is because we have written directions to the trailhead, and if we tried to find our own location, we might spend a lot of time driving around looking for an entry point, etc. If we chose Cole Creek Trail, we will have to leave the jeep at the trail head and hike in a bit…

If we can drive a little bit further, about 2 hours west of Meramec (and a little bit east of springfield MO), is Bennett Spring State Park, in Lebanon MO.

So we sleep at one of these locations, then pick up the route in the morning of Day 6, with a goal of reaching the Keystone state park near Sand Springs, OK, which is just outside of Tulsa. If we need to stop sooner, there is a state park, Twin Bridges State Park, which is not that far off the route a bit east of Tulsa.

Then, on Day 7, we head for Crowder Lake state park, which is a good halfway point between Tulsa and Amarillo. But also has some interesting activities. We have some other alternatives for that night, too. Either Red Rock Canyon state park, which is a little closer to Tusla side, or Foss state park, which is a little closer to Amarillo.

Then Day 8, we get into Amarillo as planned, but a little more rested (hopefully) and ready to explore!

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have Comments (2)

Palo Duro Canyon choices…


Click on map to see it larger.

When doing the Route 66 Amarillo segment, the plan is to stay in Palo Duro Canyon state park. There are a few different options for that park that we should consider (it is one of the places we need to make reservations for, and is pretty popular in the summer, so we will need to decide this early on).

We have choices between 3 camping options: Hike-in backpack camping, “Developed Primitive” campsites, or cabins. Here are the details…

BACKPACK CAMPING: Back-pack camping is permitted only in the area south of the turn-around. You must hike into the area for at least 30 minutes. Water is only available at the trailhead. Fires are not permitted, although stoves with containerized fuel are permitted. You must carry out all that you carry in.

cactuscamplocationDEVELOPED PRIMITIVE CAMPSITES: There are two camping areas that have been designated “primitive”. (Cactus and Fortress Cliff) The areas have designated camping sites. Each has a table, a shade shelter, fire-ring and water available in the area. They have no restroom or shower facilities. You may drive (1/2 to 2 miles) to an adjacent camp loop for restroom/shower facilities. A maximum of 8 people are permitted in each site.

cactuscampdetailCACTUS CAMP: Of the “Developed Primitive” locations, Cactus Camp seems like the better choice for privacy, as there are fewer sites here and they seem a bit more spread out. It seems from the map like it is not far from the river (or creek, or whatever that water source is running through there). Not sure what the location is like visually (or if it is high or low ground, as the map has no relief). Also, it is next to the day use area (don’t know how close, or if that impacts us at all).

fortressclifflocationFORTRESS CLIFF: Am guessing this site is on the highground, so probably has a really nice view. However there seems to be a lot of sites here and they seem pretty close together on the map. Also seems like it is far from the restroom facilities (and if all the campsites are so close together we might rather use the restroom facilities than go out in the bush when the need arises).

fortresscliffdetailCABINS: There are two CCC vintage cabins perched on the rim of the canyon. Though rustic, these cabins have been renovated and have modern heating and cooling systems. Each cabin consists of two rooms plus restroom and shower. Lighthouse has a day bed with a pull-out. Goodnight and Sorenson have full size bunk beds. Both have a queen size bed. There are no kitchen facilities, but there is a table and charcoal grill located just outside. Cooking is not permitted inside the cabins. Bed linens and towels are provided. A maximum of 4 persons are permitted per cabin. (these cabins are a bit pricey at $110 per nite, but there is another option that seems like it might be a good choice: the Cow Camp Cabins, see below)

COW CAMP CABINS: In 1933, the C.C.C. built four very small cabins near the turn-around area of the park. Referred to as “Cow Camp Cabins”, these have been renovated and are available for rent. Three are one-room, and one has a second small “alcove” room off to the side. Each cabin has a full size bunk bed that sleeps four, a small table with two chairs, a small refrigerator, and a microwave. A picnic table and grill are available on the outside. Bed linens and towels are not provided. (Cow Camp Cabins are $60/night)


one of the "cow camp" cabins

We will be spending two nights here in Palo Duro Canyon (and one of the nights we will be going to see the Texas show elsewhere in the Canyon (and there is a dinner right before it, outside at the same location). I think we definitely do not want to do hike-in camping for the night that we are going to the show because after the performance it might be dark, and that is just too complicated… I kind of like the cow cabins… but would be fine with “Developed Primitive” too… what are your thoughts?

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have No Comments

The Mojave…and the ghost towns…

So moving forward with planning the Route 66 segment from Arizona to California, i think we definitely want to stopover in the Mojave National Preserve and spend a night roadside camping then spend some time on the desert trails. If we don’t linger too long at the Grand Canyon, as i suggested earlier, we should have time to do this. And we will probably be glad for the emptiness of the Mojave in contrast the the crowd at Grand Canyon.

Picture 6

The locations we are likely to choose for camping can be found on the map above (if you click on the map it opens up much bigger). Considering we will be coming from I-40 (at the bottom of the map), am thinking one of these locations might be good:

Granite Pass: 6.1 miles north of I-40 on Kelbaker Road, just north of Granite Pass, then west on one of several access roads. Campsites are located just north of the granite spires. High clearance vehicle recommended; no RVs.

Kelso Dunes Mine: 4 miles west of Kelbaker Road on the unpaved Kelso Dunes Road. One campsite is located south of the road, 1/4 mile past the marked trailhead. Several others are available 3/4 mile beyond, near a clump of trees. Except at these sites, roadside camping is prohibited along Kelso Dunes Road (including at the trailhead).

Black Canyon Road
About 4 miles south of Hole-in-the-Wall Information Center on the east side of Black Canyon Road, above the wash and near a hill with excellent views of the Providence Mountains. Another site is located about 4 miles futher south, also on the east side of Black Canyon Road, near rock piles.

Rainy Day Mine Site
15.2 miles southeast of Baker on Kelbaker Road, then 0.3 miles northeast on the unsigned and very sandy road to the Rainy Day Mine. Four-wheel drive recommended; no RVs.

THEN, while we are there we can do a JEEP TRAIL :-)

There are actually a number of cool 4×4 trails out there. Here is a list of some of them provided by the park service. The Lava Tube sounds fun… (and also “Caruthers Canyon” for possible camp site?)

Actually might also be really fun to try to get up early and catch sunrise at Kelso Dunes…

About 42 miles southeast of Baker (7 miles south of Kelso Depot), then 3 miles west on a graded dirt road, Kelso Dunes were created over the course of 25,000 years by winds carrying sand grains from the dried Soda Lake and Mojave River Sink. Nearly 700 feet high and covering a 45-square-mile area, they are among the tallest and most extensive dune fields in the United States.

The Kelso Dunes produce a “booming” or “singing” sound when sand with the right moisture content slides down the steep slopes. Try it for yourself—run down a dune slope (but don’t trample vegetation!) to initiate the sound.

Kelso Dunes Trailhead: 3 miles west of Kelbaker Road on the well-graded, but unpaved Kelso Dunes Road.
Hikers at sunrise and sunset are treated to both cooler temperatures and the rose-colored glow of the dunes. The roughly 3-mile round-trip hike might take several hours as you slog through the sand, then slide down the slopes. Moving sands sometimes create a “booming” sound—run downhill and get the sand moving to hear the sound.

we will likely to be able to do these activities ONLY if we don’t spend the extra day at Grand Canyon…

THE FOLLOWING DAY, we continue to Barstow. In Barstow area I think it would actually be fun to stay at the Calico Ghost town itself. It is definitely a hokey attraction, but will likely be the last one we do, as after LA the Route 66 segment of the trip is over and the return has more “adventure”-oriented activities. It seems like the town is a state park. Here is the official parks page . And here is the page for the Calico Ghost Town attraction. We have the option of actually reserving a “mini bunkhouse” here, and maybe we should consider that “luxury” now that we are headed back to “civilization.” (afterall we don’t want to show up in LA looking like savages!)

Through researching Route 66 sites, i think there might actually be a better “Old West Ghost Town” experience at OATMAN, AZ, which is before the Mojave (it is the last town on the Arizona side)… There they have wild burros in the streets, and an actual gold mine you can visit, and daily “gunfights” in the street (at 1:30 and 3:30pm). Might be more fun than Calico town? I can’t really tell, but it seems like it might be a tad less crowded… and comparing the two towns’ websites, i feel like Oatman is “less” disney-ified (though that doesn’t necessarily make it the better experience)…

In any case, we will pass through Oatman on the road, even if we don’t spend extra time there, and if we don’t like it, we can always still do Calico town on the way out (or just camp at Calico town)… Or if we have totally had our fill of  wild west recreations by then, we can just pass by Calico…

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have Comment (1)

Mules and so on…


Who knew mule reservations would be so hard to come by? It is January and we are planning for late July and we are too late!!!! I can’t believe it!

We wanted to do the overnight mule trek into the Grand Canyon and when i called for reservations it was completely booked for the entire month of July!!!! Still cannot believe we were too late…

Anyway, I took a reservation for a short half-day trip to “the abyss overlook” which was the only alternative (and i guess i was glad to get even that)!  I really hope it is at least interesting… (we don’t get to go down into the Canyon, just along the rim) … but i guess it is still better than a bus tour!

This will likely change our schedule a bit, and instead of spending two days at the Canyon, i think we should leave in the afternoon when we return from the mule trek. I say this because in researching opportunities around the Grand Canyon, I got the impression it is overrun with mass tourism! There are hotels on the Canyon rim! And huge parking lots! And busloads and trainloads of tourists who just fly-in to see the Canyon! And as we cannot really get into the Canyon on our own, i don’t know what else we would do there…

If it wasn’t one of the “wonders of the world” i think i would say just skip it (as we will be having plenty of up-close Canyon experiences elsewhere along the trail)… but we really can’t just drive past the Grand Canyon without at least having a look!

So, a short mule trek, a quick peek at the Canyon and then an early start to our next location where we can spend that extra day on the trail in the Mojave national preserve (here we have the right to do “roadside camping” in the backcountry along a jeep trail)!

Lesson Learned: we are not as early as we think we are! (and apparently more people like riding mules than you’d imagine!)

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have Comment (1)

The Santa Fe option…

So am continuing with the trip plans, and refining the itinerary a bit more, and realize we will definitely need to make a choice about which alignment we take in New Mexico, and that choice will effect more than just the parts of route 66 we will see. It will effect the itinerary for the following days all the way through to Arizona…


While we may not have to make that choice now (or even necessarily BEFORE departure… ), it would be a good idea to think about the options and how each would impact our experience.

The basic choice is whether we  go: Tucumcari > Santa Rosa > Santa Fe > Albuquerque

OR more directly: Tucumcari > Santa Rosa >  Albuquerque…

While at first glance we might want to say “take the shortest route,” on a trip like ours the whole point is the journey… rather than how quickly we can get to our destination… so the question is really more about which alignment would present the most interesting experience in the time we have…

Those who have done the drive recommend the Santa Fe loop “if we have the time”… particularly to see the Pecos National Historical site (which seems like it might be interesting)… and personally, the big attraction of the Santa Fe loop for me is a part of the drive on a dirt road thru La Bajada (explanation below is from Legends of America: Rte 66 site) :

…the Mother Road continued on a particularly nasty stretch down La Bajada Hill toward Albuquerque. One of the most challenging sections of Route 66, the 500 foot drop along narrow switch backs struck terror in the hearts of many early travelers, so much so that locals were often hired to drive vehicles down the steep slope.

You KNOW i want to drive that segment!!!!!  (there might also be the possibility of coming BACK via this segment on our way down from Utah after Moab if we skip Santa Fe loop on the way). Check out what these folks who did the trip in 2003 have to say about this section of the Route… And here is a good explanation of La Bajada possiblities… and HERE IS A JEEP TRAIL (and they rate it as an EASY trail, so i think it should be no problem for us!!!!!). The Jeep Trail actually takes us onto the Cochiti indian reservation, and ends at a ruin… Here is more about the Cochitis… and someone’s photo essay from a trip up La Bajada…

Once we are in Alburquerque, i think it would be great to visit/camp at the Chaco Culture National Historical park!!!!

This Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, hosting the densest and most exceptional concentration of pueblos in the American Southwest. It is located in a relatively inaccessible canyon cut by the Chaco Wash, and contains the most sweeping collection of ancient ruins north of Mexico. There is a primitive campground inside the park. Tucked amongst the fallen boulders and cliffs of Gallo Wash, the campground offers camping in a rugged environment, surrounded by petroglyphs, a cliff dwelling, inscriptions, and a high desert landscape. There is no shade. The campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

As there are no reservations for campsites there we will need alternative plans in case it is full… the park itself has put together this list of alternative camping options in the area… BTW, the Chaco park has put together a “Before you Visit” introduction online, too…

Anyway, here are some thoughts on planning options…

OPTION1: spend day 10 getting to Santa Fe area, with a stop over at the Pecos national site, and camp somewhere in the Santa Fe National Forest… (which will put us in a perfect location to then do the La Bajada jeep trail the next morning!!!!). here is a good resource on the local campgrounds there. day 11 do the jeep trail, then drive to Chaco national park… (with an option of camping at one of the ranches nearby if the park campground is full)…

Picture 33

Day10 : DRIVE Amarillo / Tucumcari / Santa Rosa / Santa Fe = 350 miles, 8 hours, with a stopover for hike/visit at Pecos National Historical park.
CAMP at one of the Santa Fe National Forest campgrounds (no reservations)

Day 11: DRIVE Santa Fe / La Bajada / Chaco Culture National Historical park = 250 miles, 7 hours, with the La Bajada Jeep trail (4 hours)
CAMP at  Chaco Culture National Historical park Gallo campground OR one of the alternates.

Day 12: HIKE/VISIT Chaco Culture National Historical park
DRIVE: Chaco Culture National Historical park / Gallup = 100 miles, 2 hours
CAMP at campground or motel TBD (possible performance at Gallup Multi-cultural Center)

DAY 13: DRIVE Gallup / Holbrook / Winslow = 150 miles, 3 hours
HIKE/VISIT Painted Desert & Petrified Forest National park
CAMP either Wilderness Backpack camping in Petrified Forest OR primitive campground on Rock Art Canyon ranch

OPTION2: go direct to Albuquerque on day 10, overnight locally there, and then go to Chaco on day 11…

Picture 34

Day10 : DRIVE Amarillo / Tucumcari / Santa Rosa / Albuquerque = 350 miles, 7 hours.
CAMP at campground/motel TBD

Day 11: DRIVE Albuquerque / Chaco Culture National Historical park = 160 miles, 3.5 hours.
HIKE/VISIT Chaco Culture National Historical park
CAMP at Chaco Culture National Historical park Gallo campground OR one of the alternates.

Day 12: DRIVE: Chaco Culture National Historical park / Gallup = 100 miles, 2 hours
CAMP at campground or motel TBD (possible performance at Gallup Multi-cultural Center)

DAY 13: DRIVE Gallup / Holbrook / Winslow = 150 miles, 3 hours
HIKE/VISIT Painted Desert & Petrified Forest National park
CAMP either Wilderness Backpack camping in Petrified Forest OR primitive campground on Rock Art Canyon ranch

OPTION 3: cut out the Chaco Culture park visit…

Picture 35

Day10 : DRIVE Amarillo / Tucumcari / Santa Rosa / Albuquerque = 350 miles, 7 hours.
CAMP at campground/motel TBD

Day 11: FREE DAY

Day 12: DRIVE Albuquerque / Gallup / Holbrook / Winslow = 300 miles, 6 hours
HIKE/VISIT Painted Desert & Petrified Forest National park
CAMP either Wilderness Backpack camping in Petrified Forest OR primitive campground on Rock Art Canyon ranch

Day 13: FREE DAY

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have Comments (2)

Caves and choices in Missouri…

Locations of the caves along the route

Locations of the caves along the route (coming from St. Louis)

On around day 5 of the trip we will be in the St. Louis area and will likely be staying at the Meramec State Park and the current plan is to spend part of the day canoeing the river, and then do a guided tour of the Meramec Caverns

In doing some research about the area and looking at our trajectory i see some options:

Apparently Missouri is a state with lots of caves (second only in the nation to Tennessee), and right nearby in the State Park where we will be staying is Fisher Cave, and not far away is an additional state park with another cave/cavern (i am still not sure what the difference is between a cave and a cavern)…

It seems people have mixed reviews of the Meramec Caverns (see reviews here), and according to their own site, the cavern tour takes visitors on “well-lighted, walkways”… and the whole location seems like something very kitsch (which could be charming and part of the route 66 experience) with a motel, a campground, a riverboat ride, their own canoe rentals, panning for gold, etc…

Fishers Cave has a positive review (as a more “real” cave visit), and i actually called the park and spoke to a woman at the information desk there who said the cave tour at the park is definitely more “naturalistic” than a visit to Meramec, but still a solid 90 minute visit that includes about a mile or more of walking…

There is also the Onodaga Cave state park with a cave and a cathedral cave tour… it is a little further from St. Louis…

So question is… which cave/cavern do we want to visit…

here are the issues as to how they relate to our trip:

First, do we want something kitsch-y and touristic and definitely a Route 66 icon (Meramec), or do we want a more naturalistic experience (Fisher or Onodaga)…?

Second, which is most interesting? Meramec seems like the bigger, more elaborate (3rd largest something in the US, Jesse James hideout, a cavern versus a cave) choice for sure… but will the theatrical lighting and walkways make it less interesting than a more “natural” cave experience with flash lights and dirt floors (Fisher)… or will it conversely make it BETTER…

Do we want to take advantage of some of the other kitschy activities… like panning for gold… at Meramec Caverns… or is it more convenient to do everything at the State Park (canoe trip from there and cave tour without having to leave and drive to another location)… if we want to we can also choose to consolidate at Meramec Caverns (they have a campground and canoe rentals/shuttle for trip downriver which is probably about the same as the one offered from the park, though their campground might be a bit more “packed together”… think about the place we stayed that one time on a private campground in virginia… however, i cannot guarentee that the State Park is any “better” in terms of campground spacing)…

If we are staying at Meremac State park, going back to the Caverns requires us to backtrack a little bit (not that long, so we can do it if we want to), and if we wanted to go to Onodaga, it is even further away from St. Louis… (but as it is an end-point of the day, i would probably prefer closer to St. Louis, unless there was a real reason we preferred the idea of staying at Onodaga)…

see the relative locations and distances on here: View Google Map

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have Comments (2)

It’s December… seven months to go…

Today is December first. Winter in New York. It’s been mild thus far, but the cold is coming in now, and so it does me good to be working on the trip planning and thinking about the hot deserts and summer fun!

We have made a good bit of progress in the trip planning so far. We have basically settled on a route that will take us across the south west and back via the south east of the country…


The route is a long one, but will give us a taste of history, and a sampling of the amazing natural beauty that ranges across the country. We will be coming from the northeast, across the great plains and into the southwestern deserts on the way to the pacific coast before doubling back and going as far south as the Mexican border before coming through the Louisiana bayous and stopping at New Orleans on the way home via the “deep south”. I am looking forward to the discoveries we will be making during our journey as well as to the fun we will surely have along the way!

Now that the routing is settled, I will turn my attention to obtaining the necessary permits for some of the locations we are going to.

As I recall from the Moab planning, we really need to make our requests in January if we want flexibility and our first choices of locations and routing through the national parklands. And once Cactus Killer and Silly Squirrel have their tickets to the U.S., we should be able to lock in a timeframe, and then just plot it out on a calendar to determine dates for the permits. After that it is just a question of paperwork and time… and we should be “good to go.”

If we get that all done in January, we can move onto other aspects of planning and logistics once the actual travel dates are much closer…

posted by Blue Coyote in Anticipation, Planning and have No Comments

Some thoughts on the route in California and beyond…


So we discussed the possibility of routing the trip home via New Orleans today… and also how much time we might spend in the cities of California (LA and SF) and the various trade-offs involved…

And that made me take another look at the route I had proposed initially…

I’d had the idea that it would be good to go through some of the famous national parks of California on the way back–notably Yosemite and the Giant Sequoia park–but after looking at details on the national parks services sites (see Yosemite details and Seqouia details) I had some other thoughts. Both of those parks will likely be really full and even though they are national parks they seem to be very “RV”-friendly (RVs are those giant campers) and even their tent sites seem to pack campers close together (from what I could see in one photograph on the site). So not sure either park will be a “great experience” as in some of the other locations we will be staying…

This raises some questions:

First, do we want to change the plan to skip these two parks and do a slightly longer drive from San Francisco directly to Death Valley (which is a more remote and “difficult” park and so less full of “recreational campers” — they actually have campgrounds accessible only by 4×4 vehicle – see details) we can likely add one of the “extra” days to either LA or SF, and the other to Death Valley itself so we can spend more actual time in one campground than just moving from park to park.

Second, would we really be missing something “spectacular” if we skip yosemite and giant sequoia? I am not sure… the giant sequoia park has the oldest trees in the country… but is it worth the hassle to make a pilgrimmage to see trees… we will see lots of trees in other places (though not the “oldest”)… the scenery in these parks is supposed to be incredible… but we will have seen so much scenery already… what are your thoughts on this?

Also, (slightly unrelated) while researching the above, I found out that we should definitely plan on “roadside camping” in the Mohave National Preseve when travelling to Barstow, as it is one of the few places where we have the right to do that kind of camping… (see details)

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have Comments (2)

Tracing route 66

Sign - Route 66-2We are all ready tracing the route!!!!!!

posted by Silly Squirrel in Anticipation and have No Comments

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