Author Topic: Circuit from Los Angeles  (Read 4711 times)

deborah

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Circuit from Los Angeles
« on: August 22, 2015, 04:39:33 PM »
You all know that I will be visiting Los Angeles with my niece. Once I put her on a plane back to Australia, I plan to see a bit of that part of the US - things I am interested in and she wouldn't be. I am thinking of doing something like the route:
Los Angeles
Zion National Park
Bryce Canyon  National Park
Goblin Valley State Park
Canyonlands National Park
Arches National Park
Mesa Verde National Park
Chaco Culture National Park
Painted Desert National Park
and back to Los Angeles. This is somewhat modified from what a friend gave me.

I know this is a less populated part of the US, but I guess it has a lot more people than similar places I have been in Australia (where towns are at least a couple of hundred kilometres apart and have a petrol station and a hundred people if you're lucky, and petrol is $2 a litre). Am I right? Are the roads mainly paved, or are they dirt like much of the really underpopulated parts of Australia I am talking about? Is mobile phone reception problematic even in the towns?

My friend has never visited California, so couldn't tell me if there was anything interesting in the first few hours (or the last few hours) of the trip. Is there something I should see?

He says the Grand Canyon isn't as good as a lot of the other things - is he right? Should I miss it if I am running out of time (one reason why I plan on doing this part of the loop last)?

What sort of a vehicle should I be hiring? I have camped in my car (a little Mazda 121) going on longer trips than this in Australia, so I don't think I need anything as luxurious as a campervan. However, a campervan company might be OK with me going places that a car place wouldn't. Are there any suggestions for companies to use? Another thread suggested Escape Vans. At least if I get one of these, it would have equipment like a sleeping bag, even if it is much too large.

lbmustache

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Re: Circuit from Los Angeles
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2015, 04:54:03 PM »

Are the roads mainly paved, or are they dirt like much of the really underpopulated parts of Australia I am talking about? Is mobile phone reception problematic even in the towns?

What sort of a vehicle should I be hiring? I have camped in my car (a little Mazda 121) going on longer trips than this in Australia, so I don't think I need anything as luxurious as a campervan. However, a campervan company might be OK with me going places that a car place wouldn't. Are there any suggestions for companies to use? Another thread suggested Escape Vans. At least if I get one of these, it would have equipment like a sleeping bag, even if it is much too large.

Roads are mainly paved. Even the worst roads should not be anything a relatively modern sedan can handle. Unless you are planning some sort of Moab, Utah-esque off-roading trip (popular with Jeep enthusiasts).

Keep track of closures through the national park website (can't remember the link, just google "national park roads," it's like parks.gov or something).

Cell phone reception will be iffy in some areas. The best coverage, in my opinion, is AT&T - and anyone roaming through their networks.

I think a camper and even a van is too big... People have gone camping in Pruises before. If you need something bigger to sleep in, maybe a Subaru Forester? Has AWD if you need it, plenty of space to fold the seats down and sleep with a small air mattress (really) or a sleeping bag. (Just check the Subaru Forester forum.) I am not sure how renting a car works as an Australian in the US, but normally credit cards have coverage for car rentals. If you're really worried you can just get the rental company's insurance, you can bring the car back as a crumpled up ball and will be charged $0. ;)

forummm

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Re: Circuit from Los Angeles
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2015, 05:00:41 PM »
I would add the Grand Canyon (it's pretty damn impressive, even if you just look at it for a couple hours and leave) and Yosemite National Park. You could also visit San Francisco (a few hours from Yosemite). I would add these even if you had to drop something else. What time of year are you visiting and how long can you stay?

You can usually rent a car that gives you unlimited mileage in CA and the neighboring states. Or if you want to go even farther you can negotiate that and just get a set amount of miles per week included in the contract.

Pretty much all the roads will be paved in the US.

oldladystache

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Re: Circuit from Los Angeles
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2015, 05:18:57 PM »
Sounds like an interesting trip. To do it justice you'd need to plan to take quite a long time.

Winter weather would probably make some of those places a problem. When do you plan to go?

Looking for a travel buddy?

deborah

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Re: Circuit from Los Angeles
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2015, 05:44:47 PM »
Early October, so I don't think weather will be a problem - am I right?

I'm probably doing it a bit fast, but although the US has never been on my top x places to go, this is a part that I am interested in, and I will probably never visit it again. I have done much more distance in the same time frame in Australia, so I don't think it will be a problem. This will fill in a couple of weeks before my real holiday. And I will see something nice of the US after getting caught in LA traffic jams for a week.

My friend says he saw the Grand Canyon and Painted Desert in less than a day, and that everything is pretty close to each other. Of course, this is an Australian perspective.

oldladystache

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Re: Circuit from Los Angeles
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2015, 05:52:26 PM »
Early October, so I don't think weather will be a problem - am I right?
Early October should be fine.


jgrafton

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Re: Circuit from Los Angeles
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2015, 06:04:12 PM »
If you're headed up north, Big Sur is take your breath away beautiful.  60 miles north of Hearst Castle on highway 1.  It can be crowded (what isn't in CA) but completely worth it.  You should be able to find a campground easily enough.

We just spent some time there last weekend and had a blast.  Been in California four years and this was the first time we've been to Big Sur.  Still haven't been to Yosemite.  Will rectify that next year!

Argyle

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Re: Circuit from Los Angeles
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2015, 06:22:16 PM »
How long do you have for all this?  That list is going to involve a lot, lot, lot of driving.  And the driving will be generally boring.  There's not a lot to see along the road, and even ten hours of it gets same-ish.  To my mind, it would be better to cut the list down to maybe a third of what you have, and spend more time in each place.  Add in San Francisco, too, for some variety.  Some of those places are not all that different from other ones.  Don't drop the Grand Canyon or Mesa Verde, but some of the others may be too much of a muchness if you're on any kind of a tight schedule (less than six weeks).

rpr

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Re: Circuit from Los Angeles
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2015, 06:40:15 PM »
Early October, so I don't think weather will be a problem - am I right?

I'm probably doing it a bit fast, but although the US has never been on my top x places to go, this is a part that I am interested in, and I will probably never visit it again. I have done much more distance in the same time frame in Australia, so I don't think it will be a problem. This will fill in a couple of weeks before my real holiday. And I will see something nice of the US after getting caught in LA traffic jams for a week.

My friend says he saw the Grand Canyon and Painted Desert in less than a day, and that everything is pretty close to each other. Of course, this is an Australian perspective.

I spent a whole day at the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest and another whole day at the Grand canyon. There is so much to do and see. Both the Painted desert and Grand Canyon are best during sunset. I would personally not attempt to do both in the same day. I think just the drive between the two would be around 3 hours. Evening in both places was magical. Waiting for the sun to set while watching the colors change on the rocks.

Dicey

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Re: Circuit from Los Angeles
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2015, 08:54:06 PM »
What spartana said. I'm a well-traveled CA native and I've been to Oz, so I get the geography. I have seen most of these places, but reading her list makes me want to head out at dawn...

Consider renting a Prius and camping. It's fairly mild that time of year. If you're an intrepid traveler, the cost of the Prius rental plus the purchase of serviceable walmart-level camping gear would probably be a ton more affordable than renting an RV. The gas savings alone would more than pay for the camping gear, and a Prius is a lot more nimble. They even sell tents for Prii that attach magnetically. This link is a few years old, but start there and then head to ebay.

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1076328_like-hybrids-like-camping-youll-love-the-prius-tent

You can pass the gear on (good car-ma) before you head back to Oz.

I'm sure some friendly SoCal mustachian would let you ship supplies to their address for you to pick up upon arrival.

You haven't said how long you have, but most rental contracts are only good for about 28 days, so if you are staying longer, be sure to check. And while you're at it, make sure you're allowed to drive on unpaved roads. Some rental contracts expressly prohibit it, which is another great reason to consider spartana's awesome itinerary. Happy travels!

TheThirstyStag

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Re: Circuit from Los Angeles
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2015, 08:01:19 AM »
I will repeat the Yosemite suggestion.  It's one of the most magical places on Earth.  Even if you have to sacrifice something else on your list to make it there, do it.

Punxsyboy

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Re: Circuit from Los Angeles
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2015, 08:43:24 PM »
Southern Utah is beautiful!!!  So much to see.  While Yosemite is awesome....especially in the spring, it is nowhere near any of the other places u plan to visit, so unless you have a good deal of time (think at least a month), there is now way you can include Yosemite/northern Ca.
I completely agree with a small rental car, $30 tent from Walmart, & sleeping bag from a thrift store as the best way to go.  An RV is going to cost around $1000./week  or more when mileage is considered as they don't typically include much mileage with the rental cost.
I think you should at least see the grand canyon, you may even be able to save some time & stop at the north rim instead of the South rim if it is still open.  North Rim usually closes sometime in Oct. due to snow.  The higher areas on your route may get a bit nippy at night so get a decent sleeping bag....could get down below freezing in Bryce, North Rim of Grand Canyon.  For Arches, you should camp in the park as the closest campground outside of the park is 45 min. from the nice areas of the park.  See if u can get reservations for the campground now as they usually book up. 
There is a recommended route on TripAdvisor for Southern Utah that is pretty good & the people in the forums there can answer any questions & give specific recommendations.
If u r passing thru Las Vegas & need a place to crash for the night let us know....send me a PM or email.
You will have a great trip....alot of great hiking there...we spend at least a couple of weeks camping in Southern Utah each year (for 20 yrs.)

Brian

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Re: Circuit from Los Angeles
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2015, 01:27:53 PM »
You all know that I will be visiting Los Angeles with my niece. Once I put her on a plane back to Australia, I plan to see a bit of that part of the US - things I am interested in and she wouldn't be. I am thinking of doing something like the route:
Los Angeles
Zion National Park
Bryce Canyon  National Park
Goblin Valley State Park
Canyonlands National Park
Arches National Park
Mesa Verde National Park
Chaco Culture National Park
Painted Desert National Park
and back to Los Angeles. This is somewhat modified from what a friend gave me.

That sounds like a blast!!  You are going to have a great trip.    One question/comment:  How long is your trip?   That's a two week trip at the absolutely bare minimum, and could easily be a three week trip or longer.    A couple of those plays deserve at least two or three days.   Also since you are making the grand circuit, Capitol Reef National Park is more or less right along the way.   One thing you could consider is making a base on Moab, Utah for a couple days.    From there you can hit Arches, Canyonlands, Goblin Valley (there is a cool slot canyon nearby), Deadhorse Point, plus lots of other cool stuff in the general area. 

October weather will be warm days and cool nights.  Maybe cold nights.    Cell service will be spotty to non-existent outside of the towns.   Any type of vehicle should be find. 

Here's Mustache tip:   Camping on Federal (BLM) land is perfectly legal in most locations, and completely free!   

http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/st__george/recreation/camping/dispersed_camping.html


bognish

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Re: Circuit from Los Angeles
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2015, 12:38:11 PM »
Cell phones are going to work pretty reliably on the main highways for your route: I15, I70 & I40. Once you get off of those it will be pretty spotty or non-existant.

You might want to consider flying to Las Vegas and renting a car from there. It would cut a big boring chuck of your drive off.

You will be able to get to all of the places you want in a normal compact rental car. The main roads are all well paved. you might hit a small section of well maintained dirt road on a side trip, but no need for an off road car. If it rains the dirt roads are impassable to all cars and the washes will be big flash flood dangers, but if you have experience in the outback you will know this already. Skip the campervan if you are comfortable camping.

Grand Canyon is an amazing view, but if you are not a big photographer or have a long time for a big hike I find its kind of hard to penetrate the park. If you really love Canyonlands or Deadhorse point out of Moab then the Grand Canyon is an even bigger view of the same river. Deadhorse state park has non-reservation campsites if the National Parks are full around Moab.

It will be getting cold at night in UT by the end of October. Still fine to camp at night with a couple blankets or a decent sleeping bag, but you will also want a warm coat since it gets dark earlier and the stars are great.

Towns in Utah are pretty spread out and may have limited services. Gas stations are always open, but a lot of small town restaurants will be closed for the season (Springville & Torre UT) by the end of October, and most small towns in Utah shut down on Sunday. Stock up on booze in California or Vegas. It will be cheaper and better options there.

Durango CO is just past Mesa Verde. Its a nice mountain town if you are looking for a change of pace from the desert for a day or night.

Have fun!

mm1970

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Re: Circuit from Los Angeles
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2015, 02:07:02 PM »
Quote
Los Angeles
Zion National Park
Bryce Canyon  National Park
Goblin Valley State Park
Canyonlands National Park
Arches National Park
Mesa Verde National Park
Chaco Culture National Park
Painted Desert National Park
and back to Los Angeles. This is somewhat modified from what a friend gave me.

Sounds like a great list!  I'd also add the Grand Canyon.

So, Escape campervans are cheaper, like renting a car really - I've never done it but thought about it.  However, you could probably rent a hatchback and sleep in that if you could fit in it (I'm short, I've slept in the back of my Matrix).

October should be fine.

We are actually going to see Bryce/ Zion/ and ?? over Thanksgiving this year.  Arches is great.

You could do the CA tour instead, Joshua Tree is great and of course Yosemite and other spots too. 

Cell service is going to be spotty, but it's there.

Telecaster

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Re: Circuit from Los Angeles
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2015, 02:22:27 PM »
You might want to consider flying to Las Vegas and renting a car from there. It would cut a big boring chuck of your drive off.

That's a really good suggestion.   There are often cheap flights to Vegas and if you figure in the cost of the car plus gas, it might be cost effective too.