US West by car

US West by car

Hi, I live in Russia and I like to travel by car with my wife. This (2007) June I plan to travel through US West. The approximate schedule is following

1st day: Los Angeles International airport CA - Banning CA
2nd day: Banning CA - Topock AZ
Topock AZ - Grand Canyon AZ
3rd day: Grand Canyon area
4th day: Grand Canyon area
Grand Canyon AZ - Monticello UT
5th day: Monticello UT - Arches NP, UT
Arches NP - Panguitch, UT
Panguitch, UT - Cedar City UT
6th day: Zion area
7th day: Zion area
8th day: Cedar City UT - Hoover Dam NV,AZ
Hoover Dam - Las Vegas NV
Las Vegas NV - Moapa NV
9th day: Moapa NV - Tonopah NV
Tonopah NV - Austin NV
Austin NV - Battle Mountain NV
10th day: Battle Mountain NV - Elko NV
Elko NV - Bruneau ID
Bruneau ID - Carey ID
11th day: Carey ID, Craters of the Moon, Atomic city - West Yellowstone MT
12th day: Yellowstone Park
13th day: Yellowstone Park
14th day: West Yellowstone MT - Philipsburg MT
Philipsburg MT - Missoula MT
15th day: Missoula MT - Lewiston ID
Lewiston ID - Enterprise OR
Enterprise OR - La Grande OR
16th day: La Grande OR - Baker City OR
Baker City OR - Bend OR
17th day: Bend OR ,Crater Lake & Shasta Lake - Redding CA
18th day: Redding CA, Lassen - Chester CA
Chester CA - Minden NV
Minden NV - Lee Vining CA
19th day: Mono Lake, Yossemite - Santa Rosa CA (or any point north of SF)
20th day: Santa Rosa CA, SF, Monterrey, Bug Sur - San Luis Obispo CA
San Luis Obispo CA - Bakersfield CA (or any point north of LA)
21st day: Los Angeles CA
22nd day: Los Angeles International airport CA

Any opinions, advices, critics and suggestions are welcome.
Sorry for my english.

PS. As I have estimated, I will never drive more than 500 miles per day, and the average mileage is about 300 miles per day. By buisiness I often drive for similar distances in Russia and I have to tell you that Russian roads a bit differ of American ones. I like driving, it's easy for me.

some tips

I'd be glad to give some advice.

I actually wrote this Road Trip Article which may or may not have some useful information for you.

Most people are not as crazy as me, but I have driven the 830 miles from my home to the Grand Canyon and only stopped for gas. Many places in the west have speed limits of up to 75 and essentially empty roads. So driving is not as exhausting as it is in europe. You will find that you can easily do 500 miles per day, but that doesn't leave much time to see things.

Also please remember that my advice is based on my personal preferences. Many people might have different tastes.

Most important: Get a National Park Pass. Most Parks are between $10 - $20 (per car) and the pass is $50. So you should save some money this way (they sell them at the entrance to every park, just ask for it).

Overall I think you have spent quite some time figuring this out and its not a bad plan at all.

For the 3rd and 4th days in GC area, I would recommend to at least consider visiting Antelope Canyon and Horeseshoe Bend. Horsehoe Bend is besides the road and doesn't take long to visit. Its near Page, AZ and so is Antelope Canyon (although Antelope C. is a bit pricy to visit).

And while you are in Page, why not check out Glen Canyon Dam:

Glen Canyon Dam

I don't think you need two days near Zion, but it would defenitely be better to stay longer near Arches NP. If you do, you can take the time and visit Canyonlands NP. Both are practically next to each other. I would recommend staying over night in Moab, UT.

O.K. Let me catch some breath, then I will write a second part.

Some more advice

I am not sure, but it almost looks like your plan doesn't include spending the night in Las Vegas. I would say you should defenitely do it. You won't find any other place where you can get a luxury hotel for so little money. If you make sure you are there during the week (not weekends) you can get amazing deals (since everyone goes there over the weekend).

Also they have some of the best buffets (I like the Harrah's buffet). Vegas comes to live after dark and you really shouldn't be going anywhere. Good affordable hotels are the Flamingos, Baleys, Paris, Harrahs. They are not too far off from the main center of attention. Of course you need to try your luck on one of the machines too.

I have a blank between day10 and day14 since I have never been there myself.

Crater lake is phantastic. Its one of the most amazing things I have seen. If you follow the link, you will find information on how to find Toketee Falls. One of the most photogenic waterfalls I have ever seen and actually on your way (so don't miss it).

Hm. Mono Lake and Yosemite in one day is certainly doable but not advicable. Also the pass through Yosemite is usually closed until May or so. Believe it or not, but the High Sierras in California are full of snow for a long time.

Also once you are near Mono Lake, why not visit Bodie (the best ghost town in the West). I would recommend a day for Mono Lake and Bodie and another day for Yosemite. You could stay either in Bridgeport, CA (closer to Bodie) or Mammoth Lakes (closer to Mono Lake). Don't stay in Lee Vining (they don't have a good selection). The Yosemite and Bodie links contain lots of information.

I think you should defenitely spend more time in San Francisco. Its the most beautiful town in California and defenitely worth more of your time, even if this means leaving something else out.

Monterey and Big Sur are especially beautiful during spring when all the flowers are blooming. I have driven Highway 1 many times and I never get tired of it.

Feel free to ask more.



To andre Many thanks.

To andre

Many thanks. Exploring your info.


No problem

Glad I could help. Let me know if you need some more information. I can do some research too.

I'm the opposite of Andre.

I'm the opposite of Andre. When I did my road trip out west, it was pretty leisurely.  Unfortunately it was not just because that's the way I like to travel.  I got a really bad cold and spent several days in Rapid City, South Dakota curled up with a box of tissues and lots of orange juice.

 That is why I think your trip looks overly planned.  You leave no time to be sick, or do laundry, or just rest for a day.  If you see or hear about something neat or intriguing, you will have to pass it up.

 Also, it is one thing to drive 500 miles (about 850 km) in a day when you area rested and leaving from home.  It is another to do it after spending a day hiking.

 My advice would be to use your schedule as a guideline, and not to book anything in advance unless it is absolutely necessary, and be prepared to alter your plans as you go along.  Pick a few things that are absolute musts, and consider the others as extra.

 I know this is a big trip, and you want to do as much as you can.  But it won't be worth it if you are tired, or sick, and certainly not if you drive when you are very tired and get in an accident.

And at the risk of playing on a stereotype, do not drink and drive.  Sorry if that sounds prejudiced, but I know that is not even a consideration in some countries.  Like Thailand, where I am now.


Well, it is over planned, but many poeple prefer it this way (not me). I usually have a rough idea about where I want to go and then I just go wherever I want.

However on my trip to Peru I only had two weeks and since I went so far for such a short period of time, I had to get the most out of my time there, so I went with a strict plan. Also I had 3 flights an an 11 hour train ride, so I had to stick with my plan.

There are advantages to both approaches. Also on my trip through the western states of the USA, I have driven about the same distance most days and I was still able to be at my destination at a time early enough to allow me to see some of the sights. If he does it in Summer (more daylight), I think he should be o.k.

BTW, I never plan for getting sick. If it happens it happens and I just shorten my original plan, but if it doesn't I want to have an idea about all the things I can see and do. If I can make it or not is a whole different issue.

Many of the roads he will be traveling will be largely empty anyways Smile

Before I forget it: Now you will have the option to check out the Grand Canyon Skywalk.


Travel Photos

To Cindy and Andre

1) Many thanks for your attention!

2) Of course, the trip looks as overplanned, but
    a) I found resonable to book hotels in Grand Canyon area, Zion area and Yellowstone area, because I'm affraid to find there in high season (June) the king appartments only (I saw this traveling Atlantic cost of Florida, Georgia and S.Caroline at Sep. 2006)
    b) I'm only trying to be a good, everything-planning boy. By experience I know: all plans go to (sorry!) hell very quickly and everything is going as is.
    c) To discuss a plan you has to have it.

3) Really I have a problem. To rent a car a valid driver license is required. 
I have a valid Russian driver license, but most part of information at the license is in Russian
only, moreover - in Cyrillics (PERMIT DE CONDUIRE and my name are printed in Latin 
characters also). In 2006 I booked a car in Budget (JFK, NY). I wrote them an e-mail, I received an answer of some Budget official (he garanteed in written that my driver license is OK), I shown the translation of my driver license to English - and they gave me a car after some fight. Now I have also booked a car in Budget (LAX, LA). I wrote them two e-mails a week ago and I have no answer. I think it's important to have something in written. May be you know how to force them to answer something?

Any advice will be very useful and quite appreciated.

cindy wrote:do not drink

cindy wrote:
do not drink and drive

I never drive drunk.

Laws in Russia are very hard for the case. If it will be proofed that you drunk a teaspoon of beer - you will pay about $1000 fee and your license will be arrested for 6 months (more than $3000 fee and license arrested for 3 years for the second case). If police have already stopped you driving drunk, the best idea is to give them all money you can ($700 minimum, $1100 - usual) to let you go unregistered (car has to be droped where you're stopped).

If any accident happens you (if drunk) have to pay for every damage (no matter what happened) and insurance companies has right to pay you nothing.

Never drink and drive in Russia!

Alex from Moscow wrote:

Alex from Moscow wrote:

3) Really I have a problem. To rent a car a valid driver license is required.
I have a valid Russian driver license, but most part of information at the license is in Russian
only, moreover - in Cyrillics (PERMIT DE CONDUIRE and my name are printed in Latin
characters also). In 2006 I booked a car in Budget (JFK, NY). I wrote them an e-mail, I received an answer of some Budget official (he garanteed in written that my driver license is OK), I shown the translation of my driver license to English - and they gave me a car after some fight. Now I have also booked a car in Budget (LAX, LA). I wrote them two e-mails a week ago and I have no answer. I think it's important to have something in written. May be you know how to force them to answer something?

Any advice will be very useful and quite appreciated.

Hm. I have had people from Germany visit me and they never had a problem renting a car. However they don't have cyrillic writing on their licenses.

I would assume that you should be o.k.. If you want be be absolutely certain, you should get an international drivers license. You should be able to obtain it in Russia. Alternatively, you can get a notarized translation (with official stamp and maybe a copy of the license on the same translation paper). This way you can at least proof your age and your status (that you are allowed to drive a car).

Again, I think you shouldn't have any problems. They should be trained to accept just about any drivers license. If they make problems, ask for the manager.


USA West Photos

I was sure if I wrote

I was sure if I wrote anything about drinking, you would not be a person who would ever drink and drive.  However, if I didn't write anything, and you did later post that you had a problem, then I'd feel responsible somehow.

 An international drivers license and a translation of your driver's license are both good ideas.  If you have kept your hard-won receipt from your previous rental, I'd take that,too.  And try to use the same credit card, because that may help them pull up your old record.


It's actually kinda hard to get drunk on some American Brand Beers.

In California the legal limit is 0.08% (much higher than in most countries I know). I don't know about other states though.

Beers to avoid: Budweiser, Miller, Coors

Beers to drink: Sierra Nevada, Gordon Biersch, Samuel Adams and just about any Microbrew. When you are in a restaurant, always ask for local beers. Most regions have excellent microbreweries (small breweries). It's like taking a culinary trip through the beer landscape of the west ;-)

Most tourists only know Budweiser by name and thus end up drinking it. Actually there is a good Budweiser from Czechoslovakia, but unfortunately thats not the same as the American "Bud" that tastes like p*$$. There you have it, I said it.

Most people from Europe actually think Bud tastes like water. They go home and tell everyone that American Beer tastes like p*$$. Well, we do have lots of excellent beers here that most people from Europe simply don't try.

Samuel Adams is brewed in Boston in a large scale brewery but still is excellent beer (you can get this almost everywhere).

Anchor Steam is brewed in San Francisco (microbrew) and is quite excellent.

Gordon Biersch is brewed in San Jose (not far from where I live). Not bad at all :-)

The legal drinking age is 21 and at least for California, there is no reason you can't have a beer for lunch. The only problem might be if you get into an accident, but I am sure that won't happen. I have often had a beer for lunch and then drove somewhere. The only problem is that I get tired from it, so I don't recommend it before a long drive.

So, cheers, enjoy the really good American beers and stay away from the watered down stuff.

EDIT: I almost forgot. It is illegal to drink or display alcohol in public. Thats why liquor stores wrap it in brown paper and you should not remove it.

Also it is illegal to have any open container with alcohol in your car's passenger area (open bottle of beer), even if you are not drinking it (e.g. your passengers are forbidden to drink alcohol).  


USA West Photos

 That is a one nice view!

That is a one nice view! I should get to that one. It would be more lovely to see it personally!