We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

USA road trip etc.

Level Contributor
29 posts
USA road trip etc.


this year my girlfriend and i are planning USA trip (southwest) in september- about 23 days +/-. Here are some examples for places we want to see: Grand canyon NP, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Death valley NP, Antelope canyon, Arches National Park, Red Rock State Park, Monument Valley, Las Vegas etc. We like the idea about Bonneville Salt Flats, Joshua tree NP and others (we still discover places via google maps, photos etc.). Since my girlfriend is geologist, we are interested in geology related stuff, too (Meteor crater, Kennecott Copper Mine in Utah and others we are still to find). We want to drive at least a piece of Route 66 (Selingman to Kingman?), too.

Beside all these, i believe wonderful, gorgeous 'trophies' we have this (for our trip maby most important) idea about driving endless roads, stop in the middle of nowhere, to have a cigarette there, take photos and to do this in NO rush. We really want to enjoy the scenery like the road through Monument Valley offers for example; looking google street view for that location for us is WOW for instance- i mean we really think we could sit there, listen to some brian eno's records and enjoy here-we-are-in-vast-landscape-lalala situation :) now i think you can easily picture what we want from our trip really. don't tell me we'll get bored driving 'nothingness' as one said to me. becouse we know we won't- we come from Slovenia where landscape changes at least on every 5th mile... :)

We know a man simply can't see everything in 22 days so we rather miss one or more must-see-places and stop for an hour or two longer in some endless (quiet) desert place.

So any info would be really welcome:

- septreber OK?

- where to fly for this kind of trip (Las Vegas, Los Angeles..?)

- which rent-a-car is ok, reliable, cheap (we were using economycarrentals.com in Sicily Italy...)?

- any proposition for places related to our wishes?

- do you think there are enough (cheap..) hotels, motels etc. on the way so we can just stop, or reservations are recomended? do we need to plan sleeping in advace for every day?

- etc.

Thank you for any info and have a nice day!

Wickenburg, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Wickenburg
Level Contributor
2,759 posts
855 reviews
1. Re: USA road trip etc.

September is a great time, and yes, there wil be lots of reasonable motels along the way. HOWEVER, at the GC (a must!!!) and MV you'll need servations (ASAP for GC!!!). Fly to Phoenix AZ or Vegas - Vegas has cheaper car rentals.

i can relate to the fun of driving down the road across a big country, I love doing it too - but still, DON'T try to see everything, pick some of the major parks/canyons and stick to that or yu get too rushed.

If you include Meteor Crater and love geology, maybe add Petrified Forest and Canyon de Chelly.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
Level Contributor
22,242 posts
58 reviews
2. Re: USA road trip etc.

Not sure about listening to Brian Eno (that takes me way back to college days, lol), but sounds like a great trip. September will still be hot most of the places you want to visit, possibly consider late September/early October. Also make sure your cigarettes do not end up on the ground, even in the desert fires can happen! We are in the middle of a bad fire season already! Hoping for rain.

Consider flying into Phoenix or Las Vegas. Easy to loop around those to and drop off charges for the car need to be looked at to see which will be more affordable. Any size car, but since you will be driving long distances I would get a car with a larger engine and of course air conditioning... and intermediate or standard size would be good.

Probably make reservations at the Nat Parks. September and October are still fairly busy. Another option would be to camp!

Let's assume you fly into and out of Las Vegas... This of course can be changed. I've added 3 UT Nat Parks that are must sees for a geologist.

Day 1 arrive Vegas

Day 2 Las Vegas

Day 3 Las Vegas

Day 4 To Zion Nat Park

Day 5 Zion

Day 6 To Bryce Nat Park

Day 7 Bryce to Capital Reef Nat Park

Day 8 To Arches

Day 9 Arches and Canyonlands

Day 10 Arches and Canyonlands

Day 11 Moab area again

Day 12 To Monument Valley.

Day 13 Monument Valley in the morning then to Page. Possibly a stop at Navajo Nat Monument to see some beautiful ancient ruins.

Day 14 Page/Lake Powell area. See Antelope Canyon

Day 15 Page area again

Day 16 Page to Tuba City to Hopi Mesas to Winslow AZ to Holbrook AZ to see Petrified Forest Nat Park.

Day 17 Petrified Forest to Meteor Crater to Grand Canyon. Stop to see Wupatki and Sunset Crater Nat Mon north of Flagstaff

Day 18 Grand Canyon

Day 19 Grand Canyon

Day 20 To Phoenix (I just don't see the time to drive all the way to Organ Pipe Nat Mon) There are plenty of Saguaro cactus to see there.

Day 21 Phoenix to Joshua Tree Nat Park

Day 22 Joshua Tree to Kingman AZ to Seligman and back to Kingman

Day 23 Vegas

Marina, California
Destination Expert
for Tucson
Level Contributor
7,262 posts
106 reviews
3. Re: USA road trip etc.

> listen to some brian eno's records

Wow. With you on that one. Watching a sunset at Big Bend to Music for Airports is a good memory for me.

You're basically doing a big circle. 23 days will give you some time to play around, but not that much time. There are a lot of other little sites that you're missing and that I think you would really enjoy. You may want to post this in the Utah forum if you have not already, because that's a big chunk what you're covering. I'll try to post some ideas later if they aren't already posted by others.

> septreber OK?

September is a good time to go. Later in the month, the better.

> where to fly for this kind of trip

Las Vegas, Phoenix or Salt Lake City would probably all work. Los Angeles only if it's a lot cheaper or you want to see that city.

> which rent-a-car is ok, reliable, cheap

For 28 days and being from Europe, nothing is going to be very cheap. You'll need to factor in insurance, the damage waiver and any taxes and fees that may be there.

> do you think there are enough (cheap..) hotels, motels etc. on the way so we can just stop, or reservations are recomended? do we need to plan sleeping in advace for every day?

If you want to stay in a hotel or camp inside a national park then you will need to book this advance. Other than that, it's often beneficial or cheaper to book in advance, in general, but it's nice to keep it somewhat open.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Level Contributor
65 posts
4. Re: USA road trip etc.

Is this double post intended to find out... if the best responses are from Contributors on Thorn Tree fourm or Trip advisor ??? carracar

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
5. Re: USA road trip etc.

Here's a site for the Utah leg:


CasaAzul has given you a great trip., I'd do Sedona www.visitsedona.com instead Phoenix and skip Joshua Tree NP. From Sedona you can head to Prescott and Wickenburg where you also will see Saguaros galore.


Level Contributor
29 posts
6. Re: USA road trip etc.

thanks everyone for comprehensive infos!

preston e: defenitely not- i'm just trying to get infos.

Esty666: Canyon de Chelly- nice, must see for us!

CasaAzul: will consider that roadtrip proposition definitely!

Tet14: 89A Sedona to Prescott?

Thanks a lot,

have a nice weekend!

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
7. Re: USA road trip etc.

Yes 89A to Jerome and over the mountains to Prescott. A lovely drive

Level Contributor
29 posts
8. Re: USA road trip etc.

i saw photos on google maps- nice drive

Level Contributor
3,184 posts
4 reviews
9. Re: USA road trip etc.

re: geology and Jerome

With your gf being a geologist, I'd plan to spend an hr or 2 in Jerome. Went there many years ago and they had a model of the mining tunnels below the town. After looking at that, I thought it was a wonder that the whole town hadn't collapsed into a big hole.

You'll need to map a route. Must sees and then look at the other sites along the way. Is Zion and Bryce Canyon on your list? These would be must-sees for me. Look up Escalante Canyon, Capital Reef, Goblin Valley and Canyonlands, they are on your way to Arches (which should be a must see). Did you mention Death Valley? I've been there 3 times now and love the starkness and solitude of the place!

You might consider going as far east as Mesa Verde - certainly worth a day and night there. Stay in the Park - I remember a fairly long road in... If you go that far, you might want to consider Chaco Canyon. Also Canyon DeChelly (sp?).

You might be passing right by Goosenecks north of Monument Valley. That would be worth a stop.

Personally, I'd pass on Meteor Crater and not sure I'd spend any time at Bonneville Salt Flats.

Level Contributor
29 posts
10. Re: USA road trip etc.

Goblin Valley on the list now! Nice, and ther also is a nice road US road 50 , then turn on 24. we'll probably skip salt flats. meteor crater i a must too..

raw plan is:

fly to las vegas (if flight prices ok), then to move inside this triangle:

W death valley (out of the way maybe? but a must)

S flagstaff (red rock state p.)

SE holbrook (petrified forrest)

NE arches

fly out of las vegas.

21 days.