Hello everyone, looking for info on trip west with my 2 sisters. 3 young women looking to have adventure. Want to see the Utah salt flats, grand canyon, redwood forest, yellowstone, mount Rushmore. In the beginning stages of the planning so don't know time of year or duraction of trip open for suggestions. ESP on cool treehouse Glamping amenities. Or grand canyon guides and/or canyon adventure ideas (rapids,horseback tours).. Thanx so much!
Not sure any of the sites featured are on your list, but Sunset Magazine recently featured a "glamping" edition: see here. Though not in the CA redwoods, this place in Southern Oregon (just north of Redwoods) features tree houses. FWIW - on the list of things you cited, you'll spend a lot of time driving (Mt. Rushmore is really nowhere near the Redwoods). I'd suggest plotting out drive times and focusing on a more reasonable travel radius. Also, my understanding of Grand Canyon whitewater adventures is highly variable depending on time of year and permit availability - some require reservations a year ahead. The west offers many other whitewater adventure opportunities (see my favorite in Oregon here).
Thank you for your reply. And I will definitely check out the links you gave me! We haven't pinned down the actual route or the exact destinations yet. Just kinda stream of concenseness on the locations. Would take any advice as the only one of us (me) has been to the west coast L.A, and only once. We are looking for nature and adventure kinda of a sister vison quest. So just scratching the surface I know.
Your destinations are pretty far apart, so I'm hoping you have a good chunk of time for this trip.
Since you will be at the Grand Canyon, you may want to visit a wilderness area of California that's further south than the redwoods. You might take a look at the Big Sur coast, which is an ~75 mile stretch of coast between Carmel and San Simeon. It's a stunning area, and is a much shorter drive than the redwoods. Treebones is a resort that would fit the bill for glamping – it's yurts overlooking the ocean. There's a very good restaurant on site. The Los Padres National Forest runs along the coast, so there are nice areas for hiking, camping, and exploring.
One drive – Nacimiento Rd – is particularly dramatic. It takes you to the very top of the coastal range and associated forests, with amazing views and wonderful wildflowers in the spring. However, don't attempt it in the winter, when it's rainy, or in the fog – in some places it's only one lane and there's no barrier between the road and the edge of the cliff. It's also prone to landslides in bad weather. But, despite all of that, it is a beautiful drive.
How long do you have for this trip. For what you want to do I would say a minimum of 3 weeks would be needed. You might be able to do it in less time depending on where you are starting from. It would involve a lot of driving time because some of your places are quite far apart. I don't have any experience with white water rafting in the Grand Canyon except that as the other posted stated only a few outfitters are licensed to do it and you would most likely need reservations well ahead of time in prime season. I am familiar with several places in Colorado that have white water rafting and sometimes it's combined with jeep tours and/or horseback riding - I'm sure it's less expensive than Grand Canyon also.
My initial thought about when to go would be in early Fall (after kids go back to school), especially for Yellowstone, Utah and Grand Canyon. Redwood forests, Mt Rushmore, white water rafting might be better in late Spring/early Summer. My family did an itinerary somewhat like yours many years ago, we went in July and were gone for over a month but we did go to more places than you're planning.
I have not been to Mt. Rushmore, which is really far from the rest of the places you are thinking about. Yellowstone is the most difficult to time well. Summer is short and crowded. Your best bet is either early June after Memorial Day (will be very crowded that weekend) and before the summer tourists arrive or after Labor Day, early September before the snows start. Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons combine well with the Bonneville Salt Flats/Great Salt Lake. It's a day's drive between the Great Salt Lake and the Tetons, but only 2-3 hours from the Tetons to Yellowstone. Many people fly into Jackson Hole. You can also fly to Salt Lake City. Be sure to check car rentals before you book flights. Drop-off charges can be high.
From Salt Lake south to the Grand Canyon, spring and fall are excellent. Summer is not (too crowded, too hot). You could start in the south and work your way up to Yellowstone. Use the national parks website for tons of information on activities, lodging, what to do in each season, and so much more. Look at all the parks in Utah, there are great hiking and climbing opportunities and some of the best scenery in the world. It would be a shame to drive through Utah and not see Bryce, Zion, Arches, Canyonlands. All have good hiking and unforgettable vistas. If you go in spring, start at the Grand Canyon and end at Yellowstone; for a fall adventure, reverse it.
There are redwood forests in California (mostly) and Oregon. Both states have national parks and lots of opportunities for active pursuits. Again, distances are great. You can see two types of redwoods, the "fat" ones and the "tall" ones. The biggest (fat) ones are inland, Sequoia and King's Canyon Parks, and take longer to get to and aren't very near much else. The coastal (tall) redwoods are easy to get to and near other cool stuff. There's Muir Woods, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, if you want to add a city break. My favorite is the Redwood Highway through Humboldt State Park in northern California. It's near the Oregon state line (and a 4-5 hour drive from San Francisco). California, Oregon and Washington all have national parks, lots of other places to see, coastal, mountain, forest . . .
Thank you so very much everyone one!!! So increadibly helpful as always!!!!! Such awesome travel knowledge you all have I have a great jumping off point now to discuss with my sisters!!!
Just don't use the phrase "jumping off point" when telling them about mountain trips :-)
As you include Mt. Rushmore when you say you want to go West, I'll assume you are coming from east of there. While Mt. Rushmore is interesting to see, once you get to the monument, there is not a ton to see or do. I will say they have a very large cafeteria/gift shop complex. Mt. Rushmore is worth a look, just know what you're in for when you get there. Custer State Park is nearby and a good place to stay. The accommodations are a bit rustic, but perfectly fine. You might also want see the Crazy Horse Monument as it is nearby and worth a visit.
From Mt. Rushmore, it will take pretty much the whole day to drive to the Yellowstone/Teton area. If you are planning to try and stay in Yellowstone during the summer, you will need to make reservations months and months in advance. You might be better off staying in Jackson, WY.
From there, your trip get a little trickier. It might be best to go to Utah. I've never been to the Salt Flats, but I believe they are in the more northern part of the state. You can drive from Yellowstone area to Grand Junction, CO in a day, then take most of the next day to get to Utah.
From Utah, if you want to see the redwoods, you'll probably need to drive west and into Northern California. That seems like it would be out of the way. I've never done that drive, so I have no idea how long or what the drive is like.
Then, you'll need to head south a long way to get to the Grand Canyon. Again, depending on the time of year, lodging and activities fill up fast. Make your plans well in advance.
Sounds like a fun trip, but it's a lot of driving because the places you want to see are not close to each other.