So I have been doing some day dreaming recently about taking a big trip. I would LOVE to see some of the huge trees in Cali, ideally both the sequoias and redwoods, I can see they are in different parts of Cali. The other place I’d love to visit is the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.
I figure though if I do ever make it to one, it would make sense to try and do the others at the same time, as I don’t think I’ll get loads of opportunities to travel. I know these are all really big places and I have no idea how much time it would take to get to each place, let alone spend enough time in each to enjoy them. The UK is really small so it’s hard to judge based on my experience! It might not even happen at all, ha, but I am enjoying daydreaming about it.
My ideal holiday would be warm but not too hot, good walks, not too much rain (if any). Probably more hotels/ indoor accommodation and day hikes than multi day hiking/ backpacking. I’m not particularly high maintenance and don’t need any real luxuries, but I do enjoy being able to get cozy and comfy and relax. Not fussed about city stuff, maybe a nice cafe or meal here and there, and visting the odd local attraction, but mainly just enjoying the outdoors and soaking up a totally different type of scenery to what we get in the UK.
So - is it possible? How long would it take realistically to visit the best bits, get time to enjoy it and not rush about, and travel between? Where are the best bits? When is the best time of year to go? Is it better to drive/ fly/ get a train?
I know these are all questions I could answer by doing some internet research but I figure having access to a forum of people all over the world including people who live and have visited these places is an awesome chance to get some local perspectives!
Not from Cali or Colorado myself but I’m gonna bump this and tag a few people I’ve seen posting from Cali (or at least mentioning being from there) - hope you guys don’t mind
Sounds like an exciting trip! The western part of North America is majestic - I think that word really describes it - all the way from Mexico up through California, the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, Yukon, and Alaska. The mountains, the forests, the sea: all create a feel that’s like nothing else in the world.
How exciting!! East coast here, but have traveled our great country. First question would be, how long are you planning on spending in the US? Just getting from CA to CO can be a full on experience itself.
Ha well that is part of the question! I am wondering if three weeks would be enough to spend a bit of time in CO an a bit in CA. And also thinking about whether getting a small motorhome as transport/ accommodation combi would be a decent option. But could always split it up and fly between e.g. Denver and San Francisco.
I am not sure you want to be driving a motorhome on the other side of the road on mountain passes…??
hahaha well no, not there! i assumed there would be a big main road bit between CO and CA. But I really have no idea about the road networks OR how much more convenient it would even be to have a bed on wheels vs e.g. staying at hotels or motels and have an easier car to drive. Or just fly!
Denver to Sam Francisco is about a 20 hour drive, so that’s quite a hike. You’ll spend a week getting back and forth. That experience could be interesting in itself. I personally like driving, but if I’m doing a driving trip I am sure to give myself buffer time and backup plans (like, if I can’t make ____ place I’ll stop in ___ place / places - have a sense of your route so you can adapt).
Renting a mobile home may actually end up being more expensive than renting a regular car and just booking hotels on the way. Plus with a regular car you have much more flexibility about where you can drive and where you can park.
I figure it basically boils down to this:
If it’s about seeing the cities and things on day trips from major cities, then fly.
If it’s about taking a journey across the American west - which has a lot of hotels and such in smaller cities along the way (there’s so many small and medium size cities that aren’t as famous as Denver or San Francisco), then drive.
I think I would probably fly from London to Denver, and then home from Cali so San Francisco which I think is probably the best international airport nearish the big trees.
My ideal itinerary would include some Rocky Mountain walking, some Colorado hot springs, and then the seqoias and redwood areas in Cali.
A lot of that is accessible from the major cities. If you rent a car in Colorado and a separate car in Cali, you could land in Colorado and do your Colorado things, then fly to California and do your California things. That way you skip the 20-hour drive, which is gonna take two or three days you could be admiring trees or soaking up sun.
Estes Park Colorado! I grew up not to far from it. A must see
Since my teens I dreamed of doing road trips in the USA. Quitting smoking tobacco and weed made it possible for me to do that. Done three road trips between South Texas, San Francisco and Seattle. I’ve driven in Colorado and In California, and trough a bit of Nevada. So far I missed out on Utah (except for starting a trip in Salt Lake City but heading north to Yellowstone) but would love to see that too.
I’d say from Denver to San Francisco would make for a road trip I’d love to take. And three weeks plenty of time to make not too long day rides (say 300 miles max or so) and have plenty of time to stop for a couple of days many times along the route.
We did a very similar trip multiple times. Its a gorgeous drive.
That sounds nice in so many ways… I love the iea of road trips. But really I think I’d prefer to base myself somewhere for a few nights at a time. And then drive about to see things in that area. So I reckon @Matt is spot on with flying between cities to make the most of the time in each place.
Having lived in California I highly recommend the Sequoia National Park. It’s awe inspiring and downright beautiful. There are cabins available to rent so you can be comfy while visiting. I second what @Thirdmonkey said about Estes Park in Colorado. My sister got married at the famous Stanley Hotel (The Shining) and it was absolutely breathtaking there. They also rent cabins. Just remember that both areas are remote and spread out so to really see the sights a car will be vital. I’m excited for you. I hope your dream comes true.
Great recommendations (and @thirdmonkey) thank you!
Would definitely hire a car but it would be good to have a few base areas to explore from.
Is May/ June a good time to visit weather wise?
Colorado will be great…depending on Cali…hot!
May and June is the best time for summer months. Northern Cali doesn’t get the heat blast of triple digits like central does nor the basic heat of southern. However your thin Brit blood might call it hot
We’ve traveled extensively in our RV and it’s much different these days. Corporations are buying many parks up and costs have risen extensively. Plus on onslauter of more RVs in the road so reservations a beast. Breakdowns are a bear getting parts these days or mobile techs for service so I’d travel by rental car. Beautiful country. I’d pick a few fav spots/cities and stay in rentals touring a radias around them. Often I use FB groups for cities I plan to visit, join and ask for feedback from the locals for rentals, sights, food, etc. And if you out hiking take heed to storms in the mtns, especially lightening!
@siand I’d order some individual state maps too. Their cheap and really helpful in planning routes in lieu of online mapping apps sometimes. I’m old school when traveling.