Deer on the roads and space distances: what you need to know about road trips in America
In Las Vegas, we rented a car for 2 days to explore the Zion, Grand Canyon, Valley of Fire and Hoover Dam National Parks. The second time we took a car in Los Angeles, also for 2 days, to walk around Yosemite National Park and Sequoia Park. In total, we covered a distance of 3000 km, crossed the borders of 4 states and 3 time zones.
If you’re going to repeat our exploits, here’s what you need to prepare for:
Disclaimer – all recommendations and impressions are described based on the personal experience of the author.
America is a huge country, and the distances there are very, very long. To get from the village to the national park, you need to drive 300 km or more. Some national parks can take more than 5 hours one way, as was the case with the Yosemite road.
In addition, sometimes you will drive for hours on a deserted road with a monotonous landscape, where there is not a soul around, and within a radius of 100 kilometers there may not be a single gas station or a single cafe. Therefore, plan your route in advance and mark refueling along the way. No one wants to be stuck in the desert with an empty gas tank and no mobile phone. With the Gasbuddy app, you can find nearby gas stations and compare prices for better refueling.
Below are some examples of the distance from the city to national parks (one way):
- Las Vegas – Zion National Park – 160 miles (257 km)
- Las Vegas – Horseshoe Bend – 275 miles (440 km)
- Las Vegas – Grand Canyon North Rim – 264 miles (424 km)
- Grand Canyon South Rim – Grand Canyon North Rim – 197 miles (317 km)
- Los Angeles – Yosemite National Park – 280 miles (450 km)
Do not forget to take into account the huge areas of national parks, along which you too can wind another hundred kilometers.
Advice: when going to the road trip, book overnight hotels in small towns along the way. This will greatly save time, and in the morning you will be able to continue your journey with renewed vigor.
For example, not far from Zion Park is the cute town of Springdale right at the foot of the mountains.
And between Yosemite Park and Sequoia, the small town of Fresno or Visalia – here you can see the real American outback!
If you are going to the road trip in the warm season, love nature and do not mind spending the night in a tent, I recommend booking a camping site in the national park. There is a map of camping sites link.
You can rent a tent and all camping equipment, for example, in REI. If you are not a REI member, the starting price of a camping set for two per night starts at $ 195. This will include a tent, 2 sleeping bags, 2 backpacks and even 2 pairs of trekking poles.
The cost of renting only a tent for two starts at $ 38 per day. If you prefer to relax in comfort, you may be interested in glamorous camping. Glamping is outdoor recreation in a tent, but in more “luxury conditions” – a cozy dwelling with a soft bed and all the amenities. This type of vacation can be booked, for example, in the Glamping Hub. The rental price per night starts from $ 70 to $ 1000 per night, depending on the location and conditions.
2. Temperature drops
Be sure to check the weather forecast before you travel! For example, California weather is very contrasting. In the national parks of Yosemite and Sequoia, the air temperature during the day in autumn does not rise above +15, although at the same time in Los Angeles, 4 hours away, the sun is shining with might and main and + 30.
And in desert Nevada, for example, the thermometer shows a little more than +30 even in autumn. But after sunset, the temperature drops sharply, and you can’t do without a jacket or a warm sweater. Therefore, getting ready for a long road through the national parks, warm clothes will not hurt, even though the meteorologists promise heat.
Advice: be sure to check the weather forecast before traveling to America, especially if you are traveling out of season. Don’t get fooled by the “eternal summer” in California and take warm clothes with you 🙂
3. Change of time zones.
Pay attention to the change of time zones between states if you are planning a long journey. For example, if you are going to leave Las Vegas for the Grand Canyon, when crossing the border between the states of Nevada and Arizona, you will have a time difference of 1 hour. Consider this when planning your routes and your time.
Advice: a map of America’s time zones can be viewed here
4. Animals in the natural environment
Many national parks in America are home to wild animals – deer, bison, bears. It’s fine. The only bad thing is that they can go out on the road right under the wheels of cars. Therefore, drivers need to be especially careful, especially in the dark. All national parks have signs that warn about this.
Advice: what to do if the animal is still knocked down, I recommend reading the guide to action at the link…
The road to many national parks is rather winding and rocky – especially for parks in California. For example, the route to Yosemite and Sequoia is almost 100 km along a steep serpentine road over 1,300 feet (400 m) to 14,000 feet (4,400 m). The roads in America are good, but it is better to entrust these sections to very experienced drivers, especially if you will be driving at night. Below in the picture is an example of a mountain serpentine in Sequoia Park.
Advice: recommendations for driving on a mountain serpentine, for example, in Sequoia Park can be read here
In general, traveling in America is a great pleasure – the roads are ideal, the culture of driving and behavior on the roads is much higher than in Ukraine, huge distances are easier to carry, and the prices for gasoline are pleasantly pleasing.