3500 mile Oregon to Grand Canyon Road Trip
We just got back from a busy, fun-filled 15 days on the road. It’s been 6 years since we’ve gone on a road trip. It was time to get out there and show our kids the grand U.S of A. We went to 5 National Parks, 2 theme parks, a few big cities, slept in 10 different hotel rooms, and put 3500 miles on our car. It was awesome and I would have liked to have been gone one more week. But, responsibilities were calling our name. I have only two complaints about the trip – #1: While in Disneyland it was HOT. One day it was almost 100º. That’s too damn warm for my Pacific NW body. #2: The fog at the beginning of the trip made it so we couldn’t fully enjoy the coast – because we couldn’t see it. Those being our only downfalls of the trip means we had a fabulous vacation.
Here’s the quick version of our trip:
DRIVING TO THE REDWOODS
We spent the first night in Crescent City. See that fog in the distance. It stayed with us the next couple days as we traveled down the California coastline.
REDWOOD STATE & NATIONAL PARK
The first major stop along our route was the Redwoods.
We drove through during the day taking in the magnificent California Coast Redwoods. One tree in particular looked as if it had been struck by lightning. It was hollow. We went inside and explored. Thankfully no bear came out to eat us and no spider fell on my head (that I know of). We also stopped at the many tourist attractions outside the park, including the Trees of Mystery.
Our main reason for going to San Francisco was to see the rainforest at the California Academy of Science. I knew the kids would love it. And they did. We also drove through town to Fisherman’s Wharf and took a peek at The Painted Ladies. As a Full House fan, this was a treat.
Still foggy. There was some kind of surfing competition going on when we were there. But, it was hard to get a decent surfer pic because of the fog. The kids loved it here. There were many pelicans on the pier and we played on the beach for a bit.
I have never driven this stretch of highway before. It was beautiful. But, what really caught my attention was the parking. There were a few state parks to park at – for a price. But, it seemed most beach goers just park along the highway. Highway, meaning the drivers are going 55 – 65mph and there are cars coming in and out as you go along. Seems quite unsafe. Luckily we found a perfect spot to park with a little more space between us and the fast moving cars. There are also homes right along the highway. I can’t imagine having to back out of my driveway right onto a busy highway. I guess it’s worth it just to have beach front property in Malibu.
Besides the parking situation, we loved it here. The kids had a blast running from waves and digging in the sand.
My being an out of towner really showed this evening. I thought we could take a quick detour to see the Hollywood sign before heading to our hotel in Anaheim. That quick detour turned into hours. Blah! We drove to the Griffith Observatory, which was a great place to see the sign. However, it was not worth the time it took.
The one surprise of the trip was Disneyland. We even trick or treated in the park at Mickey’s Halloween Party.
I was very underwhelmed with Legoland. The ride lines were long for crummy rides. And, it was kind of dirty. However, I did really enjoy the landscaping and all the lego displays.
JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
I hadn’t heard much about Joshua Tree National Park. The main reason we stopped was because it was something to see while we were driving from the west coast of California to the Grand Canyon. I was pleasantly surprised. There was so much to see and explore. John said this was his favorite park of the trip.
DRIVING TO THE GRAND CANYON
Driving along Route 66.
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
THE Grand Canyon. I had never seen it before and it is grand. It is huge and glorious.
HOOVER DAM & LAS VEGAS
After leaving the Grand Canyon we stopped at the Hoover Dam and stayed one evening in Las Vegas. We stayed at the Golden Nugget on Fremont Street. The kids said it was their favorite hotel we stayed in because it was “fancy.”
DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Death Valley is the hottest, driest, and lowest of all our National Parks. It was nearly 100º degrees when we were there, but we didn’t go for any long walks so it wasn’t too bad. We mostly drove around in our air conditioned car and got out for short amounts of time. It was another spectacular place to explore.
DRIVING TO YOSEMITE
The drive from Death Valley to Yosemite was beautiful. We stopped a couple times to check things out, including a tarantula in the middle of the road.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
We didn’t do much exploring in Yosemite, but we did stay long enough for the kids to earn their Junior Ranger badges and play at a creek. We saw so many different landscapes on this trip and Yosemite gave us more new things to gauk at. There was a huge dry meadow, many trees, and gigantic rocks. This made me realize just how much rain we do get in the Pacific NW. At our house, nearly every natural free space is filled with a plant or flower or tree or fern or moss. There’s certainly more growing in Yosemite than in Death Valley, but in between all the trees seemed to be more rock than plants. At home, we have more plants and less rock showing.
COLUMBIA STATE HISTORIC PARK
Along Highway 49 are a number of cities celebrating their Gold Rush roots. In Columbia they have a whole section of town that looks like it did in the 1800’s. This was our last fun stop before heading home.
We ate lunch in a saloon, bought candy in an old fashioned candy store, and panned for gold.
Our last day of driving included Highway 49 and lots of I-5.
It was a fabulous trip with many memories made.
Where to next?
Thinking About Road Tripping in the Western US?
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