Trip planning: Big Trip #4 – Fall in the Northern Rockies, take 2

This post is part of our pre-trip planning for our big trip in Fall 2022. HERE IS OUR POST-TRIP RETROSPECTIVE!

Wild Goose Island in Saint Mary Lake
Wild Goose Island Lookout is the closest we got to the east side of Glacier NP last time

As we’ve been sitting in steamy Virginia waiting for the summer crowds to leave the national parks, our fall travel plans have morphed a bit. The original plan called for J to fly to California toward the end of the trip for work, but then we wondered why not drive to California instead? It adds a couple weeks to the trip, and removes some of our favorite destinations, but we’d get to see a bunch of new places!

Bugsy hiking to Table Mountain in the Tetons
an all-time favorite hike near Jackson, WY

So, we’re dropping Boise, Ketchum, Jackson/Wilson WY and Grand Teton National Park, Park City, Dinosaur National Monument, and some CO mountain towns–we hadn’t settled on which yet, as there aren’t good camping options near our target towns so late in the year.

Hiking in Rustler's Gulch
near Crested Butte, another bananas hiking destination we’re not going to…

We’re sad to lose those, but pretty excited about what we’re picking up:

  • Lassen Volcanic NP
  • Lake Tahoe
  • Yosemite NP
  • Kings Canyon NP
  • Sequoia NP
  • Monterey CA
  • San Luis Obispo CA
  • Solvang CA
  • Ventura CA
  • Carlsbad CA
  • Palm Springs CA
  • Sedona AZ
  • Albuquerque NM
Bugsy at Joshua Tree
Bugsy in Joshua Tree, her only California visit so far

Here’s a handy map to help visualize our planned route. What do you think? Please give us all your recommendations! Best hikes? Best food? Best drink? Must do activities? Places/things to avoid? Thanks!!!

46 Replies to “Trip planning: Big Trip #4 – Fall in the Northern Rockies, take 2

  1. North of Albuquerque NM
    hoo doos and slot canyon: Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks
    Good hiking
    Has been closed so check

  2. Oh man, this looks like a really fun trip. A few suggestions:

    * Monterey – Shae went sea kayaking with Monterey Bay Kayaks and loved it. You can see lots of wildlife just from the shore though.
    * Coastal road – It looks like you’ll be taking some of the same route we took as we drove from Monterey down to LA via Solvang, so here’s some of what we saw
    * Carlsbad – We really loved Carlsbad – such a nice vibe. Definitely worth checking out La Jolla too. Culture Brewing Co in Encinitas had an interesting marbled chocolate stout. Carlsbad State Beach has beautiful sunsets over the ocean.
    * Palm Springs – Definitely ride the Aerial Tramway. I can’t remember if you travel with bikes, but there’s a bike trail around the city that Shae did. Date shakes are apparently the thing to try there; we thought they were OK, but nothing special.
    If possible, try to be there on a Thursday night as they have a great street fair every Thursday on the main street running through the city called VillageFest.
    The Palm Springs Air Museum was OK; they’re pet-friendly, so you can bring Bugsy along.
    Definitely go for a drink at Boozehounds – a pet-friendly restaurant & lounge.
    * Sedona – The hikes to Devil’s Bridge and Cathedral Rock are both amazing and pet-friendly. The hike up to Cathedral Rock can be a little tricky with pups though; we had to put Truffles in her backpack for one section as it’s super-narrow and steep and she couldn’t walk through.
    Also check out Slide Rock State Park with your swimwear. The park itself is pet-friendly, but dogs aren’t allowed in the swim area.
    * Albuquerque – They have a tramway up to Sandia Peak that’s great, plus there’s a restaurant and bar up there where you can have a drink and something to eat. It’s worth going up at sunset as there are some beautiful views from there.
    If you’d like a challenging hike, you can hike the La Luz trail up to Sandia Peak. You can hike up there and back down again, or take hike up or down and take the tramway up or down for the other direction. Dogs are allowed on the trail, but not on the tramway. It’s an amazing hike though
    D.H. Lescombes Winery & Bistro has lovely wine & delicious food.
    We didn’t get a chance to visit on our recent trip there, but there’s a hidden speakeasy called Founders Speakeasy that looks fun based on a friend’s video – you need a secret password to enter which you can get on their website.
    If you have time, head up to Bandelier National Monument in Los Alamos. If you do go there, stop for bagels at Ruby K’s in Los Alamos – so delicious!
    Sawmill Market has a bunch of interesting dining options.
    Petroglyph National Monument has a few parts to it – Boca Negra gets you closest to the petroglyphs, but at least one of the other sites has many more of them. I don’t think any of the sites are pet-friendly though.
    The International Balloon Museum in Albuquerque was surprisingly interesting.
    * Other things – It looks like your route from Sedona to Albuquerque might have you going via Petrified Forest National Park. That’s worth a stop if you’re going right by it, plus it’s pet-friendly.
    For a slight diversion on that route, stop at the Ice Cave & Bandera Volcano – also pup-friendly. Then continue on to El Morro National Monument and El Malpais National Monument.

  3. WOW…Yes sir, I’d trade Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado for sunny California every day. R I G H T!!! Oh well, you kids are young and can accomplish a do over when the time is right. Don’t know when you plan to hit Sedona but plan ahead. You think the National Parks are busy, wait until you try to find a place to park in Sedona. Lovely spot though… Be sure to make a side trip up to Jerome (without the tin can) and over to Prescott if you haven’t visited those spots yet. Enjoy, I’m sure Calif. will be just wonderful!

    1. I know, I know, it was a painful decision to make! But we know we’ll go back to Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado, and this might be our one shot to do California with the tin can. Re: Sedona, we can supposedly walk into downtown Sedona from our campground and not have to worry about parking!

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