Major Route Change

After careful consideration, we have decided to make a major change to our planned route.  Due to weather and other factors, we are essentially going to reverse our loop, i.e., go counter-clockwise instead of clockwise.  So our new route will take us from Death Valley to Nevada, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Canada, Alaska, Canada, Washington, Oregon, and end up back in California.

Mojave National Preserve during a winter storm

We really enjoyed the warm weather in Death Valley (photos coming soon!) especially after the bitter cold winter storm we endured in Mojave National Preserve.  We are used to hiking in the cold and snow in Kentucky, but it’s definitely more fun to hike when it’s warm.  Also, we have to ensure we remain above freezing since our RV is not winterized.  And it’s not very enjoyable to boondock without power (thus limiting our heating options) when a cold winter wind is howling through the thin RV walls.

Timm in Death Valley: it's much more enjoyable to hike when it's warm

Thus when I checked the weather forecast for the next few planned parks in central California and saw high temperatures in the 40s and 50s and lows in the 20s and 30s, we took another look at our planned route.  We also met a woman from Seattle who told us the weather in the Pacific northwest in spring is “dreadful: perpetually cloudy, rainy and cool.”  I also remembered from our many travels out west how nice it is in California in autumn.  Then I checked the weather forecast east of us in Nevada and Utah and saw a warm, beautiful spring developing with temps in the 70s and 80s.  So that’s when I got the idea to reverse our loop and end our trip along the Pacific coast this fall.  Theresa agreed!

This was also the perfect inflection point in our travels to make this change.  Since Death Valley is in easternmost California, this new route adds less than 200 miles, almost negligible on a 20,000 mile trip.

Another major change is we’re going to skip most parks that we have visited before.  We had decided earlier to slow our pace and spend more time enjoying each park, so it was necessary to drop a few parks from our itinerary.  Thus we will visit only three parks we have visited before:  1) Capitol Reef in Utah, because we only spent a cold afternoon there, 2) Denali in Alaska, because it’s so big and amazing that we only scratched the surface on our first visit, and 3) Yosemite in California, because a greatly anticipated highlight of this trip was to enjoy an extended stay in Yosemite, one of our most favorite places on Earth.  We plan to end our trip in Yosemite and stay there until the winter weather chases us home.

New Route

Following is our new planned route through the end of May:  

Valley of Fire SP (Nevada) *
Vermillion Cliffs NM (Arizona/Utah) *
Grand Staircase-Escalante NM (Utah) *
Kodachrome Basin SP (Utah)
Capitol Reef NP (Utah)
Goblin Valley SP (Utah)
Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP (Colorado)
Roxborough SP (Colorado)
Wind Cave NP (South Dakota)
Custer SP (South Dakota)
Devil’s Tower NM (Wyoming)
Mount Rushmore NM (South Dakota)
Badlands NP (South Dakota)
Theodore Roosevelt NP (North Dakota)
Makoshika SP (Montana)
Waterton Lakes NP (Alberta) *

Key: NM = National Monument, NP = National Park, and SP = State Park.  Parks above marked with an asterisk are new to our schedule and were not on our original route.  We are still studying Canada and Alaska and have more work to do on our route for the summer. 

We are very excited about our new route.  As always, our route can and likely will change.  But we love how we can be flexible and go where the (warm) wind takes us. 

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