USA travel tips and discussion


petetherock

Senior Member
Oct 9, 2006
1,658
4
38
#1
I like hiking and going to USA, so this thread is meant to discuss tips on places to go, visa issues and shopping ideas, and of course photo opportunities.

Favorite places:
- Yosemite
- Yellowstone
- San Fransciso
- well California in general...

Been to Fort Lauderdale 10 times, so if you are headed there, ask away.

Cheers
 

Deadpoet

Senior Member
Oct 18, 2004
4,619
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#2
My favorite hiking and camping locations are (all have amazing photo ops):

Southern Utah

Zion National Park, especially the Narrows. This is a river bed with vertical cliffs on both side, the narrowest part is about 2 meters across.

Bryce Canon National Park, some of the most amazing sand stone and rock formation I have ever seen.

California:

Death Valley National Park, desert scenery at it's best.

Muir Woods, jsut north of SF, across from the Golden Gate Bridge. Old growth redwood forest.

Oregon:

Crater Lake

Colorado:

Denver, as a base to go up to the Rocky Mountain. Majestic is the only word to describe it.

New Mexico:

White Sand National Monument. Well, as it said, pure snow white sand!
 

May 31, 2005
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#3
Do take note that the US is a seasonal country, with photo opps being dependent on timing:

Fall colors in New England - generally starts around mid Oct around Columbus Day in the higher elevations and coming down to sea level areas later in the month

Wife and I visited Death Valley in July - bad timing! 53 centigrade on the ground in the afternoon...no choice but to hide under cover

There are also privacy norms that need to be taken into consideration when shooting, people get particularly uncomfortable if you photograph children. These are definitely times of lost innocence.
 

Vulpix0r

Senior Member
Oct 2, 2002
3,136
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0
West
#4
I'll relate my experience on travelling in 3 states:

New York
You want cheap lodging? Head down to Lower Manhattan and look for lodging there, if you can book it online, it will be even cheaper via hostels.com or something similar. Remember to find out where you are staying! And the NYC Transit is simply awesome. You can easily get to anywhere cheap and fast, and there's no chance of getting lost.

Arizona
Save yourself the trouble, book a flight via Expedia and get a plane down to Arizona if you want to see the Grand Canyon. That's if you want to see the Grand Canyon online, and want the cheapest lodging available. Vegas is another good choice, but if you are not driving, and you want to book a tour guide with a van to bring you to the canyon, you are better off finding a good hotel.

Southern California
Disneyland! Anaheim! Universal Studios! It's all over there. If you want to go Disneyland, look for the hotels in Anaheim, and not in Disneyland as they are really expensive. Most of the hotels there have a shuttle bus that brings you to Disneyland for a little bit of cash. As for getting to Universal Studios, make use of the train which will take you to a convenient train station near Universal Studios. There will be a free tram ride from there to bring you up to that awesome place.

If you're travelling between the states, please do not bother wasting your time with greyhound buses. If you're on tight timing schedule, you're better off saving money by taking interstate flights and they do not cost much too.
 

nuts

Senior Member
Jan 21, 2002
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www.roving-light.com
#5
Seriously, too general threads like this will not be useful. USA, China etc, these will turn out to be 500-page, 800-page threads etc which I wouldn't like to go through.
Mabbe a specific Fort Lauderdale thread eg would be nice etc
 

tortise

New Member
Mar 12, 2008
771
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Commonwealth
#6
I'll relate my experience on travelling in 3 states:

Southern California

If you're travelling between the states, please do not bother wasting your time with greyhound buses.
I'll be going in a month's time, will be taking a greyhound bus from LA to LV and back... care to share why it'll be a waste of time with greyhound? any useful bit of info would be useful to prepare me. :)
 

Vulpix0r

Senior Member
Oct 2, 2002
3,136
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West
#7
I'll be going in a month's time, will be taking a greyhound bus from LA to LV and back... care to share why it'll be a waste of time with greyhound? any useful bit of info would be useful to prepare me. :)
Why? The amount of time you waste is not worth it. I rather go with flights because of the crazy unpredictable traffic conditions. The flights are at most US$30-40 more, and I believe time is more important than the money you are going to spend there. While LV to LAX seems to be short, again the unpredictable conditions might set you back if you have a time limit. If you have no limit on time, and you can afford to spend those hours on the bus, please go ahead though.
 

Lolrence

New Member
Oct 15, 2006
1,147
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#9
Anyone who needs to know more about Yosemite, Grand Canyon (south Rim), Joshua Tree Nat park, Coastal Drive Highway 1, Lake Tahoe, San Fransisco, feel free to PM me.. I'll answer to the best of my knowledge...

Tortise, the route from LV to LA is all freeway, so there's nothing special to see. It'll take you about 5 hrs to get there by car, and LA gets really congested when everyone leaves for/from work. And especially on sun nights.
 

tSkye

New Member
Nov 8, 2005
989
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Farrer Park
#10
I will be in USA for a month from mid June to mid July.

Will update some good info.
 

Feb 28, 2004
388
3
18
nns555.zenfolio.com
#11
If you visit the Grand Canyon, try to make it to Page, about 2.5 hours drive from Flagstaff. The famous Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend are located in that area. I was there last month to join a photo workshop. Here are some photos fom my trip, http://nns555.zenfolio.com/p934517054.

Enjoy your trip.

N.S. Ng
 

SNAG

Senior Member
Jun 14, 2002
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Visit site
#13
I'll be going in a month's time, will be taking a greyhound bus from LA to LV and back... care to share why it'll be a waste of time with greyhound? any useful bit of info would be useful to prepare me. :)
I took a Greyhound bus road trip sometime back, and some tips to get you going (YMMV, since it's almost 2 years ago):

1) You need to reach there early. Greyhound has a tendency to oversell bus tickets, and seats on a particular bus timing are first come first serve. You literally need to queue early to wait for your bus, else there is a chance that you may not be able to get on board.

2) If possible, try to book your tickets online. There are a ton of coupon codes for discounts. However, ticket purchasing on the spot is also OK.

3) Be clear on arranging transportation from the GH bus station to your hotel/motel. Some of the bus stations are a little 'ulu', so exercise your 'street smart' skills.

But all in all, it was indeed a interesting experience, as you get to really see a slice of life (the people traveling on GH usually are the lower income folks).

For LV, the bus stop is situated quite outside of the Strip, so some of us shared a cab (we stayed at Luxor).
 

cks2k2

New Member
Feb 12, 2009
939
2
0
#14
If you visit the Grand Canyon, try to make it to Page, about 2.5 hours drive from Flagstaff. The famous Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend are located in that area. I was there last month to join a photo workshop. Here are some photos fom my trip, http://nns555.zenfolio.com/p934517054.

Enjoy your trip.

N.S. Ng
Ah Antelope Canyon. Very challenging place to shoot, was there back in 06.
If you're into rock arches, head to Arches NP and its famous Delicate Arch in southern Utah.
 

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davee78

New Member
Mar 23, 2008
261
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0
#15
Hi,

thinking of visiting Yosemite next year but read the peak period is from Jan till Oct? :bigeyes: If so, does it make sense for me to travel during Nov -Dec then? I really hope to skip the crowd..Or Nov -Dec is the period where places are closed?

Accommodation need to book a year ahead??:bigeyes:

True?? for the above?

Anyway, after reading on the net, I am still not sure which is the best way to travel there from San Francisco:embrass: a bit blur...it seems there's a fair bit of transfer between bus and coach...any advice or experience on how to get there? Dun think I will be driving as I am traveling alone. Wat's the cost too?

Also, in the event that I can't get accommodation and I probably dun think I can walk the place in a day or two..I am beri slow, so in that case, does it make sense to stay somewhere nearby and travel to and fro each day?

Any experience of staying there? any place to recommend?

Thanks in advance :D
 

petetherock

Senior Member
Oct 9, 2006
1,658
4
38
#16
The summer vacation period is the busiest, the shoulder seasons in late spring is fine.
Yosemite will always be popular.
If you are alone, join the many tours that leave from SF or LA. You can look them up online, or join one of the trekking groups, like Suntrek or Trek Amercia, where they either stay in tents or lodges. Contiki also does Yosemite in the Southwest tours.

Some people stay outside the park, that's cheaper but you will need a car for sure. Better to get lodging in Curry Village.
 

Lolrence

New Member
Oct 15, 2006
1,147
0
0
#17
Hi,

thinking of visiting Yosemite next year but read the peak period is from Jan till Oct? :bigeyes: If so, does it make sense for me to travel during Nov -Dec then? I really hope to skip the crowd..Or Nov -Dec is the period where places are closed?

Accommodation need to book a year ahead??:bigeyes:

True?? for the above?

Anyway, after reading on the net, I am still not sure which is the best way to travel there from San Francisco:embrass: a bit blur...it seems there's a fair bit of transfer between bus and coach...any advice or experience on how to get there? Dun think I will be driving as I am traveling alone. Wat's the cost too?

Also, in the event that I can't get accommodation and I probably dun think I can walk the place in a day or two..I am beri slow, so in that case, does it make sense to stay somewhere nearby and travel to and fro each day?

Any experience of staying there? any place to recommend?

Thanks in advance :D
Yosemite is the most crowded during the summer, and you'll likely be able to get accommodation inside the park in the winter. Try Curry Village's cabins for the cheapest rates. It's always better to drive your own car, cause you'll be able to control your own itinery. Take note that since it's nov/dec, it'll be snowing (or there'll be lots of snow on the ground), so bring along snow chains for your car, unless you're driving a 4wd with snow tires on (you'll still have to keep a set of snow chains, just in case). I'm not too sure about bus tours, but I've been to Yosemite once in the winter, twice in the spring, and will be there again next month. You can cover Yosemite in 2 days, unless you plan to hike up to the mountains. Yosemite Valley has the best view IMO, view my thread for photos. Don't even consider driving in and out of the park, in non-snowy conditions, driving from SF to Yosemite takes about 4-5 hours. In snowy conditions, double that at least. Food costs about USD $10 per meal, add a few bucks for tips. A cabin room costs about USD $40. Fuel is about $3 per gallon. Remember to top up your fuel before you get into the park. Let me know if you need more info :)
 

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davee78

New Member
Mar 23, 2008
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#18
Ok, so i should plan for Oct onwards...stay in the park and plan for a 2 days stay. Cause I dun think I can make it in early 2010..summer is out and therefore Oct onwards seems the best.

Is it advisable to cycle while inside the park? I wan to roam ard the park on my own, less restrictive ;p

Also, I read about catching a plane from San Francisco to a small airport nearby..will it cost much more than if I take a coach? Wat other available transport do we have inside the park?
A car seems out, it may be too expensive for a single and budget traveller like me :bsmilie:
 

petetherock

Senior Member
Oct 9, 2006
1,658
4
38
#19
Bro
If you cannot afford a car, forget the plane.
If you are fit you can cycle, note the Yosemite valley floor which is the most touristy and crowded because few people venture out after getting recommendations that centre on this place only.

This valley is about 500 ft below the road that winds into the valley. At the Tioga Pass for example, you are 3041m above sea level. If you can hack it and cycle in, why not? Good views.

There is a free shuttle bus within the valley so this discourages people from driving from point to point. But it may not work in winter.

IMO, it has the worst view, since you are at the bottom and it is way too crowded.

Nevertheless, even this place is superb and Yosemite is my fav destination.

Note, if you go too close to winter, be prepared for cold weather and possible snow. Unless you are equipped or are used to cold weather, it is best to plan properly i.e. not like the typical ignorant tourist from Singapore :)

Take some time to understand the weather, the roads, and also the places you wish to see, many simply come for a day trip, stay a night and leave.

Taking a tour is a simple way out if you are not adventurous or do not like to plan. If you want to go budget, then join the two trekking groups instead. They sleep in tents and you save. But you will be cold in October, very cold if you sleep outdoors and have never done so before.

I used a -20C sleeping bag for my trips. And I still wear my ski pants and 3 layers to bed.

The US National Park website has a lot of useful info.

http://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm


Ok, so i should plan for Oct onwards...stay in the park and plan for a 2 days stay. Cause I dun think I can make it in early 2010..summer is out and therefore Oct onwards seems the best.

Is it advisable to cycle while inside the park? I wan to roam ard the park on my own, less restrictive ;p

Also, I read about catching a plane from San Francisco to a small airport nearby..will it cost much more than if I take a coach? Wat other available transport do we have inside the park?
A car seems out, it may be too expensive for a single and budget traveller like me :bsmilie:

Edit:

You can spend a week, taking some of your most awesome photos, so please plan. Climb out of the valley, since you mentioned cycling, I assume you are pretty fit? Then a hike of 6 hours will be peanuts to you. But bring lots of water and tell someone where you are going.

It is best to go in a group unless you are excellant at topo or a good woodsman. A GPS is defintely useful. Beware of bears, the threat is real. Use bear proof containers, and also do not sleep in tents with clothes in which you have food stains or crumbs.
 

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Lolrence

New Member
Oct 15, 2006
1,147
0
0
#20
Ok, so i should plan for Oct onwards...stay in the park and plan for a 2 days stay. Cause I dun think I can make it in early 2010..summer is out and therefore Oct onwards seems the best.

Is it advisable to cycle while inside the park? I wan to roam ard the park on my own, less restrictive ;p

Also, I read about catching a plane from San Francisco to a small airport nearby..will it cost much more than if I take a coach? Wat other available transport do we have inside the park?
A car seems out, it may be too expensive for a single and budget traveller like me :bsmilie:
I recommended 2 days based on how fast I can cover the place, cause I'm not the type to stay too long in a place nor 'waste time' going to shop/eat etc. And I plan places that I wanna go way before hand, so that cuts down alot of time. I've not seen people cycle in the park and it's very inconvenient for you to take photos and cycle with your bag. The last winter I was there, it was -14 degree C, but it wasn't that cold, as long as it doesn't rain and there isn't much wind.

I'll suggest you stay in a cabin, don't camp out... if you're not used to the cold, you won't like it, and you won't have a heated place nor able to take a heated bath at night. It gets way colder at night, and it isn't safe.

It isn't crowded at all during the winter, so you don't have to worry bout tourists. But plan enough buffer time in case there are snow storms, which will cut down your ability to travel around by a significant amount.

Bring ski pants, high sole boots, winter jacket with fleece inside, woolen socks (important, not cotton socks cause they don't dry if your shoes get wet), a pair of thin and thick glove. Thin for you to easily press the shutter with, thick in case it gets really cold.

And if you want to save $, don't go. If you plan to explore these places, don't scrimp on $. :thumbsup: It's a once in a lifetime experience for lots of people, do enjoy yourself :)
 

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