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Visiting National Parks in West US, Flying in between (?)

The flaw in that data is the changes in definitions/classification of "major felonies" over that 24 year period. Change everything to "misdemeanor" and viola, just fixed the crime rates. 😉

Everything was not changed from felony to misdemeanor. Also, misdemeanors are down 34%, from 435,405 in 2000 to 287,659 in 2023. You have to find another rationalization.
 
I hope you have secured a time entry permit for each NP, otherwise you will be sadly disappointed when your not allowed entry until after 3pm at some parks. I do hope you find some time to relax on this busy vacation. In the Moab area their are many places to fly your drone. Drive along the Colorado river going north between Arches and Moab and you will skirt Arches. After a few miles the landscape opens up with some neat rock features and endless hiking opportunities. Fischer tower isn’t too far down the road and it would be a great place to fly your drone. I camped there in early March and it was amazing, I woke up the first morning with 4” of fresh snow. The views were stunning and I kicked myself for not bringing my drone on the trip. The main reason is we spent the rest of the week in Arches and Canyonlands where no drones are allowed.
 
Op if you are a frequent visitor or plan to visit quite a bit later in life, perhaps a lifetime pass of some sort is in order.
 
Hello,

I am planning a 18 days trip to US, West side, visiting the most famous NP in the South as well as in the North.
The trip will start and end in San Francisco, and it is crystal clear to me the impossibility to fly in the NP area (and that is totally fine to me).

Anyway, since I am travelling from Italy I am wondering whether there are places that are worth visiting/fly with my Mini 4 Pro, so I though to ask
your suggestions. If you can, please be specific and consider that we are on a pretty tight schedule so will give preference to the places that
are close by the route we decided to follow

here it is the full plan of the trip, please feel free to edit, adding detours and available take off points

OVERALL TRIP SUMMARY
1) San Francisco CA
2) Yosemite NP CA
4) Death Valley CA
5) Grand Canyon (AZ)
6) Lower Antelope Park (UT)
7) Zion NP, UT
8) Bryce NP AZ
9) Monument Valley AZ
10) CanyonLands NP
11) Arches NP, UTAH
12) Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area (Utah/Wyoming border)
13) Gran Teton NP (Wyoming)
14) YellowStone (Wyoming)
15) Glacier National Park (Montana)
16) LeavenWorth River (WA)
17) Crater Lake (OR)
18) Pacific Coast Highway up to Big Sur (CA)

1) DAY 01 (Sunday Aug 11th): Rome --> SAN FRANCISCO, Arrive at 13:35 PM
Take BART Train from Airport to Downtown (The BART station is adjacent to the international terminal)

2) DAY 02 (Monday Aug 12th): SAN FRANCISCO City

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3) DAY 03 (Tuesday Aug 13th): SAN FRANCISCO --> Yosemite Park (282 Km, 4 Hours)
In the early Morning leave Frisco and take off to Yosemite national park (average Temp is 32/13)
TREK:
AM Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls 10 Km 650 mt, account 5 hrs
POIs:
PM Up to Glacier Point (By Car)

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4) DAY 04 (Wednesday Aug 14th): YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK --> TIOGA ROAD/PASS (Highway 120) --> Lone Pine (CA)
(196 Km, 2 Hrs)
TREKs
Mariposa Grove (Sequoias) -> TREK of 5 Km 150 mt, easy)
POIs (on the Tioga Road, by car):
Olmsted Point
Tenaya Lake
Tuolumne Meadows (cozy river)
Mono Lake
Whoa Nellie Deli (Faboulus Hamburger)

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5) DAY 05 (Thursday Aug 15th) Lone Pine California -> DEATH VALLEY (Furnace Creek 169 Km, 2 Hr) -> Williams, AZ (538 Km, 5.30 Hrs)
POIS:
- Furnace Creek Visitor Center (Map, Food, Water, Fuel)
- BadWater Salt Flats
- Zabriskie Point
- Dante's View
- Back to the Death Valley Junction (to leave the park)

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6) DAY 06 (Friday Aug 16th) Williams --> GRAND CANYON SOUTH ENTRANCE (1 hr) --> PAGE (217 Km, 2.30 hrs)
- Initially Head to the Grand Canyon Village, leave the car at the parking and rent a bike at Bright Angel Bicycles & Café
- Follow the Hermit Road up to Hermit Rest's Point by Bike, to check the following POIs
Trailview Overlook
Maricopa Point
Powell Point
Hopi Point
Mohave Point
The Abyss
Monument Creek Vista
Pima Point
Hermits Rest --> Back to Canyon Village by Bus if at all possible
- Take the car and head to Desert View Watchtower (along the Route 64) by Car (40 Km), then go back to che the following POIs
Navajo Point
Lipan Point
Moran Point
Grandview Point

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7) DAY 07 (Saturday Aug 17th) Page --> LOWER ANTELOPE CANYON (10 KM, 10 MIN) --> HORSESHOE BEND (12 KM, 15 min.) --> LAKE POWELL (10 KM, 13 MIN.) --> ZION NP (168 Km, 2 Hrs) --> BRYCE NP (137 Km, 2 Hrs)
TREKs:
- Lower Antelope Short Trek (1.5 Km), consider a guided tour, by Dixie Ellis
- HorseShoe Bend
- Lake Powell
- Zion NP (Springdale UT), Initially from Powell Lake take the Hw89 but then From Mnt Carmel Junction Take the UT-9 Scenic drive to ZION West Entrance !
TREKS:
- Canyon Overlook (1.5 Km)
- Timber Creek Overlook (2 Km)
- Consider to take the UT-9 scenic drive beyond Springdale, to the East Entrance of the park
- Finally back on Hw89 toward Bryce NP, going through the UT-12 Scenic drive (Red Canyon ->
SLEEP IN Bryce Canyon Resort --- BOOKED ---

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8) DAY 08 (Sunday Aug 18th) BRYCE NP --> MONUMENT VALLEY (460 Km, 5 Hrs)
- TREKS in Bryce NP
Rim Trail (6 Km) Over the top of the canyon
Navajo Loop at the bottom of the canyon 2.2 Km
Queens Garden Trail (3 Km)
- POIs
Bryce Point
Inspiration point
Sunset Point
Sunrise Point
Rainbow Point
Then go from Bryce to Monument Valley (again through Route 12 and then Rt89->Rt98->Hw160) Here head to Kayenta, and follow Hw163 scenic route to Mexican Hat
Sleep in Goulding's Lodge | Monument Valley ---- BOOKED ---- 160$


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9) DAY 09 (Monday Aug 19th) MONUMENT VALLEY --> MOAB (250 Km, 3 Hrs)
- Monument Valley
TREK: WindCat Route to West Mitten Butte (this is the only trek that is possible to do SOLO)
POIs (By Car):
The Mittens and Merrick Butte
Elephant Butte
Three Sisters
John Ford's Point
Camel Butte
The Hub
Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei
Totem Pole and Sand Springs
Artist's Point
North Window
The Thumb
- Take the care and from Visitor Center head to MOAB city
SLEEP IN Moab: Bowen Motel ---- PAID AND NOT REFUNDABLE ---- 133$

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10) DAY 10 (Tuesday Aug 20th) MOAB --> CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK ( KM, 40 MIN) --> ARCHES NATIONAL PARK (46 KM 35 MIN) --> Price (2 hrs)
- Head to Island of Sky (Section of Canyonlands NP), take the Grand View Point Road
TREKS:
Mesa Arch Trail (30 mins)
Grand View Point Trail (1 hr)
POIs (Overlooks reachable by car, from Visitor Center through Grand View Point, end of route)
Shafer Canyon Overlook
Shafer Trail Overlook
Mesa Arch Overlook/Trail
Candlestick Tower Overlook
Buck Canyon Overlook
White Rim Overlook
Grand View Point Overlook/trail
- After CanyonLands go back by car to Arches National Park (46 KM, 35 min), and you need to book the entrance
- TREKs
Sand Dune arch trail – 0,5 km (30 mins), Simple
Delicate arch – 4,8 km (3 Hrs), Moderate, nice to see the sunset from there
- POIs (By Car)

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10) DAY 10 (Wednesday Aug 21st) Price --> FLAMING GORGE PARK (270 KM, 3 HRS) --> GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK (400 KM, 4 HRS)
- Flaming Gorge Stop over: From Wellington follow the HW 191 up to GreenDale Junction, then turn left on the Route 44
- POIs (By Car) to Visit
Canyon Rim Overlook (Hwy 44, Rt.095 e FR373, coordinate N.40° 53’ 05.17” W.109° 32’ 47.34”) **
Red Canyon Visitor Center (1475 Red Canyon Rd. alias route 095, coordinate N.40° 53’ 30.10” W.109° 33’ 37.35”)
Dowd Mountain Overlook & pic-nic site (Hwy 44 poi 94, coordinate N.40° 53’ 49.50” W.109° 37’ 32.27”)
Sheep Creek Overlook (Rt.503, Manila, coordinate N.40° 54’ 28.87” w.109° 41’ 54.48”) **
From there you can go back on the HW191 and have Lunch at Flaming Gorge Resort (MArket, PicNic area and Restaurant) if HW 191 is OPEN
If HW 191 is closed, then continue on HW 44 and go ahead to Manila, to have lunch there
- After Lunch head to GRAND TETON NP, entrance from south is the MOOSE Entrance, here you find the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center
- BEFORE taking the Moose entrance and before the Jackson Airport, at the round-about take the Gros-Ventre Road up to Mormon Row (Typical Photo)
- Go back on HW191 and finally to the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center
- Go by Car trough the HW191 to the Schwabacher Landing (Nice View Point)
- Stop by the Log Chapel of the Sacred Heart (PicNic Area) with Toilets along the Jackson Lake
- Keep going along the Teton Park Road up to Jenny Lake (Parking and Visitor Center available), here you can take a boat to West shore dock or
go along the lake river by feet
- For now keep going along the Teton road up to Jackson Lake and Colter Bay
TREKs
- In Jenny Lake (from the West Shore Dock)
Hike to Inspiration Point
Hike to Hidden Falls
- In Jackson Lake
Rent a canoe (Colter Bay Marina) to go around the small islands of the lake
POIs

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11) DAY 11 (Thursday Aug 22nd) GRAND TETON NP (Colter Bay) --> YELLOWSTONE SOUTH ENTRANCE (Go through the South Ring)--> WEST YELLOWSTONE
From Colter Bay head to the south entrance visitor center of Yellowstone, close to the Moose Falls, along the HW 191)
POIs (From South to North, along the HW191)
- West Thumb Geyser (not spectacular, but just on the way)
- Drive West from West Thumb and just stop by Continental Divide
- Upper Geyser Basin / Old Faithful Geyser
- Midway Geyser Basin --> Grand Prismatic Spring (Take also the 1.2 Km trail to see the Spring from above) --> Tourquoise Pool
- Firehole Swim Area (Family bath in the HotSprings!)
- Norris Basin --> Porcelain Basin.

SLEEP IN One Horse Motel, 223 $, ---- BOOKED ----
Indirizzo: 216 Dunraven St, West Yellowstone, MT 59758, Stati Uniti
Telefono: +1 406-646-7735

TREKS:
Firehole Swim Area is located on the Firehole River, two miles south of Madison Junction on Firehole Canyon Drive. Two vault toilets are the only facilities in the area.

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12) DAY 12 (Friday Aug 23rd) WEST YELLOWSTONE --> YELLOWSTONE North (Go through the North Ring) --> Deer Lodge
POIs:
- Yellowstone Lake (just pass by)
- Hayden Valley (Animals)
- Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (Hike)
- Mammoth Hot Springs (brief walk)
- Lamar Valley (Animals)

After Lamar Valley Keep going and exit Yellowstone along the Beartooth Highway, a 68-mile section of US Route 212 that runs through the Beartooth and Absaroka Mountains, starting in Cooke City and ending in Red Lodge. It is often referred to as one of the most beautiful roads in the US, and in the middle will go through to the Beartooth Pass (> 3000 mts)

EAT: Hiker's Breakfast/Lunch at Roosvelt Lodge

TREKS
1) South Rim Trail up to Artist Point (4 Km, Elevation 85 mt), Start at Upper Falls Viewpoints Parking Lot
2) Mt WashBurn (8 Km, elevation 300 mt), Wonderful view from the peak


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13) DAY 13 (Saturday Aug 24th) Deer Lodge City --> GLACIER NATIONAL PARK (4 Hrs) --> Going-to-the-Sun Road
- Keep going along the HW89 and Enter the Park through the St. Mary Entrance
- Take the Going-to-the-Sun Road (YOU NEED A PERMISSION AND A RESERVATION FOR THAT) --> vehicle reservations - Glacier National Park (U.S. National Park Service)
- Stop by the Logan Pass visitor Center
- Hike the Cedars Trail combined to the Hidden Lake Trail, up to the Hidden Lake Overlook (5 Km)


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14) DAY 14 (Sunday Aug 25th) GLACIER NATIONAL PARK (MANY GLACIER VALLEY)
- TREK In AM Grindell Glacier Trail (18 km f/b, steepness 700 mt): Consider to reduce the hike to roughly 12 Km, taking the boats through Swiftcurrent Lake and Josephine Lake.
- In PM go to Lake McDonald, have a bath, Rant a Paddle or a canoe

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15) DAY 15 (Monday Aug 26th) GLACIER NATIONAL PARK --> Spokane City ( 470 KM, 6 HRS)
- TREKs:
in AM Avalanche Trail (6 km f/b)
In PM Leave the Park, head East to Spokane City, Initially on HW2, then HW35, HW9, HW28, HW200, HW135, and HW90

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16) DAY 16 (Tuesday Aug 27th) SPOKANE City --> LEAVENWORTH (310 Km, 3.30 Hrs) --> BEND (502 Km, 5.30 Hrs)
- River Tubing in LeavenWorth WA

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17) DAY 17 (Wednesday Aug 28th) BEND --> CRATER LAKE (Rim Village Visitor Center) (232 Km, 2.30 Hrs) --> San Francisco (667 Km, 7 Hrs)
- Brief Hike around Crater Lake

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18) DAY 18 (Thursday Aug 29th) SAN FRANCISCO --> PACIFICA --> PESCADERO --> DAVENPORT --> SANTA CRUZ --> MONTEREY --> BIG SUR --> SAN FRANCISCO
- The Final Road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway (HW-1) overall 484 Km in 6 Hrs

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Any Advice is really really appreciated, TIA !


Diego
I’d cut back on the itinerary and take some time at each stop. Also, mid-August in Death Valley could be 40+ degrees Celsius.
 
It's usually extremely crowded at Arches NP, and entries are rationed. In short, you may have to wait a long time until someone exits before you can enter, or you may not be able to enter at all.

But if you're going to be in Moab, and if you're then plan heading north toward Grand Teton and Yellowstone NPs, I'd recommend that you drive Hwy 128 (spectacular scenery along the Colorado River) from Moab north to I-70, and then that you continue east on the interstate to Fruita, Colorado (less than a one hour drive) to Exit 19 on I-70. From there, drive a couple of miles south on Hwy 340 to the west entrance of Colorado National Monument. A drive over the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive will expose you to more dramatic scenery. It's far less congested than Arches. Return to Fruita and continue five miles west to Hwy 139. Drive north on Hwy 139 and then west on US 40 to visit the quarry at Dinosaur National Monument. Continuing west to Vernal, Utah, you can then head north to Flaming Gorge and beyond to the Tetons and Yellowstone.
 
As others have said, you are going far too many places and won't have time to actually experience any of them. And you simply don't understand how much time is going to be spent driving from one location to another.

I would change the trip to be more like this:

1) Skip SF, it has become a nasty, dangerous city
2) Sequoia or Redwoods NP. Skip Yosemite, too crowded.
4) Death Valley CA
5) Grand Canyon (AZ). Make sure you visit Shoshone point (not on the park maps, but you can google it). Fly the helicopter shuttle down to Havasupai for $200 per person round trip. Not to be missed, Havasu Canyon's waterfalls are the most beautiful in the world!
6) Lower Antelope Park (UT)
7) Zion NP, UT
8) Bryce NP AZ

You won't be driving so much and you can spend more time seeing each location.

Your original itinerary is completely impossible in 18 days.
 
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I grew up in San Francisco and I still live nearby. It was a nice place to live, but not now. Thieves usually escape prosecution because that is the current political situation there. If criminals sniff out your car to be a rental, you can be sure it will be broken into, regardless of if you kept your valuables out of sight. Skip Yosemite unless you can make it in the middle of the week. It's a madhouse during summer weekends.
 
Dale has a good point. Many people see the National Parks in a 'if it's Tuesday it must be Belgium' fashion. They drive up to the scenic viewpoint, take a few photos, and then they are off to the next experience. If it isn't too late to change, consider simplifying your itinerary. You have made many excellent choices, but it is too much driving. Pick either California, Utah/Arizona, or Wyoming/Montana. You'll still have more than you can do in three weeks. Give yourself time to walk away from the pullouts and really experience a wild area that is different from what you can find in Europe. You won't see nature unless you are willing to hike. There are also many National Forest areas and State Parks where it is legal to fly your drone.

I've lived in San Francisco, and I still visit several times a year. I have friends who still live there. It is a fantastic city that has become a political punching bag. I will say that there are more homeless people in the city now than when I lived there. I have experienced pickpocket and petty theft attempts in cities like Barcelona or Milan. In San Francisco I have only had a couple of car break-in thefts when I was careless and left something visible in my car. That is a bad idea anywhere. Use common sense, and you should be fine. You don't need a car in the city. Parking is also expensive. If you decide to see the city, take Bart or Taxi/Uber, then rent your car when you depart.

I just want to repeat the idea that it's legal to fly in our National Forests! I was recently capturing some drone footage in a National Park in Southern California and ran into a Forest Ranger, who wanted to ensure I knew all the safety rules. Upon demonstrating that I knew what I was doing, she thanked me and was on her way.

As a former San Francisco resident and frequent visitor, I thought I'd research crime rates, and what I discovered is consistent with my experiences: Violent crimes are lower in San Francisco than in many other major cities such as Miami or Houston (but higher than NYC), but property crime rates are higher. Don't even think about leaving anything in your car!

Here are a few places to fly around SF and I think I've hit most of them, as well as Fort Funston but I can't tell if it's still legal there or not: The 5 Best Places to Fly a Drone in San Francisco (2024) | UAV Coach
 
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