/ Utah road trip

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EmmaAtkinson on 13 Jan 2017
Hi there,

I'm considering a trip over to Utah. From what I gather you can travel there visa free for up to three months (90 days ish).

Car hire for that long seems ridiculous- I've heard of some people buying cheap second hand cars/vans and selling them off after their trip - any advice on how people actually go about this and if its feasible for a two- three month trip to Utah?

Or any other ideas/ suggestions as how to travel around once there? Would be planning to car camp.

tony on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

I did a 10 week trip in Utah, Arizona and assorted others back in 2002. I got a cheap car hire from somewhere in Los Angeles which wasn't quite Rent-a-Wreck, but wasn't far off it. I got a pretty ropey underpowered Ford Escort Estate with New Jersey plates for a fraction of what I would have paid at one of the major car rentals. It got me round at least 7000 miles without too many dramas. Locking my keys inside the car when I went to Monument Valley was interesting, but fortunately, one of the people I asked to help was an off-duty police officer who had the wherewithal to get into the car without damage, but that's another story.

If you want to see as much as possible, a car is pretty much essential. There are trains and buses, but they will restrict where and when you can travel. Investigate National Park passes - when I was there, you could get a pass for all the parks which worked out considerably cheaper than individual entry (assuming you want to go to the NPs, which, frankly, you should do).

If you go to Moab, try to stay at the Up the Creek campsite. It's a beautiful oasis, with real lush grass and trees, which came as a delight after weeks in the dusty desert.

And enjoy - it's a great place for an adventure!
Kat132 on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

I did a road trip from Salt Lake City to San Francisco a couple of years ago. We were stung with a large ish fee for picking up the car in one place and returning it to another. I think buying a cheap second hand car could be a good idea.
La benya - on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

You cant legally buy (or register) a car in the states without a permanent address, so unless you have a friend over there, willing to register it for you, that option doesn't work. We had no end of hassle trying to scrap our Canadian car in the US because it wasn't registered there.

I've also rented a car for 2 months, picked it up in Washington state and dropped it off in NYC- cos about 1200 for a Rav4 which i didn't think was too bad...?

Visa free, yes (except for ESTA) but border officials really dont like you not having a return flight booked, so i wouldnt go there expecting to be allowed in for the maximum time with no plan for the return leg.

As for Utah, it was my favourite state of the 30 i visited. unbelievable scenery around every turn, all slightly different (but mainly reed and rocky). any and all of the national parks are awesome (especially zion) and just like everywhere good, all these places get busy very quickly. getting a spot at a campsite can be hard.
steveriley - on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to tony:

I've stayed at Up the Creek twice - great spot. My friend broke his collarbone whilst we were they and they lent him their mini caravan to make him more comfortable. Sorry nothing useful to add to the original poster!
Smythson on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

For car - try Turo (nee Relay rides) we had a ridiculous 6 litre convertible out of SF and it was about 30% of the cost from the big companies. You can contact the owners to negotiate special rates if you have a set time period / distance in mind.

Minneconjou Sioux - on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

If you are really trying to do this on a tight budget my suggestion would be to get yourself to Moab (likely easy enough from SLC) and set yourself up there then rent for short periods out of one of the rental places for day trips etc.

The aim would then be to find the local climbing scene and hook up with them. You might find yourself on some great adventures that way so long as you are sensible and there's more than one of you.
Frank the Husky - on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to EmmaAtkinson: It's not accurate to say that you can always travel visa free.

You will, at the very least, need to apply for a thing called an ESTA. This is a visa waiver programme, but without it you will be refused entry.

If you have travelled to specific countries since 2011, you will need a full US Visa which you can only get from the embassy in London. Those countries are Iraq, Syria, Sudan and Iran.

I had to go through that process and it was time consuming and frustrating. I also have lots of other arab visas in my passport, as well as Afghan ones, and that has caused no end of delays on transit.

Other than that you should have a great time - Utah is an exceptional place.

tjekel - on 14 Jan 2017
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:
very much depends on what you want to do there. climbingwise, i'd try to fly into vegas and at least spend some time in red rocks which can be organized reasonably cheap.
Offwidth - on 15:11 Sat
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

You could try posting on the lifts and partners on climbing sites like Mountain Project or Supertopo. Maybe consider getting from main base to main base on a bus and partnering locals with a car and then go on a car camping tour for as long as you can afford. I find US car hire pretty cheap even through the main comapnies...I usually hire the economy and get given a compact as they never have any. There are differences in states in requirements and specifications so its worth looking at hire from different states. Put up a post on those websites above and ask the locals. I've found US climbers to be refreshingly friendly, helpful and generous. Utah is lovely. Vegas is a dump but it has Red Rocks, an active local scene and super cheap accomodation for monthly rental (where a lot of the casino workers live). Camping in national forest areas is often free (usually no facility but often marked sites).
Minneconjou Sioux - on 16:45 Sat
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

Not sure how old you are but you might need to be 21 to get car hire.
pec on 17:54 Sat
In reply to tony:

> Investigate National Park passes - when I was there, you could get a pass for all the parks which worked out considerably cheaper than individual entry (assuming you want to go to the NPs, which, frankly, you should do). >

Its called an America The Beautiful pass, they don't seem to advertise them much so ask for one at the entrance to the first national park you visit. It costs $80 so you'll save money even if you only visit 3 parks (there are 5 all worth visiting) and you can use it for national monuments as well but not state parks. It will also get you discount in some (though not all) national park campgrounds.


Try Happy Tours for car hire, I found them about 25-30% cheaper than all the ones you've heard of (including all the comparison sites) when I was over there last summer. They also include full collision damage waiver with no excess and free 2nd driver which you often have to pay extra for which makes them cheaper still.


That said, its still going to cost you close on 3,000 for 3 months, but between 2 people that's perhaps not so bad? Bear in mind once you're there fuel is dirt cheap and camping/cooking food is cheap. The car and flights are the only big costs.

Also only hire the cheapest budget car. In 7 trips to the US I've always been upgraded and so has everybody else I know, the smallest car I've ever had was a Ford Focus. In fact at the airport the rental cars were parked up in rows according to size, the smallest row was labelled medium, they didn't actually have any small cars.

One final tip, you usually pay a premium to collect your car from the airport, check out the cost at non airport locations. The cost saving could be worth the extra hassle if you're there for that long.

Minneconjou Sioux - on 15:10 Sun
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

Do you have CostCo in the UK? If you book your car hire through CostCo it'll be a lot cheaper.

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