On the Road, Again, California: By the Numbers

East Entrance to Yosemite through Tioga Pass

Road trip from Cerrillos, New Mexico to Palo Alto, California

Time: 4 days, 3 nights

Distance: 1,767 miles by car, 17 miles on foot

Places: Five states (NM, AZ, UT, NV, CA), four National Parks (Grand Canyon, Zion, Death Valley and Yosemite), two National Forests (Kaibab in AZ and Inyo in CA), one National Monument (Devil’s Postpile, CA) and one major city (Las Vegas, NV).

Gas: $189. When I drove straight from Cerrillos to Palo Alto via the interstate, a distance of 1,100 miles, the trip cost me $150 in gas. So this 4 day epic cost me only $40 more, approximately one tank of gas. The difference lies in how much gas you burn driving 80 mph on the interstate versus keeping it under 55 on the back roads. See? Slow down! See more! Save money!

Camping: $18 (One free night in Kaibab National Forest, AZ; $12 in Death Valley; and $5 in Inyo Naitonal Forest, CA)

Food: $29 ($19 in camp cooking groceries and $10 for road side snacks)

Drink $0. (8 gallons of water for myself and the dogs, all free)

Souvenirs: $7 (Postcards, stamps and a couple of stickers for my camping tote.)

America the Beautiful National Parks Pass: $80. The pass paid for itself on this trip since it saved me the entrance fees to the Grand Canyon: $25, Zion: $25, Death Valley: $20, Forest of the Ancients: $3, Devil’s Postpile National Monument: $10 and Yosemite: $20 and it’s good until September 2012.

Total: $323.

Seeing more of the World: Priceless!

Click here for more tips on cheap road tripping!

Cheap travel tip: Don't buy gas in National Parks! Yikes Death Valley!

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in western Colorado. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at www.marycapertonmorton.com.
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9 Responses to On the Road, Again, California: By the Numbers

  1. Jack Stansbury says:

    I think I have a picture of that same gas station, when the gas was up around $4.00 or so back in 2004, and I thought that was a lot of $.

    We drove over the Tioga Pass also. What a drive! I love all the granite and the lake. I believe it was snowing some when we went over it, in September.

  2. Wow, that is stupid expensive at that gas station. 🙂

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  9. Queen says:

    Impressive! I’m trying to find as many ways to cut corners to travel. It’s one of my biggest passions. I’ve just recently come across your blog (as in, two days ago) and have fallen in love. I’m a single mother to a six-year-old daughter, who loves to travel, and four-year-old fur son, who has yet to travel long distance. Perhaps I haven’t perused enough, but my two questions are :what is your occupation and what do you feed your fur babies?
    Happy travels!

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