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  1. Default Lake Tahoo or Big Sur


    My boyfriend and i are travelling from seattle to los angeles this summer over about 8 weeks, we will be spending just over a week in WA to see olimpic NP and North Cascades NP before driving down the west coast (over about 5/6 days) to San Francisco for a few days. At this point we do not know whether to head inland to Lake Tahoe or to stay on the coast and see Big Sur???

    After one of these we are going to Yosemite and then through death valley to Las Vegus then to the Grand Canyon, Zion NP, Mesa Verde NP etc, then down to route 66 and along it back to LA.

    Having never seen either can you recommend which would be better to see in terms of scenery - either big sur or lake tahoe?

    Also does the rest of our route seem reasonable and if anyone has some suggestions as to anything else on route that we should see please let me know.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Stray Thoughts

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.

    There is no "better" between Big Sur and Lake Tahoe. Both and lovely and which would better serve your particular desires is completely up to you. So let me just toss out some other things you may want to consider. You will have seen quite a bit of coastline prior to arriving in San Francisco and so you may want to head inland for a change of scenery. Going to the Lake Tahoe area puts you a bit closer to Yosemite, assuming that Tioga Pass is still open, which you'll also need to make a smooth transition from Yosemite to Death Valley. Finally, if you're going to end up in LA permanently, the coastline north of there will be relatively accessible from there, or you could make it the first leg of your journey back to Seattle. So I guess I'd think that Lake Tahoe would be the more logical choice. The scenery will be great no matter which way you go.

    With 8 weeks, you can cover a lot of ground at a very relaxed pace and spend some time at each of the places you've listed. There is a ton of stuff between Las Vegas and Mesa Verde (check this post) and, of course, Route 66 has its own charms, but also poke around a bit between the major attractions. You have the time to explore the back roads and lesser known venues. Do so and enjoy the trip.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default 8 weeks....Wow!

    You have lots of time to explore. With that much time, I don't see this as an either/or situation. You could do both. And both places are amazing. I would hate to have to choose.

    You could either:
    (1) Continue down the coast to see Big Sur and then go back inland to I-5 and head back up to Lake Tahoe, then go to Yosemite, and then continue on your planned route. This would add about 660 miles to your trip. It's only about 3 hours (150 miles) from San Francisco to Big Sur. You could leave early in the morning and get there in time to play for awhile, have a picnic lunch on the beach, and then drive the start for Lake Tahoe mid-afternoon. It's about 345 miles from Big Sur to Lake Tahoe and should take you about 5.5-6.0 hours. Get up in the morning and enjoy Tahoe. Play awhile, do some hiking, and head for Yosemite later in the day. It's only 170 miles (about 3 hours) from Tahoe to Yosemite. You could spend most of the day in Tahoe and still have plenty of time to drive to Yosemite in the late afternoon or evening. Then you could start exploring Yosemite the next day, continue onto Death Valley, etc.

    (2) From San Francisco, head inland to Tahoe, do Yosemite, then Death Valley and the rest of your trip. Once you get back to LA, plan for 2 days to drive up the coast from LA to Big Sur (or even all the way back to San Francisco). And then zip down I-5 back to LA to finish your trip. This way you can enjoy more of the Southern CA coast. It is gorgeous. It is something you should really see. LA to Big Sur along the coastal highway is about 320 miles. Big Sur back to LA mostly via I-5 is about 305 miles and a lot faster to drive (they drive fast on the highways down there!). If you went all the way back to San Francisco, it would be about 470 miles up the beautiful coast and then about 380 back down I-5 to LA.

    Personally, with 8 weeks, I think you would have time to do option 2. And the Southern CA coast is so amazing, it would be a shame to miss it, in my opinion.

    Hope this helps!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Bay Area, CA

    Default options

    That's a good plan in the making.

    I have been to both. But I wanted different things at that time.
    Big sur is, no doubt, one of the best part of CA coastlines. I find new things & places everytime I go there. Just being there is a wonderful feeling.
    There are a lot of hiking oppurtunities in the state parks nearby.

    But if you are looking for some water activiies like parasailing, jet skiing, or just boating, Tahoe has it all. In fact, I've never gone to Tahoe in summer and so, I'll be going there to parasail, this summer.

    So, as Michael sd, decide what you want and then you can make the decision of where to go.

    Wherever you go, I'm sure you will have fun.
    Tahoe is at an elevation of 6000ft. So it should be comparitively cooler.


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