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  1. #1

    Default MO to CA and Back Again in May

    First of all, great site. I've spent tons of time the last couple weeks reading the articles and forums here and it's been invaluable in my planning.

    I'm planning a road trip for myself and my mom starting at the end of april and lasting for a couple weeks into May. Let me give you a little background info so you can better understand what we are looking to accomplish. I enjoy the occassional moderate hike, but my mom is disabled and strenous walks are impossible for her. So, we wouldn't be spending a lot of time hiking trails. The max would probably be 1 mile roundtrips as long as the ground isn't too rugged. I suppose that means most of the sight seeing will consist of driving to look out points and such. We were planning to reserve our lodgings at Yosemite before leaving and just winging it lodging-wise for the rest of the trip so that's why we have the long drive to Yosemite at the beginning. We'd like to have the flexibility of no reservations after Yosemite.

    We are aiming for being away for 14 days, but a couple days more, if needed, wouldn't make or break things. Here's the rough itinerary I have so far.

    April 29th - May 1st
    Drive from central Missouri towards Yosemite following I-44/I-40 and skirting the Sierras near Bakersfield, CA. A short stop at Petrified Forest NP along the way.

    May 2nd
    Arrive at Yosemite around mid-day.

    May 3rd
    Yosemite.

    May 4th
    Leave Yosemite that morning for Big Sur. Spend a few hours driving down CA-1 with a few scenic stops along the way. Cut east towards Bakersfield near the end of the day to find a hotel for the night.

    May 5th
    Drive from Bakersfield to Death Valley. Spend a few hours in Death Valley then drive on to Las Vegas to spend the night.

    May 6th
    Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West and tour the new Skywalk. Maybe throw in a stop at Hoover Dam along the way. Drive from Grand Canyon West to the South Rim and stay the night nearby.

    May 7th
    Grand Canyon South Rim

    May 8th
    Drive from Grand Canyon South to Zion NP. Spend the rest of the day in Zion and stay nearby (perhaps Cedar City?) that night.

    May 9th
    Try to catch the sunrise at Bryce Point in Bryce Canyon. Spend about a half day there. Start the drive home that afternoon following I-70 back to central Missouri.

    May 10th
    Interstate driving.

    May 11th
    Arrive home that evening.

    That puts us at 13 days total. I'm thinking of adding an extra day or two in at Las Vegas, Yosemite, Grand Canyon or whatever else you guys might suggest.

    Is this timetable do-able? I realize that we are packing a lot of territory into a 2 week vacation. Any suggestions for reversals, switcheroos, or such in the route? We would really like to see Zion and Bryce, but we could skip those parks if this timetable is just too insane to work. Yosemite, Big Sur, Death Valley, and the Grand Canyon are a must, though.


    A few other questions:

    What are the crowds like in general in early May? Would we be able to make it without hotel reservations?

    Is there any potential for freezing precip. along the way? We'll be taking my Mazda RX-8 with summer tires so if we run into any of the white stuff we'll have to hole up somewhere until the roads clear. Besides that threat the drive should be great fun and is a large part of the attraction of this roadtrip for me.

    I'm having a hard time deciding on the route to take from the Bakersfield area to Death Valley. I was thinking of taking CA-58 to Barstow -> I-15 to Baker -> CA-127 to Shoshone -> CA-178 to Furnace Creek. It seems to be the fastest route, correct? Would this leave enough time in the day to see Death Valley and then drive on to Las Vegas before stopping for the night, or should we try and push on to Mojave or some other mid way point the day before and stay there instead of Bakersfield?

    My longest roadtrip (with me as primary driver) so far has been a 900 mile round trip to Chicago and back. This one will be of a whole other caliber, and I'm really looking forward to it! Thanks for reading this long post and for any info you can provide. :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Thanks for the background and preparation!

    Quote Originally Posted by radmon View Post
    First of all, great site. I've spent tons of time the last couple weeks reading the articles and forums here and it's been invaluable in my planning.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! Thanks for taking the time to think through what you goals you have before posting on the Forum. It will save some steps here.
    I suppose that means most of the sight seeing will consist of driving to look out points and such.
    Which is still an amazing way to travel. The NPS has done a good job of making available level, smooth walking trails so that those of us who are not as fluid-in-movement-as-we-once-were can still see lots of cool stuff.
    We were planning to reserve our lodgings at Yosemite before leaving and just winging it lodging-wise for the rest of the trip so that's why we have the long drive to Yosemite at the beginning.
    I like and applaud the winging it part -- but there is little point in pushing yourselves so hard in the beginning that you are too pooped to enjoy the rest of the trip.
    April 29th - May 1st
    Drive from central Missouri towards Yosemite following I-44/I-40 and skirting the Sierras near Bakersfield, CA. A short stop at Petrified Forest NP along the way.
    Doable -- but really pushing it,
    May 4th
    Leave Yosemite that morning for Big Sur. Spend a few hours driving down CA-1 with a few scenic stops along the way. Cut east towards Bakersfield near the end of the day to find a hotel for the night
    I am not sure I follow this leg -- what highway are you using to get from Yosemite to the Big Sur (where do you plan to hit the coast?) I suspect it will be extremely unrealistic for you to drive from Yosemite to the coast and head back to Bakersfield. But let us know your plans for this day! I would urge you to conside pausing overnight in Morro Bay, Cayucos is one of my favorite places in this regards.
    May 5th
    Drive from Bakersfield to Death Valley. Spend a few hours in Death Valley then drive on to Las Vegas to spend the night. ...I'm having a hard time deciding on the route to take from the Bakersfield area to Death Valley. I was thinking of taking CA-58 to Barstow -> I-15 to Baker -> CA-127 to Shoshone -> CA-178 to Furnace Creek. It seems to be the fastest route, correct?
    Um no! Well, actually it might be the fastest to Furnace Creek -- but it is counter-productive if you actually want to see more of Death Valley!

    Leaving aside for the moment, that it is functionally impossible to drive from Yosemite to the coast, down the Big Sur and back east to Bakersfield in one day -- Let's assume that this portion of the drive picks up at Mojave (on CA-58).

    What I would do is take CA-14 north from CA-58 to CA-178 and follow it north , past Trona and up to CA-190 (the designation for CA-178 actually ends long before you reach CA-190) but you won't notice. When you reach CA-190 take the side trip about 2 miles west to Panamint Springs Inn for a nice ice tea and look at the photos and talk with the characters. Then head east on CA-190 (again) and climb Emigrant Pass -- awesome view of the Panamints and then down into Death Valley and Furnace Creek. There are several posts on this forum about my favorite places to look at in Death Valley and the local's route back to Las Vegas.
    May 6th
    Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West and tour the new Skywalk. Maybe throw in a stop at Hoover Dam along the way.
    It makes more sense to me to return to Las Vegas afer the Skywalk and then use I-15 to Zion and that area and then go south to Grand Canyon and points south and east.

    Happy Planning!

    Mark

  3. #3

    Default

    May 4th
    Leave Yosemite that morning for Big Sur. Spend a few hours driving down CA-1 with a few scenic stops along the way. Cut east towards Bakersfield near the end of the day to find a hotel for the night.
    I am not sure I follow this leg -- what highway are you using to get from Yosemite to the Big Sur (where do you plan to hit the coast?) I suspect it will be extremely unrealistic for you to drive from Yosemite to the coast and head back to Bakersfield. But let us know your plans for this day! I would urge you to conside pausing overnight in Morro Bay, Cayucos is one of my favorite places in this regards.

    You're right. I hadn't mapped out the mileage of this leg but I did it in mapquest and it is simply too many hours of driving to do in one day while still giving some time for stops along CA-1. We were planning on hitting CA-1 just south of Monterey. From El Portal at Yosemite we would take CA-140 to Merced, CA-59 South to CA 152 West through Los Banos eventually getting onto CA-156 to Monterey which turns into CA-1. We are planning on following CA-1 South down through Cambria and heading east on CA-46 from there towards Bakersfield. What I think we may do is stay an extra day in Yosemite and leave early enough on that last day in Yosemite to make the drive to Monterey and stay in that area that night. Then the next morning we can start our way down CA-1 and spend the day sight seeing along the coast. If anyone has any suggestions on some neat or special places to stay in the Monterey, Carmel, or Big Sur areas that'd be great. I'm still looking into places we'd like to stop and see along CA-1. So far the must sees are Julia Pfeiffer Burns S.P. and at least one beach (maybe Pfeiffer Beach). Any more suggestions on what to see in this area would be very welcome. We would have about a half a day.


    What I would do is take CA-14 north from CA-58 to CA-178 and follow it north , past Trona and up to CA-190 (the designation for CA-178 actually ends long before you reach CA-190) but you won't notice. When you reach CA-190 take the side trip about 2 miles west to Panamint Springs Inn for a nice ice tea and look at the photos and talk with the characters. Then head east on CA-190 (again) and climb Emigrant Pass -- awesome view of the Panamints and then down into Death Valley and Furnace Creek. There are several posts on this forum about my favorite places to look at in Death Valley and the local's route back to Las Vegas.
    Okay, that was actually my initial thought too. That route is much more appealing to me so I think we'll take the extra time to go with that.

    I'm a compulsive planner (hehe) but I think we'll try to take things as they come beyond the Big Sur portion of the roadtrip. We'll try to make Bryce Canyon and Zion, but we may skip it if the pace turns out to be too much and we need to take it slower in the earlier parts. This will allow us greater flexibility with my mom's health problems as well.

    Thanks for your help!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default OK, some more thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by radmon View Post
    You're right. I hadn't mapped out the mileage of this leg but I did it in mapquest and it is simply too many hours of driving to do in one day while still giving some time for stops along CA-1.
    Yep.
    We were planning on hitting CA-1 just south of Monterey. From El Portal at Yosemite we would take CA-140 to Merced, CA-59 South to CA 152 West through Los Banos eventually getting onto CA-156 to Monterey which turns into CA-1.
    OK, since your mom's mobility is an issue -- I would suggest you turn north on CA-1 and drive to Santa Cruz and go to the Lighthouse Point Surf Museum and park. It is one of the few places in the world where mobility-challenged strollers can get within 100 feet or so of simply massive waves and watch professional surfers rip the curls (in a 100% safe manner) Don't miss this. Here is a web cam of this famous surf break known as "Steamers Lane" And even more importantly here is a link with a map and directions to the park -- nice benches and flat walkways for strolling.

    I would plan lunch here or maybe enjoy the great seafood at Phil's at moss landing. (scroll to the bottom of this thread for photos of sea otters and info about Phil's) For some more ideas about places we like along the coast -- look at this thread and the others listed here!
    We would have about a half a day.
    Just to be clear, you can not drive from Monterey to Cambria in 1/2 a day and still stop and see stuff on the Big Sur. (Unless 5-6 hours is your idea of a 1/2 day).
    I'm a compulsive planner (hehe) but I think we'll try to take things as they come beyond the Big Sur portion of the roadtrip. We'll try to make Bryce Canyon and Zion, but we may skip it if the pace turns out to be too much and we need to take it slower in the earlier parts.
    Good plan! I think the best time for planning is now and then stow all of those carefully laid plans when you hit the road. That way it truly will be an adventure!

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 02-10-2007 at 02:51 PM. Reason: Added navigation links

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    The Great Midwest, Illinois to be precise
    Posts
    527

    Default My Advise to You...

    Route 66, Route 66, Route 66.

    Get off the interstate and visit some of the sites. Perhaps sleep in a WigWam in Holbrook,Az. We especially enjoyed staying downtown in Williams, Az. Very interesting restaurants, bars, and souvenire places. Williams calls itself Gateway to the Grand Canyon.

    Oatman, Az. and the burros.

    Of course, I-44 and I-44 run right alongside the Mother Road.

    Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

  6. #6

    Default

    OK, since your mom's mobility is an issue -- I would suggest you turn north on CA-1 and drive to Santa Cruz and go to the Lighthouse Point Surf Museum and park. It is one of the few places in the world where mobility-challenged strollers can get within 100 feet or so of simply massive waves and watch professional surfers rip the curls (in a 100% safe manner) Don't miss this. Here is a web cam of this famous surf break known as "Steamers Lane" And even more importantly here is a link with a map and directions to the park -- nice benches and flat walkways for strolling.
    This sounds really cool. I'll have to see if we can work it into our plans.

    We would have about a half a day.
    Just to be clear, you can not drive from Monterey to Cambria in 1/2 a day and still stop and see stuff on the Big Sur. (Unless 5-6 hours is your idea of a 1/2 day).
    Sorry, I meant to say we would have ~4 hours to spend just at the stops along the way between Monterey and Cambria, not counting driving time into that. Thanks for the links, I'll check those out and do a few more searches. I ordered Lonely Planet Road Trip California Highway 1 today so I'll take a look at that when it gets here this week for more ideas.



    Route 66, Route 66, Route 66.
    I would love to explore some portions of Route 66 someday, but my mom is most interested in seeing the main attractions for this trip and since our time is pretty limited considering the territory we have to cover I'm not so sure we'll have much time for the interesting stuff along the side roads. I'll add a note to the plans and if we do end up having some extra time once we're out there we can make a couple stops in those places. Thanks for the suggestion.


    Thanks for all the advice so far.

  7. Default A couple more spots on Coast 1 south of Monterey

    Before you get to Cambria, a couple of spots that should be workable might be..

    - Pedros Blancas Elephant Seal Colony. There aren't any steps here and its pretty flat, and it should be pretty friendly for you. The longest walk is about 100 yards to look down at the Elephant Seals.

    - Hearst Castle (California State Park) They have a special tour here for those who are mobility challenged. Its quite impressive of place to visit. Check out http://www.hearstcastle.com/tours/ac...y_designed.asp

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