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  1. Default Going Walkabout - USA Sept / Oct 2007

    G'day !! ...My fiance and I are travelling to the USA (from Melbourne, Australia) in Sept / Oct for 4 weeks. We have already booked hotels and have set a destination time frame. I have just stumbled accross this site and would love to get a bit of feedback or thoughts and suggestions on our travel plans for the trip.

    After a few days in Hawaii, we will be flying into LA for four days - doing all the sights. From here we fly to Vegas for 4 days where we are getting married (gulp). We then rent a car and drive to Grand Canyon for 1 night. Leaving GC next day for an easy drive to Kayenta AZ (160). Next day we travel through Monument Valley (163) to Moab UT (191) where we spend 2 nights, sightseeing Arches and Canyonlands NP. From here, a big drive to Boulder CO (6) for 2 nights, taking in Rocky Mtn NP, then a night in Denver, and next day fly to New York for 4 days, doing all the sights.

    From NY we fly to San Francisco spending a few days doing the sights. We are then going to rent a car and drive to Yosemite NP, staying in El Portal for 2 nights. We then drive south to Visalia via Fresno (41) where we will loop the drive (180-198) to take in Kings Canyon / Sequoia NP's (is this drive too big for one day ?). After the night in Visalia, we drive down to LA and fly back to Oz the next day.

    Would really appreciate any comments on this, as I have only estimated driving distances and stop over times from online maps etc., and yes, I have already read many posts here with related info, but, this is my turn - please give me the good, the bad and the ugly !! ....thanks !!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Mostly Good

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you've got a pretty good trip layed out. Everything is well spaced out, and you shouldn't feel overly rushed.

    Just two very minor things: Going all the way down to Visalia after Yosemite is a bit out of the way if you are going to loop back up into Sequoia. You might try looking into lodging right right in the park, and then stay in Visalia on your way out the following day.

    I also notice that you didn't include any time to travel the Pacific Coast Highway. Unless you have already traveled it, I would really suggest you try to fit that into your trip somewhere. The best option would probably be to cut a day out of one of your longer city stays and then tack it on at the end, although if you really didn't want to do that, I would think about cutting out Sequoia and heading straght to Monterey after Yosemite. I love Sequoia and think it is well worth the visit, but if I could only choose 2 of 3, Yosemite, Sequoia, and the Big Sur Coast, I personally would do Yosemite and the Coast.

  3. Default

    Thanks for your welcome and input here Michael - it's great !!
    Just to confirm, (sorry, I wasn't clear with my wording) we would be driving from El Portal to Visalia in the one day, taking in Sequoia and Kings Canyon along the way. (ie: El Portal to Fresno to Sequoia NP to Three Rivers to Visalia)

    It's funny that you have suggested the coastal route - I had originally been thinking about that option !! But, in the end decided that we could perhaps rent a car in LA at the start of the trip and have a short drive up the Pacific Coast Hwy on one of our days there.

    If we took the coast route, what would the driving time be from El Portal (Yosemite) to LA?
    Because I have allowed 2 days for this part of the trip, where would be a good overnight stop (Hotel)?
    What is the coastline scenery and attractions on this route ?
    (I have visited the coast north of San Francisco before and found it was similar scenery to my home town here in Australia.)
    Which route would be best to travel to take in all the sights and attractions?

    Sorry about all the Q's here !!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Possibly I am confused herein

    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Walkabout View Post
    If we took the coast route, what would the driving time be from El Portal (Yosemite) to LA?
    Because I have allowed 2 days for this part of the trip, where would be a good overnight stop (Hotel)?
    It is possible I am the only one who is confused here, but would this be a direct route from Yosemite to the coast and not going south to Sequoia? If so, the coastal drive along the Big Sur is different from the coastal drive north of San Francisco -- sheer drop-offs and gorgeous bays. There are several photos of the route on this Forum -- but take a look at this waterfall/bay combination. As far as lodging goes I would suggest staying at the Big Sur lodge (get one of the cabins with a fireplace) a
    What is the coastline scenery and attractions on this route ?
    Here are some other threads that touch on this subject.
    Which route would be best to travel to take in all the sights and attractions?
    From Yosemite, cut dead west to Santa Cruz and then follow PCH (Rte-1) all the way down the coast.

    Mark

  5. Default

    G'day Mark - thanks for the info mate !! (I think it could be my accent confusing things.)

    The last two days of our USA trip we have one of two options to get from El Portal (Yosemite) to LA:
    1.) From Yosemite, drive an inland route taking in Kings Canyon and Sequoia NP's with an overnight stop in Visalia then through Bakersfield to LA.
    or
    2.) From Yosemite, drive west to the coast (Monterey) and take the Pacific Coast Hwy down to LA with an overnight stop somewhere along the way.

    After the input from you guys and a bit of research on the net last night, I think I'm now tending toward the Coast option !!

    I would still just like to know what a realistic driving time would be for the coastal drive from: (A) El Portal to Big Sur.... and (B) Big Sur to LAX ?

    I cheked this on Yahoo maps / Map Quest / AAA ....etc. but they all give totally different results. (And I don't trust them too much anyway as they don't take traffic and road condition into consideration).

    Thanks heaps for this ...I am really enjoying this site !!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Thanks for the clarifications!

    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Walkabout View Post
    The last two days of our USA trip we have one of two options to get from El Portal (Yosemite) to LA:
    1.) From Yosemite, drive an inland route taking in Kings Canyon and Sequoia NP's with an overnight stop in Visalia then through Bakersfield to LA.
    or
    2.) From Yosemite, drive west to the coast (Monterey) and take the Pacific Coast Hwy down to LA with an overnight stop somewhere along the way.
    OK, got it -- Thanks. The thing is.... I love the coastal route, but, as you have pointed out, Australia has some of the most gorgeous coastlines in the world. Australia doesn't have any Giant Sequoias, so at the risk of being wishy-washy -- this would be my recommendation:

    From Yosemite -- spend a couple of hours in the Mariposa Grove Giant Sequoias and follow CA-41 through the gold country to Fresno....

    Actually if you want an awesome place to hang out -- seen by only a handful of tourists each year -- follow CA-145 east to Millerton Lake and then proceed east on CA-168 past Shaver lake all the way to the end of the road. This is known as Mono Hot Springs (nice development, rustic cabins, etc.) but the true wonder is a locals-only hot spring up the hill -- it may well be my favorite hot spring in north America.... Ask a local for directions to the trail for "Lil' Eden"

    But I digress.... Stay on CA-41 to CA-180 and follow that east to Sequioa National Park and then if you are up for a real adventure follow CA-198 to J-37 and follow the road over the mountains to the Sherman Pass Road. I would stay the night at one of the establishments along the Kern River. My choice here would be McNallys Fairview Lodge -- great steaks, on the river, rustic but OK. If you want something a little more chi-chi -- just before you reach Lake Isabella -- you will find the Whispering Pines Lodge B & B.

    From Lake Isabella to LAX it is about 170 miles and will take about three hours.

    Alternatively, you would take one of my favorite Sierra Nevada road crossings and continue east on Sherman Pass Road and punch out on US-395 (don't do this if either of you has any fear of drop-offs....) This would be a killer day starting at Yosemite -- ~12 hours and over-night at Ridgecrest -- but it would be awesome. From Ridgecrest it is about 160 miles to LAX and will also take about three hours.
    I would still just like to know what a realistic driving time would be for the coastal drive from: (A) El Portal to Big Sur....
    That is about 212 miles and with stops at the usual places that would be about five hours.
    and (B) Big Sur to LAX ?
    That is about 310 miles and with the usual stops & etc. it would be a 6+ hour drive.
    Thanks heaps for this ...I am really enjoying this site !!
    Cool!

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-08-2007 at 10:21 AM. Reason: added navigation link

  7. Default Big Sur and on to LAX...

    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Walkabout View Post
    [ ... ] After the input from you guys and a bit of research on the net last night, I think I'm now tending toward the Coast option !!

    I would still just like to know what a realistic driving time would be for the coastal drive from: (A) El Portal to Big Sur.... and (B) Big Sur to LAX ?

    I cheked this on Yahoo maps / Map Quest / AAA ....etc. but they all give totally different results. (And I don't trust them too much anyway as they don't take traffic and road condition into consideration).

    Thanks heaps for this ...I am really enjoying this site !!
    Hello Aussie Walkabout --

    I've found the on-line maps reasonable in driving time -- but don't include the necessary (and unnecessary) additional stops for gas, food, sightseeing, biological breaks, "got to get out of the car and walk around" stops, and of course, traffic. So I add in my best guestimate of what those might be...

    As a rough estimate, figure about 4-5 hours of drive time from El Portal to Big Sur, cutting across through Merced, Los Banos, and via Monterey to Big Sur area. With an early start you can spend a couple of hours looking around Monterey or Carmel -- at Cannery Row (Steinbeck country), the 17 mile drive in Carmel, or the Aquarium in Monterey Bay.

    Big Sur to LAX is doable in a day, but we usually recommend 2 days, via the coast route. Its about 6-7 hours drive down Coast 1 to 101, and then down to LAX via freeway. But you zoom past the Elephant Seal Colony at Pedros Blancos, past Hearst Castle, past Santa Barbara (the town and the old Spanish Mission), zip past Pismo Beach (and Guadalupe Dunes), past the wine countries at Paso Robles and San Ynez, zoom past Lompoc and Surf or Jalama Beaches, past Malibu, past the Getty Musuem(s), and etc. And I would give at least a few extra hours for traffic at one point or another -- Santa Barbara has one spot that's notorious for a 20-30 minute delay, and of course rush hour traffic in LA can be intense.

    But how you do it, or your specific route and schedule depends upon your time and inclination -- and what you want to see or do.

  8. #8

    Default

    Hello Aussie Walkabout!

    That sounds like a great trip. My husband and I are planning to take a road trip around that same time this year and might be heading to some of the same spots. Maybe we will pass you on the road.

    I have a suggestion for one other stop you might want to consider since you will be here in October. The Albuquerque Balloon Festival takes place this year from October 6th to the 14th.

    I've never been to this, but I've heard it is wonderful. I changed the date of the road trip we were planning so that we could be there when it is going on, but we were planning to go through Albuquerque anyway. It might add too many miles to your itinerary, though. For example, it's 371 miles from Monument Valley to Albuquerque.

    Good luck on your trip and congratulations on your wedding!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-08-2007 at 12:08 AM. Reason: Preferred URL Format

  9. Default

    Hey Mark, thanks for the awesome detail with those alternate mountain routes - I checked it all out map wise and even found some great sites on the net, including Mono Hot Springs - bloody beautiful spot that is !!
    I think now though, after talking over the options with my fiance, we are opting more toward the coastal route... you're right about the beaches in Oz, but, after looking at pics on the net of the Pacific Coast Hwy, I think it has just as much to offer and will be just as rewarding. We will have been to Yosemite, which as far as I know, offers much the same scenery as Sequoia, except the trees are not as big !! ...thanks mate.

    Hey Larrison... thanks for the online map insight !! - I'm with you on the 'got to get out of the car and walk around stops' !! That's a great break down of driving time for me. I'm just dissapointed now that we don't have another day to take in all that great stuff that you mention there. Unfortunately our schedule is already booked and can't be moved. The worst thing is that it will actually be on a Friday afternoon that we are driving back down into LA - traffic will be chaos !!

    G'day BlueHighways... thanks for the heads up on the Balloon thing. I checked out the site - looks to be spectacular... it was a great suggestion, thanks. It would be out of our way though, and we don't have time unfortunately to deviate there. Thanks heaps for the wedding wishes too !! Hey if you and hubby are in the same spots at that time look out for us - I'll be the one driving on the wrong side of the road !! ...have a great trip !!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default The Coast it is, then

    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Walkabout View Post
    We will have been to Yosemite, which as far as I know, offers much the same scenery as Sequoia, except the trees are not as big !!
    Um, no. There is no place like Yosemite on the face of the earth and comparing walking in a grove of Giant Sequoias with a jog through a conifer forest is like comparing Niagra Falls with a backyard pool waterfall. But you will have to come back and see that for yourself.

    With respect to the coastal route -- there are several dozen posts about places to check out and I urge you to consider purchasing this book -- it will enable you to find places that you would likely never find on your own.

    Here are some threads with photos by member Pashnit of the coastal areas (be sure to scroll through the entire thread):
    Road from Yosemite to the Coast
    Big Sur Photos!

    Be sure to scroll to the last photo of that thread -- it is one of my personal favorites of Tim's work (Pashnit) It is a spring-time view of Glacier Point in Yosemite! Make sure you go to Glacier Point during your visit too! Here are some more views of Glacier Point -- arguably one of the most amazing scenic views in the west!

    Also for your next trip -- look at these images from the top of Westgard Pass! And a little more about a future Sequoia trip for you!

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-08-2007 at 11:04 AM. Reason: More comments about Tim's photos

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