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  1. Default Advice wanted on Summer roadtrip (SF-Las Vegas-LA-SF)

    Hi all,

    I've read through most of the relevant posts already (this is a fantastic site!) and put together a rough itinerary for a roadtrip my sister and I are planning to take this Summer (July/August). We have 17 nights and fly in/out of San Francisco (from London). We're more interested in natural wonders than man made ones, although we wouldn't want to miss Vegas or San Francisco.

    I would really appreciate any thoughts/advice from people who've travelled this route/locals to the area.

    In particular, are we being too ambitious in terms of the distances we plan to cover each day?
    Any recommendations on good places to stay along the route (max USD 100 per night for two - with the exception of San Fran, LA and Las Vegas where we realise we might have to pay more!).
    Any 'must sees' which we have missed out?

    See also some specific questions below

    Look forward to hearing from you, thanks in advance for your help
    Laura


    Day 1 Arrive late pm San Francisco, pick up hire car & drive to Sacramento to overnight there
    Day 2 Drive to South Lake Tahoe, overnight there
    Day 3 Drive to Yosemite. 2 nights there
    Day 5 Kings Canyon/Sequoia/Death Valley? Stay overnight in this area - where?
    Day 6 Drive to Vegas. 2 nights Vegas
    Day 8 To Grand Canyon, overnight here
    Day 9 Spend the morning at the Canyon, then to Flagstaff & overnight there
    Day 10 Head towards LA - Visit Joshua Tree National Park? Or Palm Springs? Stay somewhere in this area - not sure where?
    Day 11 Arrive LA. 2 nights
    Day 13 Head up the coast - stay over 1 night somewhere (Carmel?)
    Day 15 Arrive San Francisco. Get rid of car? 4 nights here - or maybe one in Napa Valley area?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Most of it works!

    Quote Originally Posted by laurisdefaith View Post
    I've read through most of the relevant posts already
    Thanks for taking a look! I wonder if you have seen them all? The last time I checked, the number of threads about a trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas and back exceeded 1800 threads! In any case, welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!
    (this is a fantastic site!)
    ...and thanks for the thanks!
    We're more interested in natural wonders than man made ones, although we wouldn't want to miss Vegas or San Francisco.
    OK, that helps!
    Any recommendations on good places to stay along the route (max USD 100 per night for two - with the exception of San Fran, LA and Las Vegas where we realise we might have to pay more!).
    There are still plenty of places in all three cities where you can find good, acceptable and maybe even "fun" lodging for under $100 USD.
    Day 1 Arrive late pm San Francisco, pick up hire car & drive to Sacramento to overnight there
    I didn't look to see what time it will be in London time, but with the hassle through customs, baggage claim, etc. I would suggest you choose a motel in the East Bay area -- you will be too tired to drive all the way to Sacramento.
    Day 2 Drive to South Lake Tahoe, overnight there
    Drive US-50 and enjoy the lake. I really like SLT but it can be pricey -- for decent lodging -- I would suggest driving up to the brand new motel at Virginia City and enjoy some western hospitality -- be sure to order a bloody mary at the Bucket of Blood Saloon on main street!
    Day 3 Drive to Yosemite. 2 nights there
    I would drive south on US-395 (eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains) and then take CA-190 over the Tioga Pass into Yosemite! For a real treat -- if you are not staying in the park, try to get a room at the Yosemite Bug -- fun but different!
    Day 5 Kings Canyon/Sequoia/Death Valley? Stay overnight in this area - where?
    You can't do all three of these parks in a day unless you are flying a helicopter. But I do have a great idea for you! After you leave the Great Sequoia National Monument, instead of returning to the hot valley floor, proceed south on the Western Divide Highway (paved road) in good condition and then turn east on the Sherman Pass Road and then turn south again on Sierra Way, you will be following the Kern River. About two miles down the road, you will pass a roadside motel called McNallys Fairview Lodge. It is not fancy, but the rooms are clean and the setting is wonderful, you will go to sleep with the sounds of the river at your backdoor. Best yet -- McNallys serves the best steak meal in the area.

    In the morning, you can reach Death Valley by one of two routes -- both are scenic and fun. Either proceed on south, following the river to Lake Isabella and then take CA-178 to CA-14 and keep following CA-178 all the way through Ridgecrest and up to CA-190 for a trip through Death Valley and then over to Las Vegas (a couple threads about this route to Las Vegas are on this Forum).

    The other approach is to leave McNallys and then head north again and then turn east on the Sherman Pass Road which is a wonderful summertime drive over the Sierras. You may well see some bear and awesome views and a rather stunning narrow drive down the eastern slope of the mountains until you reach US-395 and then go north to CA-190 for a stunning drive over the Panamint mountains and then into Death Valley.
    Day 6 Drive to Vegas. 2 nights Vegas
    Here are some ideas about our home town of Las Vegas.
    Day 8 To Grand Canyon, overnight here
    Day 9 Spend the morning at the Canyon, then to Flagstaff & overnight there
    All doable -- and again there are dozens of posts about routes on this Forum (use the search).
    Day 10 Head towards LA - Visit Joshua Tree National Park? Or Palm Springs? Stay somewhere in this area - not sure where?
    Two suggestions for over-night lodging. Twentynine Palms has some very interesting murals, home to a marine base, and also home to a "secret" oasis that has attracted Hollywood stars for years -- it is not as fancy as it once was, but still pretty darn amazing and fun and the cafe serves food that is outstanding! Another relatively little known place is the little motel at Sam's Family Spa in Desert Hot Springs -- some of the nicest soaking water in the area. Sam died a few years back and I am not positive that the motel is still open -- but it remains a favorite place for me to unwind.
    Day 11 Arrive LA. 2 nights
    Look for Larrison's posts about LA -- excellent!
    Day 13 Head up the coast - stay over 1 night somewhere (Carmel?)
    Carmel is very pricey but there are plenty of nice places in Seaside and the Monterey Penisula.
    Day 15 Arrive San Francisco. Get rid of car? 4 nights here - or maybe one in Napa Valley area?
    I would suggest turning in the car and enjoy ing the area as planned.

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 02-25-2007 at 11:23 AM. Reason: added navigation links

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Starting Out On the right foot

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think my first bit of advice would be just to skip trying to make any distance that first day. You're going to be dealing with some serious jet lag, and arriving late at night isn't going to help. I suspect the last thing you'll want to do is drive anywhere, even if it is a relatively short distance. In fact, since you are giving yourself quite a few days on the back end of your trip, perhaps maybe you'd want to use one of them in the SF area, just so you have a little more time to get used to the time difference.

    Day 5 is also problematic. There really is no way to do both Death Valley and Sequoia/Kings Canyon in a single day. There is no direct path across the Sierra from Sequoia National Park, so any trip between the two will require to you go all the way back into the Central Valley and cross the Sierras at one of the passes farther south. All of those trips require a full day of travel.

    Depending upon how you decide to deal with Sequoia, you also might be better off visiting Yosemite before going to Tahoe. While you have to double back north a little ways, you would only have to cross the Sierras once, which should save you some time.

  4. Default Thanks

    Brilliant, thanks both for your comments. Some good ideas to have a think about.

    I travel extensively for work and am pretty used to getting off long haul flights and going to work/driving to meetings etc, but since we do have quite a lot of time (and we are on holiday!) it makes sense to take it slowly at the beginning, so will take your advice on that point and check out hotels close to the airport in SF.

    Will check back with you if I come up with any more questions, but for now I think we have plenty to be going on with!

    Thanks again folks
    Laura

  5. Default Yosemite to Vegas via Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Death Valley- too ambitious in 2 days?

    Hi all,

    Now that I have a rough itinerary for my 17 days in the US in July/August (and thanks for the great input on this before) I'm trying to nail down some of the details along the way.

    The Yosemite to Vegas leg is the one causing me a bit of a headache at the moment....

    My current plan has us (me and my sister sharing the driving) leaving Yosemite early on Weds 25th July, visiting Sequioa and Kings Canyon during the day and overnighting in Bakersfield.
    Another early start on the 26th, getting us to Death Valley around midday and then on to Vegas arriving early evening.

    Is this feasible? I've checked distances on the AAA site and technically it seems OK, but wondering if anyone familiar with the route might be able to comment - are we going to end up just driving with no time to stop?

    And if we get to Death Valley at midday is it all a bit pointless since too hot to get out of the car? (I keep reading on all these threads just how hot it is but I can't really imagine it - I've lived in Australia for 4 years, so I'm pretty good with heat but this sounds extreme...)

    Thoughts much appreciated. And if this sounds do-able, hotel/motel (ca USD50-75 price range) recommendations for Bakersfield would be great too

    Many thanks
    Laura

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

    Default It is reasonable

    Quote Originally Posted by laurisdefaith View Post
    My current plan has us (me and my sister sharing the driving) leaving Yosemite early on Weds 25th July, visiting Sequioa and Kings Canyon during the day and overnighting in Bakersfield.
    Another early start on the 26th, getting us to Death Valley around midday and then on to Vegas arriving early evening.
    Laura, It is certainly doable. I hope you use US-395 and approach Death Valley from the east -- awesome views that way. You might want to read this thread from another Aussie traveler -- in it I provide some alternatives to the Sequoia/Death Valley routes, (read the entire thread).
    And if we get to Death Valley at midday is it all a bit pointless since too hot to get out of the car? (I keep reading on all these threads just how hot it is but I can't really imagine it - I've lived in Australia for 4 years, so I'm pretty good with heat but this sounds extreme...)
    Summer time is one of the busiest times in Death Valley -- but it will be hot. 115 to 120 (F) is the norm. Here is some more weather info and here.
    Thoughts much appreciated. And if this sounds do-able, hotel/motel (ca USD50-75 price range) recommendations for Bakersfield would be great too
    Plenty of roadside chain motels in Bakersfield.

    Mark

  7. Default Possible to get to Kings Canyon/Sequoia from the 395?

    Hi,

    Thanks Mark for the quick reply.

    My sister (who hasn't actually looked at a map yet - she's going off pictures in her guide book!) was wondering if there was a way to get into Kings Canyon and Sequoia from the 395? Or do we have to go the other way via Fresno? I've tried the AAA route planner and Google Maps and I can't see any way in from the 395, but wondering if I was missing something?

    Would seem to make sense if we could to drive down the 395, passing by Mammoth Lakes, Independence, Lone Pine etc on the way and then just duck into the two parks as we go - or is this just wishful thinking and we essentially would have to go via Visalia/Fresno?

    Thanks again for all your help
    cheers
    Laura

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Sherman Pass Road

    Quote Originally Posted by laurisdefaith View Post
    My sister, who hasn't actually looked at a map yet
    A look at a map would seem to be a timely idea pretty soon.
    was wondering if there was a way to get into Kings Canyon and Sequoia from the 395?
    Yes, there is a very scenic road from US-395 to Sequoia -- but given your plans to visit Yosemite the previous day, it makes no sense to drive all the way across the Sierras (over Tioga Pass) and then down US-395 and then west again on the Sherman Pass Road. Actually I provided tips on how to do this drive earlier in this thread -- please re-read that section. It is possible to go from Sequoia to US-395 and then on do Death Valley -- but it is an all-day drive and if time is really a factor -- you should plan to viewing Sequoia from the west side and then squirting the edge of the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains you head for Death Valley. Here is map of the Sherman Pass Road area.
    Would seem to make sense if we could to drive down the 395, passing by Mammoth Lakes, Independence, Lone Pine etc on the way and then just duck into the two parks as we go
    It is a gorgeous route to drive south on US-395 and I would personally suggest that you do this instead of going to Sequoia on your way to Death Valley.

    Mark

  9. Default Thanks

    Hi

    Thanks again - sorry, must have missed the bit where you explained this before - still trying to get my head round all the different road options. My sister has delegated planning to me - preferring to look at pretty pictures to decide where she wants to go rather than actually seeing if feasible on a map....

    I am coming to the conclusion that we should skip Sequoia (particularly as there are also big trees to look at in Yosemite, and we've previously seen similar big trees in Western Australia...) and instead spend the time on the 395 straight to Death Valley - this gives us more time in Death Valley and is a more straightforward route overall...but I'll review your previous suggestions and see what my sister thinks

    thanks
    Laura

    PS no doubt this is also in the FAQ section somewhere - but how do you do that thing where you 'quote' from the previous post in your reply - or do you just copy/paste?!

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

    Default The quote functions

    Quote Originally Posted by laurisdefaith View Post
    I am coming to the conclusion that we should skip Sequoia (particularly as there are also big trees to look at in Yosemite,
    Actually the Giant Sequoias exist no where else on earth. There are redwoods near Yosemite -- but not on the scale of the Sequoias.
    and instead spend the time on the 395 straight to Death Valley - this gives us more time in Death Valley and is a more straightforward route overall...but I'll review your previous suggestions and see what my sister thinks
    I still think you would enjoy it as well -- you could go and see the famous ghost town of Bodie that way -- here is a good field report about that entire area. You might wish to read it in its entirety.
    PS no doubt this is also in the FAQ section somewhere - but how do you do that thing where you 'quote' from the previous post in your reply - or do you just copy/paste?!
    When you open a message to reply, you will see a variety of tools at the top of the new message box. The one that looks like a cartoon character's text box is the tool that makes the quote. So you simply highlight what you want to quote and click on that tool.

    Mark

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