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  1. Default Seeking Your Wisdom

    This is a great forum. My friends and I have decided to take a road trip and I have been poring over the forum topics trying to learn everything I can. Weíre thinking of going in May or June of 2008. I know itís a year away, but Iím too excited to not start planning. We were going to drive from Miami to California, but thought it might be too much to do comfortably in a max of 14 days.

    Here are the basic details:

    Days 1-2: Fly into Phoenix or Albuquerque.

    Days 3-5 Drive to Flagstaff and use that as our home base to check out the Grand Canyon.

    Days 5-6: Depart Flagstaff for Vegas.

    Day 7: Depart Vegas for San Simeon. Overnight at San Simeon.

    Day 8-10: Depart San Simeon / Arrive in San Francisco. We want to take Highway One up to Monterey and take the 101 the rest of the way to San Francisco

    Day 11: Depart San Francisco for home (flying).

    As I did my research of course some questions popped up.

    Is this a doable timeframe?
    Should we fly in to Phoenix or Albuquerque?
    Should we stay in Flagstaff or Williams?
    Is it worth it to drive Highway 1 all the way up to San Francisco?
    If we have to choose between the Mojave and Death Valley, which should we choose?
    The Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, The Hoover Dam, and San Francisco are our only must-sees. Is there anything we are missing that we should definitely fit in?

    I appreciate any advice you have to offer.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Solid Plan

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you've got a solid plan, although you might want to consider a few things.

    In terms of airports, I would simply go with whatever place offers the best deals for both flights and car rentals. I suspect that Phoenix will be cheaper than Albq, and while it will mean a little doubling back, I'd also shop for fares to Las Vegas.

    If you are planning to spend several days at the Grand Canyon, you might want to consider staying at one of the hotels on the rim or at one of the motels in Tusayan just outside the park. Motel costs will be a little less in Flagstaff or in Williams (another option with considering) but what you save in room costs, you might spend on gas making the hour+ commute between I-40 and the National Park.

    I see you haven't included Yosemite on your trip. That would be close to a must see. You could go from Vegas through Death Valley to Yosemite, and then continue on towards the coast from there. You might have to cut some time out elsewhere, but I think you'd have time to fit it in without feeling too rushed.

    Enjoy the planning, I find it only helps build up excitment for the actual trip, so you can never start too soon!

  3. Default Pretty much an echo...

    I'm going to pretty much echo Midwest Michael's comments. In general, its a pretty outline of a plan.

    For where to fly in -- prices will probably be your key determinant. I note that Air West is headquartered/ hubbed out of Phoenix, so you may be able to get some good prices (I found they were competitive, if not slightly cheaper than SouthWest on some flights.) ABQ has significant traffic, so you might get some good prices there as well. If you do go to Albuquerque, and you drive to Flagstaff, you need to stop at Petriefied Forest National Park near Holbrook, and the Meteor Crater (a bit touristy, but a unique place to visit).

    If you want to explore the Grand Canyon, I would also echo getting a closer place to stay than Flagstaff. Tusayan is somewhat less expensive than the "in the park" hotels at Grand Canyon Village, but there are also a couple of campgrounds in the Park, that would be cheapest. I'd plan on at least a full day at the Grand Canyon and do a little bit of hiking down one of the trails -- maybe not to the bottom unless you're really prepared (its a killer of a day hike otherwise), but a mile or two down from the rim gives you a totally different perspective on the canyon. But figure its going to be an hour per mile (or more, if its really hot) coming back up. Be safe, be prepared... There's no water on the trails.

    Las Vegas to San Simeon is a long day. A very doable day, but a long day's drive. Give yourself some time in the San Simeon area to walk on the beach, do Hearst Castle tour, and visit the Elephant Seal Colony at Pedros Blancas, about 10 miles up the coast. My favorite spot to stay there is San Simeon state park (across the Coast Highway from the beach), but there are a couple of motels there that back onto the beach as well. San Simeon to Monterey can be done in about 2-3 hours (depending upon where and how many times you stop... you can take a day for this as well)

    Depending upon time, you can cut inland to 101 from Coast 1 from just north of Monterey and get into SF in a couple of hours, or do the same from near Santa Cruz. It's a longer (timewise) trip on Coast 1 all the way up around the pennisula to SF. I'm of mixed feelings about taking Coast 1 all the way to SF, although I know people whose favorite part of Coast 1 is from Santa Cruz north.

    You might want to give yourself a day in SF --in a day you can do Alcatraz, the cable cars, china town and etc.

    What have you missed? Yosemite is probably a priority if you can hit it. It's possible to go from Las Vegas to Yosemite in a day -- spend a half day, and make it to San Simeon in the evening the second day. (I would recommend a full day in Yosemite if you can, just to do some hiking and walk around a bit...) Death valley is unique -- a large part of it it can be done as a drive through on the way to San Simeon or Yosemite, and only adds a couple of hours to the drive, but is something that is incredible to see.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the suggestions!

    I will definitely look into which airport has the cheapest rates and also do some research on The Petrified Forrest. I hadn't really thought about staying closer to the Canyon, but now that you've mentioned the travel time/gas to go back and forth from Flagstaff, I'll have to take a look at that too.

    As far as Death Valley, is possible to drive through in a rental car? I remember reading that some of the roads were unpaved.

    We have a total of 14 days to work with so I think we will definitely fit Yosemite into the plan.

    Thanks again for all the help.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default Couple of comments


    The road from Santa Cruz north to SF via the coast is by far the best (most scenic). There are several nice restaurants in Half Moon Bay and some nice fresh seafood places in Princeton by the Sea, 3 miles north, left at the light.

    The best reason for taking 101 is to stop at Mission San Juan Bautista. It is a wonderful mission and the adjoining state historical park is very good too.

    There is an elephant seal colony at Ano Nuevo, north of Santa Cruz, but I don't know how many are there during the summer. Not many as I recall.

    The main roads through Death Valley are all paved. Only the back roads are gravel, and you probably won't have time for them anyway.

    Do add Yosemite into your plan somehow. It would be a shame to miss the crown jewel of California (at least that is our opinion).

    Other than the Mariposa Big Trees in Yosemite, your best redwood tree experience will be Muir Woods, north of SF across the Golden Gate Bridge. If you've never seen a grove 300+ foot tall trees that measure up to 25 feet across (not around) you should take the time.

    I echo the Alcatraz trip. The ferry ride is nice, and the tour is very cool. Other ferry rides are fairly expensive - this one is free, with the price of admission to the Island.

    All the typical tourist stuff in SF are fun and worth it. Pick up a guidebook for the city and squeeze in as much as you can.


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