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  1. Default LA, San Fran, Yosemite, Death Valley plus Vegas

    Hi Guys,
    Hopefully someone can give me some advice......
    I am planning a 10 day trip with my GF around the 26th August to 5th Sept of California and a stop in Vegas.
    We want to include all of the above locations in our trip but are unsure of the best route to take.
    We plan to start our trip in LAX and also end in LAX.

    Our plan is to arrive in LAX, stay one night and hire a car the next day and travel along the coast to San Fran, stay a few nights (3 or 4 nights), then drive to Yosemite across the Sierras early in the morning and spend one night there. We then want to see Death Valley (maybe stay one night somewhere)and head to Vegas for 2 (maybe 3) nights. Then drive (or fly) to LAX and stay one more night before going home.

    Is this doable? Where are the mammoth lakes and would it be possible to include them and see the grand canyon on the way back (im guessing no-way! to the grand canyon in the time frame i have planned)?

    We have planned this trip around scenery but am open to suggestions as regards flying to certain places instead of driving (really want to see the landscape though as a first choice).

    Any info would be greatly appreciated and can you tell me about gas prices (convertible car possibly) for this trip and how long between each place please.

    Thanks,
    Keith

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default Foundation

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    A couple things to note, if you are planning on following the coast, then 2 days is recommended for the trip from LA to SF. Its a long long drive to do in just one day.

    And just for the Geography, The Yosemite Valley is actually on the West side of the Sierras (although the whole park continues across to the other side) so you'll do most of your sightseeing there before you cross the pass.

    As far as the Grand Canyon goes, you'll need at least one full day in addition to what you already have planned. It would take you about 5 hours to get there from Vegas, and then you'd be looking at about a 10 hour drive back to LA.

    This area is a very popular one, and This thread has tons more information to consider about your trip.

  3. Default

    Hi
    I don't know if this is helpful but we have done a similar trip about 18 months ago, and it sounds like the right amount of time. We started in san fran, then went to yosemite, death valley then back on the coast through san luis opbispo, santa barbara, LA, san diego, ensenada (where we had a nice 3 days stay), then up to vegas, zion national park and back to vegas-all this in about 15 days!
    I would say if you can spare the time, definitely go to zion (north of vegas), for me it was the best bit with death valley. If i was you i'd finish in vegas, there's no additional charge for the car rental, from LA to vegas. Also, if you want to go to Alcatraz buy your ticket in advance, i am not sure if it's always that busy but we could not get a ticket for the same day. We missed out on the grand canyon last time but going back tomorrow for a drive from Vegas to New Orleans (in a convertible-re gas price!) and our first stop is the grand canyon so could let you know how long it took us to drive there when i am back if you still need some info.

  4. #4

    Default Welcome

    Hi Keith and welcome to the RoadTrip America forum.

    Firstly, where are you flying in from? I flew into LAX last year from the UK and the time zones messed with my sleep so much that, on our first morning in the country, we were up and away from the hotel by 4am local. This gave us two or three hours on the road before sunrise - which we spent on the interstate putting as much mileage behind us as we could - before transferring over to the Pacific Coast Highway as the sun started to rise. This was a beautiful sight, and somehow symbolic that the whole trip was suddenly starting, waking up if you like.

    The PCH is a fantastic drive and, early in the day, almost deserted. Which is great as you can get some serious mileage behind you and, if you want, just about make San Francisco in a day without too much hassle. Having said that (and please don't ask about what speeds we were doing...) would I do it that way again? Probably not, no. There's far too much to see along that road that I would stop part way along the route for the night. If you don't mind me saying - although the decision is entirely up to you, of course - I might suggest doing just 2 or 3 nights in San Francisco and taking that extra night along the PCH someplace. San Fran is a fantastic city but it's not actually that big that you'll need to spend so long exploring it IMHO.

    When in San Fran be sure to drive down the curly part of Lombard Street which is part of the 49 mile drive

    From San Fran you will cross the Bay Bridge, through Oakland, out to Yosemite. This is quite a drive so, if you're planning on driving out in the morning, be sure to leave real early. It's a great park so be sure to allow enough time here. I'd suggest that an afternoon and the following morning is the minimum time that you should allow.

    From there you will take Tiogas Pass towards Death Valley, passing Mono Lake as you pick up the main highway. You can visit Mono Lake - and Bodie Ghost Town - and then stop for the night in the nearby town of Lee Vining.

    You will then be able to 'do' Death Valley and make Vegas in one day. Do not, unlike us, take the back road into Death Valley that is indicated on the map through Intyo National Forest. If you do, be sure to report the fact that you're doing so to someone trustworthy and ask them to report that you are missing if you do not 'sign in' with them on your arrival at Scottys Castle. It is a rough road, with some steep drop offs. It'll require a 4x4 and you'll not see anyone for 75-80 miles. It was great fun, to be honest, but only afterwards when we'd reached 'civilisation' in the park did we realise how stupid we'd been!!

    Death Valley itself is amazing - I love it - Scottys Castle, the sand dunes at Stovepipe Wells, Ubehebe Crater, Badwater Basin and, particularly (leave this to the end so you can get a perspective on where you've been) Dantes View were utterly spectacular. I really enjoyed the place.

    As you leave Death Valley, take the 190 and head to Death Valley Junction to the east. When you arrive here you will spot a sign for 'the quick route' to Vegas or something along those lines. It cuts you right through Pahrump and into Vegas itself. Turn left onto 'The Strip' and you pass the famous Las vegas Sign. There's not much of a photo opportunity there - unless you want to take your life in your hands... you'll see what I mean! - but it does suddenly wake you up to the fact you've arrived in Vegas after several days in the national parks - it's quite the contrast! Be sure to pre-book your hotel in Vegas unless you want a long and frustrating wait at the check-in desk!

  5. Default

    What can i say Guys, thanks a million, you have all been very helpful and have given me loads of really good advise.

    UKCraig, I am coming from Ireland, think the flight gets in at 3pm US West time so i'd say i'll have the same problem as you as regards sleep pattern.
    But, as you say, it might work out well if we start out early the next day to see the sunrise etc.

    One more question, would it be possible to fit in the place where the big trees are (not sure of the name)? And also fit in Mammoth lakes?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    378

    Default Lakes and trees

    Hi,

    Sounds like a busy trip. There are big, tall trees (sequoias) in the southern part of Yosemite. It is a bit of a drive from Yosemite Valley, but worth it. There is a beautiful stand of coast redwoods (different, but also big and tall) north on San Francisco, not far from the Golden Gate Bridge, at Muir woods.

    After leaving Yosemite you'll be heading down Hwy 395 which goes right by Mammoth Lakes. You'll know by then if you have time for a side trip. It isn't far. Personally, I'd spend more time in Yosemite hiking to Mirror Lake, Vernal Falls and/or driving to Glacier Point.

    The side trip to Bodie Ghost Town is a bit out of your way and will take several hours, but it is pretty unique and well worth the time.

    Coming from Ireland, one of our favorite countries, where the distances are so short, you'll be amazed at how long it takes to get to some of these places. Its kind of like going from Dingle to Westport in a day. I suppose you could do it, but you pass so much.

    Have a great time, and make the best use of the sunlight. Is it possible to fly into LA and fly out of Las Vegas? Saving that drive back to LA could get you a day in the Grand Canyon, which is almost priceless!

    Craig Sheumaker
    co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Sequoia and Yosemite and Beyond

    Quote Originally Posted by Silvermouse82 View Post
    One more question, would it be possible to fit in the place where the big trees are (not sure of the name)?
    Here is an excellent thread that discusses much of your planned route (disregard the discussion about closed passes -- they will be open for your trip) but read the entire thread for some ideas -- it will take only about 10 minutes.
    Pay special attention to the posts by JWest, she is an expert on the trees and very informative.

    And then read this post about Sequoia and Death Valley -- again, it will take about 10 minutes to read it all --

    Happy Planning!

    Mark

  8. Default

    Okay, think we have something to work on now based on all the great advise all of you have given.

    Can you let me have some feedback on my plan below please?

    1. Arrive in LAX and hire a car and travel to Santa Barbara and stay a night (getting some of the drive out of the way)
    2. Next day head for San Francisco and stay 3 nights travelling along the coast early in the morning (Big Sur and Monterey.....).
    3. Then early in the morning head to Yosemite and stay in the Yosemite Lodge (still open to suggestions here as this is on the outskirts of the park but i think maybe a good location(please debate this if you disagree, mabe better to stay in Lee Vining but would really like to 'do' Yosemite)) and stay one night.
    4. Then head to Lake Mono and possibly Bodie Ghost town, and then the Mammoth lakes. Need advise on where to stay along this part???
    5. Then after a nights stay 'somewhere' head to Death Valley continuing on the 395 and then onto Vegas. Stay in Vegas for 2 nights and on the 2nd day try to see Zion.
    6. Then head on a plane to LAX and stay one night (we need to fly home from LAX(no choice!))

    Still wouldnt mind getting to see the sequioa park but i dont think it is possible, any suggestions???

    Too much??? Or just right for 10 days???

    Let me know what you think and thanks again for the advise.

  9. Default California trip (LA to San Fran to Vegas to LA by car)

    Can you let me have some feedback on my plan below please?

    1. Arrive in LAX and hire a car and travel to Santa Barbara and stay a night (getting some of the drive out of the way)
    2. Next day head for San Francisco and stay 3 nights travelling along the coast early in the morning (Big Sur and Monterey.....).
    3. Then early in the morning head to Yosemite and stay in the Yosemite Lodge (open to suggestions here as this is on the outskirts of the park but i think maybe a good location(please debate this if you disagree, maybe better to stay in Lee Vining???)) and stay one night.
    4. Then head to Lake Mono and possibly Bodie Ghost town, and then the Mammoth lakes. Need advise on where to stay along this part toward Death Valley/Sequioa???
    5. Then after a nights stay 'somewhere' head to Death Valley continuing on the 395 and then onto Vegas. Stay in Vegas for 2 nights and on the 2nd day try to see Zion.
    6. Then head on a plane to LAX and stay one night (we need to fly home from LAX(no choice!))

    Wouldnt mind getting to see the sequioa park but i dont think it is possible in the time frame i have (10 days), any suggestions???

    Too much??? Or just right for 10 days???

    Let me know what you think.

    Thanks

  10. Default A couple of comments..

    In general, looks like a good trip, and the times and distances are very doable..

    A couple of comments..

    When are you flying in? LAX to Santa Barbara can be from 90 minutes to 3 hours, depending upon traffic. Plus, add in maybe an hour to be conservative about getting your luggage, getting a rental car, etc. It's a very reasonable drive, but just be aware that some of the freeways you'll be using here can be clogged up in rush hour (particularly the 405 going over Sepulvada Pass, and west on the 101 through the San Fernando Valley)

    Santa Barbara to SF via Coast 1 through Big Sur is very doable, but its a long day without any significant stops. You'll be going past Morro Bay, Hearst Castle, the Elephant Seal Colony, lots of great scenery, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Carmel, the 17-Mile Drive, Cannery Row, and other places. You might consider breaking the trip at Monterey.

    If possible, you'll want to spend a half day to a full day in Yosemite, in my opinion. Part of the experience in Yosemite is to get out of the car and do some walking or hiking. SF to Yosemite to Lee Vining is probably pushing it in a day.

    If you want to see the Mammoth lakes, you might also consider visitn Devil's Postpile. For a place to stay, you might consider in the Mammoth area -- its a big ski area in the winter, and there might be some places available in the summer.

    If you want to visit Sequoia National Park, its about a half day's drive south of Yosemite. (You have to come down out of the Sierras into the Central Valley, go south, and then go back up in the Sierras). But if you want to go over Tioga Pass, that is slightly north of Yosemite. There's another couple of routes around or over the southern end of the Sierras, but they aren't as scenic and somewhat south of Mono Lake.

    If you need to pick up a day, you have a couple of options I think -- take out a day in SF, or schedule a bit closer on flights from Las Vegas to LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). There are quite a few flights between LAX and Las Vegas, so you might be able to stay a day's drive and an over night stay near LAX by just hooking up a connecting flight. Your trade on this of course, has to include any one-way drop off charges for a rental car, instead of returning it to where you rented it.

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