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  1. #1

    Default advice touring california, utah and arizona this summer

    Hi

    I am in the process of planning a 22 night fly drive holiday for me, my husband and our two children (8 and 5) this summer (July-August). We have never been to America before and i really want to get this holiday right so i would love some advice.

    At present my plan looks something like this:

    day 1 + 2 Los angeles
    day 3 somewhere on the coast on the way to...
    day 4 + 5 San fransisco
    day 6 + 7 Yosemite
    day 8 Death valley
    day 9 Las Vegas
    day 10 Zion
    day 11 Bryce Canyon
    day 12 Monument Valley
    day 13 + 14 Grand Canyon
    day 15 - 19 Palm Desert, next to palm springs (for a rest)
    day 20 - 22 San diego

    There are a few things i am worried about here - i hope you can help me out????

    1. Death Valley - is it going to be horribly hot - would we be better just driving through and staying an extra night in Vegas?

    2. Driving distances - have we got too many one night stops and are we travelling to great a distance day 8 to day 13? Also are we really going to see enough with only one night at each place?

    3. Is it too far to travel from the Grand Canyon to Palm Desert in one day - i'm hoping to go via sedona, is this too ambitious?

    4. Is palm desert going to be too hot in August and also are we going to like it? (not sure how you are meant to know if we will like it or not).

    5. Oh and one last one i've just remembered - my husband keeps mentioning lake tahoe - is it possible to travel from san fransisco to yosemite via lake tahoe without an overnight stop and if not is lake tahoe nice enough that it's worth taking a night off elsewhere?

    Any other thoughts or advice regarding our route, places to go, places to avoid etc. would also be much appreciated.

    Thank-you

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

    Default It seems a little exhausting to me!

    Quote Originally Posted by jane roughley View Post
    I am in the process of planning a 22 night fly drive holiday for me, my husband and our two children (8 and 5) this summer
    While it may be physically possible to cover this route in 22 days, it will be exhausting to the maximum. Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! A USA road trip sounds like a fantastic holiday. Here are some tips for planning a family road trip. In my view, it would be better to cut the mileage in half and spend more time relaxing a bit.
    1. Death Valley - is it going to be horribly hot - would we be better just driving through and staying an extra night in Vegas?
    Death Valley is one of my favorite places in the Americas. Yes, it will be hot and so hiking would be problematic at best -- but you can still see a good deal of the wonders from a car. Here are some tips for hot weather driving.
    2. Driving distances - have we got too many one night stops and are we travelling to great a distance day 8 to day 13? Also are we really going to see enough with only one night at each place?
    I think you will be spending about 8-10 hours per day driving -- which won't leave much time for sightseeing on this trip.
    5. Oh and one last one i've just remembered - my husband keeps mentioning lake tahoe - is it possible to travel from san fransisco to yosemite via lake tahoe without an overnight stop and if not is lake tahoe nice enough that it's worth taking a night off elsewhere?
    It is possible, but illogical since you would have to cross the Sierra Nevada mountain range twice.

    Here are some route suggestions and some ideas from your general area.

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Sarasota, Florida
    Posts
    10

    Default

    Overall, a good plan. But I do have some comments. :D

    For Day 3, I highly recommend stopping at Big Sur. Stay either in the State Park lodge or at Fernwood Resort (my choice).

    I have some reservations about the amount of time you want to spend in the desert at the hottest months of the year. We lived in Phoenix for 10 years and came to love the desert, but it will be *brutal* at that time of year. You must be out of the sun and in air conditioning for all but about an hour or so around sunrise. It can easily be 38C at 11 PM (yes, PM, it will be way over 38C at 11 AM). You mention you will be bringing children. Are they going to want to stay indoors all that time?

    Anyways, I put your itinerary into my copy of Microsoft Streets & Trips (which I highly recommend, get a copy now and you can plan in some detail ahead of time, then put it on a laptop to use during your trip). Here's what we get for mileages:

    Tot Stg
    305 305 LA-Big Sur via Hwy 1
    456 151 Big Sur - San Francisco via Hwy 1
    620 164 SF - Yosemite North Ent
    910 290 Yosemite - Furnace Creek, Death Valley via Lone Pine
    1078 168 Furnace Creek - Vegas, via Badwater Road
    1209 131 Vegas - Zion
    1295 86 Zion - Bryce
    1594 299 Bryce - Monument Valley - Kayenta, via Page
    1750 156 Kayenta - Grand Canyon South Rim
    2221 471 Grand Canyon - Palm Desert
    2342 121 Palm Desert - San Diego

    This all looks reasonable except Grand Canyon - Palm Desert. While doing that run in one day is certainly possible, it wouldn't be any fun at all. I strongly suggest breaking that one into two pieces. I also would try and split the LA - Big Sur into two pieces. That section of Highway One is one of the most spectacular and memorable roads in the world, and you're going to want to be able to stop many times. You also want to get to Big Sur relatively early in the day so you can enjoy the area, possibly the most spectacular of the entire coast. So, I would try to stop in, say, Morro Bay or someplace similar, and "pay" for it by either leaving LA a day earlier, or shaving a day off the Palm Desert time. Realize that there is effectively *no* lodging, fuel, or anything else other than views available between Morro Bay and Big Sur.

    You can't stay anywhere near Monument Valley other than in Kayenta, so that's where I put you stopping that night. If you have any interest in Native American jewelry, on hte way back be sure to stop at the big tribal store in Tuba City for "the good stuff". Prices on the reservation will be half or less of what it would cost in Phoenix, and a quarter of what I would have to pay locally here in Florida. Also stop at some of the roadside jewelry stands you will see on the reservation. The prices are incredibly cheap, and the articles make wonderful souvenirs and gifts.

    If you're going to Death Valley, get in at the Furnace Creek Resort.

    Realize that if you plan on staying at the National Park lodges, you need to make reservations *early*, like in, Now. You also need to check in at these places reasonably early in the day, to avoid stress.

    I would split the Grand Canyon - Palm Desert trip like this:

    Take SR 64 and US 180 from Grand Canyon to Flagstaff.
    Take US89A down through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona.
    Continue on 89A to Jerome and stay there for the night.
    The next morning, stay on 89A and head over the mountain to Prescott.
    Continue on 89 to Congress, then take SR71 to Aguila.
    At Aguila, take US60 through Salome, Desert Wells, etc and join I-10 near Plomosa Pass.
    Take I-10 through the desert to Palm Desert.

    This route gives you enough time to enjoy Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona, a spectacular mountain crossing, some extremely quaint towns (Jerome is amazing), avoids Phoenix, avoids a good chunk of the ugliest sections of I-10, and cuts that run to Palm Desert from a 471-mile day to a 302-mile day. Much better.

    If it were my 22 days (and it has been, in the past), I'd skip Southern California and add in the California coast all the way up to Crescent City, in order to see the Redwoods. I'd also add in time to get to Sequoia National Park, to see the trees there. But, I like the wild places more than the city, for vacationing. Maybe I'll put up another post with an alternate route for you to consider.

    Best of luck! I know for a fact that you will have memories for a lifetime.

  4. #4

    Default thank you

    thanks for the advice to editor and gannet

    to the editor - i think you might be right and thanks for the links, especially with the family i think we may have a little too much for a holiday! There is just so much to see!!!

    to gannet - i am now starting to rethink the trip - imagine all the other places we could see on route if we weren't spending much / any time in desert palms / san diego? My son is quite desperate to go to the zoo in san diego though - is it considerably better than any other zoo? - i guess by reputation it must be? Thanks for the advice regarding big sur and cresent city i am going to look into these immediately! And thanks very much for putting the time into getting the distances etc. much appreciated. If you plan to visit england/scotland and need any advice / reccomendations let me know!! Unusually for english people we travel quite a lot in england.

  5. Default

    5. Oh and one last one i've just remembered - my husband keeps mentioning lake tahoe - is it possible to travel from san fransisco to yosemite via lake tahoe without an overnight stop and if not is lake tahoe nice enough that it's worth taking a night off elsewhere?
    This is very possible and actually a great drive if you have the time. Lake Tahoe is great and you can take 395 down the east side of the Sierras and take Tioga Pass through Yosemite (a spectacular drive - so of course you'll want to be sure this is in the day time). You will also get a nice view of Mono Lake just before going into Yosemite. (I also hear there's a very nice ghost town just north of Mono Lake if that interests you at all).

    Drew
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 11-25-2007 at 05:02 PM. Reason: added the quotation format

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