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  1. Default Best route LA, Grand Canyon, San Fran, LA?

    Hi everyone,

    We are planning a 3 week road trip starting from LA on 23rd Aug (fly home to England from LA on 11 Sept).
    Must visit Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco and thought chill out on Highway No 1 - Monterey, Santa Barbara etc before flight home.

    We hadn't realised how difficult this would be to plan! so any help will be greatly appreciated.

    Does the following sound feasible, are the distances between places reasonable, is this the shortest route in order to see GC Yosemite etc and are the overnight stops long enough?

    LA to Needles - stay 1 night
    Needles to Grand Canyon NP (South rim)- stay 3 nights
    Grand Canyon to Las Vegas via Kingman & Hoover Dam - stay 2 nights
    Las Vegas to Death V. - stay 1 night
    Death V. to Yosemite NP - stay 2 nights
    Yosemite to San Francisco - stay 3 nights
    San Fran. to Monterey/Carmel - stay 1 night
    Mon/Carmel to Cambria - stay 2 nights
    Cambria to Santa Barbara - stay 3 nights
    Santa Barbara to Santa Monica - stay 1 night
    Flight home next day

    I have a feeling we are being too ambitious and there will too many very long drives involved!

    Looking forward to comments

    Emm

  2. #2

    Default It really depends

    The answer to that depends on how much driving you want to do! To me it sounds positvely leisurely. I did a trip to the same area a couple of years ago and we went with plans like yours (around 1800 miles originally) but ended up doing so so much more (around 4000 miles in the end) and we only had 10-12 days IIRC. We were a little tired when we headed home but, wow, what a trip! As I say, I really dont think you're being too optimistic at all.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Nice planning!

    You've done a very good job planning and your trip should be leisurely with plenty of time to explore, relax, and enjoy your surroundings. Pat yourself on the back!

    Do you have any specific questions about lodging choices, points of interest along the way and in the various areas you're staying, and such? If so, let us know.

  4. Default Best route LA, Grand Canyon, San Fran, LA?

    Thanks for your responses, you have taken away some of anxieties!
    We don't want to be doing too much driving, but realise that to do this sort of trip and see as much as possible, that long driving distances are inevitable.

    Judy - you asked if we need help with accommodation etc along the route. We have looked up some hotels on TripAdvisor and wondered should some of the hotels be pre-booked or do we just tel a couple of days in advance to book?

    We guess places like Grand Canyon NP accommodations will be particularly busy in late August. Also there won't be many rooms available in Death Valley!

    What do you advise?

    We have pre-booked car hire through our UK travel agent.


    Thanks,
    Emm

  5. #5

    Default

    Emm,

    Having done Las Vegas - Death Valley - Yosemite last summer - have a read here - I would say that your proposed drive from Death Valley to Yosemite is way too long. I would suggest you drive from Las Vegas to Death Valley and on to Lone Pine or Bishop before you stop for the night. This then gives you more time for crossing the Tioga Pass into Yosemite the following day, which is a spectacular drive when you should stop regularly and get out to drink in the views.

    Make reservations now for Grand Canyon and Yosemite as they fill up fast.
    Last edited by UKCraig; 03-10-2008 at 10:18 AM. Reason: preferred link format

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Reservations?

    LA to Needles - stay 1 night
    Needles to Grand Canyon NP (South rim)- stay 3 nights
    Grand Canyon to Las Vegas via Kingman & Hoover Dam - stay 2 nights
    Las Vegas to Death V. - stay 1 night
    Death V. to Yosemite NP - stay 2 nights
    Yosemite to San Francisco - stay 3 nights
    San Fran. to Monterey/Carmel - stay 1 night
    Mon/Carmel to Cambria - stay 2 nights
    Cambria to Santa Barbara - stay 3 nights
    Santa Barbara to Santa Monica - stay 1 night
    Flight home next day

    I would make reservations for your first night in LA, Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and Yosemite. Who wants to look for a hotel after a long plane ride? And those parks will definitely be the areas where lodging gets filled up. If you decide to take the suggestion to stay in Lone Pine or Bishop, then you might want reservations there. I'm not familiar enough with that area to know how many hotels are there and how busy they will be to advise either way.

    You certainly won't have problems finding hotels in Vegas, San Francisco, or along the coast as there are plenty of options. So I'm not sure that I would make reservations the rest of your trip. I would, however, do some research and find some potential hotels in these areas. Have a list with their phone numbers. I like to have flexibility so I rarely make reservations. Or, if I do, I call ahead that same day from my list.

    If budget is a big issue, you may end up paying more this way. You won't get the less expensive internet rates and you may not get a room in the less expensive lodging options at all if they're filled up. But sometimes having that flexibility is worth it. So those are the factors you might consider when deciding whether or not you want reservations at each stop ahead of time.

  7. #7

    Default Vegas

    Definately book ahead (or phone/book online the same day) in Vegas if you plan on staying on the strip. It is painful when you turn up in town without a reservation and keep, having finally reached the front of the huge line, getting turned away as theres no room at the inn...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    219

    Default

    Hi
    Unless you want to hike to the canyonfloor (requires at least 2 full days and Phantom Ranch will already be boked) 3 nights at the GC will be pretty long. Also keep in mind the shuttle to Hermits Rest will not be running due to roadconstructions till the end of november 2008.
    You also can make a more scenic drive from Needles if you drive old R66 from Topock to Oatman, Sitgreaves pass to Kingman and the old R66 stretch between Kingman and Seligman with a stop at Hackberry (visitor center and outside museum). Maybe visit Grand canyon Caverns east of Peach Springs and have an icecream or a burger at Juan Delgadillo's place in Seligman. Williams also is a great little town along R66 with ample and well priced lodging. From Williams you can take a loop via Flagstaff (Museum of Northern Arizona, nice downtown area) to Sunset Crater Volcano NM and Wupatki NM.
    Also Walnut Canyon NM is a gem but the descent to the dwelling is closed after rockslides.
    Then drive to Cameron for some food (taco!) and shopping and enter GCNP via it's east entrance. First stop: Desert View.Maybe a short visit to Tusayan ruins and museum. Imo a 2 nights stay at the rim is enough. El Tovar, Kachina Lodge, Thunderbird Lodge and Bright Angel lodge are right at the rim. Yavapai Lodge and Maswik on a short walk. Make your reservations (do it now.) via www.grandcanyonlodges.com If booked, try Tusayan at the south entrance of the park.
    On your way to Las Vegas make a stop at Hoover Dam. Parking at the Az side is free (if you can find a spot).
    For Death Valley. In summer only three lodges open inside the park. Furnace Creek Ranch and Stovepipe Wells booked by www.xanterra.com. The other lodge is at Panamint Springs at the west side of DV. DV is a fantastic NP but it will be extremely hot. Up to 125F. Bring a cooler and lots of water. If you don't want to stay in DV, also lodging in Lone Pine at the foot of Mount Whitney with the great Alabama Hills in front. Dow Villa is nice for a stay so are some other hotels like the Best Western. On your way to Yosemite don't forget to visit Mono Lake and see the visitor center. On 120 is a nice place for food: Whoa Nellie Deli near the petrol station.
    Yeehaw

  9. Default Best route LA, Grand Canyon, San Fran, LA?

    Hi Emm,

    Great trip awaits. One suggestion (may not be practicable for you however), from the South Rim you could drive to Vegas a longer way around via the North Rim which in my opinion is "nicer" than the south and definitely less crowded. Would mean re-arranging your stop at the South rim say to 2 nights with 1 night at the North rim. Hoover dam etc is within easy driving distance of Vegas so you would not miss out on that.

    Just a thought

    Mike.S.

  10. Default Best route LA, Grand Canyon, San Fran, LA?

    What a fantastic resource this forum is! many thanks to all who have helped with queries and your very sensible suggestions.

    Have taken your advice UK Road warrior and booked a night at Lone Pine instead of Furnace Creek DV. We hadn't realised just how far it was to Yosemite from DV.

    I have -with difficulty (not many hotel rooms available for Aug!) booked hotels for Grand Canyon- [Holiday Inn Express Hotel], Las Vegas -[Circus, Circus], Lone Pine - [Best Western Frontier Motel], Yosemite - [Yosemite View Lodge], San Fran. [Nob Hill Motor Inn]. These all had decent reviews on Trip Advisor. Incidentally Judy I had already booked our first night the 22nd Aug. at the Airport Hilton in LA.

    Yeehaw, thanks for suggested visits on route, all sound great.
    You are right Yeehaw, we thought it wise to change plans for Grand Canyon stay to 2 nights only as we are not planning to hike to the canyon floor!
    I forgot about Mike's suggestion to stay a night at the North Rim, so hope we can still see the Hoover dam on route to Vegas from South Rim?

    Once this trip is all arranged, life will be so boring! The planning is great!
    We are so excited and looking forward to what is promising to be a fantastic holiday.

    Thanks,
    Emm

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