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  1. Default Spring Trip up the West Coast

    My friend and I are planning a 2 1/2 week holiday in April and because there are so many places we want to see it's turning into quite the road trip. Neither of us has been to the west coast before and I was just hunting through the web trying to get some ideas when I found this genius website. I have had a look through some of the threads and a lot of people have asked about the areas we are planning to go but no one seems to be going quite the route we are (bit worrying). It's my friend's 30th Birthday when we're over there are we've both been wanting to do a trip like this for years so any advice people could give which would stop us cocking things up or alternately making it really special would be really, really appreciated.

    The plan so far is....

    3rd April - Fly into LA. 3 nights in LA mooching around and checking everything out.

    6th - We planned to leave LA early and drive over to the Grand Canyon, stay the night somewhere in between on the 6th. I know that Lake Havasu is on the way and a popular stop off but it doesn't look very interesting to stay in, we're from London and don't really need to see the bridge, any other suggestion? Arrive at the Canyon and stay the night of 7th somewhere near the south rim. (this is the area we are really struggling with as we were a bit stumped to find the north rim would be closed when we were there and everything is booked in the Grand Canyon Village. We're not going to be spending lots of time there rafting or anything but we would like to arrive for sunset, get up for sunrise on 8th and maybe hike into the canyon for a few hours that day. If anyone has any ideas on staying somewhere a bit more off the tourist areas that would be great)

    8th - we have to be in Vegas by the evening.

    9th - another night in Vegas

    10th - We were planning to drive from Vegas via LA and then make it up to Big Sur to a hotel there by the evening (Is this really far and a stupid idea?)

    11th - Explore Big Sur and the coastal road up to San Francisco, stay in San Francisco that night.

    11th - 14th 4 nights in San Francisco. We are also struggling to find the kind of accommodation we were hoping for in SF. We wanted it to contrast with LA were we are staying in swanky places. We were hoping for a more friendly B&B, local kind of experience but we've been having trouble finding B&Bs and have no clue about areas.

    15th - drive up to Napa Valley and stay the night (How long will SF to St Helena take?)

    16th Napa Valley to Yosemite (Tenaya Lodge, which isn't in the park, I think it's to the south of it.)

    17th - Yosemite

    18th - We need to get back to LA. We had originally planned to leave the car and fly back but it cost twice as much so we have to drive back now. Is it easy to get from Yosemite to LA? Unfortunately it will have to be by the quickest route possible, I know we'll be missing out on seeing loads of great stuff in the area but we just didn't plan to do that route.

    19th Go home (boo)

    I'm sorry to be so long winded but I really need reassurance that we're not crazy to be attempting so much and that we'll enjoy it.

    Any advice or suggestions would be very, very appreciated.

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

    Default Are the back-tracks intentional?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thelma View Post
    My friend and I are planning a 2 1/2 week holiday in April and because there are so many places we want to see it's turning into quite the road trip.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! It IS quite an adventurous trip, made more so by the extra doubling back and forth you are considering. If you still have time to re-structure the routes...

    By the way, your excursion is probably the most discussed route on this Forum -- there are about 1000 posts covering parts or all of it. Here are a few of our favorite routes....
    3rd April - Fly into LA. 3 nights in LA mooching around and checking everything out.
    Here are some tips for visiting LA.
    6th - We planned to leave LA early
    Is there a reason you don't go to Las Vegas first? It is about 4.5 to 5.5 hour drive from LA to Las Vegas. From Las Vegas to the south rim it is 5.0 hours.
    If anyone has any ideas on staying somewhere a bit more off the tourist areas that would be great)
    Sta in either Williams or Flagstaff.
    10th - We were planning to drive from Vegas via LA and then make it up to Big Sur to a hotel there by the evening (Is this really far and a stupid idea?)
    Depending where on the Big Sur, this is, this could be a 10+ hour day.
    18th - We need to get back to LA. We had originally planned to leave the car and fly back but it cost twice as much so we have to drive back now. Is it easy to get from Yosemite to LA? Unfortunately it will have to be by the quickest route possible, I know we'll be missing out on seeing loads of great stuff in the area but we just didn't plan to do that route.
    Sure, it is fast route down I-5 (figure about 6 hours)

    Mark

  3. Default

    Thanks very much for the links and your suggestions.

    The reasoning behind our loop in the south before we head north was mainly that my friend's birthday falls on the 8th and we wanted to be somewhere that we could celebrate in style. We know it's a bit convoluted but it seemed a great way to spend her birthday, to start the day with the sunrise over the Grand Canyon and end it with cocktails in Vegas!

    How long do you think it would take to get from LA to Williams or Flagstaff to go straight there?

    I'm not quite sure where our hotel is in Big Sur, it's called Ventana. The address is just Highway 1, Big Sur. Although it was longer it seemed like a better bet to head back into LA and out again on major roads than trying to go more directly across country. Do you think that would be quicker?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default What a great 30th Birthday trip

    How long do you think it would take to get from LA to Williams or Flagstaff to go straight there?
    It's about 430 miles to Williams, AZ. With potential LA traffic, I would figure at least 8 hours to get there. Once you get out of LA, it should be smooth sailing. Figure about 6 hours once you get to Victorville. This allows you time for very brief fuel/food/bio breaks but no time to explore or linger. If you are going to stop and poke around a lot, you'll need to increase that time. But it's hard to say how long it will take to get from LA to Victorville due to traffic. I'd allow at least 3 hours for that portion of the drive, and then consider myself lucky if I made it sooner. So, really, probably about 9 hours, give or take a bit.

    I'm not quite sure where our hotel is in Big Sur, it's called Ventana. The address is just Highway 1, Big Sur. Although it was longer it seemed like a better bet to head back into LA and out again on major roads than trying to go more directly across country. Do you think that would be quicker
    I'm not clear what you're asking here. If you think you should drive into LA out to the coast and then drive north, I'd say no. Why go back into LA traffic if you don't need to?

    I'd suggest I-15 south from Vegas to Barstow. Then 58 west to Bakersfield. Then 48 west to CA-1 near Cambria. Then head north on the coast from there. Yes, you'll miss a bit of the coastal highway but you'll still see enough to enjoy yourselves. This is roughly 500 miles. While you'll make good time on the highway portion, it will be slower going once you hit the coast. I think Mark's 10 hours estimate sounds pretty accurate.

    You might consider touring Hearst Castle near San Simeon. But, if you want to do that, you'd need to spend the night near Cambria because you wouldn't have time to go to Hearst Castle and then get to your hotel near Big Sur on the same day.

  5. Default

    Thanks for the tips, I think the route you described avoiding LA will be better, we'll have a long days driving but we'll just have to live with that I guess.

    For our LA to Grand Canyon leg is there anywhere nice to stay near Congress/Prescott Valley where we can break the journey? They seem to be fairly mid way between. Or going the other way what's Kingman like?

    Thanks again or taking the trouble to help us.

  6. #6

    Default Vegas to Big Sur

    Hello Thelma,

    I wholeheartedly agree with Judy's suggested route for this leg of the trip. I would only add my advice to start early that day, as the most enjoyable part of this interval is the last 2 or 3 hours of the drive, from Cambria to Big Sur. You'll be traveling very slowly (averaging around 25 mph including stops at pull-outs) and you'll want to take your time and enjoy the sights.

    I think Judy was referring to CA 46 routing you from just north of Bakersfield all the way over to near Cambria. Along CA 46 is Cholame, where there is a memorial to film star James Dean, who died in a 1955 car crash at Cholame.

    An interesting variant of this route is to stay on CA 58 through Bakersfield all the way across the Carrizo Plain to US 101 just north of San Luis Obispo. This is called the Carissa Highway and it traverses the Temblor Range, then drops into the spectacular desert valley called Carrizo Plain. Just a few miles south of CA 58 there is a short marked walking trail along the San Andreas Fault and just a few miles from there is a small hilltop viewing area overlooking Soda Lake within the Carrizo Plain National Monument. If you go this way, be sure to fill up with fuel at Bakersfield, as there is none available at least as far west as California Valley. At San Luis Obispo, you can get on CA 1 and take in the Morro Rock view as it returns to the coastline near Morro Bay.

    Oh, and be sure to fill up with fuel before you leave Cambria. I think there're but a pair of fuel outlets between there and Big Sur.

    Have a great trip!

    Foy

  7. Default if your concern is roads..

    Probably the fastest route from Las Vegas to start into the big Sur Drive is from Vegas through Barstow (superhighway this entire way), then Californai 58 through Mojave and past the north edge of Rogers Dry Lake (where Edwards AFB is.). You'll pass several huge solar fields near here. This road is 2-4 lanes, and pretty flat and straight. Not a superhighway but in very good condition and pretty quick.

    From Mojave you'll cut through the Tehachapi mountains (more foothills than mountains in my opinion) but the road will be a bit slower, with more twists and turns and you of course, need more care going through here. But still 2 lanes, good quality road into Bakersfield.

    From Bakersfield, probably the quickest way (there'll about the same...) is to take I-99 (a superhighway) north to CA-46, and then head west on that. Again, a very good quality road, and from 2-4 lanes. As a side note -- the previous Governor of California was tickete for going nearly 100 mph on this highway some years ago, giving you an idea of that the road is mostly flat and straight. (He didn't pull over since he had an offical car with an offical driver and thought that exempted him from speed laws .... but the Highway Patrol followed him and caught up with him and gave him a BIG fine... didn't help him in reelection, at all....)

    46 slows down a bit through Paso Robles (lots of local wineries along the way), and then dips south and continues west as a very good quality 2-4 lane road through the coastal hills (more wineries along the way) until it comes into Coast 1 near Cambria.

    I'd also recommend this route over going back down to LA and then back up... It'll probably be like 8 hours to get from Las Vegas to Cambria this way, but 10 hours the other.

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