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  1. Default First time help please- from UK

    Hi everyone,

    I'm trying to plan the ever popular road trip from SF to vegas taking in the important sights over 14 nights. I can even start at say pnoenix and finish there if a circuit is best. Basically i'm open to all the help i can get.

    We are a married mid 30's couple who take photography equally seriously with good holidays. We are hoping to pick up a car and move comfortably through yosemite, utah, arizona, nevada, new mex etc etc but don't know exactly. This may need two trips to do well. My main concerns are;

    1) when do i go?
    2) where do i stay that is scenic or rustic, yet comfortable. we'd love to be at a ranch and then move on to a motel if required and then to whatever so we get a feel for the place.
    3) Where are the photos best taken and what time of day?
    4) How much should this cost?
    5) Is there a good guide to planning the roadtrip ?

    Thanks in advance, i'm sorry for the list.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Opinions, Not Answers

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Well, the first thing I'm going to tell you is that in my opinion, there are no hard and fast answers to any of your questions. There are options and preferences, but everyone will pick a slightly different route and places to see, that's the beauty of the classic RoadTrip, so let me just lay out what some of your options are. First, I think, you'll need to decide when to come and what city to use as your flight destination. You actually have several options. I think that there are direct flights between London and San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix, and maybe even Salt Lake City. Each of those would serve as a gateway to the American Southwest.

    As far as timing, I'd suggest either late spring or early fall, say May or October. These times would have the advantage of being outside the most heavily traveled periods and would offer the best chance of having moderate temperatures in both the desert and mountain portions of your trip. The downside is that you run some risk of having some of the Sierra Nevada mountain passes being closed due to snow. Still there would be ways around in that case. In general, the best pictures of the amazing landscapes are taken in morning and evening light, but if you're even an avid amateur, you can get great images at any time of day.

    Cost will depend to a very large extent on your travel style. My wife and I tend to travel modestly but well (no camping but comfortable accommodations and good meals) and I use $150/day as a rule of thumb for food and lodging. Flights and care hire are separate unique items and petrol can be calculated once you know how many miles you'll be driving. And finally, the regulars around here would agree with me (I think) that you have in fact already found one of the best all-around guides to planning a RoadTrip by finding this web site. To help you plan your trip, you should start by looking through these discussions of what's available in the general area you want to visit. That should get you started.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Agreed

    Hello and welcome to R.T.A.

    I can't add much to what Buck has said, but I will emphasise that these forums are a fantastic source of information and helped us a great deal in planning our first ever trip from the U.K and you can see how it turned out in our trip report that covers much of what you have mentioned already and may give you an insight.

    San Francisco was our choice, I am not a city fan but have always wanted to visit S/F and enjoyed our short time there with a side trip to Alcatraz.
    We went in mid October and was glad we did, the crowds were gone, the colours and light were great for photography and the temperatures were just right for hiking through the canyons, although you need layers of clothing as it gets chilly to cold on the high ground at night. Our only regret is that the waterfalls in Yosemite are pretty much dried up this time of year but missing the crowds and closures on the high ground in the park was more of a priority.
    Although the days are getting shorter it gives you ample opportunity to capture those sunsets and sunrises, and boy, they're incredible.

    Once you have got a couple more ideas come back with some more questions
    and we can help you piece it all together.

  4. Default

    Thank you guys for the pointers.

    I'm not sure i'm patient enough to wait till next october so it's likely to be may 2009. I will use your advice and look at the links here. This is a great site and i'm glad i found it. I was lookin at the North American Travel service brochure for hotel/motel ideas and a route structure. There's one they call the pueblos and canyons which i broadly like. I wouldn't book that though because then i'm restricted to that timescale. Also, does one drive without hotel/ ranch etc reservations ahead or can you just roll up?

    Which map, accomodation guide should i buy to plan this thing?



  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default answers

    Also, does one drive without hotel/ ranch etc reservations ahead or can you just roll up?
    It largely depends upon your own comfort level/desire to balance risk (that you won't easily find a room) with freedom (to change your plans at will). This article discusses the pros and cons of each option. Personally, I rarely make reservations, except when I know I'm going to be in a specific place at a specific day or I know the area is in high demand (like the grand canyon) and motels are likely to fill up.
    Which map, accomodation guide should i buy to plan this thing?
    You can check out our map recommendations here, but you might also check into the UK's version of AAA (I believe its called the AA?). They should be able to provide both maps and books with hotel recommendations.

  6. Default

    Thanks all,

    I've read SW daves trip report. Great pics and description. It seems there's a lot of RV talk here. Is this what makes it best or can i hire a nice 4x4 or something as there's only 2 of us?

    Also RV suggests campgrounds rather than hotel motel etc? Is this right? Do u choose this because you're closer to the scenery or does it not matter ?

    We'd like to stay in places that are reasonably comfortable except pay more where the view or the experience counts. By this i mean maybe a night in a ranch as opposed to a hotel. Or maybe in San Fran and vegas?

    I don't know if there is an accomodation guide. Is there one?


    Sorry bout the questions.


  7. #7


    Just got back from 2 weeks in the west coast.

    We flew fron London to LA. 2 days in LA then hired a car and drove the coast route to Monterey (amazing scenery). 1 night in Monterey where we did the '17 mile drive' which was mega! Then onto San Francisco for 4 nights. Left San Fran and drove to Yosemite and staying in Curry Village - excellent location. After 2 nights in Yosemite we headed for Las Vegas to drop the car off and spend 4 days! Took the chopper from LV to the Grand Canyon which was great. We then flew out of Las Vegas. Really easy and amazing road trip!

  8. Default


    i'm glad u guys posted ur views. I love so many places but i don't want my wife to feel rushed and on the road all the time. i realise we're on roadtripamerica and i love this site, but we want to take it all in.

    I am considering the time of year as well as the circuit.

    is ther a big hot baloon event in the area that is on next year?

    we'd love to catch some festivities.


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