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  1. Default help! first trip to west coast...

    hey everyone.
    i've been living at the east coast for a little over a year and my parents will visit from germany in april. they want to see a lot of things in those two weeks and i convinced them to dropp some stuff but we still have plenty on our list. it's their first visit to the usa so i don't want to disappoint them...
    they're going to fly to L.A. and leave from San fransisco. i do have a possible route but still some insecurities...well, a lot...we're going to travel in a mini van and stay and motels or hotels.
    here is our trip:

    1) we get to our hotel in l.a. around two. i just planned a short trip to the beach, maybe santa monica

    2) a short stop in hollywood before we drive to san diego

    3) we are going to joshua tree park and plan to stay the night in kingman

    4) we are going to the grand canyon. i was hoping to find some hotel close to the south rim

    5) we are driving to page, az and plan to visit glen canyon and lake powell from there

    6) we plan to go to Bryce Canyon. I have no idea where to stay there. what's a close city?

    7) we plan to stop at zion national park for a few hours and go to las vegas afterwards. i don't know if the ride would be to long and which way to go. it's a sunday and i heard storys about traffic jams around the hoover dam.

    8) sightseeing in vegas, i also heard, there are some pretty good outlet malls there?

    9) we are going to death valley. that's my biggest concern... not only is it extremely hot there but i also heard that the streets are pretty bad? i also heard that there's a lack of gas stations around? additionally i didn't find anything to stay the night yet. i think it's a pretty long drive there from vegas already. the next day we want to go to yosemite.

    10) yosemite i'm still wondering if it's more convenient to stay directly at the park or somerwhere else. i was told there a lots of bush fires around there...


    11) yosemite

    12) san francisco. is it possible to drive there in just a few hours? or is the traffic too bad? i've been in san fransisco before but i don't know where a good area to stay is. it's soooo big...


    13) san fransisco

    i'm also wondering how the cell phone reception is going to be in the desert. i don't have verizon or some other big network so i'm kinda concerned.should i get a satellite phone? would it make sense to bring some extra gas in a container in the trunk or are there enough gas stations out there?
    there's just so much stuff to think about and i don't know my head from my feet anymore :-) i would be extremely thankful for any help...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default A busy schedule.

    Hello and welcome to R.T.A.

    Your trip is certainly doable but you will be kept on the go !

    The best way to find lodgings is to use the Internet search engine by typing in the name of place and lodgings. For info on staying in the parks visit the NPS website and navigate your way around.

    4) we are going to the grand canyon. i was hoping to find some hotel close to the south rim
    You can stay in the park or Tusayan is the nearest town to the South entrance, but you could pay more than if staying in Williams or Flagstaff. On the other side of the park out of the East entrance towards Page there is the Cameron Trading post for lodging or just looking around the massive shop.

    6) we plan to go to Bryce Canyon. I have no idea where to stay there. what's a close city?
    For options search Bryce canyon/Lodging but a popular choice is Ruby's Inn right by the entrance.

    7) we plan to stop at Zion national park for a few hours and go to las vegas afterwards. i don't know if the ride would be to long and which way to go. it's a sunday and i heard storys about traffic jams around the hoover dam.
    Personally I would stay in the lovely little town of Springdale at Zion and get an early start to Vegas in the morning. The drive from Bryce to Zion is lovely and I doubt you will want to rush it, even stopping at Red rock canyon for a close up look of the spires.
    You won't be going over the Dam from Zion, you would go to I-15 through St George.

    9) we are going to death valley. that's my biggest concern... not only is it extremely hot there but i also heard that the streets are pretty bad? i also heard that there's a lack of gas stations around? additionally i didn't find anything to stay the night yet. i think it's a pretty long drive there from vegas already. the next day we want to go to yosemite.
    The main roads through Death Valley are fine and as long as you top up with fuel prior to leaving Vegas you will be fine. The popular way across is to take the 160 from Vegas to Pahrump and head to Death valley junction and the 190 across to the 395. There is lodging at Stovepipe Wells in the park or you could have time to continue on, it's worth the drive and the heat won't be a big issue in April.

    10) yosemite i'm still wondering if it's more convenient to stay directly at the park or somerwhere else. i was told there a lots of bush fires around there...
    You will have to head South and go around the bottom of the Sierra's to get to Yosemite, the Tioga pass [120] will be closed in April due to snow on the high ground.
    The valley floor will be accessable and the Waterfalls will be flowing. No need to worry about fires and it's a lovely place.

    12) san francisco. is it possible to drive there in just a few hours? or is the traffic too bad? i've been in san fransisco before but i don't know where a good area to stay is. it's soooo big...
    You can travel there comfortably from Yosemite and the Union Square is a popular area right in the heart of it. There are more budget friendly lodgings along Lombard street within easy reach of the city centre and the piers.

    Have a look at the forums for ideas and as you have more questions, just ask.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default myths and misconceptions

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    While the basic outline of your plan sounds fine, you do have a few things which are just not accurate.
    6) we plan to go to Bryce Canyon. I have no idea where to stay there. what's a close city?
    There are a few lodging options inside the park, otherwise, Tropic Utah has a few motels to choose from.

    7) we plan to stop at zion national park for a few hours and go to las vegas afterwards... ...i heard storys about traffic jams around the hoover dam.
    Hoover Dam is located southeast of Las Vegas on US-93, and if you are coming in from Zion, you'd be coming in on I-15 from the Northeast, so that won't be an issue here. This would be a pretty long day, but its still doable.

    9) we are going to death valley. that's my biggest concern... not only is it extremely hot there but i also heard that the streets are pretty bad? i also heard that there's a lack of gas stations around?
    Death Valley is a pretty remarkable place, and April should still be early enough where it won't be too hot. I'm not sure what you are talking about in terms of bad streets. There are areas that are gravel roads or require four wheel drive, however, those are optional areas, and in a rental car, you wouldn't be able to travel off road in any rental vehicle (even a 4x4).

    Gas stations aren't plentiful around here, but they are still available in short enough distances that any car can easily travel without problems. Most cars can get at least 300 miles between fill ups, and Death Valley is less than 150 miles from Vegas, with gas available inside the park and at towns outside.

    10) yosemite i'm still wondering if it's more convenient to stay directly at the park or somerwhere else.
    In April, Tioga Pass will still be closed for the winter, so you'll have to cross the Sierras to the south around Bakersfield. There are a couple towns with motels outside the park, but it is close to an hour drive from the towns to the Yosemite Valley, so you might want to stay inside the park.

    i was told there a lots of bush fires around there..
    Wildfires are a danger throughout the west, especially after several years of drought. However, this is ususally a problem more in the Summer and Fall.

    i'm also wondering how the cell phone reception is going to be in the desert. i don't have verizon or some other big network so i'm kinda concerned.should i get a satellite phone?
    No company will have cell phone reception everywhere in the west, but that's why cell phone's shouldn't be considered a primary safety tool for anyone. Satelitte Phones are very expensive and I've never considered carrying one, I tend to think the being prepared and using common sense is a much better bet to stay safe.

    would it make sense to bring some extra gas in a container in the trunk or are there enough gas stations out there?
    Carrying extra fuel in the car can actually be dangerous, not to mention, it will make all of your other items smell like gas. There is no place that you are traveling where you'd be out of range for fuel. Keep an eye on your fuel gauge, and once you get below half a tank, start thinking about where you'll need/be able to fill up next.

  4. Default

    thanks for all those information, I'm really getting closer now and almost booked all my hotels...
    I just have one more question about the route from death valley to yosemite.
    I just map quested the route going over bakersfield and it says that will take about nine hours. is that true? it seems pretty long, especially because we want to do the trip in just one day...
    thanks

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default yep

    Yosemite to Death Valley via Bakersfield is 450+ miles, and the sections going into and out of the parks are 2 lane roads that won't allow you to travel at high speed. I'd say 9 hours sounds about right, and if anything, is probably a bit optimistic. Since the towns with lodging around Yosemite, like Oakhurst and Mariposa, are about an hour drive to the Yosemite Valley, you might want to stop there for the night.

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