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  1. Default The Ultimate California Roadtrip!

    Well at least I would like it to be the ultimate California Roadtrip. I am Flying into LAX from Atlanta on June 17, 2009 with my 3 kids 11, 13 and 16 and wife. We will be renting a 33 foot Class C RV from a private individual and will be doing the following itinerary:

    Day 1 - Fly from Atlanta to Los Angeles

    Day 2 – Pick up an RV and overnight somewhere between LA and San Simeon (Need recommendation for Campground)

    Day 3 & 4 – San Simeon State Park Hike and Explore area near campground next day take a tour of Hearst Castle

    Day 5 & 6 – Big Sur (Big Sur Campground) (If Pfeiffer State Park campground Opens then cancel and switch to this campground) Explore and hike Area

    Day 7-10 – San Francisco (Marin RV Park)
    - Alcatraz
    - Walking tours – China Town, Lombard, Coit Tower, Cable Cars
    - Union Square
    - Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square,
    - Dinner at Spinnakers
    - Bike rides Sausalito area and Golden Gate Bridge and Park

    Day 11 & 12 – South Lake Tahoe (Need Reccomendation, considering Meeks Bay Resort, Camp Richardson or Sugar Pine Point…. Help!!!)
    - Emerald Bay State Park lookout
    - Vikingsholm
    - Explore the trails and mansion at Sugar Pine Point State Park
    - Rent Boat at Camp Richardson or Meeks bay and explore
    - Bike Riding

    Day 13 & 14 –Yosemite/ Tuolmne Meadow (Walkin site)
    - Hike and Fish

    Day 15 – Yosemite / Valley (Upper Pines) - Explore Valley sites

    Day 16 & 17 – Yosemite (Wawona)

    Day 18 & 19 Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, CA (Lodgepole) – Explore and Hike

    Day 20 – Overnight somewhere between Sequoia and LAX (Need Recommendation)

    Day 21-24 (4th of July Weekend) – (Los Angeles) Turn in RV and staying in hotel
    - Venice Beach
    - Hollywood Homes Tour
    - Need more recommendations

    Since we wont have a car I am going to buy 5 Walmart bikes for the three weeks of RVing.

    I am in need of advice for the following:

    The Best Campgrounds for the following locations:

    1) Somewhere between LA and San Simeon for the first overnight in the RV.Considering Malibu, Santa Barabara, Ventura or El Capitan. What would you go with and where would to camp your RV for the night?

    2) In South Lake Tahoe what is best campground for an RV with only bikes to get around? Emerald wont handle a 33" so I am considering a) Meeks Bay Resort b) Sugar Pine Point or c) Camp Richardson

    3) Where to stay on the last night traveling from Lodgepole to Los Angeles. Thinking like half way say Bakersfield are??? Or should we just stay in Kings Canyon Sequoia are and make the long haul on the final day?

    Any thoughts also on other things not to miss on this general route. Also, we like to fly fish. Any great spots on this route.

    Lastly I want to take the kids rafting. Any whitewater outfits suitable for kids ages 11-16 on this route.

    Any help on this would be great as I am about googled out.

    Thanks Sam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default The Expert

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Clearly, you have done far more research on the details of your trip than many of the people who ask questions here. You already know more about the specific details of where you'll be going, what you'll be seeing, and where you'll be staying than any of the usual 'experts' who try to provide advice. The fact that you've gotten no responses as yet to your questions is actually a tacit acknowledgement that in this case, you are the expert and we really don't have anything worthwhile to add. Much as it may not feel like it: Good Job.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Hopefully some RV'ers that have specific recommendations from personal experience will see this thread.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Not recommendations, but pointers.

    Hi,
    You seem to have most bases covered and I can't help on RV or fishing spots from first hand experience, but you might want to check out Bass Lake just South of Yosemite as a lovely spot for fishing, although check accessibility with the RV.

    A couple of other things that come to mind are, Have you already booked your sites in the National parks ? If not do it now, it could be to late already. I see at Tuolumne meadows you have listed it as 'walk in', if this means not booked you could have problems getting a site for your RV, even if you got there at the crack of dawn. I am pretty sure you can pre book here but it's very limited for your size of RV, so you might have to consider returning to Lee Vining for the night.

    I would leave Lodgepole to get out of Seqouia park for the night, even if you leave mid afternoon and stay close by, as it's slow going. The closest RV park is in Three rivers to the South, but that part of the Generals highway has a max recommended vehicle length of around 22-24 ft [I forget which] but legal limit of 40ft. I have done it in a 30ft and you should be OK but you sure notice that extra width in the tight spots, and that was in Oct with not to much traffic. On the way back I would recommend finding a park with full amenities so you can empty all your tanks so you don't get hit with extra charges when you return it to the rental company. [don't forget to top up the propane gas]. I have not stayed there personally but Castaic lake RV park does seem like a good option just off I-5 North of Santa Clarita with the possibility of some last minute fishing.

  5. Default Thanks

    Well if I seem prepared a large part the research came from this site. This is the first forum that I have browsed where there are resident forum experts/administrators and I guess that is why it is so informative. I have tried not to allow at least two or more per loaction to allow us to take in the sites and not feel like I am in a race the whole time. A couple of less specific questions.

    1) In terms of Tuolmne Meadows. They don't start taking reservations until July 1 and they do 1/2 reserved and 1/2 walkin at that time. My question is that we will be traveling thought the Tioga pass June 23rd and June 24th. I think but was hoping someone could confirm this that before June 1 the campground is actually open but 100% 1st come 1st serve. Is this correct? my fallback plan is to find a campground near the Tioga Pass entrance.

    2) In driving from San Francisco (Marin RV park about 5 miles north of Golden Gate) to South Lake Tahoe I am struggling with whether or not to take a side trip through Napa in route. We are non-drinkers and have kids so the wine tasting tours are not top on our list. But if the country and drive is very different and worth the extra time I am looking at either going north on 101 past Santa Rosa and then over to Calistoga and then down through say the Silverado trail and then down to interstate 80 through Napa for the trip up to South Lake Tahoe. Triptik says an additional 1 1/2 hours but I bet it is at least 2 plus stops. Given our itinerary is this side trip worth it for the scenery. I know it is personal preference but having never set foot in California and given that I will be in a 33' RV, I just don't have a frame of reference to make the call.

    Thanks Again, What a great resource this site is.

    Sam
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 04-27-2009 at 08:29 AM. Reason: typo on the highway number

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default 1 out of 2 !

    1) In terms of Tuolmne Meadows. They don't start taking reservations until July 1 and they do 1/2 reserved and 1/2 walkin at that time. My question is that we will be traveling thought the Tioga pass June 23rd and June 24th. I think but was hoping someone could confirm this that before June 1 the campground is actually open but 100% 1st come 1st serve. Is this correct?
    Having now looked at the bookings page it would seem that there is most likely no sites available as you can see by the 'X' in the box and the 'R' that follow during the period from July 1st. 'W' is for walk in availability and that is not listed as an option.
    Although it does state here that opening and closing dates are approximate it say's from July to Sept only, but it might be worth sending an e-mail nearer the time. I doubt you will get any response at the moment as the Tioga pass will not be open untill mid May -June which will most likely be the determining factor. Lee Vining/Mono lake would be the alternative and looks the most likely outcome.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Some more tips

    Quote Originally Posted by samrothrock View Post
    Well at least I would like it to be the ultimate California Roadtrip.
    Sounds like you've got a great start!
    We will be renting a 33 foot Class C RV from a private individual and will be doing the following itinerary:
    Is this someone you know, or was it arranged through a service? In any case, I would recommend that you print out this check list and use it when you pick up the RV.
    Day 2 – Pick up an RV and overnight somewhere between LA and San Simeon (Need recommendation for Campground)
    There are a number of state beaches along this part of your route -- not expensive -- some have no hookups but are nearly on the surf line -- very cool. If you want hook-ups that first day -- I really like Carpinteria State Beach,
    Day 7-10 – San Francisco (Marin RV Park)
    Unless it is already pre-booked, I might suggest Candlestick RV Park, --it's much more urban, but I've stayed there several times -- the big advantage it offers is it runs it's own shuttles to downtown San Francisco.
    2) In driving from San Francisco (Marin RV park about 5 miles north of Golden Gate) to South Lake Tahoe I am struggling with whether or not to take a side trip through Napa in route. We are non-drinkers and have kids so the wine tasting tours are not top on our list.
    In reality such a detour will add closer to 3-4 hours to the transit. Personally, I would not recommend it -- Tahoe and Sierras are pretty great and I would go there directly. I would consider stopping at Placerville (use US-50 -- not I-80 for a more scenic approach to the lake). Placerville has a fun old town and some gold mining relics.
    Day 11 & 12 – South Lake Tahoe (Need Reccomendation, considering Meeks Bay Resort, Camp Richardson or Sugar Pine Point…. Help!!!
    )It's been too long since I was up there to make a recommendation for a campground.

    Day 13 & 14 –Yosemite/ Tuolmne Meadow (Walkin site)
    - Hike and Fish
    In terms of Tuolmne Meadows. My question is that we will be traveling thought the Tioga pass June 23rd and June 24th. I think but was hoping someone could confirm this that before June 1 the campground is actually open but 100% 1st come 1st serve. Is this correct? my fallback plan is to find a campground near the Tioga Pass entrance.
    That opening date is dependent upon staffing $$, weather, etc. You need to call the NPS and confirm with them.
    Since we wont have a car I am going to buy 5 Walmart bikes for the three weeks of RVing.
    I love that idea!
    Any thoughts also on other things not to miss on this general route. Also, we like to fly fish. Any great spots on this route.
    I like the streams along US-395 around Bishop -- but I don't think you are going that way. I'll do some research for you.
    Lastly I want to take the kids rafting. Any whitewater outfits suitable for kids ages 11-16 on this route.
    I've rafted many of the rivers along your route -- I would suggest the American River and this operator is one of the best.

    Mark

  8. Default Great Info.

    Although it does state here that opening and closing dates are approximate it say's from July to Sept only, but it might be worth sending an e-mail nearer the time. I doubt you will get any response at the moment as the Tioga pass will not be open untill mid May -June which will most likely be the determining factor. Lee Vining/Mono lake would be the alternative and looks the most likely outcome.
    Great, I did not think to email them. I will try this now and then the second week in June and see if they respond.

    Is this someone you know, or was it arranged through a service? In any case, I would recommend that you print out this check list and use it when you pick up the RV.
    From an individual. We have a contract and all that good stuff. I think the checklist is great though.

    There are a number of state beaches along this part of your route -- not expensive -- some have no hookups but are nearly on the surf line -- very cool. If you want hook-ups that first day -- I really like Carpinteria State Beach,
    I wish I could get a resevation in Carpinteria but it does not look like we will not have any luck as they are all full and I have an exact night I would need it. I think I will go with Emma Woods which is one of the surfline spots with no hookups though. It seems nice.

    Unless it is already pre-booked, I might suggest Candlestick RV Park, --it's much more urban, but I've stayed there several times -- the big advantage it offers is it runs it's own shuttles to downtown San Francisco.
    Yea, I looked at that though they do charge I think $12 for the shuttle and there are 5 of us. Also, based on some of the reviews it is kinda urban parking lot. I went with Marin as it is walking distance to Lake Spur Ferry and has bike trails nearby for biking to Golden Gate Bridge.

    In reality such a detour will add closer to 3-4 hours to the transit. Personally, I would not recommend it -- Tahoe and Sierras are pretty great and I would go there directly. I would consider stopping at Placerville (use US-50 -- not I-80 for a more scenic approach to the lake). Placerville has a fun old town and some gold mining relics.
    Thanks thats what I needed. Great advice on Placerville and US50. Perfect!!!!

    I've rafted many of the rivers along your route -- I would suggest the American River and this operator is one of the best.
    Great I am checking them out now.


    Perfect, thanks again!!!!!!!!
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 04-27-2009 at 11:15 AM. Reason: fixed format on quotes

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default I'd recommend Virginia City

    Virginia City has a pretty cool RV park built on the tailings of the silver mine and overlooking the historic grave yard. I've stayed there dozens of times and I also think your whole family would get a kick out of the place. On the other hand, it's only a hour or so from south shore and so you could make it a day trip in the RV.

    Mark

  10. Default

    Your trip sounds amazing!

    For your SF days, you might consider doing the 49 mile drive. It's a structured, sign-posted tour of the city that hits all the major tourist spots, neighborhoods, and landmarks in the city. We live just south of the city and it's our go-to tour whenever we have out-of-town guests. I'm not sure how it could be done by bike, as SF is quite hilly, but it's worth checking out. Be sure to check out Fort Point for awesome views and photo ops of the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Muir Woods in Marin is a gorgeous hike if your family is outdoorsy, which sounds like the case. You hike through redwoods and when you get to the top, you can see the ocean.

    Placerville is a great pit stop for the reasons cited above. If you're at all interested in the area's history, here is a great article about local sights. Unrelated to Placerville but related to the state's history, I'd plan to stop at one of the missions en route from LA to San Francisco. Santa Barbara's mission is particularly pretty and is on the way; it might make a good stop to get out and stretch your legs, visit the mission, and keep on the way to San Simeon.

    While I personally love Napa Valley (and am not much of a wine drinker), your itinerary would probably be better served by skipping it. Napa is the city where I met and fell in love with my husband, so I say to skip it with a heavy heart! I particularly love Calistoga, with its geyser, mud baths, and quaint small town feel. Lunch at the Culinary Institute is amazing, and the drive down Highway 29 is just a gorgeous one. If you add it, you won't be disappointed just for the beautiful views. If you don't, you'll still see a lot of the best of California.

    Tahoe is gorgeous in the summer. We got married at North Shore and had our rehearsal dinner at an awesome little Italian restaurant called Bacchi's in Lake Forest. We have gone each year since and everything is always delicious, with huge portions so you'll have lunch for the next day, and the service is so friendly!

    Driving up from Big Sur, are you planning on staying along the coast (takes longer but more scenic) or cutting inland to 101, up through San Jose/Silicon Valley? I can give you some spots to check out in either direction.

    On the 1, you'll drive through Monterey, Santa Cruz, and up to Pescadero with it's lighthouse, and Half Moon Bay's surfers. We like the Princeton Seafood Company for super-fresh seafood right by the dock in Half Moon Bay. You can have counter service of things like fish and chips in paper containers and can walk out to the water, or sit down in the restaurant. Half Moon Bay Brewing Company also has good food, with better views in the sit down restaurant, but we've consistently had bad service issues there.

    On the 101, you'll come through San Jose and the Silicon Valley. (The Tech Museum of Innovation) in San Jose that is worth a few hours if you have them. Otherwise, The Computer History Museum is right off the freeway and interesting for the computer geek in your life. (This is my neck of the woods; we have a lot of computer geeks in our lives!) It's small and you could be in and out in an hour, maybe as a stretch your legs stop before getting up to SF. Sunset Magazine's gardens in Menlo Park are gorgeous, too, if you or your wife are interested in that kind of thing.

    You can check out local restaurant, store, and attraction reviews at yelp.com. I'm not sure if they're everywhere, but they're HUGE in the SF Bay Area, lots of reviews.

    Hope that helps, and have a great time!

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