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  1. Default LA - Seattle (With detours to LV / Grand Canyon)

    Hello everyone / anyone who chooses to read this post.

    Me and my girlfriend are flying across to LA in September (11th) and then returning to the UK from Seattle on the 29th.

    We have a few 'plans' although they are all fairly flexible at the moment, our draft route is:

    LA for a few days and then onto the Grand Canyon for a night, following this we are planning to travel across to LV, again we are only planning for one night here. After Vegas we are thinking that Yosemite would be an ideal overnight stop before moving onto SF.

    We are wanting to spend a few days in SF and then travel upto Portland, although this is a long journey so are thinking this will need breaking into a few sections, from looking at maps and various guides we are thinking we could stop twice and we have pencilled Redwood National Park, Yachats, Eureka, Crater Lake as possibles so far. The problem with Crater Lake is it takes us away from the 101 coast route which I am very keen on. At the moment it seems RNP and Yachats are the favourites to have one night in each.

    After this we would be planning on a few days in Portland, especially taking in some brewerys. The (possible) final leg would be to then travel upto Seattle and spend a couple of days there, however it is only possible as we are toying with the idea of crossing the border up to Vancouver and then back down. However as I am going to be doing all the driving I may be wanting to spend extra time in Seattle as opposed to any more driving.

    So what I am asking is for if anyone has any tips on changing the plans or any paricular things we should be looking out for on the route, up to know the only thing set in stone is arrival and departure so we are flexible and I guess just wanted some advice from people who have done similar trips or parts of the trip.

    Sorry for rambling and thanks for anyone still with it and thinks they can offer and tips.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Welcome to America

    and to the Roadtrip America forums.

    With the time you have, this is definitely a workable plan.

    LA traffic is crazy. If you don't want to get caught up in the morning rush-hour traffic, you should either leave the evening before and stay someplace west of LA to start the rest of your trip (Victorville or even Barstow), or you will want to leave at the crack of dawn to get on the road before the worst of the morning rush.

    It's a full days drive to the Grand Canyon. Enjoy sundown and, if possible, rise-and-shine to get up for sunrise. If you want to stay in Grand Canyon Village, make your reservations soon.

    I would leave the Grand Canyon Village area by 64, heading east, along Desert View Drive. There are numerous look-outs along the way, including stops at the Tusayen Ruins and the Watchtower at the farthest eastern look-out point. Doing this can take most of the day. Vegas is a 6-7 hour drive and I don't see how you'll make it there unless you short-change your stay in the Grand Canyon.

    I would either return to Grand Canyon Village for the night and drive to Vegas in the morning, or stay in Williams, AZ (or the western side of Flagstaff).

    On the way to Vegas, you might enjoy stopping at Seligman to find some Route 66 kitsch and explore some of the remaining portions of Route 66 in that area (Kingman, too). Shortly before Vegas, you'll have a chance to check out the amazing Hoover Dam.

    Yosemite would make an excellent stop-over on the way to San Francisco. Cross over via Tioga Pass and enjoy the amazing views along the way. If you want to stay near Yosemite, you will want to start looking into reservations. And you will definitely want to take the time to spend the night somewhere near there. There's no way you can get to San Francisco that night and still have time to enjoy Yosemite. It would be a shame to just zip past it on the road.

    If going up the coast, be sure to take CA-1 from San Francisco, only switching over to 101 after CA-1 ends. The stops you've chosen should break the trip up nicely. This is slower-going roads due to them being 2-lane, twisty, and with lots of towns where you'll have to slow to about 30mph to get through. Add in a few RVs or trucks that will be going slow, and that you might not be able to safely pass for miles, and you may as well lean back and enjoy the views on the drive.

    I wish it was easier to get to Crater Lake from the coast as it is very cool. You could do something like this if you don't mind missing part of the coast (and a beautiful part it is). If you do this, you'll want to add an extra day and stay near Crater Lake or you'll be short-changing your other days on the coast too much. If you saw the Redwoods the day before, you could drive to Crater Lake, explore it, and then drive onto Roseburg for the night, before heading back out to the coast. You might really want to add another day for the coast because there's so much to see and do.

    I suggest you continue all the way north to Astoria so you can explore Fort Clatsop (where Lewis & Clark wintered). Astoria was the first fort in the Pacific Northwest, started by Astor as Fort Astoria as part of the fur-trade. There are some very cool old homes there (old by Western USA standards, anyway). And the bridge to Washington across the Columbia River is really worth a drive, even if you just turn around and come back. It's like driving on water.

    While in the Portland area, do not miss exploring the Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood, the old scenic Columbia River Gorge Highway with Vista House and the falls (dang, the name escapes me!). I think you'll want at least 3 days for this area, at least.

    On the way to Seattle, stop at Mt. St. Helens (leave I-5 at Castle Rock and drive about an hour to the Johnston Ridge Visitor Center). Believe me, you won't regret it. The blast was 19 years ago yesterday and I still remember it as if it just happened. I'm out on the Washington coast and you could hear it, like a loud shotgun. Amazing.

    While in Seattle, you might want to visit Mt. Rainier and even take the ferry across to either Bremerton or, preferably, Winslow. Mainly because it's so much fun to ride the ferry and this is the best way to view the famous Seattle skyline. And there is a lot to see in both the Bremerton and Winslow areas. You might enjoy a water tour of the Navy fleet, for example, in Bremerton. Of course, while in Seattle see The Farmer's Market on 1st Ave. (and watch out for flying fish!), Pioneer Square, the Space Needle, the Experience Music Project, the Ye Olde Curiousity Shoppe and other interesting things along the waterfront, etc. Plan at least 3-4 days here as well. More if you'll be exploring Rainier and other outlying areas.

    I'm not sure that I'd bother with going to BC. I mean, it's beautiful up there but you'll have the hassle of border-crossings (and will need to ensure that it's OK with your car rental agency that you take the car there-and-back.) Also, I'm not sure how your travel VISA will work so you'll want to check that. While Vancouver is a beautiful city, it's not all that much different than Portland and Seattle. Plus, one of the major must-do's there is the drive to Whistler. Gorgeous? Yeah! But not so different from what you will have already just seen.

    Of course, you will have to make the decision. I would say only do it if you don't feel too rushed on the rest of your trip in order to squeeze it in. But if you have to rush to fit it in, then I'd say slow down on the rest of your trip and don't do it this time around. Hope that makes sense.

    To be honest, if it was me, and you have a few extra days to explore elsewhere, I'd take the ferry across Puget Sound and explore the Olympic Peninsula. Or go to Eastern WA and see the Coulees.

    Hope this gives you some help. Keep asking questions!

  3. Default

    Well, for starters PNW Judy, WOW. That's a pretty comprehensive reply you gave there, with lots of great ideas, and even going to the effort of linking a route to include Crater Lake.

    Now that you have mentioned all the additional possible complications I think Vancouver will be scrapped, it was only a possible anyway. However we want to be able to enjoy places when and not feel like we are having to rush around in order to fit everything in.

    Sundown with my partner at the GC is something we have been planning, we have heard it can be quite special. Up to now we had not given too much thought into making reservations for anywhere as we were planning to try to keep things as flexible as possible, however after reading your suggestions I have had a snoop around about GC, Yosemite and even RNP it seems like it may be sensible to book these places in advance.

    We had toyed with the idea of also cutting LV in order to spend more time somewhere more scenic but it is somewhere that I doubt we would return to but as we are near there we should visit. I dont have any objections to LV on paper but i'm just not sure how much it interests me, however i am aware that people say it is an amazing place. However we dont mind getting into LV late after spending a night and day in GC. Taking in a section of 66 is almost cliche, but of course, it has to happen, it is almost a must for someone from England to visit and have a photo alongside one of the 66 signs, and again although incredibly cheesy I dare say some memrobillia will be purchased here.

    Well, now that you have offered, I will indeed ask more questions, my partner is away untill Thursday so we will have a chat about the additional options you have mentiones and then I will update you with more plans. Not sure whether I will mention that I have had help from someone or just say that I have been doing all the research...that would get me some brownie points.

    Also if anyone else has any ideas along this type of route of places to see / stay etc, especially if there are some quirky ideas which are not going to be in any of the various guide books.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Death Valley.

    By going to Vegas between GC and Yosemite it will give the opportunity to drive across Death valley, an amazing landscape that you won't see the likes of here in the UK. However I wouldn't use Yosemite just as a stop over as it is just to wonderful for a "drive thru". I would stop on the Eastern side of the Sierra's at somewhere such as Bishop or Lee vining and then take the morning to drive across Tioga pass and take in it's many views and head to the valley floor. A little more exploring and a drive up to Glacier point before continuing on to SF the following morning.
    I also agree with Judy that driving from LA to Vegas via Grand canyon with only a one night stop will give you no time to do the Grand canyon justice. I cannot begin to explain how great these places and you really need some time to "soak it all up".

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