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  1. Default SF - LV - Grand Canyon - West Coast - SF

    Hi guys. I've been reading a lot of the stuff popsted on the forum and there are some very useful tips on there.

    My wife and I are going to be going to the USA for a 2 week (13.5 full days) road-trip in early September for our honeymoon. I have a rough plan of what we would like to do and was wondering what people thought of it. Any changes they would make? Are we trying to cram too much in? Would we be better off with a different start/end point? So here is the current rough plan.

    - Fly to San Francisco. We arrive at around 2pm, so we could spend the night, or just head off to Yosemite immediately.

    - Spend a day at Yosemite.

    - Drive to Las Vegas via Death Valley.

    - Spend a full day in Las Vegas. See a show. Suggestions anyone?

    - Drive to Crand Canyon South Rim, spend the day there and drive to Page at the end of the day via Horse Shoe Bend. This may need to be done over 2 days, so suggestions of where to stay would be welcome.

    - Check out Antelope Canyon. Do a flying day trip to Monument Valley from Page, then start driving towards the west coast. We will probably have to stay over somewhere on the way, so any suggestions welcome.

    - Hit the coast somewhere north of LA, maybe around Big sur. Drive up towards San Francisco, stopping at Monteray, Hearst Castle, Santa Cruz, etc. Stay over one night somewhere on the coast.

    - Spend a day in San Francisco before we fly out. If we can get there with 2 days to spare, we could then do a Napa valley day trip.

    - Fly back to rainy England :)

    Thanks guys!

  2. Default

    Actually, here is a more detailed day by day plan. Does this sound doable? We have the extra day in Las Vegas as a spare day if we lose time somewhere.

    1. Arrive SF - Stay over
    2. Drive to Yosemite
    3. Day In Yosemite
    4. Drive to LV via Death Valley
    5. Day in LV
    6. Day in LV
    7. Drive to Page via Bryce Canyon
    8. Antelope Canyon in the morning. Day trip to Monument Valley - Head to Grand Canyon - Stay the night
    9. Day in Grand Canyon. Start Heading towards the coast. Stay over somewhere on the way
    10. Hit coast and start headig north. Stay over somewhere
    11. Drive up coast. Hit SF
    12. Napa Valley day trip
    13. Day in SF
    14. Fly Back

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

    Default Busy.

    Congratulations, Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Your trip is most definitely doable but it will be quite busy, especially for a Honeymoon.
    On day 3 you would be better off starting to head over the Tioga pass [120] mid afternoon and stay somewhere between Lee vining and Bishop to give you a little time to enjoy your trip across Death valley. You will be pushing things as well to get to Bryce and have quality time there and get to Page. I would stay the night in Bryce and spend the next day at either Antelope canyon or Monument valley and journey to GC, trying to do them all is going to be a heck of a pace. Your other option would be to swap Bryce for a quick stop at Zion NP as you will be driving through there on the way to Page and will save miles and time. It's your trip but I would try and slow it down a little, the best way I can see you doing this is to leave LV in the afternoon on day 6 [giving you 2 nights there] and head up I-15 to Zion/Springdale for the night and leave out the Napa valley trip to give yourself the time to enjoy the amazing landscapes in the GC area, possibly Zion and Bryce and most importantly to be relaxed, sit back and witness a sunset over the Grand canyon.
    Here are some other threads covering the area and you will find many more searching the forums. When you have more questions just ask !

  4. Default Thanks!

    Excellent, thanks for the advice. I'll definitely incorporate some of that into the trip.

  5. Default Latest plan

    Reading a lot of the very helpful advice on this forum, I've refined our trip quite a bit now. Does anyone have any advice on the following?

    For example, our first day is a Saturday, so will the traffic be really bad heading to Yosemite from San Francisco airport?

    Also, if any leg is looking a bit tight, we can always drop the Napa Valley day trip at the end.

    1. Arrive SFO at 2.30pm - Drive east on the 120 to Groveland to be closer to Yosemite. Arrive evening.
    2. Day In Yosemite working our way east. Sleep in Lee Vining on east side of Yosemite.
    3. Drive south to Death Valley. Dante's View for sunset. Stay the night in Amargosa Opera House and Hotel.
    4. Wake up early for sunrise at Zabriskie Point if we are not too tired. Drive to LV for Lunch.
    5. Whole Day in LV. See a show.
    6. Breakfast in LV. Drive to Page via Zion NP. Do a couple of short hikes in Zion. Canyon Overlook and Emeral Pools perhaps?
    7. Antelope Canyon in the morning. Monument Valley air tour in the afternoon.
    8. Early morning Rafting trip from Page which finishes at lunchtime. Drive to Grand Canyon for the sunset via Horse Shoe Bend.
    9. Day in Grand Canyon.
    10. Drive to Bakersfield. Long, long drive. Stop at Peggy Sue's in Barstow for a late lunch. Stop off at a ghost town somewhere on the way.
    11. Drive west to hit coast at Cambria and start heading north. Stop at various spots around Big Sur. Visit McWay Waterfall. Sleep somewhere near Monterray.
    12. Hearst Castle visit in the morning. Drive north up coast. Stop off at Santa Cruz. SF for late afternoon/evening.
    13. Napa Valley day trip
    14. Day in SF
    15. Fly Back


  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default still exhausting

    I really think you are still trying to do way too much here, and most of the quality time that you'll spend with your new spouse will be sitting next to each other in a car.

    A couple of the biggest specific issues.

    Arriving in SFO at 2:30 and trying to make it to Yosemite the same day is a bad idea. First, you'll be dealing with major jet lag (as it will feel like late evening when you arrive). Saturday traffic won't be as bad, but you're still going to spend an hour getting bags and your car, so even if you didn't have the jetlag factor, it would still be dark by the time you arrived at Yosemite. Spend that first night near the airport, and try to to get at least a little acclamated to the time change before rushing out on the road. You don't want to be racing against exhaustion on your first day of a trip!

    I'd also want a full day in the Yosemite Valley, before you then spend the next day driving over Tioga Pass and then towards Death Valley.

    Your days 6-8 just seem like an exhausting pace by themselves. You might be able to schedule all of that in, but I think you're going to have to be watching the clock so closely that you won't have time to enjoy all of the things you're going to try and race through.

    Finally, Hearst Castle is south of Big Sur, so you'd want to do that before continuing north. If you went all the way up to Monterey first you'd be doing about 2-3 hours worth of backtracking.

  7. Default Hmmm

    You're probably right. We are trying to pack too much in. I'll have another look at our plan and see if I can cut it down a bit.

    Also, thanks for the info on Hearst Castle. I got the location wrong, so if we did visit it, it would be on the way up to Big Sur.

  8. Default Slowed down a bit...

    1. Arrive SFO at 2.30pm - Drive to Livermore so we have a head start out of the city the next day. If tired, stay near the airport.
    2. Drive to Yosemite. Explore Yosemite. Sleep somewhere west or south of the park.
    3. Drive through Yosemite along Tioga pass stopping at various points. Visit Bodie State Historic Park. Sleep in Lee Vining on east side of Yosemite.
    4. Drive south to Death Valley. Dante's View for sunset. Stay the night in Amargosa Opera House and Hotel.
    5. Wake up early for sunrise at Zabriskie Point if we are not too tired. Drive to LV for Lunch. Afternoon and evening relaxing in Vegas.
    6. Whole Day in LV. See a show.
    7. Breakfast in LV. Drive to Grand Canyon South rim via Hoover Dam for the sunset.
    8. Day in Grand Canyon. Some hiking and maybe a jeep tour.
    9. Air tour to Monument Valley which finishes by midday. Grab lunch at the Canyon and then drive to Mojave Valley for the night via Seligman.
    10. Drive to Bakersfield. Stop at Peggy Sue's in Barstow for a lunch. Stop off at a ghost town somewhere on the way.
    11. Drive west to hit coast at Cambria and start heading north. Stop at various spots around Big Sur. Visit McWay Waterfall. Sleep somewhere between Big Sur and Monteray.
    12. Drive north up coast. Stop off at Santa Cruz. SF for late afternoon/evening.
    13. Day in SF
    14. Day in SF
    15. Fly Back

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Better

    Michael suggested you stay close to the airport that first day to get rested for the next day after your flight. I agree and think it would be best to do that instead of going to Livermore for the night. Why, you ask? By the time you get your luggage, get your car, etc., it's going to be rush hour in the San Francisco area with thousands of people trying to get out of the city to get home. When tired, the last thing I want to do is deal with traffic jams and stop-and-go traffic.

    So, if it were me, I'd get a hotel right next to the airport, have a relaxing evening, and if you wake up at the crack of dawn rested and ready to go, just get an early start and enjoy your first day on the road as you're leaving San Francisco when everybody else is trying to get in. Just a suggestion.

    You're only saving about 50 miles by doing that anyway. If you leave early the next morning, you can easily drive to Yosemite by lunchtime, if not sooner, depending on when you leave.

    You will definitely want to get reservations for a place to stay near Yosemite. It's too popular to leave to chance. A lot of people here have raved about the Yosemite Bug. You might check it out.

    I think the rest of your trip is laid out pretty good with time to explore the highlights, etc. I am a bit concerned your rushing the coast a bit, especially if you want to stop at Hearst Castle. It's do-able but I think I would stay south of San Francisco the third night to allow a bit more meandering and exploring along the coast and get into San Francisco the next morning by noon or so. This is so you're not up early fighting the traffic going back into the city.

  10. Default

    You both make a lot of sense about staying near the airport on the first night so we will do that. Like you say, we will probably be awake early and can get a good start.

    We will definately be booking for Yosemite once we are certain of our dates which will be in the next day or two. Thanks for the tip on the Yosemite Bug, but sadly it seems to be all booked up for the dates we need. We might book a tent spot inside the park instead and buy a cheap 2-man tent on the way and leave it behind when we leave the States.

    As for the coastal stretch, we could probably spend an extra day there and one less in San Francisco, to give us more time to tour the area.

    Thanks for all your help again.

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