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  1. #1

    Default California tour check-up

    Hello everyone!
    I'm happy to be back on this great forum! It was a precious help on my previous roadtrip a couple years back (Las Vegas to Denver and back).

    I am now planning a 16 days roadtrip around California. I have read many other post about similar trips but I'd just like to get some more experienced roadtrippers to 'validate' my itinerary as I still have a some questions to answer.

    Here's my itinerary:

    Aug 1: Arrival at Las Vegas.
    Aug 2: Chilling in Las Vegas.
    Aug 3: Pick up the car and go to Grand Canyon south rim. I've been there before but my girlfriend hasn't and even though it is a detour on the Cali tour, I think it'd be stupid not to bring her there as she might not have any chance to see it (she's european).
    Aug 4: Hiking in Grand Canyon (trail suggestions are welcome).
    Aug 5: Back on the road toward California. Destination: Big Sur (San Simeon). I know I can't reach it in one day's drive. What's is my best plan? Camping at Mojave Nat' Park, or Lake Isabella, or somewhere else?
    Aug 6: Getting to San Simeon, then driving on US-1 up to Monterey. Overnight there or (suggestion?).
    Aug 7: Going to San Fransisco.
    Aug 8: SF
    Aug 9: SF
    Aug 10: SF (Are 3 full days in SF too much?)
    Aug 11: Going to Yosemite
    Aug 12: Yosemite
    Aug 13: Yosemite to Kings Canyon/Sequoia Park
    Aug 14: Kings Canyon/Sequoia Park to Lake Isabella.
    Aug 15: From Lake Isabella to Death Valley and back to Vegas (late afternoon, early evening)

    -Is this tour doable in 2 weeks?
    -How much time should we really spend driving on Big Sur?
    -I'd really like to go to South Lake Tahoe. Would it be worth it to shorten my stay in SF and maybe not stay at Kings Canyon overnight (just passing through during the day) to make it possible?

    Thanks for helping out!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Good job !

    Hi Fred, welcome back to RTA !

    Your itinerary looks good, is well laid out and is doable in 14 days. Lake Tahoe would be possible but you might start stretching things a little. I also don't think that 3 days in SF is to much but I would be looking for that extra day from GC to San Simeon and SF looks to be the place to take it from. For that journey I would see at what time you leave the canyon and stop when you feel like it. If you wanted to tour part of the original route '66 through Seligman, Kingman and onto Oatman a stop at Lake Havasu city [London bridge] or Laughlin could be possible or you could push on to the Bakersfield area and max your time on the coast. I wouldn't detour to Lake Isabella as you are there later in your trip. Two full days and arriving in San Fran in the evening will let you enjoy the coastal drive and some points of interest.
    If you progress South from Yosemite through Kings canyon and Sequoia NP it would also be possible to drive through the Sequoia NM through Johnsondale and Kernville, although it's very scenic it is slow going and would make for a long couple of days.
    Another way to "tweak" some of these issues would be to leave [as an example] the GC and SF late afternoon the day before planned and get a few hours of driving under your belt.

  3. #3


    Thanks for your advices Soutwest Dave! Really appreciated!

    If I understand correctly, your suggestion would be to do something like this:
    Aug 5: From Grand Canyon to Lake Havasu City (what about camping out at Mojave?)
    Aug 6: Then going towards Bakersfield (is this really a place to be or should I look for a 'nicer' spot to stop at?)
    Aug 7: Bakersfield to Monterey
    Aug 8: Monterery to SF
    Aug 9: SF

    -I'm not sure taking two days on that route (GC to San Simeon) is really in order and I think getting to Bakersfield from GC would be too much in one day (would't?) Could a stop in Barstow be a better alternative so that I get to Big Sur in 2 days instead of 3?
    -From Monterey to SF, is it worth it to keep going on US-1 or if I should get on the 101 right away?

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

    Default Nope, sorry.

    I was suggesting just one overnight stop to San Simeon and was suggesting the earliest point at which you could stop was Lake Havasu or if you got away from GC early and skipped route '66 or any other major sight seeing Bakersfield would be about as far as I would recommend travelling, so anywhere in between the two would do.
    So basically GC to Barstow [for example] 1st night [5th]> to San Simeon 2nd night [6th] > to Monterey 3rd night [7th] to SF [8th]. That would give you more time to explore the coast and maybe do a Hearst castle tour and other sight seeing.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Either Barstow or Bakersfield would be a suitable overnight stop just to spend the night. Neither city has anything really noteworthy to see.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    South Central Orange County


    Barstow and Bakersfield in August will be REALLY hot. A cooler and nicer place to stay on the CA58 route to San Simeon would be Tehachapi.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default It's a Route 66 city

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Neither city has anything really noteworthy to see.
    George, Come on.... Barstow is chock-full of roadside murals, it's a Route 66 city, there's a couple of great museums, fabulous place to go rock-hounding, etc. Bakersfield is a very larger farming and commerce center -- and like shirohniichan mentions above -- Tehachapi is a little cooler and a nice place for over-night.


  8. #8

    Default Alternate route

    Thank you all for your contribution!
    Barstow and Tehchapi would seem like good spot for an overnight.
    Tell me if I'm wrong, but my readings and some friends have told me that this I-40 highway isn't the most scenic and a pretty boring part of my trip. They have suggested passing through Utah/Nevada after Grand Canyon Park to reach California.
    So I'd be going Vegas > GC > then road 89, 93, 6, 120 to Yosemite > SF > Big Sur > Sequoia/Kings Canyon > Death Valley> Back to Vegas
    How long (days) would be that stretch from GC to Yosemite? Would it be a better itinerary than my previous plan? Or maybe you guys have another idea?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default I-40 and time

    The most precious commodity you have on this trip is time and taking that detour you've mentioned will add 1-2 full days of driving. I-40 is a scenic highway, it parallels much of historic Route 66 and I suspect that those who would refer to it as boring, have never driven it.


  10. #10

    Default Thanks!

    I'm happy to hear that from you, Mark! I guess I'll stick to my original plan.
    Thank you all for your help!

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