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  1. Default Dont know where to start..

    Hi there, I am planning a road trip of the West Coast and want to include the following places : San Fran, Napa, Yosemite, Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Vegas, LA, Route One between San Fran and LA and basically I just wondered if we can comfortably do it all in 13 nights/days. Also does anyone have any suggestions to the way we should structure the itinerary or any places that we shouldnt miss?? We are coming from the UK so want to maximise our time, appreciate there will be a lot of driving but we can handle it. Finally LA - is it worth a visit, I've heard mixed reviews...??

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default very typical

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    This is the most common, most discussed basic trip outline on this forum! I'd say the average amount of time spent on a trip like this is 2-3 weeks, so you'll have to keep moving but you should be able to fit it all in. LA is a big place, and there are a lot of things you can see, but you'll have to balance that out with the time you have and all of the other places you've listed. No one can make that choice for you.

    You could really learn alot just by looking around here some more. These are a few of our favorites, but of course, there are many more other goods ones you can find once you are done with those.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default When ?

    Hi,
    You should be OK with 13 days at your disposal but as Michael stated, you will have to keep moving. At what time of year are you travelling as it could have an affect on your routing. From Yosemite through Death valley your next natural port of call will be Vegas and then to Grand canyon and back to LA.
    You are set up for an amazing adventure through some fantastic and diverse scenery.
    As for LA, that really is down to what you want to do but from a personal point of view with limited time I would take the time to enjoy the natural wonders and have quality time in San Fran and Vegas, but that's just me !

  4. Default Don't know where to start..

    Hi thanks for the replies. We are travelling in mid October, we are still trying to work out if its better to fly in/out of LA and do a loop or whether to start in LA and end in Vegas (or vicaversa). Just dont want to miss anything along the way but also dont want to be so busy that we dont enjoy it..

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default start with what you've been given

    There are no single right answers to the questions you are asking, but I will again strongly encourage you to read the above mentioned posts - and search some more - so you get a feel of the area and what options might work best for you. Once you've got some ideas, start steching down an outline of how your trip might go.

    The timing of your trip does throw a little bit of a wrench into things. Tioga Pass, crossing the Sierras through Yosemite National Park typically closes for the year in late October or November. There is no way of knowing in advance when this might be, but you should consider this possibility, and you might want to put your visits to Death Valley and Yosemite near the start of your trip to improve the odds that you'll be able to take this route.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    I would recommend a counter clockwise loop from either LA or LV. The California coast is best done from north to south because the scenic pullouts will be on your side of the road.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default Taking both considerations....

    I too would recommend a loop, as you want to see inland and coast it will save you having to zig zag between the two. I would want to try and secure a passage across Tioga pass [120] and as Michael said you improve your chances of doing so early in your trip. Heading South down the coast as glc mentioned would mean starting in Vegas >DV> Yosemite> SF> coast [LA?] > GC > Vegas but you would still have to check the Tioga pass condition prior to leaving Vegas/ Death valley. As you are coming from the UK you might want to check out air fares which could help you decide your start and finish point. With the info you now have I would do as Michael suggested and do some research and when you have an outline itinerary that best suits you post it up and we can help you "fine tune" it.

  8. Default Itinerary!!

    Hi guys,

    I have been busy trying to put together an itinerary but no idea how realistic it is or if there is anything I am potentially missing out on. Flights we are looking at are in/out San Fran - creating the loop.. I've given rough miles and timings but if there is smth I have misjudged then please let me know!!

    Day 1 - Arrive in San Fran from London at 2pm, pick up car and drive east towards Yosemite - go as far as we can as we will be knackered. Drive from San Fran to Yosemite is : 195 miles and takes about 4 hours. Overnight TBA
    Day 2 - Day in the national park - overnight in Yosemite..
    Day 3 - Drive through Death Valley - possibly overnight somewhere there, heading towards Vegas - drive from Yosemite to Death Valley is 270 miles and takes 5 hours - overnight TBA
    Day 4 - Arrive in Vegas - overnight Vegas
    Day 5 - drive to Grand Canyon - overnight Vegas - drive from Vegas to Grand Canyon is 277 miles and takes 4.5 hours (but remember we are going to do a return trip in 1 day)..
    Day 6 - Vegas - overnight Vegas
    Day 7 - drive to LA - overnight Beverly Hills or Santa Barbara - drive from Vegas to LA is 270 miles and takes 4 hours
    Day 8 - drive up route 1, overnight San Simeon area - drive from LA to San Simeon is around 4 hours leisurely drive
    Day 9 - visit Hearst Castle in the morning, continue driving up route 1 - overnight in Monterey area
    Day 10 - drive to Napa - overnight in Napa area - drive from Monterey to Napa is about 3 hours
    Day 11 - drive to San Fran, drop off car, overnight in San Fran - drive from Napa to San Fran is about 1.5 hours
    Day 12/13 - overnight San Fran

    What do you think - doable? Or will we need a vacation straight after this one :)

    Let me know, thanks!!

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

    Default If you had use of a helicopter instead of a car!

    Quote Originally Posted by Thelmaandlouise View Post
    I've given rough miles and timings but if there is smth I have misjudged then please let me know!!
    All of your driving time is underestimated by at least 40%...
    Day 1 - Arrive in San Fran from London at 2pm, pick up car and drive east towards Yosemite - go as far as we can as we will be knackered.
    This is really a poor decision -- You'd be much smarter to plan to stay near the airport that first night -- or at the farthest -- plan to drive only an hour. But the time you get through customs, pick up your rental car and etc. you will be too tired to drive far.
    Drive from San Fran to Yosemite is : 195 miles and takes about 4 hours.
    This driving time is pretty close.
    drive from Yosemite to Death Valley is 270 miles and takes 5 hours - overnight TBA
    The shortest possible distance is closer to 300 miles (although I guess it depends upon what the starting point in Yosemite is and the ending point in Death Valley.. But if you're planning to see the sights you need to allow a full day of travel time -- 8-10 hours. You could probably drive this distance, non-stop in 6.5 hours, but it doesn't make much sense.
    Day 5 - drive to Grand Canyon - overnight Vegas - drive from Vegas to Grand Canyon is 277 miles and takes 4.5 hours (but remember we are going to do a return trip in 1 day)..
    Not in this lifetime.... I suppose if you drove flat-out and never stopped for speeding, you could do it in 5 hours, but that makes for a long day.
    Day 7 - drive to LA - overnight Beverly Hills or Santa Barbara - drive from Vegas to LA is 270 miles and takes 4 hours
    Only if you have helicopter could you travel from Las Vegas to Beverly Hills in four hours. Need to allow 5 hours. I frequently travel from Las Vegas to Pasadena in four hours, but that requires most of the time in excess of the speed limits.
    Day 8 - drive up route 1, overnight San Simeon area - drive from LA to San Simeon is around 4 hours leisurely drive
    250 miles and if were to drive this in four hours, it would not be leisurely! Better allow 5 to 6 hours.
    Day 9 - visit Hearst Castle in the morning, continue driving up route 1 - overnight in Monterey area
    This will be a lovely drive -- with the tour, pretty much a full day of travel.
    Day 10 - drive to Napa - overnight in Napa area - drive from Monterey to Napa is about 3 hours
    Are you race car drivers? I'd love to see anyone drive from Monterey to Napa in three hours! 4.5 is possible if the traffic cooperates.
    Day 11 - drive to San Fran, drop off car, overnight in San Fran - drive from Napa to San Fran is about 1.5 hours
    Again, not in the world we live in.... 2.5 hours is more realistic depending upon where in San Francisco you're going.
    What do you think - doable? Or will we need a vacation straight after this one :)
    It's going to be fun -- but you need to relax your driving times -- It's not really possible without a police escort to cover some of those distances that fast!

    Mark

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default a few changes

    A few things with your plan.

    I would strongly recommend you find a place near the San Francisco airport to stay that first night. You're going to be dealing with jet lag, being tired from the long flight, plus, you'd be heading into the teeth of rush hour traffic by the time you actually get on the road. Especially when you've got a trip this full, you don't want to be exhausted before you even start your trip.

    In general, you should expect times listed on Google to be off by at least 20% on the low side, so many of those trip will likely take longer than you are expecting. Going over Tioga from Yosemite to Death Valley will likely be a full day, assuming you stop at the many overlooks along the way.

    You should absolutely not try to do Grand Canyon as a daytrip from Vegas. Doing so requires more than 10 hours in the car, and leaves very little time to see any of the canyon. Not to mention, it would require far less driving just to head directly to LA from the Canyon than backtracking to Vegas.

    This is a very busy trip, but if you make some changes it wouldn't be impossible. However, you should expect a trip where you have very little down time. And if you want to have time to relax at all, you should probably look at trimmnig out a few things.

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