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  1. Default LA-GrandCanyon-Vegas-DeathValley-Yosemite (September 2009) - Comments welcomed!

    Hello everyone! Newbie here - first time on this forum, and first time on a roadtrip!

    I have been scouring the forum and have found it to be a wealth of information and have used it to plan my itinerary thus far. Thank you all so much for keeping this going.

    We are aiming to do a round trip from LA, through the National Parks to SF and back down the coast to LA. The leg along the coast is pretty straightforward, so I will just need tips and hints on the leg through the parks. I am not a fan of very long drives, so I have limited the driving time to about 3-4 hours per stretch.

    We will be in a campervan, so will be camping along the way. Although we are pretty flexible with the timing, we have already booked the camp spots in Yosemite, so we will need to get there by that time.

    Here is our itinerary thus far, along with some questions and I would really appreciate if you could help me out with some comments, hints and suggestions. All are welcome.

    14th - Palm Springs - Joshua Tree - 29 Palms - overnight 29 Palms (Q: Do we need the whole day for this or are we better off moving on and overnighting somewhere else?)

    15th - 29 Palms - Lake Havasu City - Grand Canyon - overnight 3 nights (Q: Can anyone tell me the difference between the North Rim and the South Rim, which would you recommend, and might it be an idea to visit both since we have 3 nights?)

    18th - Grand Canyon - Page/Lake Powell - overnight Page

    19th - Page - Bryce Canyon - overnight Bryce Canyon

    20th - Bryce Canyon - drive thru Zion N.P. - drive thru Valley of Fire - Las Vegas (Q: Are we trying to do too much here? What is there to see in Zion and Valley of Fire, and is it worth spending more time here?)

    21st-23rd - Las Vegas

    24th - Las Vegas - Death Valley (overnight)

    25th - Death Valley - Lone Pine - Mono Lake - overnight Lee Vining (Q: any other suggestions of where to spend the night?)

    26th - Lee Vining - Yosemite (2 nights) (Q: Is it safe to assume that the Tioga Pass will be open in end-September?)

    Other questions:
    - Is there anything I am missing along the way?

    - Is it possible to fit in Sequioa NP without a massive detour and a long stretch of driving? Is Sequioa a must-see, or is it ok to skip?

    Thanks so much everyone! I'm looking forward to all your comments! :-)

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

    Default your own limitations

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Your trip is for the most part fine, except for your own limitation that you want to keep your driving down to 3-4 hours a day.

    Keeping that guideline in mind, it would make sense to spend the night near Palm Springs. You'll already be looking at a bit more than 3-4 hours to make it from LA to there, and then a few more hours to make it to the South Rim.

    The South Rim and North Rim are a good 5 hour drive apart. The South Rim would fit with your current plans and routing. If you did the north rim, you'd probably want to do it after Page.

    Trying to fit in Zion and Valley of Fire and drive from Bryce is going to be a bit much, and certainly is going to make for a very long day. I'd leave out Valley of Fire at the very least (you could do it as a seperate daytrip from Vegas later).

    Short of an record setting weather event, Tioga will be open in September. There is no way to fit Sequoia easily into your current plans, although perhaps you could visit Sequoia after Yosemite? Otherwise, there is a grove of Sequoia trees inside Yosemite - its not quite as spectacular as what you'll find in the national park, but still worth a visit if you aren't going to be able to fit Seq. NP into your trip.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Some more ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by RoadTripper Rachel View Post
    I have been scouring the forum and have found it to be a wealth of information and have used it to plan my itinerary thus far
    Midwest Michael has already provided several tips, here's a couple more...

    First, you could easily spend your entire trip time in just one of the national parks and never run of places to go and see and explore. You can cover much of the route with the limitation of the 3-4 hours of driving time, but realistically, you need to plan to be on the road, 5-7 hours every day, including fuel and food stops, photo ops, traffic etc. to see all of the places you've outlined. The only way to accomplish those same distances in 3-4 hours will require excessive speeding (80+ mph)....
    14th - Palm Springs - Joshua Tree - 29 Palms - overnight 29 Palms (Q: Do we need the whole day for this or are we better off moving on and overnighting somewhere else?)
    With the flexibility of a camper van, I could easily spend two months in Joshua Tree NP alone. Here's one of the best guide books to the area, (and some lovely photos...)

    A must stop -- have lunch at the cafe (by the pool) at the 29 Palms Inn. It's an insider spot and Hollywood celebrities can often be found there -- plus the food IS very special...
    15th - 29 Palms - Lake Havasu City - Grand Canyon - overnight 3 nights
    I recommend that you follow old route 66 to Oatman on the way -- it's a nice sidetrip to the Grand.
    19th - Page - Bryce Canyon - overnight Bryce Canyon
    This is one of the minimum 6+ hour days....
    20th - Bryce Canyon - drive thru Zion N.P. - drive thru Valley of Fire - Las Vegas (Q: Are we trying to do too much here? What is there to see in Zion and Valley of Fire, and is it worth spending more time here?)
    Valley of Fire and before that Snow Canyon are wonderful parks. But I would recommend that you enjoy the trip a bit and stay overnight near Zion.
    25th - Death Valley - Lone Pine - Mono Lake - overnight Lee Vining (Q: any other suggestions of where to spend the night?)
    Bishop or Mammoth Lakes would make a much more enjoyable overnight stop.
    Is it possible to fit in Sequioa NP without a massive detour and a long stretch of driving? Is Sequioa a must-see, or is it ok to skip?
    Since you are still planning to drive down the coast, it makes little sense to drive all the way to Sequoia NP and then north again to drive down the coastal road.

    Mark

  4. Default Thanks so much and keep 'em coming :-)

    Hi Guys! Thanks so much for the tips thus far. It looks like I will definitely need to re-jig the Bryce-Zion-Valley of Fire bit.

    I just wanted to clarify the driving time... I meant that I want to spend 3-4 (maybe 4-5) hours per continuous stretch. I don't mind being on the road 9 hours a day, if it means driving 4 hours to a destination, and another 5 hours to get to another destination. I just don't want to for example drive from Death Valley to Sequoia in one day. Does it make it any better?

  5. Default Overnighting in Death Valley area

    Can anyone share their experiences of camping in the Death Valley National Park? Which campgrounds would you recommend?

    Or would we be better off heading out of the park and overnight-ing in Panamint Springs?

    Thanks!

  6. Default

    Google pictures of antelope canyon its in Arizona. If you will have time its really cool to take pictures inside of it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    777

    Default Antelope Canyon

    Quote Originally Posted by jenntravel View Post
    Google pictures of antelope canyon its in Arizona. If you will have time its really cool to take pictures inside of it.
    See my post (#7) in this thread for a little info on Antelope Canyon plus a picture.


    Also: Zion National Park is one of my favorites and worth some time. You may not have enough time for this hike however (see my post, #8).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Another vote for Zion.

    Quote Originally Posted by RoadTripper Rachel View Post
    Or would we be better off heading out of the park and overnight-ing in Panamint Springs?
    Thanks!
    If you decided to stay at Panamint springs it would be possible to reach Yosemite next day. It would be a full day but with plenty of breaks to be had along the way and you will want to allow lots of time over Tioga just to take in the views and do some snapping with the camera. Perhaps this would free up a night for Zion NP of which I am another who would strongly recommend staying there. The Watchman campground in Zion is in a nice setting by the main entrance to the park and not far from Springdale.
    Another Death valley option would be Stovepipe wells inside the park.

    (Q: Can anyone tell me the difference between the North Rim and the South Rim, which would you recommend, and might it be an idea to visit both since we have 3 nights?)
    The North rim has a more remote feel about it and See's a lot less visitors than the more popular South rim, but what makes the South rim more popular are more amenities and more easily accessible viewpoints. I think that trying to visit both on your schedule might be stretching things a little as it would add a significant amount of driving time. Perhaps you could spend one of those nights at Monument valley. If you were to go to the South rim the Mather campground is in a good location but I would consider booking in advance.

  9. Default Parking in San Francisco

    Sorry, this might be going off topic.....

    We are driving to San Francisco from Yosemite and staying there for a few days. As we will not need the car during this time, we would like to park it somewhere outside the city.

    Can anyone recommmend a cheap, safe and convenient place where we can park our car during this time?

    Thanks!

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

    Default in general

    I don't have any specific recommendations, but probably your best and perhaps only realistic option would be to find a parking lot near the airport, either at the airport itself or with one of the handful of private parking lots that you'll find near almost every major airport. That would give you a safe, legal place to park, and pretty easy access to public transport to take you into the city.

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