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  1. #1

    Default West coast trip advice!

    I have just joined Road trip America and would like to say hello to everyone first!!

    We are planning our first trip to the west coast.

    We love Disney and are members of the Disney Vacation Club(DVC) and have already booked some accommodation through them. But we need help in many other areas!!

    We leave London on the 1st August 2010 and are staying in San Francisco for 3 nights. On the Wednesday 4th August we are hoping to hire a car/rv and drive to Yosemite. We are not sure whether to get a convertible or a suv/ bigger car. I would prefer a convertible, but don't know if this is practical. There are 3 of us, me, my husband and our 11 year old son. We will be using the car for our whole trip so will have our luggage with us and loads of souvenirs!!

    We were going to then stay in Yosemite for 1 night, then drive to Death Valley for another night. We have DVC accommodation booked in Vegas from the 6th - 11th Aug. So only have 2 nights to spare in between San Francisco and Vegas.

    I have been looking at what to do in Yosemite and it looks stunning and I am now thinking that 1 night is not enough!
    Should we just drive through Death Valley or maybe visit it when in Vegas and spend the 2 nights in Yosemite?

    I have also been looking at accommodation in Yosemite and even tried to book, but there are not many places left in the valley. Any suggestions would be great! We don't want somewhere plush, just clean, comfortable and friendly, especially the beds....the beds have to be clean!! (No brown smelly pillows and stained mattresses..urgh!!!)

    We love wildlife and walking and must see the sequoia trees (The huge ones)...somewhere!! is Mariposa too far out?
    We'd also love to see chipmunks..anyone know of the best place to see them ?!!!

    We want to drive along the Tioga Pass when leaving Yosemite and then down to see a place called 'Tom's Place' (as my son is called Tom) and then head to Death Valley. I have seen that the driving time is 6 hours for Death valley from Yosemite, is it worth the diversion?

    Any advice will be much appreciated. We are so excited about this trip!!
    We also will need advice after leaving Vegas but I'll ask about that later!
    Many thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Possibly to early to reserve lodgings.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    By searching the forums you will find lots of threads relating to this area with lots of info. Here's an easy way to get started... Click on this link!

    But to try and answer your questions,

    The convertible is an option with the 3 of you but as you have said luggage space could get tight although there is no real need for an SUV. Both would cost considerably more than a well equipped, intermediate sized rental that will do the job.

    Yosemite would be best spent with 2 nights but Death valley is naturally on route to Vegas and if it's possible I would cut a night out of your Vegas stay. If not, get an early start from SF and head towards Mariposa if you want to see the Giant Sequoia's and then you really must head up to Glacier point and then to the Valley floor or nearby for the night. The following day spend a few hours in the Valley and then head over Tioga pass. This is a wonderful scenic drive where you will want to take your time and enjoy getting out of the car and enjoying the views, so forget any drive times you might see. Spend night 2 between Bishop and Lone Pine and you can enjoy the drive through Death valley to Vegas without stopping overnight. I would however strongly recommend that extra night if you can take it and have 2 in Yosemite and 1 on the way to Vegas.

    Accommodation, The most likely reason that you are having trouble finding lodgings in Yosemite is that it is early to book The National park accommodation at the moment, but going in the height of the season you will need to book on the first available day possible, the website should have all the details. Here's a list of lodgings available and you will also find "curry village" where you can hire timber and canvas type tents.
    I have never stayed there but I have heard good things about the Yosemite bug for rustic type lodging.

    Don't worry about the Chipmunks, they will find you !
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 12-08-2009 at 12:27 PM. Reason: added the West Coast Directory link

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks southwest Dave!

    Thought about it a lot and have decided to go for the convertible, mostly after seeing the pictures from the Glacier point link you provided!! wow they are some views and some fantastic photographs of half dome...actually the best I have seen!! I now want to have the best viewing position to see that magnificent scenery and reckon that'll be from a convertible!

    Your advice about staying in Lone Pine or Bishops seems a great idea and I am now going to look for accommodation there.
    So now we'll leave San Francisco as early as possible after picking up the rental car and head for Mariposa. Then we'll stay near the valley or in it (still not found anywhere yet, think its because we want 1 room for 3 of us).
    Then we'll spend a few hours in the valley and head over the Tioga Pass as you recommended.

    The chipmunks better find me, let them know we're comin!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Other lodging options.

    Just be aware it will be a long couple of day's, but worth every second !

    With regards to the lodgings, I looked at the link I gave you above and 'Yosemite lodge at the falls' appeared to have vacancies for the 3 of you, but at just over $200 per night, Ouch !

    This link includes lodgings outside the park that would be more budget friendly at Groveland, Mariposa and Oakhurst but of course will add to your travel time a little.

    If you want more of a sneak preview of what's in store visit my Yosemite photo album.

  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks again Southwest Dave!

    Those photos are fabulous! The roads look a bit scary though!!!I gather thats the Tioga Pass?

    Is the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls worth over $200 a night? bet that doesn't even include breakfast!!

    Was considering Curry village but have read that its hard to sleep because you can hear everyone snoring!!...and we're gonna need lots of sleep with all that travelling!! I'm also a very light sleeper!

    I'm gonna look at your link for lodgings outside the park and consider the travel time against cost!

    If we stayed in Mariposa and got up early and went to visit Yosemite valley and then drove along the Tioga Pass and stayed somewhere near the end of it (if anywhere exists!!) is this do-able?
    Also are there places to eat on the Tioga Pass?..and toilets?

    Sorry for all the questions! I really appreciate your help!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    The roads look a bit scary though!!!I gather thats the Tioga Pass?
    The roads are generally fine, the pics do show the more "exciting parts" but there is nothing to be worried about. We were in a 30ft RV and had no problems.

    Is the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls worth over $200 a night?
    Only you can decide that but as above we travel by RV so I can't offer any first hand experience. What I would say is we loved staying in the park and if you have the opportunity one way or another I would recommend it, especially as your time is limited and in August it will be extremely busy getting in and out of the park. Putting it into perspective, Yes it is a lot of money, but say you were to spend $120 out of the park [you probably can get cheaper] the difference of $80 is about £50 at the present exchange rate.

    Was considering Curry village but have read that its hard to sleep because you can hear everyone snoring!!...
    Ear plugs ? Lol. It is in a very central location amongst woodland and I believe it's the best value way of staying inside the park, but it's not for everyone !

    I'm gonna look at your link for lodgings outside the park and consider the travel time against cost!
    That's your best bet !

    If we stayed in Mariposa and got up early and went to visit Yosemite valley and then drove along the Tioga Pass and stayed somewhere near the end of it (if anywhere exists!!) is this do-able?
    Also are there places to eat on the Tioga Pass?..and toilets?
    It's doable but you will wish you had that little extra time. The National parks website will give you all the info you need. I think there are spots at [either/or]White wolf and Toulumne meadows to get a bite to eat and loo's but they were closed when we travelled and we had all we needed on the RV.

    If I were to stay outside the park I might consider going to the valley floor on day 1 and spend as much time as possible there and head to Mariposa grove for an evening stroll. Next day drive up to Glacier point and then over the Tioga pass towards Lone pine. The nearest lodgings out the other side are at Lee vining by Mono lake, if you wanted to eat around this time there is a cool diner at the back of the gas station called "Woah Nellies Delli" on the junction of 120 and 395 which is the end of the Tioga rd. Up the hill from the gas station you get a good view of the lake [as per the pics].

    Sorry for all the questions! I really appreciate your help!
    No problem, ask away !

  7. #7

    Default

    Just to let you know that we've booked the accommodation at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. It is expensive but I reckon it's worth it!! Thanks for that.

    We can't check in till 5pm so have all day practically to look around. Which route do you recommend from San Francisco to be able to see as much as possible on that journey?

    I'm going to look for accommodation at Lee Vining now and will definitely check out "Woah Nellies Delli"!!

    Your help is much appreciated.

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

    Default Cool !

    Just to let you know that we've booked the accommodation at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls.
    Sometimes you have to splash out a little ;-) I would like to know your thoughts when you return. It would be nice to here about the whole trip TBH.

    Which route do you recommend from San Francisco to be able to see as much as possible on that journey?
    If you go over Bay bridge [I80] to I 580/I 205/I 5 and then CA 120 to Manteca, you then have 2 choices, stay on CA 120 or take CA 99 to CA 140. There isn't much in it time wise and I would make getting to Yosemite your goal and you will see most of what there is to see on route as you approach the park. If you head to Mariposa grove and Glacier point on Day 1, you could take the 49 from Mariposa to Oakhurst and then 41 through Fish camp. When you arrive at the Lodge you will be able to relax and use the free shuttle buses around the valley floor that evening [time permitting] and following morning, giving you a break from driving before heading over Tioga.

    I'm going to look for accommodation at Lee Vining now and will definitely check out "Woah Nellies Delli"!!
    Now you have booked in Yosemite valley it might be an idea to revert to plan 'A' and look to reaching at least Bishop to give yourself enough time to appreciate Death valley on the way to Vegas.

    You will find lots of interesting points on the way and a popular route is 190 from Lone Pine to Death valley junction and then take the Ash meadows road to Pahrump and 160 to Vegas. That takes you past the Sand dunes and down to Furnace creek [a cool place to stop for a look around and possibly food and drink] where a small detour will take you to Badwater, the lowest point in the States. After this a stop at Zabriske point for a short walk is well worth it for the views.

  9. #9

    Default

    Hi Southwest Dave hope you had a good christmas and best wishes for 2010!

    I will definitely let you know about our trip when we return and how we found the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls.

    Thanks for the directions to Yosemite. I've looked at the roads on Google Maps and can't decide on the CA 120 or the 140 yet!

    Heading to Mariposa, Glacier Point and Fish camp before we reach the Lodge sounds great!

    Now to look for accommodation in Bishops or further. Do you think getting to Lone Pine and staying there is do-able?
    We want to spend as much time as possible in Death Valley before heading to Las Vegas to check in to our accommodation. Do we need to be in DV early morning because of the heat? Will it be unbearable by midday?

    I can't believe it's only 8 months away and thanks to you we will have our routes all planned and are now not panicking as much about the driving!!

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

    Default Not long !!

    Hi,

    Hi Southwest Dave hope you had a good christmas and best wishes for 2010!
    Yes thank you, and the same to you ! [You got quite a bit to look forward too !]

    Now to look for accommodation in Bishops or further. Do you think getting to Lone Pine and staying there is do-able?
    It is doable and only an 1hr 15 mins or so further on from Bishop.

    Do we need to be in DV early morning because of the heat? Will it be unbearable by midday?
    Expect it to be hot ! Although the views throughout the drive are fantastic and you can get out for photo ops without having to venture too far from the car. Have sun hats and sunscreen and carry some water in the car.

    I can't believe it's only 8 months away
    And that'll soon come around !

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