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  1. Default Western Roadtrip May/June 4 States, Big Cities and 4 National Parks

    We're a group of 5 (3 adults, 2 kids) visiting from the UK in late may for just over two weeks. Most of us have been to NY and Florida previously but this time we plan to tour along the lines of a traditional roadtrip.

    We've more or less settled on our itinerary, it's a tough one, although I'm used to driving 1000+ miles per week with my job.

    We're hiring a SUV for the duration from our arrival airport

    We would appreciate any comments on our itinerary as below:

    Day 1- Arrive LAX 1pm. Travel along Interstate 1 via Santa Monica and Malibu to Ventura
    Day 2- Ventura to Carmel stopping along the way, all Interstate 1
    Day 3- Carmel to SanFran. Rest of day city sightseeing
    Day 4- Sanfran sightseeing including golden gate & alcatraz. Overnight at Fairfield
    Day 5- Fairfield to Mammoth lakes via Yosemite with several stops
    Day 6- Mammoth Lakes to Cedar City, Utah (LONG, LONG DRIVE)
    Day 7- Cedar City to Bryce Canyon daytrip and back to Cedar City
    Day 8- Cedar City to Page, Arizona via Zion National Park
    Day 9- Page to South rim of grand Canyon then return
    Day 10- Page to Vegas via North Rim
    Day 11- In Vegas, hitting the strip
    Day 12- Vegas to LA, Possible PM trip to Knotts Berry Farm
    Day 13- Six Flags Magic Mountain, LA
    Day 14- Universal Studio's LA
    Day 15- General LA then late evening flight back to the UK

    Total mileage is about 2700 with only one really long day of driving between California and Utah

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default adjustments

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think your outline generally makes sense, but there are a few areas where you might want to rethink thing, and one area that might not be possible based on the conditions.

    The real potential problem is your Yosemite day. Tioga Pass through the park across the Sierras may not yet be open for the season. It typically opens in late May or June, so you're very much in the window where youi may have to change your plans using one of the other Sierra Passes - quite possibly even going north to the Lake Tahoe area or South around via Bakersfield.

    I will also note that your day of trying to get from Fairfield to Mammoth in one day is also already going to be a long one where its going to leave you a very limited amount of time to enjoy Yosemite. I'd look at spending more time here anyway, but If Tioga is still closed, you're certainly not going to be able to make it to Mammoth in the same day.

    One other element of your trip that's really just more illogical than anything else is your plan regarding the Grand Canyon. Page is a 3-4 hour drive from the South Rim, so its not a good place to use as a home base for that portion of your trip. You're also driving past the North Rim to get there, and so you've got a whole lot of backtracking. Instead, visit the North Rim first, then go to the South Rim, stay at Williams an hour south if you're looking for budget lodging, then you'll have an easy trip back to Vegas via the Hoover dam.

    Cedar City is also quite a long way from Bryce, so you're looking at a lot of driving and backtracking here. You'd save yourself some time by going to Zion first, then staying at Tropic closer to Bryce.

    Your current plans also skip Death Valley altogether, and this really is an amazing landscape that will be unlike anything else you've ever seen. It really won't work if you have to get from Mammoth to Cedar City in one day, but if you reworked things, you could certainly fit in in.

    An after I've said all of that, I'd look at completely reversing direction, which will allow you to drive down the coast on the ocean side, and would make for an easier first day, where you wouldn't have to try to pack in 70 miles of driving and some pretty cool sightseeing while you are trying to recover after a very long flight and dealing with a whole lot of jetlag.

    So after saying all that, you'd have a trip that might look something like this:
    Spend your first day or two in LA.
    Then drive directly to Williams, AZ - this is a long 500 mile drive that will take basically a full day.
    Then see the South Rim, and onto Page followed by the North Rim (possibly leaving out the North Rim to save time for elsewhere in your trip.)
    Then Bryce and Zion, and eventually staying in Vegas.
    From there head on through Death Valley and onto Yosemite (either over Tioga or around via Bakersfield)
    Then finish up with San Francisco and your trip heading down the coast.

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

    Default Ditto.


    I am in agreement with Michael here and think you could use your limited time in places a little better if you are not already booked up. As mentioned, Cedar City and Page will add a lot of unnecessary driving and take a big part of the day away, of which you could be spending quality time at these amazing places you are visiting. Unless you have reason to go to Cedar city I would head from Mammoth to Springdale which sits right on the doorstep of Zion and is a fun town, the kids will enjoy feeding the Buffalo and Elks and other animals that are in a pen at the top of the high street. Your next stop could be Tropic or check out "Ruby's Inn" that sits at the entrance to Bryce canyon.

    Of course you can reverse this if you decide to do as Michael suggested [good idea] plus the extra days before visiting Yosemite will increase the chance of the pass being open. Between Mammoth and Cedar city/Zion you could head along US 6 through the old mining town of Tonopah to Warm springs [a deserted town of 5 or 6 buildings that has a hot spring coming from the mountain and has been diverted into a pool] and then drive through the desert on the E.T highway [NV375] through Rachael and the "LittleAlien Inn". We are from the UK and found the desert to be fascinating and although a long day we made it from just West of Tonopah to Zion in a 30ft RV with plenty of short stops along the way.

    If, or when you know when you will be in SF, I would recommend booking the Alcatraz tour in advance as you can experience long queues at the ticket office and they do sell out, Use the nps to book official tickets.

  4. Default

    I see that you're planning to visit BOTH the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon. With limited time, choices have to be made . . . I'd suggest that you choose between these two. They are both wonderful places, but they are very much alike. I suggest the North Rim because it is less populated and because it'd be more efficient for your drive.

    Skipping the South Rim will free up enough time that you'll have a little more breathing room in other parts of your trip -- and you'll see more unique things.

    In Page, AZ, be sure to see Antelope Canyon. It was a highlight of our trip last summer; it's beautiful in a sur-real, unearthly way. It's like nothing else I've ever seen. My husband, who is a nuclear engineer, also enjoyed Glen Dam (2nd biggest hydro plant in America?). I can't say that the rest of us loved it.
    Last edited by MrsPete; 04-04-2010 at 09:10 PM.

  5. #5


    As a previous poster has already suggested, the Yosemite day will be a long one. On my last road trip we drove from San Francisco to Yosemite to Mono Lake. It was in November and the main pass was closed, forcing us on a 125 mile plus detour via the northern pass (Sonora) late at night... It was, with hindsight, rather foolhardy... Not least since Sonora was only barely passable...

    So, would have a think about that day - and certainly check road conditions and have an alternate route or two. I'd also echo the recommendation to take in Death Valley. It really is quite spectacular, and is on the way from Mammoth Lake to Vegas (though again this is quite a full day - it was for us anyway).

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