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  1. Default RV trip: San Francisco - Yosemite - Great Canyon - Las Vegas

    Hi everyone! I'm a spanish traveller which some days ago discovered roadtripamerica. I've been reading lots of posts! Usually I take part in forums in my mother tongue for planning trips, but concerning roadtrips and California, this one is huge and gorgeus... and I cannot think about any better place to ask for advice.

    I'm well aware that this topic is the most popular, but since I have many issues in mind, I've decided to post the whole thing.

    We are flying this summer (july) from Spain, half-the-word-away, to San Francisco. 17 nights, and fliying back from Las Vegas (we have plane tickets alreday). We are 5 people, cannot rent only one car, and we'd love to rent a recreational vehicle... it will solve problems of space, accomodation and cooking in one fell swoop. So many of the issues will concern RVs.
    Must see places for us (apart from SF and LV): Highway 1 from monterrey to hearst castle; Yosemite; Grand Canyon.

    Our innitial planning
    - 4 nights on SF, which leaves us 3 full days in the city.
    - 10 nights on the road, sleeping on campgrounds prepared for RVs.
    - 3 nights on Las Vegas

    Road planning:
    Day 1.- Leave SF, drive Hway 1, Santa Cruz, Monterrey and Carmel, sleeping arround Big Sur.
    Day 2.- Hearst Castle, Piedras Blancas lighthouse, and take CA-41 up to Yosemite.
    Day 3.- Yosemite.
    Day 4.- Sequoia National Park.
    Day 5.- From Sequoia to Death Valley (¿Shermann pass is recomended for RVs?)
    Day 6.- Death Valley and Sleep around Barstow, or another eastern location on route 66.
    Day 7.- Old route 66 from barstow and sleep in AZ.
    Day 8.- Old route 66 up to flagstaff, or other western location.
    Day 9.- Reach grand Canyon.
    Day 10.- Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, sleep somewhere close to Las vegas.
    Day 11.- Delivering the RV to Las vegas (early, before noon)
    Map of the route (around 1800 miles):

    This is the most ambitious planning we have conceived. But may be lots of miles, loooots if we are traveling by RV.

    Some alternatives:
    - Alternative 1: From SF heading to Yosemite. From Yosemite back to Carmel Peninsula, San Simeón. Death Valley and keep going as previously planned. We will be missing Sequoia National Park. (1700 miles) MAP
    - Alternative 2: From SF to San Simeon, then to Sequoia Natl Park and up to Yosemite. Taking Tioga pass to Hwy 395, we'll include Bodie and drive down to the Death Valley. (Around 1750 miles). Sequoia park could be missed to save miles. MAP
    - Alternative 3: instead of Death Valley, we will visit the mojave national preserve = less miles. ¿Is this sacrifice worth to save miles?
    To cut more miles some ideas will be skipping Barstow and Flagstaff.

    What do you think about the possible planning. ¿Maybe too ambitious? ¿Not compatible with RVs?
    -Concerning Sequoia National Park/Kings Canyon. ¿After Yosemite is really worth seeing these other national parks?

    Thanks in advance from Madrid (Spain).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Sherman Pass is not recommended for RV's, but Walker Pass is no problem.

  3. Default

    Will I have problems with the RV if I finally intend to cross Tioga pass?
    Are the major spots in Yosemite/Sequoia parks compatible with RVs?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default thoughts

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Its been a number of years since I drove Sherman Pass, but I don't remember anything specific that would have prevented an RV from taking that route. Certainly it is a slow going mountain route, and would be a bit of a challenge, but I think it could be done without issue. However, because it is such a slow going route it would make for an extremely long day trying to get from Sequoia National Park to Death Valley by this route. If you want to do this in one day, I'd take CA-178 or CA-58.

    However, having said that, I actually wouldn't do either, and instead go from the Coast, to Sequoia, and then to Yosemite, as you proposed in Alternative 2. I think that would be an easier and more enjoyable trip overall.

    I wouldn't skip Death Valley, but including the Mojave Preserve certainly would still be an option. One thing I wouldn't do is go from Death Valley all the way back west to Barstow. You could head down through Baker, and hit I-40 south of the perserve. Most of route 66 in California simply doesn't exist anymore. Your best bet for enjoying the old road is the section in Arizona east of Kingman.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Option 4?

    The Tioga pass will be fine with the RV, it's a little narrow and twisty at the start when you head up from the valley floor and then not to bad at all. I like option 2 but I am not sure if you might be under estimating the drive times in an RV and how big and wonderful some of these places are. For example from Big Sur to Sequoia with a visit to Hearst castle will be a long day. By the time you have driven through Sequoia to Yosemite and then headed over Tioga next day to DV you will have little time to truly experience either.

    I would consider dropping a day in Vegas and SF to get more from your experience on the road or, as you suggested drop something from the itinerary like Sequoia. Another option that comes to mind is to rent a car in LV for a day [budget permitting] and do Death valley as a day trip from your time in Vegas and drop Sequoia NP.

    Option 4 would look something like this SF > Yosemite [day 1& 2]> Yosemite >Sequoia > Monterey [ day 3/ 4 /5] San Simeon [day 6] On route to Grand canyon [day 7] Grand canyon [day 8/9] Route 66/ Hoover dam [day 10]
    Vegas [11] and a day trip to DV.

    When driving an RV on 2 lane roads it is customary to use the pull outs to let cars that are caught behind you through, it will take any pressure from you and you will normally be rewarded with a wave and a smile.

    For camping in the National parks [recommended] you will need to book as soon as possible, if it isn't to late already., go to >< for the info.

  6. Default better itinerary?

    Thanks for your advice!! I really apreciate your help.

    Concerning driving times I think we have to drop some things as suggested... such as Sequoia, Barstow or Flagstaff. The final itinerary that I'm considering will not exceed 1600 miles... which leaves us an average of 160 miles/day... some days less, some others more. Concerning a road trip around california-grand canyon, I think it would be ok (with less miles we'll be missing things that, simply, cannot be missed). Now, we are talking about an RV trip, assuming that our cruise speed should not exceed 55 mph, I think that It leaves an average of 3-4 hours/day on the road (summer days are long, and we're 4 potential drivers). Maybe I'm being a a bit pretentious and foolish, so please let me know.

    - 4 nights on San Francisco is almost a must, as we arrive late in the evening the first day. We're really excited about exploring this city, and it will be the only big city (LV apart) in our trip... 2 full days instead of 3, I think won't be enough.
    - 3 nights in Las Vegas is a must, as we will be dropping the RV on saturday... cutting 1 night on LV wont be such a sacrifice as in SF, but can't drop on Sunday.
    So it leaves again 10 days for our road trip (drop on 11th day). This is what I'm now thinking about.

    Day 1.- Leaving SF, driving southwards: Santa Cruz, Monterrey. Pass the night around Monterrey. (not more than 110 miles on our first day, as the departure maybe not as early as we would like to).
    Day 2.- All the day spent on Hwy 1 from Carmel to San Simeon, visit Hearst castle, and pass the night near CA-40. (arround 100 miles).
    Day 3.- Head north to Yosemite. From San Simeon to mariposa groove we are facing 205 miles. Our first stop would be the in the southern part of the park, Mariposa Groove (as we are dropping Sequoia Natl Park, mariposa groove is a must). Visit the groove during the evening and pass the night on Mariposa Groove RV park under the charm of sky-reaching sequoias.
    Day 4.- Get into the heart of yosemite, one night there.
    Day 5.- Finishing with yosemite, cross Tiaga pass to Hwy 395, and visit Bodie. Night around Mono Lake or southwards to cut miles for next day.
    Day 6.- Road day, 220 miles between Mono lake and Death valley, stopping on attractions along Hwy 395. Sleep on Death Valley National Park.
    Day 7. Visit Death Valley on the way to Mojave. Pass the night on mojave. (Almost 200 miles between death valley and Kelso, in Mojave Natl Preserve).
    Day 8.- On the way to I-40, driving until Kingman, AZ or further (Kelso CA, to Kingman AZ 150 miles)
    Day 9.- Starting arround Kingman to Reach Colorado Canyon park (175 miles of old route 66 to enyoy during the day).
    Day 10.- Wake up in Colorado Canyon Natl Park, visit the canyon and get onto the road by late afternoon until Las Vegas halfway or further (240 miles between canyon and LV).
    Day 11.- Our last day on the road. RV has to be delivered in Las Vegas before noon. Early wake up to reach Hoover Dam by 9 am, and once visited, get into Las Vegas for delivery.
    Map of the route

    This is the best I've come up with. Miles are concentrated on last part of the trip, but I think that this is normal driving westwards, as major attractions keep geting further from each other as we get into the vast desert regions towards Great Canyon National Park.

    Thanks again, I would love each critic or advice. Global itinerary or any place we could be missing on the way.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Check your rental agreement !

    The last 3 miles of road to Bodie is unpaved and not only will it be slow going with the risk of breaking the crockery, it could also be in violation of your rental agreement that normally requests you stay on paved roads.

    This has also reminded me that a lot of RV companies will not allow RV'S through Death valley in the summer months so you will also have to check this as well with the renter before settling on an itinerary.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default easy going

    I think your current plans are very easy to achieve, and there are a few areas you really could speed up if you'd like.

    The one area that I really think you could push yourselves a little bit is day 8. You really should be able to get much farther than kingman that day, since really you're just looking at a stretch of interstate highway. I'd think you could easily get to Williams, even if you spend a good chunk of time around Route 66. You could push up your time in Yosemite a little bit, so if you wanted to fit Sequoia into your plans, its still very possible.

    But, really, if you left everything as is, you wouldn't have any problems at all - except for the couple of issues Dave brought up.

  9. Default

    Ok, we have to really take in consideration those issues raised by Dave about possible limitations for our RV.

    Concerning Day 8, to reach Williams AZ, from Mojave Ntl Preserve, there is a distance of almost 250 miles... we will be spending the day on the road. I think that along route 66 there are many interesting places, but maybe each of them not very time-consuming. I think that your point is good, step by step we could reach Willams on the day.

    On the other hand, I would leave us the oportunity of start day 9 closer to Grand Canyon Village. Maybe we could spend this day with a slight detour, taking Hwy 89 and visiting Sunset Crater, Wupatki and head to Great canyon village taking AZ-64, which I believe that pass close to great viewing points of the Great Canyon. ¿Is this detour worth?

    Thanks again!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default "Desert view drive".

    There are many viewpoints along 64, otherwise known as "Desert view drive" and in my opinion is the best way to enter the Grand canyon as you see the canyon develop along the way. The Old Watchtower is the first stop just inside the entrance with wide open views of the Colorado entering the canyon area and then you follow the rim into the village area stopping at other points of interest, highly recommended !

    Mather campground near to the village is a great place to stay but as I said earlier they get booked up real quick, as does Yosemite valley [ Lower, middle, North pines campgrounds].

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