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  1. Default 14 nights to cover SF, Yosemite, Pacific Highway, DV, GC, Vegas & LA - too much?

    Hi folks

    Planning a 2 week trip in April/May next year and ideally want to pack in as much as possible but without compromising on quality.

    Must sees are San Fran, Pacific highway/Big Sur, LA, Vegas, Death Valley & GC. Yosemite & Sequoia/Bryce would be a bonus.

    No flights booked yet so we are 100% flexible and could fly in and out of different cities if needed, however in and out of LA or SF would be preferable.

    Natural wonders are at the top of our wish list however we do also like a bit of man made fun hence Vegas as a must see.

    There is so much information on here already I was a bit overwhelmed and didn't know where to start, so I'm hoping that you helpful bunch can point me towards a good itinerary that balances distance with a quality experience. We'll have 2 drivers.

    Thanks so much!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Popular

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    This is a very popular and much discussed topic on the forums so a search will reveal lots of info, here are some of our favorites to get you started.

    Two weeks is a nice amount of time and to complete a loop you could start in anyone of the 3 major City's, so it will be worth comparing flight and car rental costs of each option.

    If you started in SF for instance, you could head South down the coast, which will put the pull outs for the Ocean views on your side of the road. From LA, I would head directly to the Grand canyon and then back to Las Vegas. On leaving Vegas you could drive across Death valley on the way to Yosemite. A popular choice from here is to head North and into Yosemite on the Tioga pass [CA120] but that is not likely to be open untill the second half of May or early June. The good news is that if you head around the Southern end of the Sierra's through the Lake Isabella and Bakersfield area you can catch Sequoia on the way to the Southern entrance into Yosemite. This would be fairly comfortable in 2 weeks, giving you some time at each of the places listed, you could head for Bryce canyon and Zion NP from the Grand canyon and drop into Vegas from I15 from the North, but this could start to feel a little rushed and will depend on how much time you hope for at each major attraction.

    You won't be disappointed, it is a wonderful and diverse area to explore and I am sure you will have a great time. Take a look around the RTA pages and if you have any further questions, just ask.

  3. Default

    Thanks Dave, your input is much appreciated. How does this sound for an itinerary:

    Day 1-3 SF
    Day 4 & 5 Pacific Highway
    Days 6 & 7 - LA
    Days 8 & 9 - Vegas
    Day 10 & 11 GC, Bruce, Zion
    Day 12 - Death Valley
    Day 13 & 14 - Yosemite
    Day 15 - Drive to SF airport & return home

    Is that about the the right amount of time in each place do you think?

    Thanks again


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


    The only real problem spot I see is Day 10/11 - where 2 days really isn't enough time to see all three of these parks, especially when you factor in that you're looking at a half day of driving just to get from Vegas to the Grand Canyon, and then a half day beyond that to Bryce or Zion.

    You can save yourself a little driving by going from LA to the Grand Canyon, and then hitting Vegas on your way from Zion to Death Valley, but even that's not going to completely fix your problem. You're going to have to cut something, and I'd say doing Zion but not Bryce is probably your best bet.

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

    Default Ditto

    I agree, as I said, if you want to head to Zion I would go to the GC and then into Vegas from Zion to save some miles, and the need to go through Vegas twice. Even then Bryce will be pushing it as you will be rushing through 3 scenic wonders, instead of enjoying more of just 2 of them.

    As you mentioned earlier, your preference for scenic wonders ,[as is mine] and the fact you will have time in San Fran [wonderful City] and fun in Vegas, my actual preference would be to head down the coast to the Morro bay area and then cut inland to the GC, bypassing LA altogether and take more time taking in the truly magnificent scenic wonders. Of course this is for you to decide, I am just putting it out there as food for thought ! I would also consider spending a day in SF at the end of your trip instead of all 3 at the beginning, it might give you a little time to reflect and unwind before heading home.

    So option 1 would look like this ; Day 1&2 SF> Day 3&4 coast > Day 5&6 LA >Day 7 to GC >Day 8 Explore canyon and leave by East kiosk to Cameron/Page.> Day 9 Zion to Vegas >Day 10 Vegas> Day 11 Death valley> Day 12&13 Yosemite >Day 14 SF and home.

    Option 2 without LA would mean you could head to GC from the coast, possibly stopping overnight on route but near to the GC, and visit Bryce before Zion at a more relaxed pace.

  6. Default

    Option 1 looks fantastic. To cut down on some driving I wondered whether it is worth considering flying in to SF and out of Vegas with an itinerary kinda like the following (we could stay and extra couple of days over the 2 weeks):

    Days 1-3 San Francisco
    Day 4 - Yosemite
    Day 5 - Big Sur
    Day 6 - Big Sur
    Day 7 - Sequoia NP
    Day 8 - Death Valley
    Days 9-10 - Vegas
    Days 11 - 14 - Zion NP, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon
    Day 15 - Vegas
    Day 16 - Home

    It would mean missing LA but from what I hear we wouldn't be missing much.

    Another option would be to just do a day trip to Yosemite from SF - is this advisable rather than an overnight stay there?
    Last edited by tinabull; 06-22-2010 at 12:50 AM.

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

    Default Decisions, decisions !

    Hi Tina,

    As you are discovering, there are many variables to each road trip that is comparable to each other, and the reason you might have noticed we don't do "must see" or "best route" answers, become apparent. There are no right or wrong answers, just choices and decisions to be made.

    There is no reason why your above itinerary won't work, but it does have you zig zagging somewhat, and I would also point out that going to Yosemite for a day and back to SF will be 9 or 10 hours of driving for a couple of hours or so in Yosemite, the waterfalls will be flowing and it will be quite spectacular. As this would basically be equal to 2 days in SF AND 1 in Yosemite, I would consider staying the night near to Yosemite and heading back towards the Monterey area of the coast so that you don't have to go all the way back to SF. While in Yosemite there is a grove of Giant Sequoia trees near the Southern entrance [Mariposa grove], and although not quite as big as in Sequoia NP, it might be enough to give you a taste of these giants, as I think trying to get from LA to Vegas via Sequoia and Death valley is a bit much.

    You could end in Vegas and see Death valley as a day trip from there, as Vegas really comes alive at night. That would give you your 2 days in SF, 2 in Yosemite [big trees] with a trip back to the coast, 2 days coast, 2 days LA, 2 Days GC [stopping short on Day 1 if need be, and out the other side day 2] 1 day Bryce, 1 Day Zion, 2 days Vegas with a trip to DV.

    You need to make the choices from the things that appeal to you, such as Yosemite, Bryce or Sequoia [or both] and the pace you want to set yourselves, but one thing I can assure you is, there are no wrong choices, you will have a fantastic time !

    One thing that I have noticed on your itinerary above is that you have days 1 to 3 in SF with a day trip to Yosemite and day 3 as one of your days on the coast, which Yes, you could drive to Monterey area on day 3 but it really only leaves you a day and a half in SF.

    We all face the same tough choices when there is so much to do and so little time but it'll work out. When you have settled on your "in and out" locations and roughly decided how you want to spend your time we can alway's give it a look over and see if we can help to "fine tune" it.

  8. Default

    Thanks Dave, you really are a star. Flights are now booked - flying into SF and out of LA as it was the cheapest option for 15 nights. Have dropped off Sequoia especially if we can see some giant trees in Yosemite.

    My draft itinerary and estimated mileage is looking as follows:

    Apr 18 Arrive SF
    Apr 19 SF
    Apr 20 SF
    Apr 21 SF - Yosemite. Early start there - aim to arrive by midday. Night in Yosemite.
    Apr 22 Yosemite - Ripplewood Resort, Big Sur (250m)
    Apr 23 Big Sur - Santa Barbara (200m)
    Apr 24 Santa Barbara - Vegas (350m)
    Apr 25 Vegas
    Apr 26 Vegas
    Apr 27 Vegas - Zion (200m)
    Apr 28 Zion - Bryce or Monument Valley (130m or 300m - which would you choose?)
    Apr 29 Monument Valley - GC (200m)
    Apr 30 GC - ?. Looking for a stop off between GC and LA - suggestions?
    May 01 ? - LA
    May 02 LA
    May 03 Fly home

    Now for questions....

    Are the mileages realistic?
    Is that enough time in the canyon areas etc or do I ned to trim the time in SF by a day? I do love SF though.
    If I needed to drop something else off what would you suggest?
    If I had to choose between Bryce Canyon and Monument Valley, which one in your opinion?
    Is there reasonable accommodation in each place - under $100 USD a night per room if possible.

    Sorry for all the questions, I just want to get the most out of our trip as it will be our last trip to the USA for some time as the year after we plan to start a family.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Looks good !

    Glad it's coming together for you, and using the cheaper option for your start and finish points makes a lot of sense !

    I think your itinerary will work well if you are happy with it, but you could tweak it a little if you wanted.
    For instance, you could leave SF or Vegas in the afternoon of the day before rather than early next day, and get a few miles under your belt and have more time at Yosemite and Zion.

    I don't think you need to trim anymore away if you are happy with your pace.

    Bryce or Monument valley? Umm Cheese or Ham? I love them both but Bryce would just come out ahead for me. If you were to leave Vegas in the afternoon and spend the night in Springdale, which is a great little town on the doorstep of Zion, you could possibly make it to Bryce same day and stay the night [27th] look around the park and head for Grand canyon and spend some quality time there, you have to witness a sunset.

    You will have to search around for lodging deals, and you might have to stay just outside the parks for the best values but you should be OK with a $100 a night budget. If you headed towards Yosemite a night early, Groveland has options near to the park, and near the big trees before heading back to the coast you could look at Mariposa and Oakhurst among others. Springdale for Zion and if you get to Bryce Tropic has some options or check out "Rubys Inn" by the entrance to the park. Cameron which is close to the East entrance of GC has the Cameron trading post which has a massive store which is worth a look in itself, there are also lodgings but that will depend on the time you arrive in the area. South of GC you will find budget options in Flagstaff and Williams with Tusayan being the nearest to the South entrance. You could take the long drive to LA from one of these towns or head towards Kingman for the night or maybe Lake Havasu City, home of the old London bridge.

  10. Default

    Ok, the plan I think is coming together nicely. Thoughts on the following itinerary (have taken off Zion in favour of Monument).

    How does this itinerary look, and how accurate are my estimated mileage and driving times?

    Mon San Francisco
    Tues San Francisco
    Weds San Francisco
    Thurs San Francisco - Yosemite 180 miles, 3.5 hours
    Fri Yosemite - Big Sur, 200 miles, 4 hours
    Sat Big Sur - Santa Barbara, 200 miles, 6 hours (incl. stop offs)
    Sun Santa Barbara - Vegas, 360 miles, 6 hours
    Mon Vegas (day trip out to death valley)
    Tues Vegas
    Weds Vegas - Bryce Canyon, 270 miles, 4.5 hours
    Thurs Bryce Canyon - Monument Valley, 300 miles, 5.5 hours
    Fri Monument Valley - Grand Canyon, 260 miles, 5 hours (stay overnight in Flagstaff or Williams)
    Sat Flagstaff - Lake Havasu City, 220 miles, 3.5 hours
    Sun Lake Havasu City - LA , 300 miles, 6 hours
    Mon LA
    Tues LA - Flight home

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