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  1. Default West Coast Parks May 2011

    Hi All

    Please forgive a " newbie's" naivety - just booked UK return to San Fran in early May 2011 - looking to "do" the usual route ie San Fran - Yosemitie - Death Valley - Las Vegas - perhaps Zion and Bryce - Grand Canyon then a couple of days chill perhaps in Palm Springs/LA area.

    Have got 20 days and already thinking thats not enough so will have to compromise.

    Original thoughts were something like 3/4 Days San Fran - 2/3 Days Yosemitie - 2 Days Yosemitie to Las Vegas via Death Valley - 2 Days Las Vegas - 4 Days Zion/Bryce/Grand Canyon loop - 3/4 Days Palm Springs/coast chill-out prior to LA to San Fran flight on last day.

    From reading various posts seems almost certain that Yosemitie to Death Valley could involve a long drive as Tioga/Sonora and others might not be passable.

    Our main objective is spectacular scenery - am lucky to have airmiles from a "previous life" and am considering missing out Death Valley, backtracking to San Fran from Yosemitie, a flight to Las Vegas and spending more time on Zion/Bryce/GC loop - basically my question - is it worth missing out on Death Valley for some extra time in Zion/Bryce?

    Any thoughts/guidance greatfully received.

    Possibly I'm suffering from "info overload" from a great site and need someone in the know to point me in the right direction from the outset!!!!

    Looking forward to a great trip

    Thanks

    Simon

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,703

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    I can't speak for everyone, but I know that I would have loved to have had more time in Bryce and Zion! It really depends if you're going to get out into the back country and take some hikes, or if you're content to view the parks from the car. For hiking, I'd have to go with Utah more than one of the hottest places on Earth. For driving - you'll be able to see great views from the road as well.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default a good start

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think your plan is certainly a good start, but there are a couple things I'd recommend.

    First, you've complete skipped the California Coast, and on a trip to enjoy great views, I think that you really should try to find 2-3 days to make the drive between SF and LA.

    As far as Death Valley goes, I'll say that it is really a favorite park for many people - and visitors from UK/Europe tend to have a very special enjoyment of it because it is just so different.

    If I was to take some time away from other places, I'd use Palm Springs/Joshua Tree as a stopover between LA and the Grand Canyon, and maybe spend a day in LA too, but this is an area I'd probably try to save a little time.

    The other thing I would recommend doing is reversing your trip so you are going counter-clockwise. The biggest advantange would mean it would put you later into May increasing your odds of Tioga Pass being open. In early May, your odds of it being open are not very good, but by the end of the month, the odds are about 50/50.

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

    Default Me too !

    I agree with Michael about going counter clockwise and spending a couple of day's driving down the coast to LA. Then head to the South rim of the Grand canyon and then towards Page for Bryce canyon and Zion NP, you could possibly squeeze in a side trip to Monument valley. From Zion down I15 to Vegas and then into Death valley. This is where you need to know the status of the Tioga pass and head North, or South around Lake Isabella. If you leave yourself enough time and this is the case, you could add Sequoia NP to your list !

    Talking of NP's, it would be cheaper to by the annual pass for $80 then to pay individual fee's at each entrance. This can be purchased from the kiosk of the first park you visit, or there is a small NPS shop upstairs on Pier 39 in SF. Although we didn't do the coast and LA our trip might give you an insight into the area in just 15 day's.

  5. Default

    Hi All
    Thanks for info - plenty to go at - will go away and put something more concrete together and if OK with you will run it past you for further comment.

    Note comments about coastal route and was thinking of going south to Monterey area before striking inland to at least have a "taster".

    Seems likley the passes will be closed so is it worth going from Yosemitie to Kings then south to Bakersfield and Las Vegas to start the Zion Bryce GC loop.

    Southwest Dave - have just spent time reading your report and looking at photos - stunning - if we see half as much as that and take away half the memories we'll be over the moon.

    Regards and thanks
    Simon

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

    Default LA to SF ?

    Note comments about coastal route and was thinking of going south to Monterey area before striking inland to at least have a "taster".
    To get a "taster" of the coast you really need to head the Cambria area and then head inland.

    I am a little confused from your first post;

    3/4 Days Palm Springs/coast chill-out prior to LA to San Fran flight on last day.
    Do you mean flight out from SF, or are you flying to SF from LA ? If you have decided on driving from SF to Yosemite and ending in LA then it would make more sense to me to allow a couple of days to drive up the coast to SF at the end of your trip.

    Southwest Dave - have just spent time reading your report and looking at photos - stunning - if we see half as much as that and take away half the memories we'll be over the moon.
    Thanks ! I am sure you will.

    plenty to go at - will go away and put something more concrete together and if OK with you will run it past you for further comment.
    Please do, look forward to it.

  7. Default

    Hi All

    We have come up with the following route - we hear what a number of you you said about reversing our original plan but best deal flights were into SFO and out of LA so have been working around those flights.

    We have 21 days to play with:-

    Day1 Arrive San Fran
    Day 2 San Fran
    Day 3 San Fran
    Day 4 Drive SF to Yosemitie (190 miles)
    Day 5 Yosemitie
    Day 6 Yosemitie
    Day 7 Drive Yosemitie to Delano area via Kings Sequoia (275 miles)
    Day 8 Drive Delano area to Death Valley (267 miles)
    Day 9 Drive Death Valley to Las Vegas (150 miles)
    Day 10 Las Veagas
    Day 11 Drive Las Vegas to Zion Canyon (165 miles)
    Day 12 Zion/Bryce
    Day 13 Drive Zion to Grand Canyon South (280 miles)
    Day 14 Grand Canyon
    Day 15 Grand Canyon
    Day 16 Drive Grand Canyon to Lake Havasu (270 miles)
    Day 17 Drive Lake Havasu to Palm Springs (190 miles)
    Day 18 Drive Palm Springs to LA area (say 120 miles)
    Day 19/20 Relax LA area
    Day 21 Leave Los Angeles

    We would like to keep the last few days in LA area as a relaxation from travelling especially as we have friends in the area but any thoughts/comments and advice on the rest of the proposed route would be welcomed.

    We are a party of 4 (2 Couples) and would be looking for medium priced hotel/motel/lodging for overnight stops so again any recommendations as to sites/hotel chains etc would be gladly received.

    Regards

    Simon

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

    Default Good job.

    You have come up with a good solid plan so well done !

    It's a slightly false economy time wise driving to Bryce and back to Zion, on the 12th I would stop in Bryce and head to GC from there. [arrh, could be a typo ?] It'll be a long day from Yosemite to Kings canyon and Sequoia but driving through Sequoia on the Generals highway you could find lodgings for the night in Three rivers [not much there, but good location for the night] or Visalia.

    You don't normally get many first hand recommendations on lodgings as there are thousands of them and only a few regular contributors so I would use sites like trip advisor to get a feel for price and locations. When you have found what you are looking for it is worth checking to see if the hotel has it's own site as they often do better deals direct, or at least a price promise to match any other offer. You will find all park lodgings at nps.gov or look at the surrounding areas for cheaper options. San Fran has some budget options on Lombard street, Springdale is a great little town for Zion and you could check out "Ruby's Inn for Bryce canyon.

  9. Default

    Hi again

    Much of our trip is now set based around the itinerary above one question for the experts though - we plan on spending a couple of days in Palm Springs area at the end to relax and the final leg is a drive from Grand Canyon (Tusayan area) to Palm Springs.
    Mileage seems to be about 450 - at first we were looking to break the journey at Havasu but our question - is it feasible to do it in one day and maximise our Palm Springs area "chill out"?

    Any observations gratefully received.
    Regards
    Simon

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

    Default Sure is.

    It's quite a comfortable trip to do same day, so if you want to chill in Palm Springs, it's most definitely feasible. Allow 8/9 hours for the trip with time for a spot of lunch and a couple of short breaks. Williams offers cheaper lodging options, and would take about an hour of your journey to PS.

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