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  1. Default first time Brits June California road trip

    Hi all.

    I've been reading through this forum/website, and its been very informative indeed. My boyfriend and myself are planning a road trip next year to do the main three, LA, San Fran and Las Vegas. We already have our flights booked for travel 14th - 28th June 2011, but nothing else yet is planned apart from a rough trip outline. I was wondering if you guys would mind looking at this and seeing if it seems feasible in the 2 weeks we have:

    day 1 - land in LA
    day 2 - all day LA
    day 3 - head up to stay in San Luis Obsipo (or surrounding area) via Santa Barbara
    day 4 - big sur to Monterey, stay over in Monterey (was considering Santa Cruz instead, not sure which place is better/nicer to stay)
    day 5 - head up to San Francisco
    day 6 - all day San Francisco
    day 7 - all day San Francisco
    day 8 - head up to Yosemite National Park
    day 9 - all day Yosemite
    day 10 - yosemite, then head through tioga pass (I am very concerned about this being closed still!), head down to big pine to stay overnight
    day 11 - death valley
    day 12 - las vegas
    day 13 - las Vegas, then leave and head to Palm springs for overnight
    day 14 - head back to LA and evening flight home

    These are the things I'm mainly concerned about:

    1. Do we need to spend 2 nights heading along highway 1 up to San Fran? I was worried that just spending 1 night would mean an awful lot of driving both days.

    2. San Fran - Yosemite, is it ok to do this in one day without staying overnight between the places?

    3. Concerned about where to stay in Yosemite. Everywhere inside the park is extremely expensive, I'm worried the places just outside the park are too far away from the park to stay for 2 nights?

    4. I'm concerned about tioga pass, and what we should do if it is closed. I've read a lot of threads on this but I'm still so unsure what a backup should be. We would hit the pass around the 21st/22nd June.

    5. Is it stupid to go to death valley this late in June? I'm very excited for the experience, but don't want to be doing anything stupid.

    6. Would it be ok to travel back to LA from Palm springs on the same day we fly out? I feel like we don't want to waste a night in LA just to make sure we are there for our flight, when we could be seeing somewhere else.

    I would be extremely grateful for any help or advice any of you guys could give. Our only previous experience of America prior to this is a trip we took to NYC back in May. We loved it so much, this has spurred us to see more of the states.

    thanks

    LisaG

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default bravo

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you've done an excellent job of planning and you've come up with an excellent plan and excellent questions.

    1. Do we need to spend 2 nights heading along highway 1 up to San Fran? I was worried that just spending 1 night would mean an awful lot of driving both days.
    You don't need 2 nights, but I think you will enjoy having the extra time. There is plenty to see and you certainly won't be bored or run out of things to do over 3 days.

    2. San Fran - Yosemite, is it ok to do this in one day without staying overnight between the places?
    Not a problem at all, this is only a 4-5 hour drive.
    3. Concerned about where to stay in Yosemite. Everywhere inside they park is extremely expensive, I'm worried the places just outside the park are too far away from the park to stay for 2 nights?
    It certainly is a trade off, you're looking at 45mins-1hr drive from the valley back out to places like Mariposa or Oakhurst. What you could consider doing is not leaving SF until afternoon, so your simply arriving near the park in the evening, and then just spend all day in the valley, and then spend the following day going over Tioga Pass. You could also spend a little more time looking at options that might be a happy medium. The Yosemite Bug is one place that's mentioned here quite often that's closer, but pretty reasonably priced.
    4. I'm concerned about tioga pass, and what we should do if it is closed. I've read a lot of threads on this but I'm still so unsure what a backup should be. We would hit the pass around the 21st/22nd June.
    You're certainly right at the point where it could be open, but being closed is a very real possibility. If it is closed, you'll have to go around via the Bakersfield area crossing the mountains using either CA-178 or CA-58.
    5. Is it stupid to go to death valley this late in June? I'm very excited for the experience, but don't want to be doing anything stupid.
    It will be hot certainly, but its hardly stupid. You should also know that both Las Vegas and Palm Springs will also likely be seeing temperatures well above 100F at this time of year.
    6. Would it be ok to travel back to LA from Palm springs on the same day we fly out? I feel like we don't want to waste a night in LA just to make sure we are there for our flight, when we could be seeing somewhere else.
    That's fine, as long as you don't have a very early flight. The key thing is to make sure you leave much earlier than you think you'll need to because of the inevitable traffic in LA. I'd try to leave at least 6 hours before your flight leaves, giving you 2 hours for the drive, 2 hours for traffic, and 2 hours for airport security (and even more time wouldn't be a bad idea). The nice thing about LAX is that it is fairly close to the beach, so if you get there too early, its not hard to find a place to just sit and relax for a little while.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Good odds.

    The odds are in your favour for the Tioga to have opened by the time you travel. Only once in the last 10 years would you have not made it over at this time, although that is by no means a guarantee, in '98 it didn't open until July 1st. You can find previous dates by clicking on the link in this thread. As said, it's not a real issue as you have the time to head around the Southern end of the mountains.

    Along with Yosemite bug, [as Michael mentioned] there are other cheaper lodging options such as a canvas cabin in Curry village [although I have heard earplugs are a good idea because you are packed in and snoring can be heard through the night !] or a number of towns around Yosemite. You can find options here.

    And another 'pat on the back' for your planning efforts, good job.

  4. Default

    Wow, thanks very much for the speedy and informative responses! I am really glad that my trip doesn't seem too crazy, I'm even more excited now :-)

    LisaG

  5. Default

    Ok, I've done more digging around this foum and the net. I think we're pretty much going with the plan I originally set out, but as a backup to Tioga pass being closed we have worked out that we could go over the Sonora pass instead, seeing as we have that whole day to travel to Bishop area. Going the southern way will be our 'backup' backup! We've also decided to stay in curry village within Yosemite. Even though its kind of expensive for what it is, it will be nice to stay inside the park, and if Tioga is closed it's not so bad to just go the Sonora way. On the way in to Yosemite we may visit Jamestown too, and do gold panning (the boyfriends idea!)

    Something I would like a bit more advice on is the day when we go to Death Valley. I know it will be very hot - as mentioned above, will Las Vegas and Palm springs be pretty much the same temperature? If so I guess I'm worrying about nothing, becasue people go there all year round without question. If DV is hotter, I'm worried that it will be too hot to actually do or see anything, and in which case will we end up spending most of the day hanging around furnace creek (where we hope to stay). Would we have to leave the Bishop area extremely early in the morning to make sure we drive when it is a bit cooler - I really can't decide if doing the DV thing is a good idea. I don't know how else we might fill our time down to Vegas otherwise though, if we don't go through DV? Arghh, sorry I'm rambling now, and probably worrying about nothing! We've been to Egypt in nearly 40degree heat, so kinda have been in pretty hot temperatures, but probably nothing compared to DV!

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

    Default Worth it.

    Death valley has plenty to see and do with many viewpoints and stops just a few steps from the car, and is well worth visiting. By the time you have driven from Bishop and made a few stops on route, the time will fly by, [to quickly in fact ] and when at Furnace creek you can always take a drive to Badwater, the lowest point in the US at 280 ft below sea level.

    Just use common sense precautions, like carrying plenty of water, snacks and wearing sunhats and cream and you will be fine
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 09-14-2010 at 04:00 PM. Reason: Added thought.

  7. Default

    Awesome, thanks for the reassurance, death valley is now staying on the itinerary! We aren't going to do any hiking or anything I guess. I've just checked out the park map, and it seems we can easily fill the day touring some of the more popular sights, and we can always chill at the hotel.

    Thanks for the continued responses, I'm sure I'll be back with more questions sooner or later!

  8. Default

    I'm back with more questions I'm afraid!

    I've discovered that during our holiday, the pismo beach classic car show happens to be on. On the webite it says that it's on next year from 16th-19th June, and our plans have us staying over night in the pismo/san luis obispo area on the night of the 16th-17th. On the 17th we are due to travel up highway 1 to Monterey. Do you think it's feasible for us to stay in Pismo for the morning for the car show (I'm assuming the show opens at around 9am), and then travel up big sur to Monterey. Will we still have enough time to enjoy the big sur drive do you think? Its difficult to find a difinitive drive time between the two places, but I'm allowing 4 hours for the journey, is this too much/too little time? Is the car show good as well, have any of you guys been to it before?

    If the Tioga pass is closed, we are planning on using Sonora pass. Is it pretty much a sure thing that way will be open? I'm afraid I've been searching the forum and the internet, and I cannot find previous year opening times for Sonora, just for Tioga. Would anybody be able to point me to where I could find previous years opening times for Sonora, apologies if I'm just not looking properly!

    Lastly, we've been thinking about doing a trip to the Grand canyon from Las Vegas, the helicopter/airplane one. The trips are very expensive it seems, and the aeroplane trip seems to be much cheaper. Is the aeroplane trip actually any good, or is it much cheaper becasue its a bit rubbish? I've seen a decently priced aeroplane trip that goes to the south rim, with a little bus tour and stuff, but it's an 8 hour day. Do you think this would be too much to do, we are only in Vegas for 2 nights? I just thought the south rim would be more worth visiting than the west rim, but I'm not sure how much it matters.

    Sorry, one last question! We booked curry village (signature tent!) for our 2 night yosemite village because I was afraid of the accomodation booking up, is it necessary to book furnace creek ranch this far in advance? Does that book up quickly at all, and can you even book 8/9 months in advance?

    Sorry, I'm rambling again! Thanks in advance for any help you could give.

    LisaG

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    You had to follow a couple of links, but above I gave you the link to a thread that had dates for recent Tioga Pass closing dates as well as a link to the official Yosemite park site listing the historic closing/opening dates.

    Once you get there, you'll find a link to the opening/closing dates for the other Sierra Passes. Or you could just click here!

  10. Default

    That is exactly what I was looking for, thanks a lot! I knew I probably wasn't looking closely enough!

    Does anybody have any thoughts on any of the available aeroplane trips to the grand canyon south rim at all? I feel like we should go to the south over the west, seeing as we've never been before!

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