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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    5

    Default Yet Another West Coast Loop Trip - Edmonton to California and Back - 24 Days

    Hello all. First I would like to say what a great forum this has been. Even though this is my first post, I have been a long time lurker.

    My girlfriend an I have been planning this trip for about 6 months and would like some input on the feasability of it and if there are some further suggestions.

    I have done a similar trip down the coast twice before but not to the extent of this one.

    We will be leaving and returning to Edmonton, Canada and will be travelling for approximately 25 days by rental car. We will be bringing a tent and camping gear. And splitting time between hotels and campgrounds (rough breakdown below). Campsite recommendations are very welcome.

    I would like to keep driving down to 5 1/2 hour stretches for the most part throughout the trip. Other than the beginning or end of the trip, where I don't mind driving in long stretches (ex. Radium to Vancouver and Yellowstone Home)

    Arough breakdown looks something like this:

    August 12 Afternoon: Edmonton to Radium, BC (Friends)
    Aug 13: Radium to Vancouver (Friends)
    Aug 14: Vancouver (Friends)
    Aug 15: Seattle, WA (Hotel)
    Aug 16: Seattle, WA (Hotel)
    Aug 17: Reedsport, OR - Oregon Dunes (Camping) - Anywhere around the Dunes really??
    Aug 18: Redwood National Park (Camping) - Where to Stay? What really to see?
    Aug 19: Napa Valley Area (Hotel)
    Aug 20: Napa Valley Area (Hotel)
    Aug 21: San Francisco (Hotel)
    Aug 22: San Francisco (Hotel)
    Aug 23: Monterey, CA (Camping) - Highway 1 Driving to LA??
    Aug 24: Santa Barbara Area (Camping or Hotel)
    Aug 25: LA/Santa Monica (Hotel)
    Aug 26: LA/Santa Monica (Hotel)
    Aug 27: Anahiem/Disney (Hotel or Camping) Tent Camping in Anaheim area???
    Aug 28: Joshua Tree National Park (Camping)
    Aug 29: Las Vegas (Hotel)
    Aug 30: Las Vegas (Hotel)
    Aug 31: Vegas to Grand Canyon through Hoover Dam.
    September 1: Zion National Park, UT (Camping)
    Sept 2: Salt Lake City (Hotel) - Rest to break up long drive
    Sept 3: Yellowstone National Park, WY (Camping)
    Sept 4: Great Falls? MT (Motel) - Rest to Breakup long drive
    Sept 5: Great Falls to Edmonton

    I know the stretch from Yellowstone to Edmonton home will be a tough one of driving. The Seattle to Reedsport is also another tough stretch.

    The trip includes: 2 Provinces, 10 States and 5? American National Parks and 3 Canadian National Parks.

    Am i out of my mind or pretty on par with this rough sketch?

    Another question would be for Campsite resevervations. From what I have seen i can reserve National and State park campgrounds up to 6 or 7 months in advance. With the amount of National Parks visited, is a Park Pass the way to go?


    I look forward to the input.
    Last edited by rhar; 01-13-2011 at 01:49 PM. Reason: Additions and Edits

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Looks Fine, Except...

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    For the most part, this is going to be a great trip at a generally relaxing pace, through some great scenic areas and making some memorable stops. So, rather then dwell on all the positives that you've designed into the trip, let me just point out a few spots where a tweak or two would greatly enhance the experience. You note that you are going to take the PCH (CA-1) from Monterey to Santa Barbara. While that is only 220 miles or so, it could easily take considerably longer than 5˝ hours. The PCH is a glorious road, but it is only two lanes, curves quite a bit to follow the often narrow margin between foothills and ocean, offers many tempting pull-outs to view wildlife, geology, and crashing waves, and if you get stuck behind a slow moving RV (pretty much guaranteed to happen multiple times in August) it is going to be a very slow drive. If you can devote another day to this bit, I think you'd enjoy the drive far more. Part of that 'extra' day can be spent in Monterey and/or Santa Barbara, but you should probably plan on an overnight somewhere along the PCH here.

    The other real problem is with the plan to drive home from Yellowstone in one fell swoop. Sorry, but that is nearly 800 miles, more than double your normal daily driving limit, and even 33% more than what professional long haul drivers are legally permitted to do. It's simply too much. And tacked on to the end of a very long driving holiday with the mirage of 'home' always just over the next hill is a recipe for disaster. You really do have to add a day here, No 'ifs' 'ands' or 'buts'.

    Finally, a couple of general pointers. The National Parks Pass is $80 and usually pays for itself after visits to 4 major National parks. But some National Parks charge no entry fee, and the pass does not cover extras such as campsites, tour fees, and the like. So have a look at the websites for each of the National Parks you plan to visit and see exactly what they charge. If the pass turns out to be your best deal, then buy it at the first park you come to. The one year time limit on the pass starts ticking at purchase, so don't buy it ahead of time. The other source of excellent, inexpensive camping is the state park system, so have a look at the websites of each of the states you'll be driving through to see what/where their campsites are and if you're comfortable having a schedule, book as many as you can ahead of time. Expecting vacant campsites in August, especially if the economy starts to recover, is probably not a wise move.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    5

    Default

    Thanks AZBuck. Great insights as always and you have reassured a few things and changes I was wondering about.

    Here is a bit more of a detailed break down, without going into to many specifics.

    Biggest questions I have are in BOLD below.

    If any one has any more comments or suggestions espically in relation to campsite suggestions, please feel free.


    August 12 Afternoon: Edmonton to Radium, BC (Friends)
    Aug 13: Radium to Vancouver (Friends)
    - My Birthday!! Dinner at one of my favorite resturants - VIJ's
    Aug 14: Vancouver (Friends)
    - Used to live in Van


    Aug 15: Seattle, WA (Hotel)
    -Morning Drive to Seattle Hotel
    -Explore Seattle, Shopping, Mariners Game
    Aug 16: Seattle, WA (Hotel)
    - More Seattle Tourist stuff


    Aug 17: Oregon Dunes (Camping)
    - Morning Drive to Dunes Area (Florence, Reedsport, Coos Bay etc.)
    - Dune buggy rental/ride
    -- Any campsite recommendations?
    -- Any Dune tour company recommendations?



    Aug 18: Redwood National Park (Camping)
    - Morning Drive to Jebidiah Smith State Park
    - Camping at Jebidiah Smith SP Campground (Any other recommendations for the area?)
    - Hike, explore, drive etc


    Aug 19: Napa Valley Area (Hotel)
    - Morning Drive to Napa
    - Wine Tastings
    - Dinner at Ad Hoc
    Aug 20: Napa Valley Area (Hotel)
    - More Wine Tastings, Picinic etc.


    Aug 21: San Francisco (Hotel)
    - Morning Drive
    - San Francisco explore
    - Dinner at Michael Mina
    Aug 22: San Francisco (Hotel)
    - More San Francisco Explore


    Aug 23: Monterey/Pebble/Highway 1/ Pismo Beach
    - This is the part of the trip that I am most lost in
    - Should I leave San Fran in the morning and just start driving. I would like to see and spend a lot of time here.
    - Have been to Monterey a couple of times and Pebble is nice, the aquarium is cool, but if I just spend a couple hours here and then continue driving is that enough
    -AZBuck, as you described this is a long drive… If I break it up and drive to end up in the Pismo Beach Area (Have no knowledge of this area at all) and then continue on the next morning to Solvang/Buelton Area on the 24th

    Aug 24: Slovang/Buelton Area
    - Wine etc


    Aug 25: LA/Santa Monica (Hotel)
    - LA stuff
    – Both of us have been many times so I am decently comfortable
    Aug 26: LA/Santa Monica (Hotel)
    -See previous day
    Aug 27: Anahiem/Disney (Hotel or Camping) Tent Camping in Anaheim area???
    - Disney (Not my choice – Hers) I’d rather go to 6 Flags again
    - Any recommendations for Hotels close to Disney (with shuttle or walking distance and free parking) for under $100 if possible


    Aug 28: Joshua Tree National Park (Camping)
    - Make the Trip to Joshua Tree in the morning
    - Camp at Indian Cove Campground (Any other recommendations? I like Hidden Valley better but it is First Come First Served only)
    - Hike, explore, etc.


    Aug 29: Las Vegas (Hotel)
    - Make the trip to Vegas for late-afternoon arrival
    - Party
    Aug 30: Las Vegas (Hotel)
    -Party


    Aug 31: Vegas to Grand Canyon through Hoover Dam.
    - Early Morning drive through Hoover Dam on the way to Grand Canyon
    - Camp at Mather Campground ( Any other suggestions?)
    - Must dos or see at Grand Canyon?


    September 1: Zion National Park, UT (Camping)
    - Drive to Zion in the morning for mid-late afternoon arrival
    -Explore, easy hikes etc.
    -Camp at Watchman Campground (any other suggestions?)
    Sept 2: Salt Lake City (Hotel) - Rest to break up long drive
    -Explore Zion more than leave for Salt Lake for evening arrival
    - Is this a super hard drive?
    - Easy going night at the hotel

    Sept 3: Yellowstone National Park, WY (Camping)
    - Starting here is where I get a bit caught up again
    - Drive from Salt Lake to Yellowstone in the early morning
    - Camp at Madison Campground – Again any other recommendations?
    - Explore the main parts of Yellowstone (Geysers etc.)
    - Am I giving myself enough time here?


    Sept 4: Great Falls? MT (Motel) - Rest to Breakup long drive
    - Start the long drive home
    - Is Yellowstone to Great Falls too far?
    Sept 5: Great Falls to Edmonton
    - Have done this drive before and shouldn’t be horrible… but definitely not great….

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    I really think you should give yourself more time at Yellowstone. Both of your drives on Sept. 3 and Sept. 4 are going to take more than a half day each, which will leave you less than a full day at Yellowstone.

    You could spend a week at yellowstone and just barely scratch the surface. I'd strongly recommend giving yourself at least one full day here.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Thumbs up.

    I would most definitely recommend Mather and Watchman campgrounds and would also recommend booking in advance as soon as the booking window opens.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Once you get past Monterey/Carmel, your best opportunities for spending a night are in San Simeon, Cambria, Cayucos, Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, then Pismo Beach. Don't try to rush, even from San Simeon it's only about 2.5 hours to Solvang, then 3 more hours at most to Santa Monica.

    Using hotels.com, I see a wide selection of both independent and chain hotels around Disneyland with rates as low as $50 a night on August 27, 2011. An example is the Days Inn Anaheim West at Disneyland Drive, it's 1/4 mile from Disneyland, they have free parking, and advance purchase rooms start at $52 for 2 people. It has a 2 star rating and decent guest reviews.

    It's about a 5 hour drive from Zion to SLC via I-15. I would allow 6 hours from SLC to Yellowstone and 6 hours from Yellowstone to Great Falls.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    5

    Default

    Thanks guys. Great insight!! I will be booking all our camgrounds on day one of the booking window!!

    San Simeon sounds like a great place to break up the drive. I am a big Citizen Kane fan and Hearst Castle would be a great stop off, even for a bit. And from the looks of it Hotels/Motels are reasonable with some nice views and what not.

    I know I am not spending much time at Yellowstone, but it is kind of a comprimise with the lady friend.
    With glc's estimated driving times, I am now fairly comformatble with the drive home.

    Again thanks for the help so far and keep the comments and suggestions coming.

    Getting pumped already!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    If you want to take a Hearst Castle tour, I recommend you book it in advance. Slots fill up quickly, especially in high season.

  9. Default

    Rhar. I'm planning a similar trip, just twicest long, i think.my friends want to go from Ottawa (where we live to bc to Cali and up te east coast. So my question was regarding to cost. Gas/ camping / hostels / food and other attractions how much are you planning on saving. So I can figure out how feasible my trip would be. Since I'm thinking i'll prob take twice as long for mine lol. Thanks again guys for your help. This will be my first roadtrip and I'm so glad I've found this forum. Cheers Emilio.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    5

    Default

    I have rough sketches of ideas but this isnt a budget trip for us. We are also renting a car, which i have looked at is around 8-900 for the three weeks (no coupons or deals applied)
    Gas i am looking at around 1000, which i think is over budgeting a bit, but can never be too safe.

    Hotels, depending on city, we are looking at around 150-200 a night
    Campsites all average around 15-20 a night
    Meals are very all over for us we will be doing the cooler thing and grocerys all the way up to michilen starred resturants in some cities.
    Attractions i am not sure on yet for a budget as i have not planned that much detail yet.

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