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  1. Default Suggestions welcome - Southwest/CA

    Hi everyone... My boyfriend and I are in the beginning stages of planning a road trip for May of this year. At this point, we're just collecting information and trying to plan an itinerary. We would like to visit a lot of places, and don't know if we can do them all, but any suggestions for a logical order of things would be helpful. We'd like to see:

    Las Vegas
    Grand Canyon
    San Diego
    San Francisco (if possible, might be too far north)

    We have 10-14 days, nothing is set in stone. I would like to go to some of the parks in CA (Sequoia, mostly) but I don't know if we can do both the cities on the coast AND the parks. I know this is a tall order to fill. Do you think it is too ambitious? Any suggestions would be VERY helpful!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    One thing to think about is how much time do you want to spend in each park? Are you planning only a day in each one, or are you thinking of getting out and doing a little bit of hiking here and there? Also, where will you be starting from?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Probably the easiest way to do the trip would be to start with a loop from Vegas, going out to the Grand Canyon, up and around to Bryce and Zion, and back to Vegas.

    From there, you'd head to California. Death Valley would be an obvious stop on the way, and then hit Sequoia and/or Yosemite as you go to San Francisco, and then head back down the coast to LA and San Diego.

    Now, if you can do all of that is going to depend upon your desired pace, if you have 10 days or 14, etc, but that's a starting point for how it could come together.

    The trip you are describing is basically the most popular topic on this forum with thousands of posts full of ideas, so you can get a ton more information just by spending a little time browsing around. As you get more questions and come up with a more detailed plan, we can certainly provide additional help.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the quick replies!! I like the idea of starting in Vegas, heading up north and back down the coast. I never would have considered that. The trek from Vegas to San Francisco has to be quite the trip. That would probably take at least 2 days, in order to stop and take in some of the sights along the way.

    We aren't sure whether to start in San Francisco or Arizona. I read that its a lot nicer to drive south down the coast of CA so the ocean is on your right, and that idea really appeals to me.

    In terms of exploring, we would like to do some, but not a lot. I would love to get out and do a hike in Zion and/or Bryce, but nothing too long or crazy. Same goes for Grand Canyon. I think we would be happy in most parks with a few hours of good photo ops, and moving along.

    Also, Michael, in response to your suggestion to do the Vegas loop, we would like to avoid traveling the same road twice and double backing. So rather then heading back to Vegas, we'd like to shoot over to CA. Think that would still work?

    Thanks for your suggestions!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    That's the thing with doing a loop, you are going in a circle, and not backtracking. In this case you'd leave vegas to the South past the Hoover Dam, and come back from the North via I-15 from Utah.

    But yes, you could skip the return to Vegas, and shoot over to CA from Utah, going through tonopah, but there are a couple problems with that.

    First, it would take you north of Death Valley, if that's something you'd like to see.
    Second, since your trip is in May and Tioga Pass is likely to still be closed (it typically opens in late May or June), you're going to have to go south around the Sierras via Bakersfield, in which case, you're not gaining anything by going straight to CA. You could also go north to Tahoe, I suppose, but then visiting Sequoia or Yosemite would be a bit more difficult/time consuming.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Complete loop?

    I personally think you will need all of 14 days to get a taster of the places on your list and it would be more comfortable and relaxed without San Diego and Sedona or San Fran, but that's the kind of stuff you need to work out with the time available and pace you want to travel at. With San Fran you could 'catch' Yosemite and the coast Highway around Big Sur to LA. If you wanted to do a complete loop you could start from any of the City's on route, but for instance LA and then either > San Diego > Sedona > GC > Bryce > Zion > Vegas > LA [possibly via Death valley]. Or LA > GC > Bryce > Zion > Vegas > Death valley >Yosemite > SF > LA via the coast.

    As Michael suggested, have a look around and see what appeals to you and as k questions 'as' and 'when'.

  7. Default

    Thanks, both of those posts make a lot of sense. A complete loop is not necessary. We were planning to fly into one place and out of another, just to save time in driving in a circle.

    I agree that bypassing San Francisco is probably a good idea, it's just too far out of the way. We have family in San Diego and Sedona, so those would be the obvious preference (save money on hotels!!).

    We will be doing a lot more research and when we plan a more definite route and time frame, I can come back with more specific questions.

  8. Default San Fran to Grand Canyon Trip

    Hi everyone... thanks for all of your input on my original post, it helped in the planning process. I have done a bunch of research and I think we have a solid plan. Nothing is written in stone and we need a LOT of help filling in the gaps. We don't want to spend a fortune, but also don't want to "rough it." No shared bathrooms in the hotels!! We have family in LA and San Diego, which is why we're devoting a little extra time to the cities. Any suggestions would be helpful. So far this is what we have:

    Day 1:
    -Fly to San Fran early AM
    -tour around a bit (Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, Golden Gate, etc.)

    Day 2:
    -Alcatraz tour in the AM
    -Drive to Yosemite in the afternoon (approx. 4 hours)
    -Hotel: ?? can't afford Ahwahnee! any other suggestions?

    Day 3:
    -Spend the day at Yosemite (will most things be open? Not counting on seeing Glacier Point, but would like to get to Mariposa Grove and some other scenic points!)
    -Drive back to the Pacific Coast in the late afternoon, probably stopping in Monterrey, or other suggestions (approx. 4 hours)
    -Hotel: ??

    Day 4:
    -Spend the whole day driving the Pacific Coast Highway to LA
    -Drive time: 6 hours + exploring
    -Hotel: staying at my uncle's house in LA

    Day 5:
    -Explore LA, no nailed down plans yet

    Day 6:
    -Exploring LA in the AM
    -Afternoon drive to San Diego, approx. 2 hour drive
    -Hotel: staying at a cousin's house in San Diego

    Day 7-9:
    -Spend time with family, explore San Diego/Tijuana
    -Day 9 afternoon: head to Vegas, drive time approx. 5.5 hours

    Day 10-11:
    -Las Vegas sites, including Hoover Dam during one of the days

    Day 12:
    -Leave Vegas EARLY to head to Zion, drive time approx 2.5 hours
    -Spend the morning in Zion, scenic points, maybe a trail, lunch
    -Drive to Bryce to get there for sunset, if possible, drive time approx 2.5 hours
    -Hotel: Ruby's Inn if available, if not, Best Western Grand

    Day 13: (a LONG day!)
    -explore Bryce in the morning - planning on doing the Navajo Loop and Queen's Garden Trail, should take about 3 hours.
    -head towards Grand Canyon via Page, AZ, drive time approx. 3 hours
    -Antelope Canyon Tour for a driving break, 1.5 hour tour
    -Drive to Grand Canyon, drive time approx. 3 hours
    -Hotel: unsure - suggestions?

    Day 14:
    -Grand Canyon sunrise, explore the canyon!

    Day 15:
    -Drive back to Phoenix via Sedona for a flight home!

    Thoughts?? Please, let me know if I am being too ambitious!! We are 23 and 27, so we can handle a packed schedule!

    Questions I have, specifically, are:
    -Any hotel suggestions in Yosemite, Grand Canyon (if El Tovar is too pricey!)?
    -Will things be open in Yosemite? I know the Tioga Pass will likely be closed, but we'd like to see Glacier Point, Mariposa Grove, the Tunnel View, etc... All of the pictures look BEAUTIFUL, I'm really looking forward to this stop!
    -Is Monterrey a good place to spend the night before heading down the coast? Is there somewhere else maybe a little cheaper that will do the job?
    -Is Day 13 just too much for one day? We want to see Zion, Bryce and the GC, but don't need to spend a TON of time in each. Definitely more time to devote to Bryce than Zion.

    Thank you so much for your suggestions!!!
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 01-23-2011 at 02:43 PM. Reason: Merged - Please Don't Create Multiple Threads for the Same Trip

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Your plan to drive from Monterey to LA along the coast in 6 hours is simply not based in reality. The drive along of that highway is going to take you at least 10 hours, before you do any sightseeing. Trying to do the drive in 1 day is going to be a beast, and you just not have much time at all to do anything but drive.

    If you're spending a half day in Yosemite before driving back to the coast, the Monterey is your best bet for lodging although you might save a little money looking in Salinas.

    Most everything in Yosemite will be open, but Glacier Point may not be one of them. That typically reopens roughly the same time as Tioga.

    I do think you are rushing too much in Zion/Bryce - specifically thinking that you'll be able to see much anything at Zion and have time to see the sunset at Bryce is optimistic to the point where you'd have to be constantly watching the clock at Zion.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Unless you stay in Curry Village, you are going to have to stay outside the park at Yosemite to find anything affordable. Oakhurst will probably be the most reasonable cost closest to the park, it has several hotels.

    I don't think you will be able to get from Yosemite to Monterey in 4 hours. I also think trying to drive from Monterey all the way to LA on the coast road is a bit too much for one day. There are some very reasonable motels and hotels in Monterey, I just pulled up a whole bunch on in the $50 to $70 range.

    Days 12 and 13 are just way too much. You can't drive from LV to the GC and see all you want to see in 2 days. That's more like 3 or 4 days.

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