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  1. Default LA-San Fran-Las Vegas-GCNP - First Time,need an advise!!!


    Me and my best friend are planning our first trip to us this may. We have done a lot of research on a topic, however we are a bit confused with time travel (how long we should spend at each place, and driving hours to places). Our main objectives are sightseeing, however avoid as much stress as possible.

    Here is what we've planned so far. Please any changes and suggestions are welcome, and help very much appreciated!

    London, uk - LA 04/05/2011 (dd/mm/year)

    Day 1 -LA 04/05 (will be jet-lagged from 11 hour flight we though of staying in La for 5 nights+sightseeing)
    Day 2 -LA 05/05
    Day 3 -LA 06/05
    Day 4 -LA 07/05
    Day 5 -LA 08/05
    Day 6 -Santa Barbara 09/05
    Day 7 -Monterey, Santa Cruz 10/05 ( where is the place to stay?)
    Day 8 -San Jose 11/05 ( or maybe we should just crash at one place and do the driving?)
    Day 9 -San Fran 12/05
    Day10 -San Fran 13/05
    Day11 -San Fran 14/05
    Day12 -Lake Tahoe 15/05 ( is it worth going? and will we be able to drive down to Yosemite Park, then to Death Valley, as we understand it right this route might be closed during this time? if so, what are the options?)
    Day13 -Yosemite Park 16/05
    Day14 -Dealth Valley NP 17/05 (should be stay another night at YosNP and just drive thou DVNP?)
    Day15 -Las Vegas 18/05 (maybe here we can head straight to GCNP via LV without staying there overnight? or maybe there something else to see and stay at?)
    Day16 -GCNP 19/05
    Day17 -GCNP 20/05
    Day18 -Las Vegas 21/05
    Day19 -Las Vegas 22/05
    Day20 -Las Vegas 23/05
    Day22 -Flight Las Vegas - New York 24/05

    Also we are a little confused, if that road from Lake Tohoe - Yosemite - Dealth Valley will be closed what are the routes to take? And maybe if that the case it will be better to ditch Lake Tohoe, and start the trip from Las Vegas - GCNP - Death Valley - Yosemite - LA - Santa Barbara etc - San Fran, to do driving down south and finish at San Franc?

    Sorry if it is a little messed up, but we hope we got the point across.

    Thank you very very very much !

    Dasha & Susi

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Sierras

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The biggest problem with your plan in general is the area where you are having some questions.

    First, Lake Tahoe and Death Valley are both east of the Sierra Nevada mountains, while Yosemite is to the west. Your current plan would require you to cross the mountains 3 times. You'll probably want to visit Yosemite first.

    Traveling in mid-May is basically the trickiest time to plan because of the mountain issue. In winter, you have basically 2 options, go north via Tahoe on US-50 or I-80, or go south via Bakersfield on CA-58 or CA-178. In summer, you've got several more options, including Tioga Pass (CA-120) which goes through Yosemite. There are also a couple other passes north of Yosemite and south of Tahoe that are open seasonally.

    At this point, there's really no way of knowing what your options will be. Tioga Pass will likely still be closed, but if it is open, that would be a recommended route. Even if Tioga is closed, by mid-may, one of the other passes between Yosemite and US-50 could be open, and those would make a good choice to go to Tahoe. Here's the recent history of the opening/closing dates for the various passes. Your best bet here is to make plans for Yosemite, and then be flexible with how you continue from there.

    Even if you do decide to skip Tahoe, your alternative plan to go from Yosemite to LA and the back up to San Francisco doesn't make much sense. You'd be better off going from Yosemite to SF, and then down the coast. That would also give you the advantage of traveling south along the coast highway, where the ocean, and the turnouts would be on your side of the road.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO



    I would recommend that you fly into and out of San Francisco for this particular trip, and do a counter-clockwise "loop" trip. This will have a few benefits. Your airfares are likely to be better flying into and out of the same city, your car rental costs will be lower because there will not be a "one-way" dropoff fee. The Pacific Coast Highway is best driven from north to south, as the scenic turnouts will be on your side of the road. The later in the trip you are, the more likely Tioga Pass may be open.

    I'd look at SF to LA, then direct to the GC without going through LV. Then go to LV and DV. Then, check on the status of Tioga Pass. If it's open take 395 north to 120 and go over the pass into the park. If it's not open, you have 2 options - take 395 up to the Lake Tahoe area where the passes will be open (80, 50, or 88, *possibly* 4 or 108), or go south to 58 and Bakersfield. Either way, you will have access to Yosemite from the west. Then drive back to SF, return the car, and fly back to NY.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Options.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You are right in thinking the Tioga pass could still be closed in May and when you travel it is more likely to be then not. You would just have to alter your plans and head to Yosemite first and then Tahoe to Death valley. Your other option would be to head South and perhaps visit Sequoia NP on the way to Death valley.

    From San Fran to GC via the places you mention is quite a bit of driving and too have time to relax and enjoy the places you visit I would try and add a day or 2 here, you have the time to do so. For instance you could make the short trip to Santa Barbara on day 5 [or head further to the Morro bay area] and then on to Monterey. I'm not sure if you have a particular reason for staying in San Jose [I know nothing of it so I am not judging] but you could quite comfortably get to San Fran direct from Monterey.

    You have a lot of options and you will find a lot of info on this popular area around the forums that night help you to untangle your thoughts. You could consider doing a complete loop From LA to LA or from any of the 3 major City's. An example would be LA > GC > LV > DV > Yosemite [via Tahoe or Sequoia, maybe Tioga pass if open]> SF > LA via coast. When planning, the later you visit Yosemite the more chance of Tioga pass being open and if you head South down the coast all the Ocean side pull outs will be on your side of the road. With that in mind and the possibility of a complete loop [that doesn't have you going over the same ground twice] then San Fran to San Fran could work well. See the route above but starting with SF > LA > GC > LV and so on.

    [So pretty much what George posted above while I was still typing. So great minds do think alike Huh! Lol.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 01-20-2011 at 05:42 AM. Reason: Slow fingers.

  5. Default

    Thank you very much for your advices!

    We didnt realise that at our plan we'll have to cross the mountains 3 times. Ouch. Now i see it didnt make much sense.

    So how long is a drive from LA to GC?Should we directly, or we will have to stop on the way?

    Also do we need to book hotels in GC and Yosemite park area, or we should be fine with finding a room at the time we are there?

    Is it resonable to do a trip from Yosemite [via Tahoe or Sequoia, maybe Tioga pass if open] to SF, without a night stop over?

    Thank you, you are so helpful!!!! After this will get back to you with better plan!!!

  6. Default

    Oh as for the flights: we have planned one way flights, as we are doing New York, Orlando, and Miami aswell. So its like London- LA, Las vegas- New york, New York -Orlando, Miami -London. Muti-way tickets, so it doesnt matter much if its a loop trip or not, but i see its makes sense.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    LA to GC is 500 miles - figure about 9 or 10 hours.

    You do not cross the Sierras from Yosemite to SF, it's about a 4 hour drive straight west. You can go via Sequoia, but you still wouldn't be crossing the mountains from there to SF. You would use Tioga Pass to enter and leave Yosemite from the east, if it's open.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Don't have too, but.........

    Also do we need to book hotels in GC and Yosemite park area, or we should be fine with finding a room at the time we are there?
    These are extremely popular places but you should be able to find lodgings nearby in May, if you want to keep your trip open to change. Personally, if you sort out and know for sure the dates you will be arriving, I would book in advance and save the time and worry of having to find somewhere and concentrate your time on enjoying the parks

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You should be able to "walk in" and find lodging near GC and Yosemite, but be prepared to pay $100+ a night.

  10. Default

    Hey, thanks for all your responses. With your help we have done alot of research, and this is what we have came up with. Now we start our journey beginning of June, and we are dropping Lake Tahoe and have added more sites to our trip.. Any suggestions are welcome

    LA ( 3 nights) 06/06/2011 - 09/06/2011
    GCNP (3 nights) 09/06/2011 - 12/06/2011
    ANTELOPE CANYON ( Page) (1night) 12/06/2011 - 13/06/2011
    BRYCE CNP (Tropic) (2nights) 13/06/2011 - 15/06/2011
    ZION CNP (Springdale) (2 nights) 15/06/2011 - 17/06/2011
    LAS VEGAS (2 nights) 17/06/2011 - 19/06/2011
    DEATH VALLEY (stop over in Lone Pine) (1 night) 19/06/2011 - 20/06/2011
    YOSEMITE NP (via Tioga Pass) ( 2 nights) 20/06/2011 - 22/06/2011
    SAN FRANCISCO (3 nights) 22/06/2011 - 25/06/2011
    SF->LA coastal drive (3nights) 25/06/2011 - 28/06/2011
    LA (Santa Monica) (2 nights) 28/06/2011 - 30/06/2011

    # SF->LA what are the best cities for stopovers? After all NPs we might just want to chill, so where are the nicest beaches to swim ?

    # Is it do-able what we have planned in terms of time? Or maybe we should add days in certain places so we wont have to rush?
    Thank you experts ;)

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