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  1. Default First Solo Road Trip Itinerary

    Hi all,

    I'll be a 28 year old British guy doing my first big road trip in the states from March 26 - May 10. I've worked out a very rough itinerary but it's completely subject to change especially if I could find people to travel with who have different plans - since a trip of this length in a hired car is going to cost an absolute fortune!

    But failing that, I'd appreciate any advice you guys could give me. If I'd be spending too much time in some places, missing some gems, trying to cram in too much, etc.!

    I'm working on the assumption that I'll be flying both in and out of San Francisco to avoid the one-way car rental surcharge, plus it seems to create a bit of a loop.

    Here is the rough plan:

    San Francisco - 4 nights
    SF-Lake Tahoe - 1 night (inc. 3-4 hours driving)
    Lake Tahoe - 1 night
    Lake Tahoe - Yosemite - 1 night (inc. 4-5 hours driving)
    Yosemite - 2 nights
    Yosemite - Death Valley - 1 night (inc. 5-6 hours driving)
    Death Valley - 1 night
    Death Valley - Zion - 1 night (inc. 6 hours driving)
    Zion - 2 nights
    Zion - Bryce - 1 night (inc. 2 hours driving)
    Bryce - 1 night
    Bryce - Canyonlands - 1 night (inc. 4-5 hours driving)
    Canyonlands/Arches - 2 nights
    Arches - Monument Valley - 1 night (inc. 2-3 hours driving)

    Monument Valley -(via Four Corners)- Mesa Verde - 1 night (inc. 2-3 hours driving)
    Mesa Verde - 1 night
    Mesa Verde - Santa Fe - 1 night (inc. 4-5 hours driving)
    Santa Fe - 2 nights
    Santa Fe -(via Roswell)- Carlsbad Caverns - 1 night (inc. 5-6 hours driving)
    Carlsbad Caverns - 2 night
    Carlsbad Caverns - Bisbee/Tombstone - 1 night (inc. 7-8 hours driving)

    Bisbee -(via Saguaro NP)- Tucson - 1 night (inc. 2 hours driving)
    Tucson - 1 night
    Tucson - San Diego - 1 night (inc. 6 hours driving)
    San Diego - 3 nights
    San Diego - Los Angeles - 1 night (inc. 2-3 hours driving)
    Los Angeles - 3 nights
    Los Angeles -(by PCH, via Big Sur)- San Francisco - 3 nights
    San Francisco - 1 night

    This adds up to 43 days which would give me a couple of days leeway for staying in a place an extra night, car breaking down, getting lost, etc!

    I'd appreciate any thoughts! :)

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Nice job !

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You certainly have a nice amount of time available and that makes for a relaxed pace. The first thing that sticks out is early in your trip, you can't get across the Sierra passes in March/April so unless you have plans to go South from Yosemite to Death valley [which could include a visit to Sequoia NP] you would be better off heading to Yosemite, Tahoe and then Death valley. Otherwise your trip looks in pretty good shape.

    Have a look around the forums and roadtrip planning pages and you will find loads of info that could help you to 'tweak' your trip here and there, if you wanted to. One that would be worth considering is to head down through Page to Monument valley and Four corners from Bryce and then from Moab cut a little deeper into Colorado. Heading South from Grand junction, as you pass through Montrose, [nearby is Black canyon] the drive down US550 [Million dollar highway] through the mountain towns of Ouray and Silverton is spectacular. Of course there are many others, including Utah scenic Byway 12 that you could take to Moab via Hanksville in your original plan.

    Notable by it's absence is the Grand canyon that isn't too far from Monument valley, and you have the time to spare if you wanted to visit.

    You have a good base on which to build your trip from and have done a good job ! Another thing you could consider is to turn the trip on it's head and go the 'other' way around. That would mean heading down the PCH with the Ocean on your side of the road and arriving later in your trip to Yosemite and Tahoe, which by then will be warming up, and reduce the risk of a winter storm.

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

    Default big adjustments

    Your plan for the most part will work, but I do need to warn you that your drive time estimates are extremely optimistic and really aren't going to happen in the real world.

    A few examples, Yosemite to Death Valley will likely be about a 10 hour drive when you factor in the seasonal closure of Tioga Pass, but even if it was open, doing the trip in 7-8 hours would be a good pace.

    There are several other cases where your travel time estimates (which I assume are from an online program) are off by a couple of hours.

    The one other big driving problem is that you don't appear to be planning to spend a night along the Pacific Coast Highway. The trip from LA to SF along that route is at least a 2 day trip, and you might even consider a 3rd day to fully enjoy it.

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

    Default 3 nights on PCH ?

    Mmm? I read it as though you're going to take 3 nights stopping along the PCH getting back to San Fran, which is fine. If I am wrong, I agree with Michael and you should take at least 2 day's.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Upon further review, I think Dave's probably right. I was seeing the 3 days in LA and then thinking it was 3 nights in SF, but that probably meant 3 nights enroute. In that case, you would be fine.

    I will say, I don't think any of the other drives you've mentioned are out of the question for a day on the road, but I suspect they will all take a bit longer than you are expecting.

  6. Default

    Thanks very much for the advice guys!

    I did mean that I would give 3 nights to the PCH drive, but I can see that's not completely clear in what I wrote, sorry!

    Dave - thanks for the tip on doing the whole thing the other way around. I think that's definitely what I'll do - I was concerned that I might be going to Yosemite a little too early in the year, so switching it all around sounds perfect! :)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Be aware, that even by the end of your trip, it would be quite unusual for Tioga Pass to be open that early. Even in early May, you'll most likely still have to go around using one of the year round passes. If you are going from DV to Tahoe, and then to Yosemite, that shouldn't be much of a problem, just something to be aware of.

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

    Default

    Yep, I think that will work well ! The high ground in the Sierra's have a good chance of still being snowbound, but that would just mean going to Tahoe first and then back down to Yosemite on the Western side of the Sierra's

    As Michael mentioned, your drive times are too optimistic, but nothing that isn't doable. Keep looking around and if you come up with any questions just ask !

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

    Default

    To get from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite, you can take Carson Pass (CA-88) - it's maintained year round. South from there, the next way to get across is all the way down at CA-178 through Lake Isabella. North from 88, you have US-50 and I-80. 4 and 108 generally open right around the same time as Tioga.

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