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  1. #1

    Default Senior Trip to California

    My friend and I are trying to plan a senior trip to California. We were planning on driving from Denver to Los Angeles to San Francisco and back. We were trying to keep the costs as low as possible and were wanting to camp in as many places as possible. Does any one know of some good places to stay between LA and San Francisco as well as some attractions? We were planning on spending 7 to 10 days. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Lot's of options, limited time.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You certainly won't have any shortage of options of great places to stay, there are so many National parks, small towns and great driving roads, your main concern will be the time you have. The trip is going to be around 5 days of driving, so I would recommend at least a 10 day trip. As you are going all the way to LA and then to San Fran, I would imagine you would want at least a day and a half at each.

    No better place to camp then in the State and National parks, so I would see which places have the most interest for you and get some dots on the map, then we can help fill in the blanks. Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce, Grand canyon, Death valley, Yosemite and the likes of Monument valley and Mojave preserve are just a few of the things on offer.

  3. #3


    Ok, so I've done a little more planning and it looks like were going to take 2 weeks for the trip. Here is a basic itinerary.
    1. Drive to Arches National park - spend the night in the park
    2. Spend a day at the park - spend the night in Moab
    3. Drive to Los Angeles - spend the night in a hotel
    4. Spend the day in LA
    5. Spend the day in LA
    6. Drive north on the Pacific coast hwy - spend the night at Big Sur
    7. Drive to San Francisco
    8. Spend the day in SF
    9. Spend the day in SF
    10. Spend the day in SF
    11. Drive to Elko, NV
    12. Drive to Salt Lake City - spend the rest of the day there
    13. Drive Home

    We were thinking of spending some time at Yosemite while in San Francisco. Could this be done in one day or would we have to spend the night in the park? This schedule is flexible, so if anybody has any suggestions for changes or possible things to see that would be great!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default basically

    Your plan is basically a good one, but there are a couple things to consider.

    First, Moab to LA is about 750 miles. That's going to be about 14 hours on the road, and that's rather exhausting. I'd suggest spending the night in Vegas, but if you are under 21 it may be difficult to find a room there. You might instead at least try to cover some miles and try to get to like Salina Utah instead of spend the night after Arches right in Moab. Another option might be to break up the trip by visiting Zion or Bryce Canyon.

    Yosemite is certainly an option, but you wouldn't want to do it as a daytrip from SF because its a several hour drive away. Instead, you would just swing by on your way back east. You'd probably want to stay in the park, which would give you half day to explore. Then you could continue on east (Over Tioga Pass as long as it is open for the season at the time of your travel), head over through Lake Tahoe and either continue up to I-80 or take US-50 (the loneliest road) back across Nevada.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I would consider routing your trip so you go from SF to LA going southbound - that way, the scenic turnouts on the coast road will be on your side of the road.

  6. Default

    I'm a California native and have done the LA to SF trip too many times to count. I would take Hwy 101 to Hwy 1 up the coast. Yes it takes longer than interstate 5, but there is really nothing worth seeing on I5. Up Hwy 101 from LA, Santa Barbara is just a 2 hr ride. Stop and enjoy the beaches here. Lots of celebrities have homes in SB. Continue up the 101 to San Luis Obispo. This is a college town and has lots of cheap eats. This is also where you will need to merge onto Hwy 1. A short trip up Hwy 1 will take you to the town of San Simeon. I would recommend seeing Hearst Castle and camping in the castle camp ground by the ocean. Then the next stop up Hwy1 is Monterey. You just have to see the Monterey Bay Aquarium, it's the best I've ever been to! Good ocean tide pools to explore in the area and camping too. The next stop could be Santa Cruz and checking out the Beach Boardwalk there. Then its a few hrs up to San Francisco. If you want to be close to all the sights and meet some fellow travelers then stay at the SF USA Hostel on Post Street. Call ahead so you can reserve a bed. Have fun! Oh and try the sourdough and clam chowder while your in Cali. It's delicious besides being famous!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    I agree with Michael that from Moab to LA would be a gruelling day on the road as you potentially rush through some great scenery. I would recommend that you drive South on 191 from Moab to 163 and drive through Monument valley and spend a night at the Grand canyon South rim. Devils Garden campground in Arches and Mather campground at GC are great sites, but you would need to book asap, if it isn't too late already !

    Yosemite is too much for a day trip, but it's too good to miss ! I would recommend leaving SF a day earlier for Yosemite and continue over the Tioga pass [CA120] and next day head to Zion NP, [Watchman campground] do a little exploring and start making your way home with one more stop, possibly via Bryce canyon and a stop at Capitol Reef. Amazing driving roads and incredible scenery ! It's gonna be a little rushed [to say the least] but what a trip !

    Before booking anything, you could also follow glc's suggestion of reversing the whole trip and having the Ocean on your side of the road heading South around Big Sur.

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