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  1. Default East TN - San Francisco ? Possible?

    Ok..first post here but plan to be very active in the future. Me and a buddy are taking a 2.5-3 week road trip in June and need to know if its possible. This will be our first big trip and not sure if its actually feasible.

    We will be camping along at KOAs/NP along 40 and plan to get in Vegas on our 3rd night. Want to stay in Vegas 2 nights then up through Pacific Coast Highway and camp in Big Sur for 1 night. Up to San Francisco and stay 1-2 nights and then drive out to Yosemite and stay 2 nights.

    This is where it gets confusing.. whats the best way to come back east from Yosemite? We want to come thru Colorado so we were looking at going back down to vegas and up through Utah on 15(camping in Zion). Cross over to 70 and head to CO that way. Stay in Rocky Mountain NP for 1 night then KOA/NP it the rest of the way home.

    I know that's alot of rough/sketch info but I've researched it quite a bit and it seems pretty feasible.. but I'm the new guy here so was looking for tips and advice. There is just so much involved with route planning, camping reservations, costs and fees etc. Thanks alot for any help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default yes, with changes

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    First of all, it is certainly possible to head out to CA and back in 3 weeks, but a couple things you'll need to keep in mind.

    Getting to Vegas in 3 days probably won't work. The drive from "Eastern TN" is about 2000 miles, which puts it at a good 4 day trip. Not to mention, you might want to make some stops heading west - at least the Grand Canyon, perhaps? - which could add even more time on top of that. Don't forget that camping does take a little more time to set up, take down, and you can't drive late into the night.

    With your plan after Yosemite you've got a few options. You could go across Death Valley, head to Vegas, and then across Utah and see some places like Zion, Bryce, and Arches to name a few. If you do this, then it really doesn't make sense to hit Vegas twice - and instead skip it as you head west and stay on I-40 all the way into California.

    If you want to hit Vegas at the start, and you don't mind missing out on Death Valley, you can shoot across Nevada on roads that include US-6/NV-375/US-93 and head towards Zion that way.

    The third option would be to go north from Yosemite to Lake Tahoe and take US-50 (the lonliest road) across Nevada and eventually link up with I-70 in Utah.

    One other final reminder, there are a whole lot more camping possiblities than NPs and KOA's. There are a limited number of National Parks, but there are a lot of public camping opportunities like State Parks, National Forest Lands, even smaller county and town parks. And even among private campgrounds, KOA is hardly the only option. Like a restaurant chain, KOA's are everywhere and you generally know what you'll get from place to place, but they often cost more than other campgrounds and unless you are a family and/or looking for a resort type experience, they often aren't a great value (many times they'll cost more than a motel).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EastCoastB View Post
    There is just so much involved with route planning, camping reservations, costs and fees etc. Thanks alot for any help.
    I wouldn't worry too much about camping reservations, with perhaps the exception of in places like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. Make sure you have a good guide to campgrounds with you, one which includes both commercial and State Parks and Forests, such as the AAA publishes. You can then, along the way, decide where you will stay, and maybe ring about vacancies the day before, or even a matter of hours before. Tent sites are rarely all taken, even in June.

  4. #4

    Default Couple more.......

    You might want to consider doing your PCH leg from SF southward. That puts you on the ocean side of the highway for the considerably easier off-on to the many view turn-outs.

    Entering CO along I-70 you'll be able to take a 1-2 hour side trip loop drive through the Colorado National Monument, a mini-Grand Canyon geologic feature a mere handful of miles south of I-70.

    The gi-normous hot spring pool at Glenwood Springs is a worthwhile stop and soak, and a number of fun little restaurants, bars, and brew-pubs are right across the highway from the pool via a pedestrian bridge.

    You can turn off of I-70 at Wolcott on CO 131 to State Bridge, thence a road following the Colorado River to Kremmling, where you pick up US 40 to Granby, thence US 34 over the mountains within Rocky Mountain NP. US 34 is the famous Trail Ridge Road.

    Be aware not all commercial campgrounds cater to tenters, and some that do place them in unshaded off-in-the corner spaces. NF campgrounds are a very good bet, and they're everywhere.

    Foy

  5. Default

    Thank all 3 of you for your quick responses.

    I have researched everyones advice with Google Maps and appreciate the help.

    Initial idea for this trip was a bachelor party in Vegas(meeting up with others from San Fran) and they are leaving on the 4th which is why we were hitting Vegas first. I spoke with my buddy and he is down with Grand Canyon before Vegas.

    Foy you do make great points with taking I-70 and coming down PCH but we are on a little bit of a time table. We are staying at a friends in Vegas and cant really move the dates. Glenwood Springs looks like a must on the way back though.

    Midwest Micheal.. good point about KOA/State Parks. KOAs do seem to typically be all alike. We just chose them because we figured it would be a fast in and out/cheap. State Parks/National Forests would work better for us anyway with our love for the outdoors.

    We also just found out about the Golden/National Parks pass(think thats what its called). I see its $80 and it covers entrance to all National Parks. Would this cover any fees into National Forests/State Parks. There is only the Smoky Mountains where I live so I'm not sure what fees apply elsewhere. Is the Pass typically worth it? Thanks again.

    Oh and one more question.. we are both taking $1200 each. Do you think its possible if we skip all hotels?
    Last edited by EastCoastB; 05-06-2011 at 09:16 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default

    Is the Pass typically worth it?
    The $80 annual pass lets everyone in the one vehicle enter NP's and other federal rec sites, but not State parks. You can find all the info here. Basically if you were to visit 4 or more major NP's on your trip, such as Yosemite, Zion, Bryce and Arches NP it would have already paid for itself.

    Expect campgrounds in places like Yosemite to be fully booked but you might get lucky with a 'First come First served' site but plan on getting there early.

    Take a look around the site for more ideas and suggestions [the Map centre is a useful tool] and when you have some dots on the map we can help 'fine tune' your trip.

  7. Default

    Seems like it would be wise to spring for the Annual Pass since we would split the $80.

    I actually researched the Yosemite camping situation alot last night and it didn't look good. Would be hard to nail a FirstCome-FirstServe site since we would be driving in from San Francisco. Maybe we could stay at a campground just outside of Yosemite and drive in at sunrise and stay the entire day?

    I have literally spent all morning on this website taking in all the articles and forum posts. Lots of good information. I made a quick rough map route this morning on Google Maps.



    Feel free to shoot any advice on that. I will check out the map center tool today as well. Should have started planning for this months ago haha.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default 'gmap'

    If you go to your saved map and copy the link you can paste it in the 'GMAP' tool just above your 'Reply box when you select 'Go advanced' option. We can then see your map clearer and zoom in and out on it, making it easier to comment.
    If you have problems just copy and paste the link so we can click on it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default follow up

    Quote Originally Posted by EastCoastB View Post
    Initial idea for this trip was a bachelor party in Vegas(meeting up with others from San Fran) and they are leaving on the 4th which is why we were hitting Vegas first. I spoke with my buddy and he is down with Grand Canyon before Vegas.
    Just be aware in your timing that stopping at the Grand Canyon now probably pushes your trip to Vegas into a 5 day trip. You might be able to squeeze it into 4, but it would almost certainly mean very long days on the road, and very little time at the Canyon.
    KOAs do seem to typically be all alike. We just chose them because we figured it would be a fast in and out/cheap.
    They might be a little faster because they will generally have all the services you could want. You would always have firewood, ice, and basic groceries at inflated prices so that would save a little time (although many state parks and other public campgrounds have these too), but cheap is never a word I'd use.

    I see its $80 and it covers entrance to all National Parks. Would this cover any fees into National Forests/State Parks. There is only the Smoky Mountains where I live so I'm not sure what fees apply elsewhere.
    Just to add onto what Dave wrote, make sure you understand this only covers admission, not additional things like camping fees. Also as an aside, Smoky Mountains doesn't have an admission fee so it won't be of any use there.

    Oh and one more question.. we are both taking $1200 each. Do you think its possible if we skip all hotels?
    I think that does sound reasonable, and without breaking it down, I think you should have some room to spare. I would think you should have room in the budget to get a room at a cheap motel once and a while, and in fact, that's usually a good idea to plan to get one say once a week, just to have a real bed, get out of the elements, etc.
    I actually researched the Yosemite camping situation alot last night and it didn't look good. Would be hard to nail a FirstCome-FirstServe site since we would be driving in from San Francisco. Maybe we could stay at a campground just outside of Yosemite and drive in at sunrise and stay the entire day?
    Actually, if you are going to do the Vegas to Vegas loop anyway, it would make a lot of sense to reverse your plan and go to Death Valley and Yosemite before San Francisco, and then do the coast on your way back to Vegas. You'd likely want to stay somewhere around Bishop or Lee Vining before going into Yosemite here, if you plan to spend any time in Death Valley.

  10. Default

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour....27124&t=h&z=7

    For some reason the [GMAP] tags kept saying Wrong link so Idk the deal with that but there's the map. I updated the map with going through Death Valley after Vegas the first time and hitting Yosemite before San Fran then going down the coast that way. I guess this is the route Foy meant. Of course this map won't include all of our lodging each night.. just the big stops we plan to hit.

    I think we are gonna try to leave 1 day earlier to squeeze in Grand Canyon. Didn't think planning for this would be so stressful lol.. my hair is probably turning gray.

    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 05-06-2011 at 11:38 AM. Reason: Added map

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