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  1. #1

    Default Phoenix to Portland advice

    Hi, my wife and I want to road trip in our beat up suburban this summer. We would love to take a scenic, and/or historic route with lots of places to camp out (we want to sleep in the suburban). We like to hike and enjoy coffee and cool weather, antiques, and historic things. I was thinking I wanted to go through the Sierra Nevadas and then up to Redwood NP, then north to Portland. Otherwise its pretty open. I don't know what is cool, what routes are good/bad etc. Any tips and advice is appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Why Limit Yourself to One Route?

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    While the route you outline is one possible way to get between Phoenix and Portland (Oregon), there are others that differ in total mileage by only 100 miles or so (out of 1300) and offer completely different scenery and experiences. So why not plan on completely different roads on the way up and back. If you do, then you'll want to save the coastal beaches, redwoods and such for the return trip so that the ocean will be on your side of the road, making pulling off for that surprise breathtaking view all the easier.

    So what's an alternative way northbound? You could start out by heading up through Flagstaff and Page into southern Utah and use US-89 north through Vermilion Cliffs and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, then maybe to Zion National Park and I-15 north through Salt Lake City. Next, you'd use I-84 to cut through the Snake River Valley and Thousand Springs area and across northwestern Oregon and on west down the beautiful Columbia River Gorge to Portland.

    Your return trip would be as you outlined, down the coast (Oregon has a ton of seafront state parks) to the Redwoods of northern California to San Francisco before turning east through the Central Valley and crossing the Sierra Nevada by way of Yosemite National Park and Tioga Pass. You could then add in Death Valley and Las Vegas to finish your trip. You will need 4-5 days each way (to Portland) to do such a RoadTrip justice, and anything over two weeks would make this trip a true slice of heaven.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 05-22-2011 at 09:32 PM.

  3. #3


    Thanks AZBuck,
    Turns out my wife can't get the two weeks off in a row :-(. We get two separate one week vacations I am thinking now that we might just spend some time around the Sierra Nevadas. Maybe go through Flag and hit the 395 up to the Tioga Pass like you mentioned and somehow loop back around. How does that sound? Know any cool places along the way? Is Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite busy in mid-June? Like I said, We plan to camp whenever possible.

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


    I think you will find that all the bookable campsites in Yosemite NP will be long gone, unless a cancellation crops up. There are some 'First come- First served' sites but you would need to stop outside the park and then get in as early as you can next morning to try and get one, it will be tougher at a weekend. There are other campgrounds outside the park that you should be able to find a spot if you can't stay in the park.

    You will also have to check the Tioga pass status as it is still closed due to winter snow accumulation and it looks as though it will be a late opening this year. [Mid June on] Death valley to Mammoth on the way up and Sequoia NP on the way down with a possible trip through Sequoia National forest area down the Kern river Highway to Lake Isabella and/or a trip through the Mojave NP are possibilities. Depending on where you decide to spend your time, work your trip so you arrive at Yosemite as late in the trip as possible to increase the chances of Tioga being open, who knows the difference a day could make !

  5. Default

    If Tioga Pass is open, there are national forest campgrounds on Hwy 120 as you drive west from Hwy 395. They are very primitive campsites with outhouses, but it's a place to camp before entering Yosemite.

    I'd check daily for cancellations for camping in Yosemite Valley (Upper Pines, Lower Pines and North Pines campground). It's the best location to camp and enjoy the park.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Cutting it Down to Manageable Size

    As I noted previously, trying to get as far as Portland and back while having a relaxed adventure with a number of stops at scenic and interesting venues along the way would require roughly two weeks. If you only have one, then you'll need to cut back, both on the miles driven and the number of places visited (and the time spent at each stop). But you can still have a great RoadTrip that encompasses most of the objectives you laid out. But assuming you can get 8-9 days together....

    First, you'll need to pick a (slightly) closer destination, say Eureka, CA and the Redwoods parks (National and State). Then you can take a leisurely first day getting packed, and heading up over the Hoover Dam where you should stop and take the tour, and just spend your first evening relaxing in Las Vegas. Next morning get an early start and take the "locals' route" up through Parhump and using Ash Meadow Road to Death Valley Junction to take CA-190 through Death Valley in the 'cool' of the morning. There are few short signed nature hikes that will give you a good introduction without too much heat and stress. Continue through the park to Lone Pine and head north on US-395 enjoying the views of the Sierra Nevada off to your left. Depending on the time of day you reach Lee Vining, either pull up there for the night if it's even mid-afternoon, or continue east on CA-120 over Tioga Pass and through Yosemite National Park. Just keep in mind that CA-120 is a slow two lane road over a mountain pass and you don't want to drive it in the dark if you can avoid it and there is absolutely NO point to driving through Yosemite at night! Over the next day or so, you'd head up the Central Valley, past the Gold Rush area, and Napa Valley to near the Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area before taking CA-299 over the Coast Range to Eureka, the coast and the Redwoods.

    After a day or two at your 'destination' you can start home by taking the coast route (US-101/CA-1) all the way down to Point Reyes National Seashore and San Francisco. From there, you can once again head into the Sierra Nevada by taking I-580/CA-99 south to Fresno and CA-180 into Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. CA-198 will bring you back out to CA-99 south to Bakersfield, and CA-58 will take you east past Edwards Air Force Base (they do offer tours) to I-40, Kingman and home on US-93. That's all a bit packed, but doable in a long week.


  7. #7


    Wow! Thanks for all the awesome suggestions, I definitely have some research to do, but now I actually have things to research instead of just looking at a map. I really appreciate the details and expertise. AZBuck, we decided to make Tioga pass our northernmost part of our trip. How we allocate our days from there is still up in the air while I digest and research the suggestions offered. Thanks and keep them coming!

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