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  1. Default RV Trip starting in SF and Ending in SF! 2-3 weeks duration, Where to begin????

    hi all, quick introduction. We are a family of five from the North West of England. We recently decided to have our August holiday in the USA next year, between 2-3 weeks.

    We intend on flying into, and out of SFO in August next year and are hoping on visiting the following places in a rented RV (In some order, I know I'm all over the place)

    San Francisco (alcatraz, always wanted to do that!!!!)
    Napa Valley
    Lake Tahoe
    Grand Canyon
    Yosemite
    Sequoia and Kings Canyon
    Bryce
    Zion
    (and everything in between)
    San Fran again.

    We would really appreciate any advice on: Whether it is feasible in our time limits? Would we be driving everyday, or would we be ok to rest up and visit places? We really DO NOT fancy visiting Las Vegas and most itineraries I have seen include Vegas.

    Are there any good sites I can use to get points of interest that indicate driving distances etc?
    Should I be aware of any concerns for driving in August, or will everywhere be accessible to us? I have only just started looking at RV's so will have a million questions about that soon enough!

    I hope my list is not too bizarre! It really is VERY early planning stages and I suppose I just want pointing in the right directon. Thanks everyone.

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

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    What you are looking to do is the single most discussed loop on this forum, so the best thing you can do as you start your planning is to spend a lot of time looking around here. These are some of our favorites to get you started.

    With regards to your specific questions.

    You can certainly do a great trip in 2-3 weeks, although you'll certainly want to be closer to the 3 weeks side to do everything you've already listed. The most common way to a loop would be to start by going down the coast, across to the Grand Canyon up into Utah, and then back across through Death Valley and Yosemite. The only place that where you may be limited to visiting is Death Valley, because some RV rental companies restrict access there in summer do to the heat. That will depend on the specifics of your rental company and contract.

    Most itineraries will include Vegas, and at the very least, you'll most likely need to drive through. Vegas is a great city as a roadtrip hub because it is so close to all the things you're talking about. Even if you choose not to stop, most of the time the logical routes would still have you going through town.

    Certainly, as you figure out more, feel free to ask more questions as they come up.

  3. Default

    Thank-you Michael!, my brief planning led me to believe Vegas would take precious time out of my already tight itinerary, but if you think we can fit it in, all the better!

    I'm already enjoying the planning, thank-you.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Avoiding Vegas isn't that hard, if you really don't want to do anything there. Admittedly, I-15 is almost always under construction there. In 20+ years of traveling to/through Las Vegas, I can't remember it NOT being under construction!

    Another loop thought:

    1) San Francisco to Tahoe along I-80 and US 50.
    2) From Tahoe, head east on US 50 into Utah.
    3) I-15 can take you to the routes to get into Bryce Canyon and Zion.
    4) From Zion, head south on 89 to Alt 89. You can go into Grand Canyon on the North Rim or continue south on 89 to I-40 west. I-40 takes you to Williams and the route to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. (Warning: the route to the North Rim is long.)
    5) From the Grand Canyon, take 40 to CA 58 to CA 99. CA 99 will take you to Sequoia and Yosemite.
    6) Back to San Francisco where, if there's time, a day trip to Napa Valley is fun!

    Planning, to me, is half the fun. The other half is seeing if you can carry it through and what kinds of obstacles make it challenging and more fun!


    Donna

  5. Default

    I can't count how many times we've driven though Las Vegas and never stopped. It's on the way from your home to Zion National Park. You can just drive though if you don't want to stop! ;)

    I'd plan on 3 weeks to have a relaxing trip to all the places you want to visit. Donna gave you some great ideas for a route.

    You are going to want to make reservations for camping for the areas you are going and the time of year you are coming. What kind of campgrounds are you interested in because I can be of help in that department. Do you want full hook ups or do you want to stay in the National Parks?

    Utahtea

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    You have a great trip to look forward to !

    When visiting National parks, I would 100% recommend staying in their campgrounds ! A lot have the free shuttle bus services nearby that you can hop on and off at all day around the various trailheads and viewpoints. Not only that, the natural surroundings in the NP'S are second to none ! A lot have shower and loo blocks, [save 'on board' water supply] fresh water and dump stations where you can top up and empty your tanks. Most RV rentals come with a push button start generator so you can use power. [Out of silent hour rules]. You will need to book your sites in the NP's as soon as the booking windows open, [and I mean "as soon as they open"] to secure them. This is normally 5/6 months before you travel [If I remember correctly] but you can find info on parks and campground at the NPS site here. Some of the campgrounds to look out for are, Yosemite > One of the three 'Pines' campgrounds in the valley. Zion> Watchman campground. Bryce canyon has North and Sunset campgrounds but as a good alternative, you could consider Rubys Inn. Grand canyon South rim > Mather campground. Sequoia NP > Lodgepole.
    If you decided to spend time in Vegas check out the Oasis RV resort. I wouldn't pick up your RV until you are leaving SF and would drop off as you return and use a motel. The city is easy to get around without transport, has limited RV parks and and RV would be a bit of a nightmare to travel around the city in.

    When you visit your first NP, it would pay to purchase the $80 annual pass for entry to the parks, if you visit 4 or more major parks [as you plan to do] it will save you money.

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

    Default

    A note on the itinerary idea posted above.

    If you are planning to drive the coast, you'd likely want to do a counter-clockwise loop so you are driving on the ocean side of the road.

    Of course, the coast is not included in that plan either, and while its not a place you specifically mentioned it is some place I'd at least consider visiting. I'd also point out that the sample itinerary doesn't include Tioga Pass (the road that crosses the Sierra Nevadas through Yosemite) nor does it include a stop in Death Valley. As we frequently say, there are no generic "must sees" but all of those things are among the most popular attractions in this part of the world and you should give some thought as to if you want to include them or not.

    Just some things to think about as you build a trip that is "your own."

  8. Default

    Thank-you everyone for your responses. I can see I have my work cut out.

    I think we have decided to omit the coastal part and instead will concentrate on the National Parks where we will stay in their Campgrounds. I have a brief overview of where we will be visiting now and just need to finalise the route and the little places inbetween.

    I have had a great time reading your trip report Southwest Dave and have pinched a lot of your ideas! ( I hope you dont mind, your trip seemed perfect to me) Apart from that scary dirt road, hair-pin pass! I'm with the ladies and would have my eyes firmly shut. Would you mind if I asked you, would you do anything differently? Are there places you visited that you might exchange for somewhere else?

    Tahoe, Yosemite, Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon Vegas and Sequoia are now on my 'MUST SEES', its the route planning and little towns inbetween I'm struggling with. I'd like to break up the driving as much as possible with interesting little places as I have three teenage daughters. Equally there is a lot to be said for getting straight to the NP's and enjoying more time there?

    Hmmm decisions. Google Maps gives me a headache. lol

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Find a US atlas and give up Google Maps! Paper maps make general planning so much easier! Google, Mapquest, etc., are better for smaller details (as long as you check them against a paper map, to ensure that they aren't routing you on a dirt road over a mountain pass).



    Donna

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

    Default It was perfect for us !

    I have had a great time reading your trip report Southwest Dave and have pinched a lot of your ideas! ( I hope you dont mind, your trip seemed perfect to me)
    Not at all, the report was posted to help others plan as much as anything else.

    Are there places you visited that you might exchange for somewhere else?
    I can honestly say no, not at all. Of course there were other places I would liked to have included that time just didn't permit us to go. [Some of that has already been put right !] It's always going to be a juggling act between time and so many options but we felt this trip suited us fine, with lot's to see but with time to enjoy.

    Tahoe, Yosemite, Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon Vegas and Sequoia are now on my 'MUST SEES', its the route planning and little towns inbetween I'm struggling with. I'd like to break up the driving as much as possible with interesting little places as I have three teenage daughters. Equally there is a lot to be said for getting straight to the NP's and enjoying more time there?
    The 'in betweens' is what makes it a road trip for me. The NP's are worth every moment and are incredibly scenic and memorable in every way, but there is so much more that you will find prior to leaving and will stumble across while on the road. Some of our highlights came from these memories and the people we met along the way. It makes the travelling interesting and gives you plenty of short breaks from the vehicle. As you might have gathered, we are not big on getting from A to B via Interstate or the quickest route. lol.

    A paper map does help when looking at the bigger picture, but you can use the Map centre above where you can create routes and find a lot of attractions by a click of the button.

    With the info you are gathering if you put together an itinerary that you think will work for you, post it up and we can make suggestions and comments and you can continue to 'tweak it' if needed.

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