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  1. Default First time in USA- Driving from San Fran to Seattle

    Hi everyone! I cannot believe how amazing this forum is :)

    My partner and I are planning a 3 month trip to USA/Canada over summer 2012. We are thinking of going June-August.

    I was wondering what people's suggestions are when planning a trip from San Fran up to Seattle (and eventually Vancouver). We want to see as many natural wonders as possible. We were thinking of allowing 2-3 weeks and hiring a car or campervan for the leg.

    What does everyone think? I really do not know where to start and have no idea what the best places are! Any help would be highly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default RTA and a map will get you started.

    Quote Originally Posted by reneec133 View Post
    I really do not know where to start and have no idea what the best places are!
    Start by getting yourself a good detailed map of the western States (or the whole US), and have a look to see what is there. But with 2 - 3 weeks, hopefully closer to three than two, you have the time to include many of the great National Parks of the west - some of the greatest natural wonders of the world. Use the resources of RTA, including the map centre and planning pages, to then check out more detail, and put your dots on the map.

    Come back with all the questions which arose while doing all that. lol

    BTW, it would help those giving advice, if you could give a sketch of what the rest of your three months includes.

    Lifey

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Wonderful.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Wow! What an amazing adventure.

    There are just so many things that you could consider. I would recommend you search around the forums and use the road trip planning resources in the tool bars above to gather info and when you get a couple of dots on the map we can help to fill in the blanks. The coastal Redwoods and towns, Olympic NP and inland options like Lake Tahoe, Lassen Volcanic park, Crater Lake, Columbia river gorge, Mt St Helens are a few options that spring to mind. Would you have already visited Yosemite NP to the east of SF ?

    You realise that you can not rent a car in the US and drop it off in Canada, at least I don't think so and if you could there would be a huge drop off charge.

    Enjoy the planning and as new questions come up, just ask.

  4. Default

    Hey guys, I'm Renee's partner. Thanks a lot for the tips so far, we will definitely use the resources you have provided us and get back if we have any more questions.

    I just thought I'd chip in and answer a couple of questions and add a little more information.

    Our basic outlay of the trip is Vegas > Yosemite > San Fran > Seattle (still planning what to do between San Fran and Seattle) > Vancouver > Banff/Calgary loop back to Vancouver > Fly to New York > Washington DC > Chicago > Niagra > Toronto/Montreal/Quebec > Back down though Maine (we want to see Acadia National Park) and Boston to New York and fly home from there.

    Sorry if that's a bit long, but it's as short as I could think to cut it down lol. We have estimated that this trip should take probably 3 months, so we're now in the stages of actually planning how to get between places and how long it will take to get between each destination.

    Thanks for the tip Dave regarding the beautiful places to visit and the car hire to Vancouver, we'll have to look at alternative methods of getting up north then.

    Thanks again for the guidance guys!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Depending on the rental car company, they may let you drive the vehicle in Canada, BUT you will have to pay a hefty one-way drop-off fee if you drop the car anywhere other than where you rented it from. They will also probably prevent you from dropping it in Vancouver, preferring that you drop it in Seattle. If it were me, I think I'd find my car rentals FIRST before going to the airline issue.


    Donna

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

    Default Just another thought

    Hi Matthew, and Welcome to the RTA Forums.

    You obviously have reasons for visiting the places specified. However, with three months, I am wondering if you have given any thought to doing a more-or-less loop trip. This could start and end either in Canada (there is no problem taking most rental vehicles into the States) or in the States (many, but not all, companies allow travel in Canada).

    It just seems that you are doing a lot of backtracking, as well as a flight, with all the modern airport security hassles, all of which is eating into your roadtripping time... when you could be enjoying a lot more of North America's beauty.

    Anyway, just another thought!

    Lifey

  7. Default

    Thank you for that suggestion Lifey. What exactly did you mean by a loop? What we currently had in mind was 2 loops (one of the East and one of the West). We are not keen on driving across the continent (hence the flying between Vancouver and New York).

    Thank you for your thoughts Donna, we definitely want to avoid hefty drop off fees. One option appears to be Wicked Vans. The pros are: They allow pick up from San Fran/Sacramento and drop off in Vancouver, they do not charge extra for under 25's, and they are cheap! Cons are: Wicked vans are quite small (the bed looks rough going) and I am not so sure about their reliability and safety. What do you know about the company? Or can you suggest anyone better?

  8. Default

    Following your direction Dave and Lifey- I have a done some more in depth research.

    How does the following sound?

    -Las Vegas (3 nights- including grand canyon heli day trip)
    -Drive through Death Valley
    -Mammoth Lakes (1 night)
    -Yosemite National Park (Bug Hostel 2 nights)
    -San Francisco (4-5 nights)
    -Sacramento
    -Lassen Volcanic National Park
    -Redding
    -McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park
    -Mt Shasta
    -Medford//Grants Pass
    -Crater Lake National Park
    -Portland
    -Mount St Helens National Park
    -Mount Rainier National Park
    -Seattle
    -? Olympic National Park
    -? Places to stop over on the way from Seattle to Vancouver?
    -Vancouver

    As you can see I stopped specifying where the overnight stays were and for how long. This bit I am still trying to work out. I am not sure what is practical in terms of driving to a NP, seeing it and driving to another city in one day.

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

    Default

    Driving to a national park and trying to see it, all in the same day, definitely depends on how far you're coming from. It also depends on your definition of "seeing it". For some folks, that means stopping at every lookout along the way, getting out and hiking a little bit on a nature trail or even just as far as Bumpass Hell (Lassen). For others, it's a quick drive-through to say "we've been there". My husband and I fall under the first category, and we took 2 days in Lassen and a day at Hat Creek in the lava beds. (We never made it to Burney Falls because of those 2 days in Lassen.)

    Crater Lake, if you're the type of sightsee family that we are, will take a good part of the day to drive all the way around. Or you can go up to the Lodge and just "see the lake" from there.

    Mount Rainier also can be a two day park, or more if you're inclined to do any hiking.

    As for Olympic - - allow AT LEAST one day to go all the way around it. If you're a Twilight series fan, or someone in your travel party is, you may also want to poke around Forks, go out to the beach at La Push, or poke around Port Angeles (where Bella went shopping). Then allow another day from that.


    Donna

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

    Default Grand canyon NP.

    Well the first part of your trip looks great, so keep doing what you are doing and then we can help 'fine tune' if needed.

    I would recommend that you consider finding the time to spend a night at the Grand canyon National park, rather than take a Heli tour from Vegas, most tend to go to the West rim on Indian lands which is not part of the NP system. It's in the NP that you will witness those views made famous the world over through photography, but it's too far from Vegas by road as a day trip. The bonus would be witnessing a sunrise and /or sunset which is truly remarkable. If you were looking forward to a flight, you can fly from Grand canyon airport in Tusayan over the national park area. There are various flights on offer, we took the 50min flight from the South rim, over the Painted desert to the North rim and back. Truly amazing !

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