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  1. Default San Fran to Yellowstone (Round Trip) -Yellowstone to Pacific Coast?

    Hi,

    We are doing a road trip on our way back from London to New Zealand. We are flying into San Fran in mid-September and planning a two week road trip.

    At this stage our plan is to travel up to Yellowstone via Tahoe, Salt Lake and Jackson. We then plan to stay in Yellowstone for three or four days and then make our way back to San Francisco via the West Coast (via the Redwoods). We are fairly happy with our route to Yellowstone however would like some recommendations for the best way to get from Yellowstone to the West Coast.

    At this stage I was looking at going to Boise and then towards Eureka and then driving down the Pacific Coast, with a night in the Napa Valley before returning to San Fran.

    Would also love any suggestions of places worth stopping at on the way and best places to overnight (we have a small camper).

    Cheers

    J

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default A lot of options.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    There is never a 'single best' route other than the one that appeals to you so I would recommend you search the forums and use the planning resources in the tool bars above with recommended routes and attractions. You can create your own route and find attractions in the Map centre as well. Heading west from Yellowstone and through Boise you could continue to Bend and Grants pass and visit the wonderful Crater lake NP in between the two. From Grants you can pick up the coast from Crescent City and head south to Redwood NP, which is North of Eureka. You should allow 4 to 5 days for the return journey and sight seeing along these lines..

    From SF to Yellowstone you will have the option of visiting another gem of a NP in Yosemite, but again it's what appeals to you is what is important. Once you have looked around and got some ideas I am sure we will be able to help 'fine tune' your adventure and possibly offer suggestions.

  3. Default Suggested Route - Comments please?

    Hi,

    Thanks for your earlier comments SW Dave. We have formalised our ideas a bit more since my last post. We will be arriving mid September and our current proposed trip is:

    Day 1: San Fran to Lake Tahoe
    Day 2: Lake Tahoe to Elko
    Day 3: Elko to Salt Lake City (open to suggestions for better places to stop further north Salt Lake as I have heard Salt Lake isn't very exciting)
    Day 4: Salt Lake to Grand Tetons (Jackson or Jenny Lake)
    Day 5: Tetons to Yellowstone (stay in park)
    Day 6: Yellowstone (stay in park)
    Day 7: Yellowstone (stay in park)
    Day 8: West Yellowstone to Boise
    Day 9: Boise to Bend
    Day 10: Bend to Eureka
    Day 11: Eureka to Napa (via Avenue of the Giants)
    Day 12: Napa to San Fran (return Camper mid morning).
    Day 13: San Fran
    Day 14: San Fran

    At this stage we haven't booked any accommodation (we have a friend to stay with in San Fran). As we will just be staying at a campsite in Yellowstone late in the season we haven't booked our sites there (this gives us a bit of flexibility). I would welcome any recommendations of places to stay during our journey (I saw that Jenny lake had been recommended on another forum post so thought we might check that out). We would prefer to stay in natural type setting campgrounds rather than RV parks. As our camper is a converted van, we should be able to be relatively flexible.

    We would ideally like to stay at places that are between basically a campsite with no facilities and the carnival style campsites that seem to be KOA (mini golf and hydroslides???). We basically just want somewhere which has a toilet, a shower (every couple of days - we can always jump in a lake) and the occasional power hook up.

    One further question. As we will be visiting a number of national parks during the trip and also a number of national parks on the east coast prior to arriving on the West Coast, is there an annual pass that would be better value than paying to enter each. Also does a national park pass cover state parks/forrests or are these seperate?

    Thanks is advance for any suggestions.

    Cheers

    Kiwi J

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default NP's and Federal recreation lands.

    Yes there is an annual pass available for $80, the details are here. You can purchase one at the entry kiosk to the first park you visit, they are not available on line to non residents. [Or at least the last time I checked] Usually the pass has payed for itself after visiting 4 major parks, but remember it is admission only and does not include camping fees etc.

    There are many campground options that fit your criteria, some in NP's and others that are privately owned. You can get info on the NP campgrounds and all other aspects by visiting the nps.gov site and selecting which park[s] you are interested in. If you are sure about when you will be arriving in Yellowstone and where you may want to stay, I personally would consider booking in advance. Take some layered clothing as you can encounter all types of weather.

    Is there anything in particular that attracted you to Elko ? If SLC doesn't appeal then you could head to Twin Falls in Idaho and then on to the Tetons.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 08-11-2011 at 07:45 AM.

  5. Default

    If you decide to do go though Salt Lake City be aware that there seems to always be traffic and you will have to deal with a little of that.

    I'd suggest taking Utah Scenic Byway 89 from Logan to Bear Lake. There are National Forest campgrounds along this route. Not sure how long your RV is but we didn't have any problems finding a campsite in our 24 ft RV at Preston Valley Campground.

    If you don't want private campgrounds, then I think you would be better off camping at the Grand Tetons instead of Jackson, WY. We camp at Colter Bay.

    I'd also recommend making reservations in Yellowstone for camping just to make sure you get a site. Fall has become a very desirable time to visit! When we made our reservations by phone they told us to let them know if we needed to change any of our dates. They sound like they are easy to work with in case you have to change dates. I'd recommend Madison Campground because of it's central location to the other parts of the park. There are no showers here, but while you are out visiting other areas like Old Faithful, Canyon and Lake you can pay for showers in those areas.

    Utahtea

  6. Default

    There was no particular reason for Elko, it just seemed like a reasonable distance to drive from Tahoe. I think we are going to look to get through the desert as quickly as possible so we can enjoy the Tetons and Yellowstone. That stop is likely just to be for a bed rather than site-seeing.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    If you just want to get from Tahoe to Jackson, you should easily be able to make it to Twin Falls in one day. The speed limit on I-80 in NV is 75, and the open road speed limit on US-93 in NV is 70. In ID, the Interstate speed limit is 75 and the open road limit is 65. It's just over 500 miles and it should take you under 10 hours including normal stops. It's less than 2 hours from Twin Falls to Pocatello and another 45 minutes to Idaho Falls. It's only another 2 hours from Idaho Falls to Jackson.

    This is the segment of your trip where you could make up time.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    That's what I was thinking if you wanted to basically just get from Tahoe to the Tetons. It would only take you a little over 6 hours to Elko and then leave you 7.5/8 hours or so to Jackson WY[Tetons] next day. Twin falls ID would add Approx 3 hours travel to 'day 1' [ a little over 9 hours] and next day you would arrive 3 hours earlier. Either way will work fine but you could easily cover more ground, if you are planning on an early [ish] start from Tahoe you could be in Elko just after lunch with time to push on.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Only you can determine how far you can comfortably drive in one day, but I personally would make the long run all the way to Idaho Falls. This may be beyond your comfort level so I'm not actually recommending that YOU do it, but I don't think Elko is anywhere near far enough, you would have a longer drive the next day. I'd shoot for at least Twin Falls, which is a nice little city to stay in. It's right on the Snake River, and as the name implies, there are some waterfalls to go see!

    The most scenic (and slowest) part of the drive will be between Idaho Falls and Jackson. Take US-26 to Swan Valley, then scenic ID-31 to Victor. If you want to take a short detour, take ID-33 a few miles north to Driggs to see the "World's Largest Potato". Then you can retrace your steps and take ID-33/WY-22 over Teton Pass down into Jackson.

  10. Default

    Thanks all for your comments.

    I guess we just need to decide now whether to bi-pass Utah and go via Idaho.

    We are more than happy to have some longer driving days in order to get up to the Tetons quicker and the route via Idaho Falls and Twin Falls looks like a logical one.

    My main question I guess would be if we go via Idaho rather than Utah is there anything in Utah (specifically between Elko and Jackson via Salt Lake) that we would regret missing out on seeing. I'm not worried about seeing big cities such as Salt Lake, we are more interested in natural landscapes etc. If the drive is going to be fairly similar to the Idaho route then we would prefer to just do the faster route through Idaho.

    Also just to update we have now booked two night camping in Grants Village in Yellowstone and a night in a campground in West Yellowstone.

    Thanks again for you help.

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