Firstly, congratulations on a fantastic source of information. This site has been very useful over the past few weeks whilst I was trying to plan a Nevada/California trip which took in all of the places on our "must-see" list for this trip.
Thought I'd share the plan I arrived at as I haven't found this exact itinery in any of my searches here, although I'm sure it has been done this way before.
Here are our priorities for the trip, (in order top to bottom), which is planned for two weeks commencing 13th May 2012.
I chose the start date based on Vegas hotel pricing being cheaper that week.
For info, we haven't been to any of these places before but have spent time in Los Angeles previously which is why that is not a priority this time.
Las Vegas, stay 4-5 nights, get married probably on Day 3
Grand Canyon, (overnight stay if possible)
San Francisco 3-nights at end of trip as planning to fly back to London from there
Pacific Coast Highway, preferably southbound from Monterey to at least Cambria
We're not Camping or RV people, and will be staying in Hotels/Motels throughout. We will be looking to do some short hiking and/or cycling in the NPs.
So, I started to plan a single circular-type road trip to take in all of the above but struggled to make this work in the time that we have and without back-tracking, or making it a rush trip.
The problems I faced were.
1. Other half wants to get married near the start of our trip so that the rest of it can be classed as a honeymoon, which means Vegas is first port of call.
2. Grand Canyon is in the opposite direction to the other non-Vegas places on the list.
3. Driving up from Vegas to SF and taking in Sequoia, Yosemite and the Coast meant a lot of zigzagging and more time in the car than out.
In the end, I came up with the following plan which allows us to see all of our priorities except for Death Valley which we'll have to see next time.
This involves breaking the trip into two with a flight from Vegas to SF and means that we have a nice loop circuit from Day 7 to Day 12
Day 1 - arrive LV
Days 2-4 LV
Day 5 Drive GC South Rim - stay Kachina Lodge (this is the only thing I've booked so far - based on tips that they get booked up pretty early)
Day 6 Return to LV for one night - quick peek at Hoover Dam on way back (a tip from this forum was that due to Arizona not changing to DST we would have an extra hour on way back) - return car
Day 7 - Fly LV to SF - drive down to stay overnight in Monterey area
Day 8 Pacific Highway - Stay in Cambria area
Day 9 Across to Sequoia NP - stay in Three Rivers possibly
Day 10 Drive to Yosemite - not sure where to stay yet but options in park seem expensive.
Day 11 Yosemite
Day 12 - Drive SF - return car
Days 13-14 SF
Day 15 - Return to UK
Any suggestions for where to stay, or particular roads that we should use, particularly between Cambria, Sequoia and Yosemite would be appreciated.
I have one specific question.
In other posts here I've seen trips that took in the Trail of 100 Giants and I see that we could travel more or less East from Cambria and then turn North to take in this route but given that we are planning to travel the Generals highway in Sequoia, is this detour worth taking, (i.e. will we see enough big trees in Sequoia NP and Yosemite anyway ?)
If we travelled slightly more North East from Cambria it looks like we would have a shorter route to Three Bridges area.