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  1. Default Roadtrip LA-LA 1 month


    My girlfriend and I, are planning a roadtrip from LA-San Francisco-Yosemite-Las Vegas-Bryce Canyon-Grand Canyon-Flagstaff-Phoenix-Yuma-San Diego-Tijuana-LA.

    We have never been driving in USA before, and we are already departing in less then a month. I find You all to be so helpfull here, and I was wondering if you had some ideas, good advice, favourite expiriences, that You would share? We prefer scenic over short mileage, secluded over crowded, and low key/ authentic over fancy. We will be driving in a small campervan, what are the chances of freecamping? Do you know of anything in particular we should pay attention to?

    Do you think the route is to long? We have 28 days to drive, and are set on at least 2 days in Yosemite, 3 in Vegas, 2 in Grand Canyon. We would also like to take our time up the shore, both from LA-SF and from SD-LA. Should We, in Your opinion, prioritise more or less time on stops along our route?

    We will be arriving in LA on the 13 th of april.


    Thank You in advance!

    Best regards

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    In the Southwest there is not shortage of scenic drives. That loop seems approachable in one month's time, with the noted stops.

    As for camping for free, something that comes up here quite often is sleeping at truck stops. But I wouldn't bank on being able to find the typical camping site for free. Which brings up a question - do you think that your budget will cover all of your expenses? If so, great - but if not, then I would question the feasibility of completing this trip.

  3. Default

    Thank You for Your fast reply and warm welcome.

    We have budgeted with paying for BB, Camping, hotels and motels along our route, but since we have the small campervan, we thought it might be possible to pull over and sleep in the car. Maybe just for a night or to along the route. May I ask You, if You know anything about Tijuana? Is it safe? Is it memorable?

    We are just starting to go into details and are taking the first steps toward a day-by-day route, we are therefore very open to specific suggestions. My girlfriend has never been to the states, and I have only been once. We would love to get some personal recommendations.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Don't just pull over

    Quote Originally Posted by florrolf View Post
    ... we thought it might be possible to pull over and sleep in the car. Maybe just for a night or to along the route.
    There is nowhere along the route where you can just pull over, and spend the night. It could get you into quite a bit of trouble. Neither is it recommended that you sleep in rest areas along the route. This is often illegal, and always unsafe. The only free stops would be at truck stops. But of course, you will not have access to any hookups.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Some thoughts.

    Your trip is perfectly doable and is set at a very relaxed pace compared to many.

    The problem with 'free camping' is if you can find it, you often have to travel many miles from your destination areas to find them, adding both time and fuel costs. If you can find available sites then I would certainly look to book in the National parks. Located in wonderful settings and as little as $18 per night, you can't go wrong !

    To enter Sequoia NP you can use the Kings canyon entrance on 180 from Fresno to 198 [The Generals Highway] and exit through Three rivers.

    From Bryce canyon and with an extra night [or 2] you could take Utah scenic 12 to Torrey and go past Capitol Reef NP [or camp in the Fruita campground for $10 among the old Orchards] and then from Hanksville you head south on 95 to 261 and down the rather 'exciting' 'Moki Dugway'. Once you have wound your way down the switchbacks a short way of the main road is Goosenecks State Park and free camping in a very secluded spot. This is a very scenic drive that will eventually take you through the Red rock spires of Monument Valley to the Grand canyon.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    2 suggestions:

    1. Reverse the direction of your loop trip - for 2 reasons. It's easier to drive the PCH between SF and LA southbound, as the scenic pullouts will be on your side of the road. Also, the later you get up north, the warmer it will be and the more likely it will be that the roads in the high country will be open.

    2. STAY AWAY from Tijuana. It's VERY dangerous and you can NOT take a rental vehicle across the border.

  7. Default

    Again thanks for all your replies, much appreciated!

    I'll guess we will have to book ahead at the different camping and RV sites. We don't want to cause any trouble. Free camping will have be in case of an emergency only or if we feel absolutely safe about the spot.

    @Southwest Dave

    "Your trip is perfectly doable and is set at a very relaxed pace compared to many."
    This is really good to hear :-) We will definitely take your suggestions and re-route! We have already booked a camp site at Yosemite and will continue doing this thought out the National Parks. Is using the right way re. booking camping? Again thanks for the tips Dave!

    Thanks for your advice, would make a huge difference going the other way around. Surely we talked about this, but having all the national parks in the beginning of the trip, gives us the flexibility to stay longer at any giving location if wanted. And the south would feel even warmer at the end of the trip, getting us that extra summer feeling before heading back to cold and rainy Denmark :-) I get your point re. driving the PCH on the "wrong" side. But I guess it's just a compromise we will have to get the best of.
    Thanks for the warning about Tijuana, is there any place else where it is safer to visit Mexico? We haven't researched much about the stretch from Phoenix to San Diego yet.

    In advance thanks.

    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 03-18-2012 at 12:10 PM. Reason: Used Quote tag.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Not for me.

    Is using the right way re. booking camping?
    From a personal point of view, it's not for me ! First I try and get National and State park campgrounds and then look at privately managed sites. I find KOA to be quite costly and looking to much alike, a bit like the Mc Donalds of camping. That's not to say they won't work for you, but I would research your options. Just put name of place and RV parks/Campgrounds into your search and see what comes up. Once you have figured on where you are staying, I might be able to recommend some options, but try the NP's first. Although not all of them have amenities that you may need with a small camper.

    I don't think you will be permitted to take the vehicle into Mexico and to be honest, I wouldn't risk it when there is so much else to see and do.

    Free camping will have be in case of an emergency only or if we feel absolutely safe about the spot.
    You still have to ensure it's legal. You could get a rude awakening in the middle of the night by a Sherrif, or worse still an angry land owner.

  9. Default

    That's exactly what my girlfriend said, that Mc.D feeling and to expensive - I hear you loud and clear. Use and local searches.

    Our plan was to leave the car and take a bus or train into Mexico just for a day trip, but it doesn't seem like a good idea with all the negative feedback... we will just drop it then!

    This is our ride:


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Last summer there was a member who used Escape campervans. I don't recall who it was. But if you spend some time reading through the Field Reports, you will probably find their experiences. From memory, they were quite happy with the van.


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