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  1. #1

    Default 16 Night West Coast Trip

    My girlfriend and I are both aged 21 and planning a road trip based around visiting Las Vegas, San Francisco and LA with various other stops in between in June this year.
    We have based our trip around this one from the forums:

    This is the basic plan we are following:
    1º LA airport, land late and sleeping at nearby Hotel. (Already booked)
    2º Pick up hire car, travel to Vegas early, going to the theatres and casinos etc (Staying in the Encore, already booked)
    3º Another day in vegas (Staying in the Encore, already booked)
    4º Lunch at a good Vegas restaurant and travel to Death Valley (Furnace Creek)
    5º Death Valley
    6º Travel to Mammoth Lakes
    7º Mammoth Lakes > Tioga Pass and Mariposa grove
    8º Glacier Point and the Valley floor (Yosemite)
    9º Travel to San Francisco - Union Square, Coit tower and Pier 39
    10º Alcatraz and cable cars, SF at night
    11º Chinatown and travel to Santa Cruz
    12º Travel to Big Sur and San Simeon (Hearst Castle)
    13º Travel to Santa Barbara, Malibu and Santa Monica
    14º Travel to LA - Huntington Beach, Laguna beach, LA at night
    15º Travel to San Diego
    16º Day in San Diego > back to LA (or possibly in the morning on day 17)
    17º flight home from LA > London

    We are wondering whether the time spent in Death Valley is worth it for us, we are going in mid-June and having read information on the internet it seems that the temperatures are extremely high. If the weather is so hot we are unable to explore the area it may not be the best way to spend our time. We were thinking it may be more suitable to spend more time in the Las Vegas area and perhaps visit the Grand Canyon, and then head straight to Mammoth Lakes to explore Yosemite, or head straight from Vegas on day 4 to Mammoth Lakes and later have more time to explore the California coast or Yosemite. However, is it more sensible to take Death Valley as a good place to stay as a part of our trip in order to avoid seriously long drive times like the one between LV and Mammoth Lakes (6.5 hours according to GoolgeMaps)? And would we be really missing out on some spectacular scenery etc that we could find in Death Valley?
    Other than that, any other thoughts on the rest of our itinerary?

    Many Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    If you decide to visit the Grand Canyon, it would be shorter to drive directly there from LA, and then head to Vegas. The GC is a good 5 hour drive from Vegas, in the opposite direction from Mammoth, so you'd be completely backtracking to do one, then the other.

    I think you could still see DV, without stopping to spend the night. Remember, DV is only 2 hours from Vegas, so you could see it and continue to US-395, but perhaps only get as far as Lone Pine or Bishop. At the very least, I'd think that's something you'd want to do.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Thoughts.

    Grand canyon would require an overnight stop and is certainly an option. As Michael mentioned, it would make more sense to go there direct from LA and alter your Vegas bookings. Note that most tours from Vegas go to the west rim situated on Indian lands that are not part of the National Park which is the area made famous through images across the world.

    Going with what you have already this is how I might 'tweak it'. It would still be worth heading to DV, but you could leave Vegas after lunch, explore a bit and stay at Furnace Creek. The thing you could alter is to drive through the rest of Death Valley on 190 and arrive in Mammoth lakes on day 5. You could then take your time over Tioga Pass and take in the views, [spectacular !] stop for a walk etc and finish up in the valley on day 6. Glacier point and Mariposa are both on the way to the south kiosk and would 'team up' quite nicely for a days activities on day 7. Day 8 could be spent in Yosemite in the morning and then to San Fran for the evening and then day 9 you would be back on track to visit Union Square, Coit tower and Pier 39 as planned. Although you can go through China Town between Union Square and Coit tower and visit Pier 39 on the same day as Alcatraz. I would recommend booking Alcatraz in advance to avoid queues and possible dissapointment, it's very popular ! This is the only official booking site where you don't have to book other tours or pay agents fees.

  4. #4


    It would be a shame to be so close to the Grand Canyon and not visit. There are nice cities, mountains, seashores and beaches all over the wolrd but there is only one Grand Canyon and there is nothing else like it in the world.

  5. #5


    Thanks for your advise all!

    We will definitely be going to the Grand Canyon now, but it's £60 to move the hotel forward one day in Vegas:( but free to cancel, so I will be cancelling Sunday and looking for another hotel.

    I'll update here on Sunday, next time I'll have a chance to plan anything.

    Again, thank you for your help.

  6. #6


    Ok, so we have been looking at the Grand Canyon. Do you think that we should stop somewhere between LA and GC, considering that it is my first driving experience in the US,and an 8hour drive?
    if we go straight to GC from LA with no stop, should we spend two nights there before we leave for Vegas in order to make the most of the Grand Canyon while we are there, or is one night sufficient? What things can you recommend for us to do in the GC, and is there anywhere in particular we should stay? Thanks a lot for your help!

  7. #7


    I would be surprised if you could go LA to Grand Canyon Village in 8 hours, but even if you could, you would arrive late in the day. I would suggest stopping in either Flagstaff or Williams and then going on to the Canyon the next morning and spending the night in one of the Village lodging facilities. I say this because in June the Grand Canyon will be very busy and congested to the extent that just finding a place to park can be a problem. Staying at one of the Village facilities eliinates this problem and allows you to walk to the Village Rim Overlooks and the west rim shuttle pickup point (You cannot drive the west rim). Unfortunately, you may already be to late to get a room in the Village. There are some nice places just outside the gates to the Park that have shuttles to take you to the Village. As an alternative, you could stay in Williams and drive up for the day but then you face the parking problem. Still another alternative is to take the train from Williams. I have never done this and have heard mixed reviews - some like it and others say it does not give you enough time at the Canyon.

    How long you need at the Canyon depends on what you want to do. One full day would allow you to walk the Village Rim and take the West Rim Shuttle. If you want to do some serious hiking in to the Canyon you would need longer.

    I don't know what your budget is but if cost is a major concern, you should probably bite the bullet on the parking problem and travel up from Flagstaff or Williams. In the Village, El Tovar, Kachina and Bright Angel lodges are very pricey. Maswik and Yapavi are more reasonable. My personal favorite is Maswik because while not on the rim, it is within easy walking distance of the rim and the shuttle pick up points. Yapavi is a long walk or a bus ride.

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

    Default 2 nights.

    As Charlie has mentioned, it will will take longer than 8 hours, more like 9 or 10 depending on LA traffic. It will be a full day so I would recommend 2 nights at the [or nearby] GC to give yourselves a full day there. Budget and availabilty will be something you will have to check out if you are to stay in the Village area, if not I would book 2 nights in Williams, Tusayan or Flagstaff. Tusayan is the nearest [and most likely dearest] outside of the park, but would be ideal for night 1. [other than inside the park] Night 2, you could consider Flagstaff so that you enter the park via the south kiosk and exit via the east. This way you can visit the village area, ride the shuttle bus to Hermits rest and then drive along Desert view drive stopping at viewpoints along the way.

    Actually, [if the village is not an option] I would reverse that, you could head direct to Flagstaff for the night and enter via the east entrance and then stop in Tusayan or Williams on night two. It doesn't make a lot of difference, but by going to the east entrance you kind of follow the path of the Colorado river into the main canyon area which I find more rewarding in some way.

  9. #9

    Default Rental Car Advise - Couple of queries

    Hi all,

    This is my second post on RTA, and I'm really enjoying browsing the forum.

    I'm wondering if there is anything I need or is recommended to get when hiring a car? The options listed below (under the next question with *'s) are included in my car hire, but would people recommend upgrading? and also getting personal injury? I'm not 100% sure how the insurance system works in the US.

    I've finally settled with a 'Mustang or simular' through Alamo, but it's come up as a PT Cruiser Converible on the booking voucher through, which I'm really hoping I don't get as they're ugly! And I paid over $1000 for 16 days rent a car! Just because I'm 21!!! :( I know it really comes down to the day on what car I get, but is there any tips people recommend to get the better car? Turn up a certain time? Call them before hand? Or is it purely down to turning up and seeing what is still there. I think it is a Sunday morning we pick the car up early as possible from LAX.

    Any other advise on the rental side of things would be appricaited, I'll be updating my main thread tomorrow with what we've planned out so far :)

    Thanks RTA!


    List from above:

    * Unlimited Kilometres
    * Insurance ( - Collision Damage Waiver - Theft Protection - 3rd Party Liability - Supplementary Liability Insurance - Uninsured Motorist Protection )
    * Local Taxes
    * Airport Surcharge
    * Premium location fee
    * Initial Tank of Fuel
    * Additional Drivers (aged 21 years or over)
    * Young Driver Surcharge (for drivers ages 21 - 24 years inclusive)
    * Homeland Security Fee

    Insurance & Waivers Information

    When you hire a car through, your car rental agreement will normally include collision damage waiver & theft waiver. Collision Damage Waiver will waive your liability to pay for any damage caused to the vehicle during the period of hire. Theft Waiver provides coverage for the theft or damage resulting from attempted theft of the vehicle, its parts and accessories up to their full value and any loss that our car rental partner may incur. Both are subject to certain exclusions. Your liability is waived subject to you paying a charge, referred to as an “excess” which limits your liability to the cost of the excess only. In some instances, an excess will not apply and you will be advised of this at the time of making your booking.
    Your rental includes Collision Damage Waiver and Theft Protection with zero excess.
    You will be required to leave a deposit when collecting the vehicle

    This deposit usually takes the form of a credit card, although cash is an option at some locations so please contact a member of our team if you require this facility as this must be confirmed prior to collecting the vehicle. If the vehicle is damaged during the rental, you will be charged up to a maximum of the excess amount. In the event that the renter has behaved recklessly or negligently or driven under the influence of drugs or alcohol you may be liable for the full cost Please note in common with most car rental policies there are exceptions to cover which may include windscreens, tires, the underside or interior of the vehicle, towing charges & replacement keys. Please check your agreement fully at the time of renting for exact exclusions. If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact our team Please note a number of options may be available to buy locally which reduce your risk or can provide further cover to you & your belongings

    Merged with previous posts. Please keep all questions about this trip in one place.
    Last edited by AZBuck; 05-13-2012 at 12:18 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Some Generic Car Rental Advice

    So, you've come up against three of the biggest bugaboos about car renting Model, Age (yours) and Insurance. Let's deal with them in that order. No rental car agency is going to guarantee you a certain car on a certain date. They are always going to leave themselves a little wiggle room with the phrase 'or similar' because they simply don't know how many people are going to show up at their counter on any given day or what kind(s) of car(s) they're going to want. By the same token, enough people with reservations end up being 'no shows' for various reasons including flight delays/cancellations that they're not going to save 'your' car is somebody else is willing to take if for cash money now. If they don't have the car you wanted and reserved, they will offer to upgrade you for no additional cost. While you may not consider a minivan an upgrade over a Mustang, they do. Your best bet is to call the local franchise where you'll be renting the car and see what they commonly have in stock. If the Alamo site at the airport generally has PT Cruisers and considers those 'similar' to the Mustang, then your only real option is to check around with other rental agencies at LAX, see what they generally carry, and change your reservation to the company that has the largest number of Mustangs in their fleet. Yes, you'll have to start over from scratch, and you probably won't get the lowest price. You simply have to decide which of the trade-offs is more important to you.

    Next: the 'Underage Driver Fee'. Yes, at anything less than 25, you are considered underage. This is mostly for insurance purposes. Insurance companies are driven by hard data and they long ago recognized what neuropsychologists are only now beginning to recognize. The human brain is not fully formed until around age 25 and in particular the areas of the brain dealing with critical decision making and (loosely defined) maturity are the last to develop. For driving purposes, this means that young adults simply have more accidents (far more), and more disastrous accidents, than any other age group. Thus their insurance rates are significantly higher and car hire companies would simply rather not let them have their cars period. If you've gone through a European consolidator such as, you've already taken your best shot at getting these extra fees waived, but you might try others such as carhire3000 and others.

    Finally, Insurance. This is entirely dependent on what coverage you have already and whether or how comfortable you are 'going bare' (i.e. having no coverage other than your own pocket.) First and foremost, check what coverage you already have. Check with whoever underwrites your own driving/car at home and see if your policy extends to rentals. Check with AAA, AA, RA, or whatever travel/car club you may belong to for any coverage they might extend to you as part of your membership. Finally check with your various credit cards to see if any of them include coverage automatically when you charge the rental on their card. You may want to ask specifically about the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) which is a coverage unique to rental cars that basically covers the lost income to the company because they can't rent the car while it's being repaired.

    But ultimately, the fact is that you're up against three of the four most expensive parts of car rental: You're underage. You want a specialty car. And you (apparently) don't have sufficient insurance coverage on your own already. The only thing worse you could do is try to leave the car somewhere other than where you'll be picking it up.


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