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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Oslo Norway
    Posts
    12

    Default Planning Denver - Las Vegas - San Francisco - Los Angeles in 3 wks

    Hi!

    I'm planning a road trip this summer with my 2 kids (18,14 yo boys). We have been dreaming about renting an RV and will try to make this happen this summer. We're Norwegians and have never been to the west of USA (but not first trip to US). I have been looking at a route and sights to see and have so far ended up with this route I made in Google Maps.

    http://maps.google.no/maps/ms?msid=2...bee05d96&msa=0

    The approximate daily stopovers are marked in yellow ballons. But they are just approximate stopover places to limit the amount of driving every day since the exact stopover places are yet not defined. Start and stop points are marked with purple ballons. Blue ballons are just some via-points needed to make Google Maps choose right way.
    It's basically Denver - Las Vegas - San Francisco - Los Angeles in 3 weeks with some days without driving in Las Vegas (2 days), San Francisco (3 days) & Los Angeles (5 days). I have looked up RV rentals and the optimal would be a standard size (even if compact would be enough) and a one way rental. I don't assume that I will be driving the whole route with RV. Right now I guess we will drive Denver -> San Francisco with RV. Then stay a few days in SF and drive with normal car to Los Angeles.

    Before I write this route in stone I would appreciate comments on things I should reconsider. E.g:
    - Change of route
    - Too fast/too slow
    - Sights to see along route

    I have tried to set up a day to day plan which is:
    Day1: Landing in Denver around 8:30 pm. Stay over at hotel.
    Day2: RV pickup and driving Denver to Salida (Google says 3h27mins)
    - Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods
    Day3: Salida to Ouray (3h40mins)
    - Black Canyon
    Day4: Ouray to Dennehotso (3h59mins)
    - Red Mountain Pass, Mesa Verde
    Day5: Dennehotso to Cameron (4h28mins)
    - Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, (Maybe:The Wave - Sand Hills & Rainbow Bridge)
    Day6: Cameron to Seligman (3h02mins)
    - Desert View Point by Grand Canyon & Grand Canyon Village
    Day7: Seligman to Las Vegas (3h00mins)
    - Hoover Dam
    Day8: Las Vegas
    Day9: Las Vegas to Lone Pine (4h23mins)
    - Death Valley
    Day10: Lone Pine to Topaz Lake (3h46mins)
    - Mono Lake, Bodie Ghost Town
    Day11: Topaz Lake to San Francisco (4h20mins)(deliver RV)
    - El Dorado, Coloma (gold rush sites)
    Day12: San Francisco
    Day13: San Francisco
    Day14: San Francisco
    Day15: San Francisco to Cambria (4h23mins) (rental car)
    - Silicon Valley, Carmel (Maybe: detour to Pigeon Point Light Station, Santa Cruz and follow coast)
    Day16: Cambria to Los Angeles (4h06mins)
    Day17: Los Angeles
    Day18: Los Angeles
    Day19: Los Angeles
    Day20: Los Angeles
    Day21: Los Angeles
    Day22: Flying home from Los Angeles

    Would really appreciate and suggestions, tips etc.

    Regards,
    Borge

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    7,961

    Default A rush in the RV.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Google travel times are usually optimistic and much moreso when driving an RV through the mountains. Whereas your driving days are doable, the things you want to see each day are not doable in many cases. Day 5 would be a fine example of that and on day 10 there is no way of visiting Bodie Ghost town in an RV rental, or any other rental as a matter of fact. Part of the road is unpaved and would be in violation of your contract. You could also find that crossing Death Valley between Vegas and Lone Pine will be forbidden in the summer months due to the heat.

    I'm not sure what might be in Dennehotso, but it will take a while to visit Mesa Verde and would recommend staying there, heading to Monument Valley and stop there for the night or at Cameron Trading post. It would be a shame to do a 'drive Thru' of the Grand canyon and would also spend a full day here and one night, witnessing a sunset over this natural wonder of the world.

    I think you can make this a wonderful trip, but I would urge you to spend less time on the coast and add a few extra days to the RV trip. Rocky mountain and Yosemite NP's stand out to me, due to their absence.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Oslo Norway
    Posts
    12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !
    [Some text deleted]
    I think you can make this a wonderful trip, but I would urge you to spend less time on the coast and add a few extra days to the RV trip. Rocky mountain and Yosemite NP's stand out to me, due to their absence.
    Wow... thanks a lot for very valuable feedback. Exactly the kind of info i need. i will most certainly take your opinion into consideration.

    Dennehotso is not necesssarily a stopover. It's just a mark for me to tell me that I should look for spending the night somewhere around that point.
    The info about Bodie is of course of great value. Add to that what you said about Death Valley I guess it means that I maybe should look for an alternative route for the first part of the Las Vegas -> San Francisco stretch. Do you have a suggestion?

    I have my 2 teenage boys with me, so they might like the coast better. That in addition to the fact that I see a lot of great mountain scenery here in Norway might indicate that I can keep this inland/coast division in days that I suggested. But I'll certainly look into what you said and reevaluate.

    Regards,
    Borge

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    7,961

    Default Red Rock country.

    Add to that what you said about Death Valley I guess it means that I maybe should look for an alternative route for the first part of the Las Vegas -> San Francisco stretch. Do you have a suggestion?
    It's worth checking your rental agreement before deciding, but it does seem pretty standard. With Bodie also out of the equation I would suggest taking US95/NV266/CA266/NV264/US6/CA120 to Mono Lake [Lee Vining] for night 1 and then continue in CA120 [the spectacular Tioga Pass] into Yosemite NP and spend the day and night there [or nearby] before continuing to SF. There are of course alternatives, such as going south around Death Valley to the east side of the Sierra Nevada to Sequoia NP and Yosemite, but with 2 overnight stops I personally would opt for option 1.

    I have my 2 teenage boys with me, so they might like the coast better. That in addition to the fact that I see a lot of great mountain scenery here in Norway might indicate that I can keep this inland/coast division in days that I suggested. But I'll certainly look into what you said and reevaluate.
    That's the beauty of the road trip, having the freedom to go where you want and when you want ! What I would add is that you will certainly be going through mountain areas, but where you are most pushed for time is where you [and me] will find scenery that we are not used to here in Europe, Red rock and desert country. In fact, [and with that in mind] have you considered going to Southern Utah and Arches and Canyonlands NP's and then to Monument Valley ? There is absolutely nothing wrong with the trip you have and of course it is your trip, all we do is 'put it out there' for you to consider.

    Alternative. Day 2]Denver to Grand junction [I70]. You could make it to Arches NP [Moab] if you could get an early pick up. Day 3] Arches. Day 4]Canyonlands and Monument valley. Day 5]Monument Valley to Page AZ [Antelope canyon] Day 6] Grand canyon. Day 7 GC/ Vegas via Seligman and Hoover Dam.

    Either way I doubt you will be able to visit the Wave as there are a limited amount of passes that are not easily available and Rainbow Bridge can only be reached by booking a boat tour. With your current time frame I don't think you have time to do either and certainly not with Monument Valley, Antelope canyon etc.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Oslo Norway
    Posts
    12

    Default

    Again...thanks a lot for your suggestions. It's really helpful.
    Alternative routes are absolutely within the scope. I have mostly based my preliminary choice of route on a friend's (also foreigner) trip many years back, so it might not be the best choice according to people who know the area better. So all input is appreciated.

    I will look more into your suggestions and I might end up having more questions :)

    Regards,
    Borge

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Oslo Norway
    Posts
    12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    ...I would suggest taking US95/NV266/CA266/NV264/US6/CA120 to Mono Lake [Lee Vining] for night 1 and then continue in CA120 [the spectacular Tioga Pass] into Yosemite NP and spend the day and night there [or nearby] before continuing to SF. ...
    1) I see that cutting over to San Francisco from Mono Lake saves me some time that can be used resting by Mono Lake and Yosemite. Do you think people normally people would prefer this to the route that I made initially going to El Dorado/Coloma (gold rush history) and Sacramento? I know it's a matter of taste but what do you think the general opinion would be? As a foreigner I just thought that the gold rush is something I've heard about and that it's maybe interesting to see the area. But if it's just this mill and river where this man (Marshall?) found gold the first time and that's it I guess youor option is much better.

    2) Where would be a specific target place to drive to in Yosemite?

    Regards,
    Borge
    Last edited by Oladunk; 04-20-2012 at 08:13 AM. Reason: Some typos

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    7,961

    Default Take a look.

    I just love Yosemite and have yet to visit more of the Gold rush towns because of that and as you say it comes down to personal taste or even instinct. The drive over Tioga Pass is spectacular and there are many sight seeing and walking opportunities and Yes, it would be a very popular choice.

    I would look to stay in one of the 'Pines' campgrounds in Yosemite Valley but there is every chance they will be booked out by now for summer travel. There are options outside the park in places like Groveland, Mariposa and further afield Oakhurst. You would need to check the availability for all the popular NP's you decide to visit as they are very popular [in wonderful settings] and there are limited RV sites.

    The Tioga Pass looking to Tenaya Lake. [west to east direction].



    Glacier point. Yosemite.



    Yosemite Valley.





    Pictures do not do it justice !!

    In contrast with Arches and Canyonlands.






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