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  1. Default Summer roadtrip from California to San Francisco looking for some planning answers.

    Hello to any of this fantastic site, who might have some helpful comments, inputs and must see sights along the route of me and my girlfriend's road trip this summer.

    First some info about who we are, and the layout of the rough lines in our trip.

    We are a couple from Denmark in the start 30's who have decided to come visit your magnificent country and what better way to do that but in a car.
    we have never tried a road trip in the states before, so navigating the roads will be new to us.
    my girlfriend have have visited both New York and San Francisco before, but i am at total newbie.

    The itinerary in the broader lines, as it is looking right now:
    - Arrival Los Angeles in july.
    - Los Angeles to Grand Canyon.
    - Grand Canyon to Las Vegas via. Hoover Dam.
    - Las Vegas to the West Coast via. Death Valley, Wofford and then due West
    - Las Vegas to the West Coast via. Death Valley, 395 South, 58 West and 166 West.
    - West Coast up north to San Francisco.

    Approx. miles by Google earth is roughly set in the area of 2000 miles, and the actual days available on the road is 16.

    A quick search on this site recommend an average speed of 50 - 70 mph. A quick calculation by saying a roughly 4 hours of drive per day at 55 mph. will end up at about nine days to complete the tour.
    Is this realistic or should we cut of some of the miles to get the full experience and have time to take in the scenery and maybe stay a day or two at some places without the plan falling apart?

    Any other advice or helpful thoughts are of course also more than welcome.

    Thanks in advance from both of us who impatiently is waiting for July :)

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I actually think you should reconsider your plan, and instead do a loop starting and finishing in LA, SF, or Vegas. Right now, your plan would have you completely skipping Yosemite National Park, and by doing a loop, you can add it in, while adding very few miles. Doing a loop would also let you travel south down the coast, where the ocean and turnouts are on your side of the road, which is a little nicer.

    I'm a little confused in the calculation of your driving plan, however. I'm not really sure what you are talking about in regards to average speed of 50-70 mph, for one. When you are traveling on an interstate, you'll have a speed limit of 70-75, but once you factor in basic stops and slowdowns for then your average real world speed will likely be closer to 55mph. However, even that doesn't factor in slower roads, like the coast highway, or traveling through national parks.

    Ultimately, the bigger thing is that adding up all of your mileage and then trying to divide it out isn't going to give you a very good picture of what you are really looking at. I'd suggest you'd be better off sketching out a day by day itinerary, and that will really give you the best idea of how much time you've really got at each destination. With 16 days, you should have no problems making it all work.

  3. Default

    Thank you for your reply Michael

    Regarding the calculation of the driving plan, the 55 miles average where meant exactly as you describe it. It should factor in the basic stops along the route but i think maybe it should be lowered even more given your thoughts on slower roads like the Coastal Highway.

    Also i have taken you up on your advise and pieced together an rough itinerary that are now in a loop from LA:
    Day 1 From LA to Grand Canyon.
    Day 3 Trekking in Grand Canyon.
    Day 4 From Grand Canyon to Las Vegas
    Day 5 All on Red in Las Vegas
    Day 6 Las Vegas to Death Valley
    Day 7 Death Valley to Coulterville
    Dag 8 Yosemite National Park
    Day 8 Yosemite to San Francisco
    Day 9 San Francisco
    Day 10 San Francisco to Los Angeles
    Day 16 Los Angeles
    Does this sound like a realistic plan or is it to ambitious?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I think your plan looks good except for the SF to LA leg. You need at least 2 days to make the drive from SF to LA along the coast, and even 3 days isn't a bad thing if you don't mind taking away a little time from LA.

    A couple other minor points: Coulterville is past Yosemite, and if you can stay in the park it would likely be worth it. Also, depending upon how "Day 1" compares to your arrival date, you might want to spend a little more time in LA at the front end to help deal with jetlag.

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

    Default Tioga Pass.

    As you are now doing a loop and heading to Yosemite, the most popular route would take you across the mountains on the spectacular Tioga Pass [CA120] from Lee Vining. I'm not sure, but I think you still might be planning on heading around the mountains via Bakersfield and then up to Coulterville, but I would recommend you head north on 395 from Death Valley. This is why Michael would have mentioned that Coulterville is past Yosemite, and going over Tioga would not make it an ideal choice. If you can stay in the park, GREAT ! If not you might consider Lee Vining which is the closest town to the Tioga entry point into Yosemite for lodgings after DV.

    Presumably 'day 1' is not your arrival day to LA after an International flight, otherwise travelling to GC would be a big No No !

  6. Default

    Day 1 is one day after we touch down at LAX, as you both said driving straight on after a trip across the Atlantic in a car you don't know and on roads thats new to you. thats plain suicide :)
    @ Michael, Regarding the leg from SF to LA, i have put in 6 days from Day10 to Day16, i can se it wasn't quite clear in the itinerary, when looking at it now. Don't know if its to much, maybe i should give a little more days earlier in the route so we can stay in the Yosemite park and also to ad some flexibility to the tour, Anyone have a suggestion on that?

    The route from Death Valley is N on 395 and then W on 120, but the reason i mentioned Coulterville is, from the looks of it, it seems as i have to drive on the 120 all the way out to the 49th, and then head South to Mariposa to gain access to Yosemite park itself, but after a more thorough road study (tipped off by your wondering)
    I guess that you both wanted me to turn down Big Oak flat road.
    Thank you for the little heads up there.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I looks like you are in good shape then.

    You are correct, I misread your plan to be driving to LA in one day and spending 6 days there, but if its 6 days for the drive, that's plenty. In fact, you might not need quite that much time, and might want to use one or two of those days to give yourself more time in other places or add a destination or two to your trip. For example, you could break up your drive from LA to GC into two days, and stop at Joshua Tree NP, or after GC, you could head up into Utah and spend a day at Zion NP before circling back to Vegas. Of course, if you stick to 6, that's fine too, these are just more options to consider.

    You are correct that there is no need to go all the way down to Mariposa, and actually you will already be inside Yosemite NP as you drive across Tioga Pass (CA-120). A look at Yosemite's Website might give you a better perspective here too. Staying in Coulterville could work, but you'd be looking at about an hour and a half of driving to get back into the Yosemite Valley.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Why not attempt to get a reservation for a tent cabin in Curry Village? That's within the park in the Yosemite Valley.

  9. Default

    It is nice to hear that the route is not to ambitious but actually leaves space for one or more great attractions along the way. We will look into those other national parks you've mentioned.
    @Glc been looking into those tent cabins, it sounds rather nice.
    Any one who got any experience with those high Sierra campsites? they seem quite nice too, if you wanted to do some hiking.

  10. Default

    Tuolumne Meadows lodge and White Wolf are considered high Sierra camps although they are accessible by road. The other high Sierra camps have a few open nights which are listed on website. In addition to reservable campsites, Tuolumne Campground also has first come, first serve sites.

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