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  1. Default Trying to plan a San Francisco, Yosemite, Vegas... beach trip?

    Hello all,

    I came across this site a few weeks ago whilst trying to plan my US trip, it's great! I've taken various tips from a variety of threads but it would be great to get some direct advice and help if anybody can help!

    I am hoping to travel to America, from London, in May with my partner for two weeks. We are yet to book any flights or cars so our route is very flexible. A return flight to SF is looking the cheapest, but we're struggling to piece our journey together so are open for options.

    Having only been to Florida and New York we're keen to explore a small bit of the West Coast. Our main focus is San Francisco, we hope to spend 5-6 days there.

    We'd love to go to Vegas, for the obvious reason! Maybe only for 2-3 days, and would like to see the beautiful Yosemite too. I know the weather won't be amazing in May/early June for the coast but we'd really enjoy a few chill out days near a beach and the coastal highway sounds fab. Are people on beaches that time of year? From a few threads, it seems Santa Monica is a lovely destination - but it may be too far of a drive to fit with everything else. What towns would you recommend for nice restaurants and beach - Santa Cruz, Carmel, Monterey?

    To summarise, San Francisco, Yosemite (or another natural wonder if it fits better with a route), Vegas and some coastline.

    Happy to hire a car for a good part, and take flights if need be, although I'm struggling to work out the best route. What is the average cost of hiring a car per day, any recommended sites would be much appreciated.

    Thank you very much in advance,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default A loop.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums, glad you are enjoying the site !

    The one thing you don't tell us is for how long you will be in the US for in total. That will have a big bearing on what you might, or might not be able to do.

    A popular 'loop' trip starting and ending in SF would be to head south down the coast around Big Sur and choose from where you want to head inland towards Vegas. The Grand canyon is a very popular option as well, but it comes down to time. Then from Vegas you could visit Death Valley and Yosemite NP's. The popular route would take you across the mountains on the spectacular Tioga Pass [CA120] into Yosemite NP, but there is no way of knowing whether or not it will be open when you travel. The pass closes for the winter with heavy snows and it takes a while to clear in the Spring at these higher elevations, usually opening any time from mid-May to end of June. If it were closed it would just mean going around the southern edge of the mountains via Lake Isabella/ Bakersfield. in which case you could possibly visit Sequoia NP on route to Yosemite valley.

    The advantage of heading south down the coast is that you will have the Ocean pull outs on your side of the road and the later you arrive to Yosemite, the more chance the Tioga will be open. I would certainly recommend hiring a car for the entire trip, if you start in San Fran, pick up the car when you are ready to leave. It's a compact and easy to get around City, with expensive parking.

    You can get an idea of rental costs and lodgings to the top right of this page where it says 'Browse deals'. It is just a case of shopping around to find the best deals. You might enjoy the links in this thread that have a lot of info covering this area.

  3. Default

    Hi Dave,

    Many thanks for the reply. We are looking at 2 weeks in total for our trip, during May/early June, so I think the Grand Canyon may be a little ambitious for our time, unfortunately.

    I like the idea of heading down the coast from SF to the Big Sur, is there an easy/more popular route from then through to Vegas, via Yosemite? It's so hard to tell from the maps we have. On reflection I think we might try and get a return flight to London from Vegas, to allow some more time in each place.

    Would you recommend any of the towns on the coast for overnight stays on route to The Big Sur?

    Will have a look at the car deals now, thank you.

    Thanks again,

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Tioga pass.

    Yes the GC would be a bit of a rush as you are dedicating 7-9 of the 14 days to SF and LV.

    I have not stayed in any of the coastal towns but a night in Monterey/Carmel and one in the Cayacus/Cambria area would be popular areas, with Big Sur etc between the two. If you only want to spend one night on the coast then perhaps the Cambria area would be the better choice location wise, for your onward journey to Yosemite.

    The journey over Tioga pass is quite spectacular and on a natural path to Vegas via Death Valley which also has a remarkable, yet very different landscape. The problem as I mentioned earlier, is that there is just no way of knowing whether it will be open or not when you travel.

    If it were open you could plan on something like this; SF 5 days, Monterey and Cambria. 2 days, Cambria to Yosemite including a day in Yosemite , 2 days. Tioga pass [Yosemite] to Bishop area, 1 day. Bishop through Death valley to Vegas, 1 day. 2 to 3 days Vegas.

    Now if it were closed I would consider going to Yosemite from SF and then back to Monterey and down the coast before heading inland to Vegas. The coast to Vegas could be done in a long day on the road, or you could still visit Death valley with an overnight stop.

    To get to Yosemite from the Cambria/Cayacus area you would head through Paso Robles and pick up CA41 through Fresno and Oakhurst. The trouble with not knowing is booking lodgings, but you shouldn't have any trouble finding a room on the fly, possibly other than if you want to stay in Yosemite NP. [You will find lodgings in nearby towns] If you were to leave it open you can still research lodgings and find places that suit your tastes and budgets and make notes of details and then you have the option of contacting them in advance when you do know.

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