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  1. #1

    Default Californian Road Trip

    I am planning a trip for the end of Spetember which will last just over two weeks.
    Key points to see are San Francisco, San Diego and Las Vegas (plus a day trip to the Grand Canyon).
    We have relatives to visit in San Diego so one option is to fly in to San Francisco and drive south along the coast to San Diego before driving up to Las Vegas (where we could then fly back to the UK).
    Another option was to fly in and out of Los Angeles (flights are a lot less than to anywhere else) and then drive - San Diego - Las Vegas - Yosemite (via either Death Valley or Sequoia National Park) - San Francisco and back to LA along the coast - my only concern with this is the time and with only two weeks this may be trying to do too much.
    Any suggestions / comments much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Time is More Fungible than Money

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    One bit of advice that never goes out of style is to simply make the most of the resources available to you in any endeavor, including RoadTrips. In this case, I can tell you that two weeks is a fair amount of time for what you want to cover, even spending a few days with relatives. Money, on the other hand, seems to be a concern. And Open Jaw airfares (returning from a different city than you flew into) and one-way car rentals are two of the quickest ways to throw away money for little gain. So, yes, I'd recommend that you plan on flying round-trip to Los Angeles, renting your car as a 'local' rental with unlimited mileage, and doing a full loop back to Los Angeles. You will drive a few more miles, but it's all going to be over 'new' and scenic roads so just enjoy it. Two things you'll want to keep in mind. First, make sure that there are no geographic constraints on your rental such as that you can't leave the state of California. I don't expect this to be a problem as Las Vegas is considered just a short jaunt from Los Angeles, and most geographically restricted rentals still allow travel to adjacent states (in your case, Arizona and Nevada). Secondly, you should probably do the trip in a counter-clockwise (anti-clockwise) direction. This will let you finish up with the spectacular drive from Monterey down to Los Angeles along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH, CA-1) with the ocean and lay-bys on your side of the road. Remember that we drive on the right ('wrong') side of the road. For some more general tips on this general area, a very popular RoadTrip destination, read through some of these discussions.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    The Grand Canyon is more than just a day trip out of Las Vegas. What you could do to improve efficiency is this - fly into LAX, rent the car, drive to San Diego and see your relatives. It's 2 to 3 hours from LAX to SD, depending on traffic. Then leave SD bright and early and drive to the GC. Driving all the way to the park is almost 600 miles, so you may want to spend the night in Flagstaff. Take I-8/AZ-85/I-10/Loop-101/I-17. See the park the next day (take US-89/AZ-64 to get there), and spend the night in Williams, Kingman, or go all the way into LV, depending how much time you spend in the GC. It's about a 5 hour drive from the GC to LV.

  4. #4

    Default

    Thanks for the ideas - I quite like the idea of the drive to GC and also then on to LV. From LV we would look to go to San Francisco Via Yosemite. Is there any merit (I am thinking of time) in dropping the car at LV and then flying LV to San Francisco, picking up a car in SF for a more relaxed drive back down the coast? If the general view is that all of the above can be done comfortably in less than 14 days then I am inclined to do the full circle. What I don't want is 14 days solid driving without actually getting to see anything other than from behind the wheel!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Full circle would be fine.

    To drive the complete loop would equate to around 5 solid days of driving so with 14 days you do have time to relax and explore. Much will come down to how much time you would like to stay in any one place.

    To fly to SF would mean missing out on one of my favourite NP's, Yosemite ! If you were considering a Grand canyon tour from Vegas then you need to know that most of them go to the West rim on Indian lands which is not part of the National park system and will not afford you those views of the canyon made famous the world over through photography. I would 100% recommend heading to the South rim and spend a night there witnessing a sunset and sunrise.

    LV to SF could be done with an overnight stop but to get a good look at Yosemite I would allow at least 2 nights. You do however need to check on the Tioga Pass [CA120] status that goes over the mountains into Yosemite from the east. It's most unlikely that it would have closed for the season when you travel but an early winter storm could cause a temporary closure. If that was the case you would have to go around the southern end of the mountains via Bakersfield. Doing so will take you past Sequoia NP, but given the choice and your time available, I would head across Death Valley and Tioga pass.

  6. #6

    Default

    Thanks everyone for the advice. My route will now start in San Diego (flights are booked!) - we fly in on the Friday so will have a relaxing weekend with the relatives before picking up the car on Monday for the long drive to Las Vegas (possibly via a day/night at the grand canyon) or maybe do a day trip from LV(A friend has recommended a flight to the south rim however the idea of driving en-route to Las Vegas is appealing).
    After LV we will head to San Francisco via Yosemite (any suggestions of places to stay) and Death Valley - a friend (see SMV's road trip did this trip in reverse but via Sequoia instead of Death Valley - Sequoia does look tempting!).
    Planning on 3 nights in San Francisco and then on down the caost road to Montarey (and 17 mile drive) before heading down to the Big Sur possible to Santa Barbara (any other suggestions?) and back to San Diego.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default At least 2 nights recommended LV to SF.

    To give yourselves time to explore some of Death valley and Yosemite NP I would recommend 1 night in the Bishop/Mammoth lakes area and another in Yosemite NP, or just to the west of it for budget reasons. Mariposa ,El Portal and Groveland are all well located for lodgings. Sequoia too is a lovely NP and a viable option although there is something special about the drive from DV to Yosemite, especially the Tioga Pass !

  8. #8

    Default

    Out of the choice of driving via Death Valley or via Sequoia which way would you go (from the comments Dave your preference seems to be DV)?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Timing.

    Both are amazing options and it will come down to personal preference and time. You didn't say how much time you can devote to this part of your trip, but with 1 night you won't really have time to do Sequoia and Yosemite, with 2 it would still be rushed heading through Sequoia to Yosemite, but with 3 nights you could possibly do all three parks.

    With 2 nights, I personally would opt for a drive across Death valley and spend as much of my time as possible in Yosemite.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    If your desire to go to Sequoia is simply to see the big trees, you can see them in the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite.

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