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  1. Default West coast & Vegas trip which way round to do it?

    Hi everyone, been reading this very informative forum and wonder if anyone can help with my dilema? My husband and I are flying into LAX on 6th September and staying in hotel near to airport for 1st night and picking up car. We are planning on seeing Santa Barbara then Highway 1 to San Fran up to Napa Valley over to Lake Tahoe then through Yosemite maybe staying in Mammoth (our friends hav a condo there) for a night or 2 then through Death Valley to Vegas. We have flights booked back from LAX so was thinking of either booking internal connection back from Vegas to LAX or changing our flights(and paying the extra) to fly direct back from Vegas to UK. I cant decide whether to do the trip clockwise or anti clockwise and drive first to Vegas from LA possibly taking in Palm Springs along the way then across Death Valley - Yosemite Tahoe Napa San Fran then down Highway 1 to Santa Barbara and back to LAX to fly home. Advantage being wouldnt have to change flights but I dont know if either of these ways is better than the other or is there no difference at all. Had originally planned on ending up in Vegas rather than start there but maybe it makes no difference? would be grateful for any advice opinions.

    Also were planning on hiring a convertable but have read that driving across the desert maybe a convertable isnt the best way as gets really hot with the top down? Also would always have to have one suitcase on the back seat meaning the top would have to be put up everytime we stopped, any opinions as to a convertable vs an SUV?

    Thanks for any suggestions

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default a couple of tips

    Phew! This is a long, long trip. A lot of miles -- awesome scenery, but what is your planned time-frame?

    It's a 5 to 5.5 hour drive from Las Vegas to LAX, and you could get a round trip rate on your car rental if you did that.

    The LAS flight to the UK is very nice.

    Coast drive is nice in either direction -- but most of us prefer to drive south-bound, so the turn-outs are easier to reach.

    Given that.... I'd suggest driving to Las Vegas first (Day 2)
    Day 3: Death Valley and overnight in Bishop or at friend's condo in Mammoth
    Day 4: It's tough to do both Lake Tahoe and Yosemite -- unless you have two days here, so I'd drive over Tioga Pass and spend the day in Yosemite.
    Day 5: Drive to Napa and wine country
    Day 6: San Fran
    Day 7 & 8: Coastal Drive
    Day 9: Back in Los Angeles.

    If you have less than 9 days.... you'll need to cut something or plan to spend 10+ hours in the car every day.

    It will be cooler in Sept -- but personally, I'd still prefer the convenience of a sedan or SUV over a convertible.

    Mark

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

    Default

    It will be considerably cheaper to do a "loop" trip in and out of LAX - airfares will be less expensive and you will avoid a "one way" drop fee on the car. I concur with a counter-clockwise trip to go south along the coast.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    I'd agree with the counterclockwise loop as well, but there are a couple things from your original post I think you really need to keep in mind.

    The Yosemite Valley is located on the west side of the Sierras, while Mammoth and Lake Tahoe are both to the east. That's why Mammoth really doesn't work as a base to explore Yosemite, and its also why visiting both Yosemite and Lake Tahoe can be a little tricky.

    I guess I also don't understand why the choice would be between a convertible and an SUV. First, if you do go with the convertible and decide you don't like driving with the top down through the desert, then you just put it up and its basically like a regular car. But if you decide against one, then why would you need to go all the way up to an SUV? A standard sedan is going to cost much much less, certainly have plenty of room, and likely will offer a more comfortable ride. Most of the time, renting an SUV is just a good way to burn through extra money.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default A word about SUVs

    Yeah, unless you like to drive SUVs... As a pro-roadtripper, I always carry a variety of self-rescue and extraction gear and it just fits better in a SUV than in a sedan. (even in rentals -- I carry a variety of specialized equipment). It is more money, it's also more comfortable -- I like to sit up high -- unless I'm driving a sports sedan.

    And for your coastal drive section, be sure to look at Peter's article here.

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 08-22-2012 at 09:22 AM. Reason: added link to Big Sur article

  6. Default Thanks for the advice

    Hi Mark, thanks for the advice - Counter clockwise it is then! We have 14 nights on the trip 12 when we take off the first night at the airport and one night we are visiting friends in LA. We have always rented SUV when in USA as up until this year there have been the kids with us and lots of luggage, just thought would go for mid size this year as I also like to sit high up, although a Sedan would certainly be big enough for the 2 of us. Will get a round trip on the car hire from LAX

    thanks again
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 08-23-2012 at 06:43 AM. Reason: in-line quote not needed here

  7. Default

    thanks for that advice really helpful, need to rethink the Tahoe part then. Will go with your suggestion of Tioga Pass and Yosemite then on to Napa, San Fran and Coastal Drive.
    Thanks again

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Grand canyon ?

    With 12 days road tripping, have you considered visiting the south rim of the Grand canyon ? It will depend on how much time you may want to spend in any one place, but your trip would take on this type of shape. 1] LA to GC [long day on the road] 2] GC. 3]GC to Las Vegas. 4]Las Vegas. 5] LV across Death valley to Mammoth. 6&7] Yosemite. 8&9]Napa/San Francisco [Alcatraz tour?] 10] Monterey or Cambria. 11]Cambria or Santa Barbara. 12] LA.

    You can of course adjust this to suit your preferences and decide whether you want to visit GC or not, but it 'fits' quite nicely into the time you have.

  9. Default

    Hi Dave
    thanks for the suggestions, we actually did Vegas and the GC last year so thats why we werent including GC in the trip (although I cant resist a trip to Vegas!) but the rest of your suggestions are just about what we plan on doing - definately visiting San Francisco and Alcatraz tour then the coastal drive ending up staying in Santa Barbara. As we are arriving on a Thursday evening we didnt want to do the drive to Vegas on a Friday or Sat as want to avoid the heavy weekend traffice if possible so we are either going to spend Fri and Sat in LA ( we have visited LA last year and have done all the tourist attractions) and head up on the Sunday, or thought about maybe a visit to Palm Springs for a couple of nights on route to Vegas.... not sure is you would suggest PS is worth a visit?

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

    Default

    Why not go from LA *through* Palm Springs, then go through Joshua Tree and the Mojave Preserve on the way to LV?

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