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  1. Default 17 days roadtrip in July/August San Francisco - Las Vegas - Seattle

    we are a family of 4. 2 Adults and 2 teen age boys age 14 and 15 going on a holiday to America this summer. We are now planning the trip and I would love some help in the process.

    What we have so far is:
    Flight in from Norway to Seattle
    Train from Seattle to San Francisco
    3 days in San Francisco before we get the car and are ready for a 17 day long road trip.
    Departure from Seattle Airport where we also leave the car.

    So what I would love help with is planning the route, where to stay, and things to see and do along the way. From San Francisco we are thinking of going to, Los Angeles. Here we would like to see the walk of fame and Hollywood. But there are many more things to see. Whatís your tip?

    On our way from Los Angeles we would like to visit Universal Studio before we head in land to Las Vegas. What is the best route and what to consider when visiting Las Vegas with teens?

    From Las Vegas we hope to have time to go to the Great Canyon but is that too far? Anyway on our way back north we would like to go via Death Valley and take the pass through Yosemite National Park. How to find the best tracking routes, and lodges there?

    From Yosemite we will head north, but what route? Iíve heard about Redwood forest, Crater Lake and a Spruce Goose in McMinnville. But I donít see a good route to all of these. What to let go and what other things to see along the way?

    As you see there are many open points in our plan, and if you can help us find the best route and attractions that would be most appreciated.

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

    Default A loop may work.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    I would allow an overnight stop [maybe 2] between SF and LA and take the scenic coast road around Big Sur.

    As you are heading from Vegas across Death valley to Yosemite, it would actually make more sense to go to the Grand canyon direct from LA and then to Vegas. 190 is the main route across DV and then you would head north on 395 to 120 [Tioga Pass] and in to Yosemite valley. An overnight stop around Bishop/Mammoth lakes would work well to break the journey.

    Certainly all the attractions you have listed and many, many more are worth a visit, but this is where you need to prioritise and see which appeals to you most and how they would fit into your journey. What I would consider doing is driving the whole route, creating a Seattle to Seattle loop and head to the coast via Grants pass to Crescent City and catch the Redwoods on the way to SF and then visit Crater Lake and inland attractions on the way back. Of course much will depend on your style of travel and the pace you want to move on at. Driving the whole route would also save you the one way drop off fee on the car rental which can be quite large. To drive the whole route you would need around 7 days dedicated to driving which would then leave you 14 days to sight see along the way or however you divide that time. [If my maths are correct!]

    I would keep searching and reading around the RTA site with a good map to hand and see how you can join the dots and what works and what doesn't for you. [You can find 'Similar threads' to read by scrolling down this page and then repeat as many times as you wish] Once you have a clearer picture we can help to fine tune your trip and offer suggestions.

    Enjoy the planning !

  3. Default

    Hello, and thanks for your quick reply and good tips.
    The train form Seattle to San Fransisco and the car hire is already booked, so that’s locked I’m afraid.
    Thanks for your tip on going directly to Gran Canyon from LA, I’ll look into that. From Vegas we will go as you suggested through Death valley to Yosemite and the Tioga Pass.
    What I am most uncertain about is what road to choose from Yosemite to Seattle, and how many days we have left after LA, Gran Canyon, Las Vegas and Yosemite.

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

    Default It's in the detail.

    What your options are after Yosemite will be limited by how much time you do have left for the journey back, as they go 'hand in hand'. Therefor you you need to work out how much time is 'enough' for you in each of the destinations before leaving Yosemite. Only you can really decide based upon your interests, for example you could easily spend 3 or 4 days in LA, whereas my preference would be not to go there at all ! Grand canyon might only appeal to you for a half day visit, whereas I would prefer a day and a half and so on. [I much prefer natures creation compared to the urban sprawl, but that's me !]

    As I mentioned, I would plan for an overnight between SF and LA and 2 nights around the Grand canyon [giving you at least a full day there] and an overnight on route to Yosemite where I would want a minimum of a day and a half to explore this magnificent place !

    If for example you spent 1.5 to 2 days in LA and LV with the above you could have about 5/6 days to get from Yosemite to Seattle. That would be enough time to go through Sacramento and up to Redding where you could head through Whiskeytown Rec area to the coast at McKinleyville and up to Redwoods NP. From there to Crescent City and Grants Pass to Crater Lake NP and then you could head for Portland, or first [depending on time and pace] head towards Bend OR and past Mt Hood on route to Hood River and then drive along the wonderful Columbia River Gorge to Portland and then on to Seattle. An option would be to detour to Mt Ranier NP, but you will have to work out the finer detail of your trip and see what time you have for what.

    Of course there are many other options to choose from and once you have the basics sorted we can help to fine tune the end result.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Avenue of Giants.

    To add to Dave's list of attractions, make sure you do not miss the Avenue of Giants.... and allow some time to walk among them and sit a while. Bring a picnic lunch and eat it while contemplating how many picnickers these giants have seen over the last 500 - 1000 years, or more.

    A spectacular place.


  6. Default

    I recently planned a trip highlighting the west coastline of America (not so much the "west coast" as the "western coastline"), and here are a few things I included, ordered according to how you might include them on your itinerary:

    San Fran - Muir Woods National Monument, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Cliff house/Giant Camera
    CA route 1 down the coast; stop at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and McWay Falls
    Spend a day at Channel Islands National Park (ferry from Ventura)
    Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (hike to Sandstone peak is phenomenal!)

    and on the way back up to Seattle, if you choose to head coastward from Yosemite...

    Point Reyes National Seashore
    Drive Thru Tree in Leggett
    Avenue of the Giants (good post, Lifemagician!)
    Redwood National Park/Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park
    Prehistoric Gardens in Orford, OR
    Sea Lion Caves in Florence
    Tillamook Air Museum in Tillamook - HIGHLY recommended
    Lewis & Clark National Historical Park at the OR/WA state line
    Olympic National Park on the Washington panhandle

    However this coastal route excludes wonderful parks like Lassen Volcanic, Crater Lake and Mount Rainier (even North Cascades just east of Seattle is within reach), so you should do as Southwest Dave said and consider how much time you have and how much you'd like to allot to those sights. Don't sell yourself short at Yosemite; you'll use all the time you choose to spend there (and don't forget to book VERY VERY early!). California and the Pacific Northwest are overflowing with wondrous attractions; this trip, as they say, is your oyster.

  7. Default

    Hello again,
    Thank you so much for your time and good help. I’ll look closer into every suggestion. In the meantime here is a quick outline of the plan so far.

    22 July
    we arrive late and stay near the seattle/Tacoma airport (jetlag)

    We take the Amtrak to San Francisco

    San Francisco

    we get the car and drive to San Luis where we spend the night

    28 July
    We get to Los Angeles
    29 July
    Universal studios
    30 July
    Hollywood sign and walk of fame
    Santa Monica beach

    30-31 July
    On the road, we spend the night in a motel

    31-2 Aug
    Gran Canyon

    2-3 Aug
    Las Vegas

    3-4 Aug
    Death valley

    4-6 Aug
    Tioga pass
    Yosemite Forest

    6-8 Aug
    Redwood forest area

    8-10 Aug
    McMinnville and Portland
    Spruce Goose and Outlet shopping

    10-12 Aug
    Going home

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Real hot !

    Note that it will be extremely hot in Death valley during August and one night might be enough, or you could spend the day driving through and stopover on 395, perhaps as far as Bishop.

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