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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    London, England
    Posts
    16

    Default West Coast - 2 weeks

    Hi all,

    So far nothing is booked, and even if I don't figure out my exact itinerary immediately, I need to decide my inbound and outbound airports and get tickets bought.

    We spent 3 weeks last sep-oct doing SD-SFO-Tahoe (via LA & Santa Barbara)
    Loved SD, Loved SF, Tahoe was good but we've seen it enough now - did not like LA or SB

    We missed Monteray... and drove through Big Sur at night.

    So this year - first/second week of September we are looking at something like the following
    LA/SD -to Palm Springs
    Palm Springs to Grand Canyon
    GC to Bryce, Zion and Vegas
    Through Death Valley to Yosemite
    Across to Monteray
    And finally into SFO (didn't make the rock trip last time, so need a day for this)

    Direct flights bring me into SFO or LAX (last year we landed at SFO, took an internal flight to SD on the same day, then rented a car when we left SD)

    The only "restrictions" are as follows....
    one driver; most legs should be <6 hours of driving
    the target duration is 14 days (can tack on a couple of extra days subject to finding cheaper flights)

    I've seen Vegas and Grand Canyon, my partner hasn't. Those are the headline items for her. For me, Monteray, Death Valley and the parks have my full attention.

    We'd like to do some shopping at some point (clothing and an apple store) - last time we went to outlet malls in Sacramento and Pismo Beach.

    We're not camping/hiking types, and i'd be okay to lose a leg versus rushing from place to place.
    Last time, I booked hotels 1-2 days in advance and we made the itinerary as we went, so I don't need everything ironed out by now.
    I also don't mind one internal flight if it simplifies the route or avoids road duplication.

    Thanks for any help; we loved California last year, but I feel that lack of planning meant that we missed some places or made some bad choices

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Closing the loop.

    Hello and welcome to RTA.

    I would consider closing the loop and go from Yosemite to SF and then Monterey before driving around Big Sur in daylight hours back to LA, with possibly an overnight in the Cambria area. The good thing with a loop is you can check out the main Citys you are travelling through for the cheapest flight and car rental costs and start and finish from there. I really don't think an internal flight is needed or actually of any use on this trip.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    London, England
    Posts
    16

    Default

    Hi,

    Thanks for the reply. What about closing the loop to and from SF then? If I can completely bypass LA that would be my preference.

    SF - Yosemite
    Onwards to Death Valley (is this just a drive through, or a place to stay?)
    A few nights in Vegas
    Onwards to Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon (where to stay and how many days to do these 3?)
    ::: I need a stop here::: What is there to do in Lake Havasu City in mid September?
    Palm Springs
    :::: somewhere::::
    Monterey
    And back to SF

    If there is a way to split the trip so that the multi day stays are spread throughout, that would be better. I see multiple (i.e more than 1) days being spent in SF, Vegas, and Palm Springs. Again, not really wanting >6 hour drives every day.

    Also, best place along this trip for the shopping?


    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Hello and welcome to RTA.

    I would consider closing the loop and go from Yosemite to SF and then Monterey before driving around Big Sur in daylight hours back to LA, with possibly an overnight in the Cambria area. The good thing with a loop is you can check out the main Citys you are travelling through for the cheapest flight and car rental costs and start and finish from there. I really don't think an internal flight is needed or actually of any use on this trip.
    Last edited by meem; 07-24-2013 at 12:45 AM. Reason: posted it too soon

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    London, England
    Posts
    16

    Default

    Land in SFO
    2 night stay
    Drive to Yosemite (4 hr)
    1 night stay
    Drive to/through Death Valley (6 hours)
    || where to stay? ||
    Drive to Vegas (2 hours)
    2-3 nights stay
    Can I do Zion and Bryce in one day?
    Drive to Zion (2hr 30)
    Drive to Bryce (1hr45)
    Start driving to Grand Canyon (would like to stop after a couple of hours) - ~3hours
    1 night stay
    Drive to Grand Canyon (2hr 25)
    half a day at the Grand Canyon
    Drive towards Joshua tree (6hr 30)
    1 night stay where to stay for sleep between GCNP and Joshua?
    Take a look at Joshua, drive to Palm Springs (52mins)
    3 night stay
    Drive to Cambria (any point if just for a night stopover?) (5hrs)
    1 night stay
    Drive through Big Sur (1hr 55)
    Arrive at Monterey (45mins)
    2 night stay
    Drive to SFO (2hrs)

    14 nights, 15 days

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

    Default Zion and Bryce.

    If I can completely bypass LA that would be my preference.
    Skipping LA altogether would work well with the time you have and is my idea of heaven ! ;-)

    The big problem with your plan is that there is no way you can visit Zion and Bryce in one day and begin your journey to GC. Even with a 10/12 hour day you would barely have time to get out and take a couple of pictures of each park. You could drop Bryce from your plans, but both these places are quite incredible and worthy of time for a visit, so something else would need to 'give' and that would come down to whether you want to drive a little longer on some days, spend a little less time in a place, drop somewhere else from your plans, or a combination of the above. I personally would spend time in Zion/Bryce and possibly drop Joshua Tree from my plans but it's your trip and as you have 3 nights set aside for Palm Springs, I assume it's a big part of your plans. Therefor the 'simple' solution would be to take a night from Palm Springs and spend only one night in Monterey. You could possibly drive from Vegas to Bryce and spend a few hours at Zion [barely enough] and then drive from Bryce canyon to the Grand canyon next day after enjoying the rim views at Bryce and then head from GC direct to Palm Springs the following day, although half a day at the canyon is barely enough either.

    As you leave Yosemite it would be wise to allow extra time for the spectacular drive across Tioga Pass [CA120] and get out of the car for a stroll and photos and perhaps a brief stop at Mono Lake. You might also wnat to spend part of the morning in the valley, or visiting Glacier point, this place spectacular ! With these factors it makes Bishop a pretty good overnight stop to allow a bit of sight seeing in Death valley next day and complete the journey to Vegas.

    I'm not really a shopper to be honest, but San Fran has Union Square and China Town and Las Vegas has a selection of Malls and I believe there is a big Outlet centre near Barstow. [?]

    Remember mapping program drive times are commonly wildly optimistic and you should allow extra time for travel.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    You might want to reverse your route, so you start down the coast, which will have you driving on the ocean side of the road, with easier access to pullouts and stopping points.

    I very much agree that you really need quite a bit more time at Zion, Bryce, and the Grand Canyon. Right now, it looks like you've only got 2 days total to see all three parks, and make what amounts to more than a full day of driving to get between the parks. You could easily spend a full day or more at each of the parks. Personally, I would plan for a bare minimum of 3 for this stretch, giving a half day each at Zion and Bryce, and a full day at GC.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    London, England
    Posts
    16

    Default

    happy to reverse the trip if it gives me an advantage - last year we drove north, SD-LA-SBarb-Pismo-SF.

    Actually I don't know anything about palm springs - I just imagined it would be a pretty cool place to kick back and relax for a few days.

    What we want to see:
    Monterey, San Francisco, Death Valley, Yosemite, Vegas, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce

    What we don't care for:
    LA, Lake Havasu City

    What I don't know about:
    Palm Springs

    Since we have to make the loop anyway, we need stops between Vegas/Grand Canyon and SF (or doing it in reverse, between Monterey and Grand Canyon)

    If I plan for longer at the 3 parks - what do you suggest for the sleeping/stopping locations?
    I can either reduce Palm Springs by one day, or just cut it from the trip - but then I don't want a 12hour+ drive back to SFO airport.

    What I'm trying to achieve with my itinerary is an hour or two's driving each day (e.g to vistas, trails, parks)... and every 2-3-4th day, a longer drive (let's say 4-7 hours)

    My driving times as is are already going to be optimistic, with no consideration for stops along the route.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    London, England
    Posts
    16

    Default

    My intention is to get really great photos from this trip, so I will also need to plan arrival/departure times to a certain extent

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    If photography is a top goal of your trip, then I think that's even more reason to give at least a full day to each of the national parks of Utah/Arizona.

    I would do something like Vegas to Zion, spending the night in Springdale. Then going to Bryce, spending the next night at one of the places right near the park. The next day, drive to the Grand Canyon, spend the night there, and much of the next day as well. Then start making your way over to the California Coast, skipping Palm Spring, perhaps spending the night somewhere around Kingman, Laughlin, or Needles.

    If you skip Palm Springs, it might also give you time to add in more stops in Southern Utah/Northern Nevada, like Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Sedona, or parts of Route 66, which would all offer even more photographic opportunities.

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

    Default One of many ways.

    Presuming you want a couple of nights in SF and Monterey, you could then make another overnight in the Cambria area to give you time to stop at the viewpoints around Big Sur and visit a couple of the State parks and possibly Hearst Castle. So that's 5 nights.

    6] On route to GC, stop around Laughlin, Kingman as Michael suggested or Lake Havasu.
    7] To Grand canyon
    8] GC to Bryce canyon. [Or stop on way and visit Monument valley or Antelope canyon.]
    9]Bryce and to Zion
    10] Zion then to Vegas.
    11] Vegas.
    12] Across Death Valley to Bishop area.
    13] To Yosemite via Tioga Pass.
    14]Yosemite to SF. [If your flight leaves same day it might be better to spend one day in SF at the beginning of your trip and one at the end, or just spend one night in Monterey.]

    There are no really long drives and they offer mostly great scenery and a relaxing time on the road with plenty of time to stop and take in the views and capture some images.

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