I am currently in the early stages of planning a Road Trip for July/August next year. We do want to visit Yosemite, so I will have to settle on dates soon as I would like indoor plumbing for those prices!
We are coming from the UK and at the moment are planning to fly to Las Vegas and have a couple of nights there. Then we will visit Bryce and Zion and Grand Canyon before heading back to Vegas and on to Death Valley. We then want to spend some time in Yosemite before going to San Francisco and then heading down the coast to finish up with a few days in San Diego.
I have a few questions about the route and what is feasible in a day. We have 2 kids (who will be 11 and 14) and husband is planning on doing most of the driving. I'm conscious that I don't want too many heavy driving days after each other.
1. Is there any reason to go to Bryce and Zion after Grand Canyon or could we visit them first? I'm thinking of staying a couple of nights in Kanab so we're not rushing as they look like places you could spend some time.
2. From what I can see, Death Valley will be pretty unpleasant to walk in at that time of year, so I think we're more likely to pass through to see the sights rather than camp/stay over. It looks like a pretty long drive from either Kanab or GC - I'd rather not have another night in Vegas, so is there somewhere else that's nice for us to stay over?
3. It seems to make sense to come into Yosemite from the East and explore that way. Again it looks like a long drive from Death Valley to somewhere like Lee Vining - would it be worth breaking that journey up on the way? We're not particularly pushed for time as we're allowing 3 weeks maximum for the trip.
4. We love the outdoors and fancy some walking in Yosemite. From what I've read the Falls might be Trickles at that time of year - in which case, is it worth concentrating on a couple of other areas rather than focusing on the Valley? I was thinking of staying somewhere like Mono Lake, then driving in and exploring Tuoholme and possibly staying there overnight. If not, heading for Curry Village and staying there. We could then walk/explore etc the next day and head out of the park at the end of the day and stay overnight somewhere a bit cheaper. Does that sound feasible?
5. I'd like to go north of SF but is that more of a grown ups place than somewhere for kids? Would we be better to focus on spending more time around Yosemite and on the coast trip to San Diego than getting up to say Calistoga and back again?