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  1. Default LA - Las Vegas - GC - SF - LA Route


    Planning a road trip in a RV when you have never done it before and live in the UK is daunting, but this site is great.

    I would like your thoughts on the planned route so far and any suggestions are welcome:

    3 nights in La - hotel booked already before we get the RV

    Drive LA to Barstow (spend one night there).
    Barstow to Flagstaff (one night there)
    Flagstaff to Grand Canyon North Rim (2 nights there)
    GC to Bryce NP (1 night there)
    Bryce to Zion NP (1 night there)
    Zion NP to Las Vegas (2 nights there)
    LV to Barstow (1 night there)
    Barstow to Sequoia NP (1 night there)
    Sequoia NP to Yosemite (2 nights there)
    Yosemite to San Francisco (2 nights there)
    SF to Monterey (1 night there)
    Monterey to Santa Margarita (1 night there)
    Back to LA for one more night in hotel then home.

    We have 2 kids (13 and 10), so have tried to limit the driving. I have 1 more night to fill (and suggestions where best spent?)

    Would have like to do Monument Valley but not sure if worth the detour.

    Not sure about Barstow twice but thought it the best way to avoid Death Valley in summer (as no go for the RV). What other suggestions are there?

    Any recommendations for campsites? Was thinking about KOA maybe???

    I am grateful for any help. What do you guys think?

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

    Default Looks good.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You have a wonderful adventure to look forward to with lots to see and set at a reasonable pace. To start with, is there a reason in wanting to stay in Barstow ? It's not far from LA and you could easily make it to Kingman for the night. Second, why Flagstaff ? If you are in an RV why not camp right by the Grand canyon south rim of the National park. With your extra night I would consider spending it in Zion NP as to get at least a full day there, it's an amazing place with lots of easy riverside walks.

    You could also push on further from LV towards Sequoia, perhaps as far as Visalia. You will need to check length restrictions along the Generals Highway and compare to your RV as you might only be able to access the park through the Kings canyon entry point from Fresno.

    I'd recommend staying at National park campgrounds wherever possible. They are in great surroundings and many parks have shuttle buses to get you around the park which saves the hassle of having to drive into the park and having to queue and find parking spots etc. The only thing is, NP campgrounds are very popular and have limited RV sites so you need to book them as soon as the booking window opens to secure a site.

    You can get some idea of campsites [all of which I would recommend] by looking at our first RV trip here.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Hard to Find Fault

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    I think you've done a great job of budgeting your time, making realistic projections of how far you can push an RV in a day, leaving ample time to see the wonders you're driving to, and generally getting the most out of your trip. Just a couple of thoughts on your stated questions based on my own experience. I wouldn't spend the 5-6 hours on the detour to Monument Valley in your case. That would just account for getting there and back onto your current route. Then, since you can't take your RV over the rutted dirt roads of what is a Navajo Tribal Park rather than a National Park, there would be more time and money spent on a guided jeep tour of the valley. There will be no shortage of great scenery on your trip.

    Then, where I'd spend another night/day is in the Monterey area and take in the Aquarium, Historic Monterey, Point Lobos, the Carmel Mission, and maybe even lunch at Pebble Beach. This is the one area on your trip that seems to be shortchanged, particularly since there is nothing like it elsewhere in your travels.

    Your route from Las Vegas to Yosemite is pretty much the only choice. While you could conceivably go up US-95 and over Tioga Pass on CA-120,you would miss Sequoia (and Kings Canyon) and most of the drive would be in hot desert - just not as hot as Death Valley.

    I don't really think of KOA as providing campsites in the normal sense. These are commercial enterprises where every square inch is devoted to making money. Think of them instead as RV parks where you will be packed in with others, not cheek to jowl but without a great deal of open space. If you are looking for more of an outdoor camping experience, aim to stay in national forests and state parks as a rule, assuming you can't get a reservation in the national parks.

    For many more hints and tips on the area you'll be traveling through, check the discussions linked to here.


  4. Default

    Thanks guys. Some good advice and looks like I need to make one or two changes, but generally ok. Dave - just picked Flagstaff and Barstow as they seemed to be natural junctions/stopping places. No other reason.

    Will definitely look to book NP campgrounds and will look into Nat forests and state parks now too.

    Are some of the highways restricted for RVs? We have a 25ft one and hope to try and stick to main roads as never driven one before!


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Mostly OK.

    In most cases you will be just fine. The Generals Highway in Sequoia NP was one of few exceptions for paved highways. You can check on their website here before travelling as length restrictions have varied due to road works in recent years. At the moment it is only an advisory for vehicles over 22ft not to travel to the Giants forest from the south entrance near Three Rivers and is not enforced by law. It is a twisty and in some places narrow section of the Highway but I have driven it in a 30ft RV and found it OK, although I have had a lot of experience with larger vehicles. Three rivers is close to the entrance of Sequoia and would be a possibility for an overnight stop if you were able to enter this way. The other place on your route to note is through the Mt Carmel tunnel as you enter Zion from the east. It's not a big deal and could actually be described as fun, but you will have to queue at the tunnel and wait for them to close the other end off to prevent on-coming vehicles entering the tunnel so that you can drive down the middle of the tunnel. For this you will have to pay a small fee of $15 and have a short wait.

    As you will be so close I would visit the south rim as well and as I previously mentioned, stop around Kingman to be closer to the NP and then book a site at the Mather Campground or Trailer village from where you could walk to the rim and enjoy a sunset before heading back to the RV and light up the fire pit and have some food under the stars.

    The roads are so different in the US to what we are used to here in the UK and are a pleasure to drive. Well once you get out of LA lol ! It's customary and polite [and law in some places] on slower, twisty roads with few passing opportunities that if you start to get cars caught up behind you use a pull out when safe to do so and let them pass you, you will get a toot of the horn and a wave for your troubles and it will take the pressure off. If you have any other RV or trip related questions just ask.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Bring a small flag.

    By the time you get to Seqouia NP you will, no doubt, be quite used to driving the RV. I doubt that the road in from Three Rivers will worry you a great deal. At least for most of the way you will be on the mountain side (not the cliff). When I was there 18 months ago there was quite a bit of roadwork on this road, so it was slow going, but there were a couple of rather large RVs in the queue.

    One little hint, which I picked up from a British driver in the US (a decade ago) is, put a flag in the rear window of the vehicle. Show them that you are not a local. I don't know if it makes other drivers more forgiving for any driving/road errors, but with a flag in the rear of my vehicle, I have never been harassed for not quite keeping up with the locals.

    Make sure that at every National Park you sign your children up for the Junior Ranger program. It is a great way for them to learn more about the park, and give them some great souvenirs to take home. With the number of NPs you will be visiting, it will pay you to purchase an America the Beautiful Pass ($80) at the first park you visit. This pays for your entry into all NPs, which is typically in the region of $20 - $25 each. Camping in the park is extra. Since the card is valid for 12 months, if you do not have anyone to give it to at the end of your trip, it is a good idea to donate it to a charity. [Be sure you only put one signature on the back.]


  7. Default

    If you are not going to the S. Rim of the Grand Canyon you can save almost 150 miles by taking I-15 to St. George, then Hwy 9 to Hurricane, Utah, Hwy 59 to Fredona and come in that way on Alt 89 to the North Rim.

    If you plan on seeing the S. Rim, then I agree with Southwest Dave. Plan on camping at the S. Rim of the Grand Canyon instead of Flagstaff. There are two campgrounds at the S. Rim and the both take reservations. Mather does not have any hook ups (water, electrical & sewer) but there is a dump station at the campground entrance. The Trailer Village campground has hook ups but the sites are very close together. Trailer Village books up early so you need to make reservations as soon as you have your dates.

    I also agree that you should push on past Barstow on the first day. Needles or Kingman if you are going to the S. Rim. We've stayed at the KOA in Needles several times. It's an ok campground for a travel day.

    It's been YEARS since we camped at the North Rim campground but I do know you need to make camping reservations. IF you can't get reservations in the park at the N. Rim then I would highly recommend not spending two nights. It's a very SLOW drive from the park entrance to the rim in an RV and you really aren't going to want to do it more than once. I would spend the time at the S. Rim instead.

    I'll second the recommendation to spend two night in Zion. Watchman campground in Zion has electrical hook ups and a dump station to fill fresh water and dump sewer. The location is BEAUTIFUL! If you want full hookups the Zion Canyon campground in Springdale is pretty nice and has a swimming pool. It's right across the river from Watchman Campground so it pretty much has the same views.

    If you don't have your camping reservations in Yosemite Valley already it might be to late to get them. If they are booked, then keep checking for a cancellation.

    We stay at KOA's only when we absolutely have to. They are fine for a place to stay when we are just traveling to get from one location to another, but we prefer to stay in the National Parks whenever possible.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Not a reason to dismiss it.

    As mentioned above, it is a long and slow drive into the North Rim. However, that is not necessarily a reason to dismiss it. The Kaibab Plateau-North Rim Scenic Byway is not a drive you would want to hurry. Take advantage of all the stops along the way. The beauty of the North Rim is, it is less developed and much less crowded. There are a couple of short hikes to get the real feeling of the granduer of the place, and several places where you can stand right on the edge of the rim. See the Colorado River through Angel's Window, and watch a sunset relaxing with a drink, by the lodge.


  9. Default

    Thanks guys. Your wisdom is invaluable!

    It certainly is taking some of the stress out of my planning.


  10. Default Final Route - I think!

    After all your advice, I think I now have a route together:

    LA (3 nights)
    LA to Needles (1 night)
    Needles to GC South Rim (2 nights)
    South Rim to Zion NP (2 nights)
    Zion to Bryce NP (1 night)
    Bryce to Las Vegas (2 nights)
    Las Vegas to Visalia (1 night)
    Visalia to Sequoia/Kings Canyon (1 night)
    Sequoia to Yosemite (2 nights maybe 1 at Wawona and 1 at Yosemite Village)
    Yosemite to San Francisco (2 nights)
    San Francisco to Monterey (1 night)
    Monterey to San Simeon (1 night)
    San Simeon to Santa Barbara (1 night)
    Back to LA (1 night)

    What do you think of this plan?

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