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  1. #1

    Default LA, Barstow, Bryce, Zion, Las Vegas, Sequoia, Kings, Yosemite, San Fran' RV 1st timer

    Hi all, we are a family of 4 (2 grown up kids) from the UK.

    I have spent many weeks planning our holiday and have got loads of books but I am still a bit unsure of the route to take to cover the above places. We have 3 weeks off work, flights are already booked and we have 2 nights on arrival in LA and 3 nights in San Francisco at the end. We have hired an RV for 14 nights.

    The in between bit is moveable although we want a mix of night life and nature, also our daughter is 21 this year and we like to show her Vegas. We've never driven anything bigger than a car and so want to be on main roads as much as possible. We are going in September and the reason for ending in San Fran is so I can see the bird migration over the Golden Gate Observatory area. Any other advice from birders would be very appreciated ;-)

    What I'd like advice on is the route to take, if we should do something different on some days, if some of the drives are too long, and any advice on where to stay as I don't know where to start other than KOA sites as I have a brochure from them!

    Thank you so much, I do appreciate many people ask similar questions but I can't see my route anywhere :-)

    Edited as I forgot to say we are spending the time in LA and SF in a hotel NOT in the RV. I also forgot to included the Grand Canyon in the title (as well as miss-spelling Bryce!
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 05-07-2014 at 10:12 AM. Reason: missed information!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    Where to stay with an RV....tougher in LA and San Francisco. Are you picking up the RV right away and dropping it last minute, or? All of the national parks you've mentioned have campgrounds within them, or right next to them, without resorting to KOA's. National parks give the RV a bit more ambiance than a KOA. The national park will offer you a beautiful site, water nearby, sometimes a dump station close by, but usually will not offer you any at-the-site hookups like electricity or water. The KOA will offer you that, but for a price -- usually 2-3x the price of a national park campground. However, it will also offer you a shower building, a store on site, sites that usually have the hookups in a reasonable place for your rig, and often "pull through". They also get a bit -- sterile. Believe me, I'm the daughter of a former-KOA-owner, so I'm very familiar with what was required by KOA (and still is). With national park campgrounds, try to get reservations as soon as you get your dates nailed down. If you can't get in right away, keep trying -- people always cancel. All of them have campgrounds and RV parks right outside the park, too.

    In Las Vegas, you won't find too many options of a place for your rig. Most are off-strip. The only on-strip "RV park" is at Circus Circus -- used to be called Circusland but now it's run by ... KOA. It was more of a parking lot for RV's with hookups. No grass. No place to park a lawn chair. There is a decent pool, albeit small, and a hot tub. But it's right ON the strip with all the amenities of a strip, and last I knew, they had a shuttle that would run you to Circus Circus Hotel and then you could catch transportation on the Strip.

    LA ... the beaches have some decent campgrounds. In San Francisco, I hope you're dropping the RV early, as that place is difficult to find a spot. It was, even as much as 40 years ago, and it's worse now! I think Marin RV Park is still around.

    In an RV, I'd try not to drive any day longer than 350 miles, and depending on how you work it out, you won't have to do that.


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Start with some good maps.

    Sometimes we can read far too much and get completely bamboozled. (My best trip was almost unplanned.)

    Do you actually have a map of the south west of the United States, or of the individual States? That might be your saviour. On it you will clearly see all your route options. From paper maps, laid out in front of you you will get so much more information than is possible within the confines of a computer monitor. (You are going to need them when you are on the road, so may as well get them now.)

    If you have never driven anything bigger than a car, I would, as suggested above, keep the miles well down. You might find that 350 miles is a full day, when taking into account as well that you will be driving on the other side of the road.

    Just be sure that you do not plan your time so tight that you will not have time to stop, see and experience a surprise along the way.

    Lifey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default What no Grand canyon ?

    From LA I would consider going to the Grand canyon NP and then up to Bryce [possible detour to Monument Valley] then Zion and then south to Las Vegas before continuing to Sequoia NP. This would mean you get to see this natural wonder of the world with no back tracking. If you were thinking of doing a tour to GC from Vegas you should be aware that most go to the west rim on indian lands which can be expensive, rushed and nowhere near the 'real thing'. From Vegas you could also drive across Death valley if your rental company permits it in September. RV's are usually banned during summer months due to the extreme temperatures, but it's a wonderful drive.

    In Sequoia NP you will have to check for lenght restrictions along the Generals Highway which could result in only being able to enter the park via the Kings canyon entrance and not from the south.

    I would 100% recommend staying in the National parks where possible, but you would have to check the nps.gov site for availability and book in advance to secure them.

  5. Default

    Perhaps the experts might like to comment on this idea:

    Instead of stopping overnight in Barstow, how about Big Bear Lake, in the San Bernardino Mountains? It would have several advantages: a shorter run on the first day out from Los Angeles, it would be cooler in the mountains than in the desert, and there are plenty of RV parks around the lake which is very scenic - but on the other hand it would involve driving on twisty and fairly narrow mountain roads. Perhaps it depends on how large an RV the OP is renting.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    If one is a newbie to driving RV's or other large vehicles, going on a narrow road with lots of hairpin turns, like the one up to Big Bear, would not be recommended. Stick to interstates and 4-lane highways until one gets used to driving a larger rig.


    Donna

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default That large vehicle on the wrong side of the road.

    Yeah! I agree. Stay conservative with the roads you choose, until you are confident in the handling of your vehicle. (Of course this is not only relevant to RVs.) It took me a little while before I felt comfortable driving my van on the wrong side of the road.... on challenging roads.

    Have a safe and enjoyable trip. Don't let a challenge turn it into a nightmare.

    Lifey

  8. #8

    Default Yes please Grand Canyon! :-D

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    From LA I would consider going to the Grand canyon NP and then up to Bryce [possible detour to Monument Valley] then Zion and then south to Las Vegas before continuing to Sequoia NP.
    Thanks Dave for the advice, I might well include a drive through Death Valley as we should be there after the 15th September. The reason we are stopping at Barstow and not going straight to GC is because its nearly 500 miles and we can't get the RV until after 12 and then will have to get used to it and shop etc. So I think its too far to travel on our first RV day as we will arrive late at night. Do you agree with this? If there is somewhere nicer or more interesting to stay on route I'd happily go for that. we could have gone straight to Vegas but don't want to do 2 cities in a row. We have planned 2 nights in the Grand Canyon area as well, just couldn't fit more in the title ;-)

    This is the proposed itinerary changed as suggested by Dave

    USA HOLIDAY

    SAT 6TH SEP FLY TO LA - HOTEL -LOOK AROUND

    SUN 7TH SEP EXPLORE LA/ UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - HOTEL

    MON 8TH SEP PICK UP RV, SHOPPING AND DRIVE TO BARSTOW

    TUES 9TH SEP GRAND CANYON

    WED 10TH SEP GRAND CANYON

    THURS 11TH SEP BRYCE

    FRI 12 SEP MONUMENT VALLEY

    SAT 13 SEP ZION

    SUN 14 SEP LAS VEGAS

    MON 15 SEP LAS VEGAS

    TUES 16 SEP DEATH VALLEY??

    WED 17 SEP LAKE ISABELLA / SEQUOIA

    THURS 18 SEP KINGS CANYON

    FRI 19 SEP YOSEMITE

    SAT 20 SEP YOSEMITE

    SUN 21 SEP SAN FRAN RV PARK OR NEARBY

    MON 22 SEP RETURN RV TO SAN FRANCISCO 3 NIGHTS IN HOTEL

    TUES 23 SEP NIGHT 2 HOTEL SAN FRAN

    WED 24 SEP NIGHT 3 HOTEL SAN FRAN

    THURS 25 SEP FLY HOME PM

    FRI 26 SEP ARRIVE BACK


    I have to say we are not action adventure people, we are not great hikers but we do like good views and nature/wildlife and photography. We would do biking/quads/jeeps/gentle horses!! Low impact walks especially with wildlife rangers. Like local culture and food etc. I do worry that an RV holiday is not going to be right for us as a family but I feel we have a good balance of places to satisfy all! Thanks for all the opinions so far, please keep them coming, I'm very grateful! :-)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default A little tweaking.

    You might like to swap the 11th and 12th September. From the Grand Canyon you would exit via Desert View Drive - the eastern entrance - and head 'through' Monument Valley, before heading up to Bryce. To do them the other way around would be a lot of backtracking.

    Since Tioga Pass has already opened, there is no need to go via Lake Isabella. You will be able to enter Yosemite through the spectacular Tioga Pass.

    Visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon after Yosemite, and then head to Cambria on the Pacific Coast Highway. It would be a pity to miss Big Sur and your last night could be Monterey, before heading into SF.

    Lifey

  10. #10

    Default

    Oh that sounds much better LM! I was regretful at not doing the coastal road so that would be lovely if the miles are not too much.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 05-07-2014 at 10:15 AM. Reason: Request carried out.

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