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  1. Default Road trip - Down the West Coast of America

    Hello. I am planning a trip to America and as I will be coming from South Africa, I would really appreciate some input on my recommended plan of action. We would like to drive down the west coast of America, starting in Seattle and ending in Austin Texas. The (rough) plan is to start in Seattle and down the coast through: Yellowstone (a bit of a deviation- still thinking about this one), then to San Fransisco, Las Vegas, Las Angeles and then hit Route 66 to pass through the Grand Canyon, through New Mexico and down south to Austin in Texas. Any input regarding this route would be greatly appreciated - especially the following questions:
    1) what is the best time of the year to do this route, preferably warm to hot - we were thinking September?
    2) how long would you estimate this trip will take to get the most out of it - considering we will want to stay at the above mentioned locations for at least 2-3 days each?
    3) Should we book accommodation before we leave or will it be ok to wing it depending on how the driving goes?
    4) What places/ things would you recommend we see along this route?
    5) what would the recommended budget be for a trip like this?
    Phew, quite a post.. and quite a trip. Would REALLY appreciate any input as South AFrica is quite a far way away!! Thank you!

  2. Default

    I'll have a go at some of the questions but I can't answer them all. They're good questions though and I'm sure the experts here will be able to give you some good responses.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sydni View Post
    Yellowstone (a bit of a deviation- still thinking about this one)
    Do you mean Yellowstone or Yosemite (they are often confused). Yellowstone (in Wyoming) would be a gigantic diversion (but it's a great place). Yosemite (in California) would only be a minor diversion (and it's also a wonderful place).
    Route 66 to pass through the Grand Canyon
    I-40 (which replaced that part of US66) doesn't actually pass through the Grand Canyon, it's about 60 miles to the south of it.
    what is the best time of the year to do this route, preferably warm to hot - we were thinking September?
    That should be a good time, and you'd be following the autumn (fall) southwards which is a good plan.
    how long would you estimate this trip will take to get the most out of it
    I'd suggest putting the places into Google Maps, plus intermediate points for additional overnight stops if required based on desired daily mileages, then have a go at making a tentative day-by-day list (eg Day 1 Drive to XXX, Day 2 View XXX, etc). I'm not suggesting that you stick to that plan rigidly, but it will give you a good idea. I fear that you may be alarmed by how far apart some of these places are, in which case you might need to rethink things a bit.
    Should we book accommodation before we leave or will it be ok to wing it depending on how the driving goes?
    If you plan to stay inside national parks, or in towns closely adjacent to them, pre-booking would be wise even though it would destroy your flexibility, but on the other hand there's less pressure on accommodation in September than in the height of summer. Personally, I'd stay a bit further away from parks and not pre-book anything other than the first night before starting the holiday. During the holiday you can pre-book on a day-to-day basis using the phone or the internet and doing that for popular places over weekends would be wise. But other people have differing views on this question and what works for one person might not suit another. It also depends what time you intend to arrive at a place - arriving in the middle of the afternoon wouldn't need pre-booking whereas arriving late in the evening probably would.

    BTW it will be a fantastic trip!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    The (rough) plan is to start in Seattle and down the coast through: Yellowstone (a bit of a deviation- still thinking about this one), then to San Fransisco, Las Vegas, Las Angeles and then hit Route 66 to pass through the Grand Canyon, through New Mexico and down south to Austin in Texas. Any input regarding this route would be greatly appreciated
    The order that would work without a lot of backtracking:

    Seattle
    Yellowstone (if that's what you really mean; it's a long way off the coast!)
    San Francisco
    Yosemite (if you meant that instead; as John pointed out, they're often confused)
    Los Angeles
    Las Vegas
    Grand Canyon (which is 60 miles north of I-40)
    New Mexico
    Austin, TX

    To pre-book or not to pre-book:

    Weekends in a touristy area - pre-book
    Any area on Labor Day weekend (first weekend in Sept) - pre-book
    National Park hotel - pre-book
    Weekdays in September along the road - don't pre-book

    This is the rule of thumb we use, unless we see a really inexpensive rate online.

    As far as how long to allow for the trip: Not including Yellowstone, you're looking at 3000 miles of driving NOT diverting back to the coast between Yosemite and Los Angeles, 3300 if you are going back to continue the coastal drive between Monterey and LA. Looking at your stops, I see at least 10 days of driving there, PLUS add the time you need to actually see the places -- at least a day in SF, one in Yosemite, two to make the drive down the coast and stop places, however many days you want to spend in LA, LV and the Grand Canyon. I'd say a minimum of 3 weeks if this were me, but it's your trip and only you can decide how to divide this all up.

    Donna

  4. #4

    Default

    A little curious why you would like to go to New Mexico and Texas? These are a long ways from the West Coast. Have you considered maybe spending time in Utah? There are several beautiful National Parks located in that state. From there you could travel south to the Grand Canyon. Where are you planning to leave the US to travel home. As far as cost, that's a hard one to answer. Car rental + insurance, fuel, lodging, food, souvenirs, park fees. Rough guess would be $1000.00-$1,500 US per week. I always plan on the high side.

  5. Default

    Thank you so much for everyone's input.. it helps me so much!
    I think it will be better to travel through Yosemite instead of Yellowstone (too much of a deviation)..

    Joe, I know it's a bit out of the way but it's been a dream of mine to go to Texas and have heard so many wonderful things about Austin. Coming from so far, I would like to get as much as I can in as I don't know when I'll be travelling to the USA again. We would like to end our trip off in New York for a few days so we'll fly from Austin to New York and home again. Well, that's the plan.. Would you recommend Austin over Dallas?

    Any recommendations on places that are a MUST-SEE along this entire route i.e. death valley, Lake Havasu etc?

    Once again, thank you all for taking your valuable time to help me out,...
    Last edited by Sydni; 05-27-2014 at 07:04 AM. Reason: add a line

  6. #6

    Default

    I've only flown in and out Houston. So I don't know about Austin vs. Dallas, but I do believe Dallas is more of a major hub than Austin. I believe the optimum time for Death Valley is in the spring when the desert flowers and cacti are blooming, but still worth a visit anytime. Never been to Havasu, so cannot comment on it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default not for the flowers...

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe46 View Post
    I believe the optimum time for Death Valley is in the spring when the desert flowers and cacti are blooming,.
    It is still a rare and wonderful thing to find flowers blooming in Death Valley -- Most years there are few flowers able to bloom. Flower blooming is a rarity -- but the reason most people travel in Death Valley is to see the exposed geology, the scenic views and the historical artifacts left from the miners and explorers who lived in the region. Here are some photos of the historic bloom of 2005!

    The most popular time to be in Death Valley is December and January -- because it's much favorable for hiking -- but all of the motels are also full to the brim in the summer months. Northern Europeans, in particular, like to come to Death Valley in August for the warmth and the sun! Actually a lot of people go to Furnace Creek for the novelty of golfing when the air temperatures are 115+ degrees F.

    Mark

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Had you considered a loop?

    If you are willing to drop Yellowstone for Yosemite, why would you still start in Seattle? With your list and all there is in Utah and Colorado, have you thought to perhaps fly into LA, SF or LV? You could even plan on a loop trip from any of these and take a return flight to NYC. I think in the long run, both your car rental and your air fares are likely to be less. As well, you will see the best of what nature has to offer, in the USA.

    Lifey

  9. Default Best time to travel the West Coast?

    Hello. My partner and I want to plan a trip form Austin, Texas up to Seattle via the West Coast next year, in 2015. We would like to travel when it is warm to hot, but not during the August holidays. We were thinking June/July but have been told this is a bad time because of the mist/fog in areas such as San Francisco etc. Would September be a better time? Or is it starting to get a bit colder already? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank You!

    Moderator Note: Please keep all questions about this trip in the same thread
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 08-12-2014 at 04:46 AM. Reason: Merged Threads

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