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  1. Default First Road Trip ever help needed

    Hi there,

    My Partner and myself are looking at doing a road trip next year. he wants LV, SF, LA and I want to go to Nevada City
    We have three weeks and are looking at the Fall.

    After looking at some of the threads on here, my idea is Fly into Las Vegas, Drive up to Nevada City, across to San Francisco and then down to Los Angeles and back across to Vegas.

    If we start in LV and drive up to NC we will need to stop somewhere on route for the night as don't want to do over 500 miles in one day. I want to visit real American towns and citys (I watch too many tv movies filmed in these places) and I am looking for ideas of where to make a stop off, Looking at the places along the route, we go through Tonopah and Hawthorn. From what I can see there is nothing in Tonopah and Hawthorn is too busy and built up.

    This is just the planning stage at the moment so any advice would be greatly received. If maybe anyone thinks the Itinerary of the route is wrong then please let me know.

    I would love to go to North/South Carolina as well which would mean an internal flight. Is it worth trying to fit all this into the 3 weeks or leave til a later date

    can I also add we want to see how cheap we can get this so it will be motels along the way and also if its cheaper flying into somewhere else

    Thank you in anticipation,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    What is drawing you to Nevada City? It's not a place that most people list as a priority stop.

    I also notice that in your planning, you don't mention anything about the natural wonders that you can only find in the America West. Is your only priority cities?

    Between Vegas and Nevada City, you've got Death Valley, Yosemite, and Lake Tahoe as possibilities of places you could see, and those also end up as places you could look to stay. There are also several towns on US-395 with plenty of overnight options. Even if you're only interested in cities, then Reno would seem to make a lot more sense then either of the towns you mentioned.

    Certainly, you would have no problem filling up 3 weeks just sticking to California - there are also lots of amazing places just to the east of Vegas (Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Zion National Park, etc) that you might also enjoy and use in that time. However, if seeing the Carolinas is a priority, and all you really want to do out west is see LV, SF, and LA, then you could certainly just spend 2 weeks out west and fly back east for the final week.

  3. Default

    ok well first of all thank you for replying so quickly, ha Nevada city, as I said I think I watch too many tv movies and one of my favorites was set in Nevada city and have always said I want to visit there. The big cities are my partners choices so I have looked at the map and set those places out , whatever we can do in between those cities will be for me, certainly the national parks and Lake Tahoe would be great if we could fit those in, I have no clue at all but I do want to go off the beaten track to the small towns

  4. Default

    Right ok, yes you are right, we are taking in none of the real sights. Maybe I am a complete amateur and don't know what I am doing but I have tracked the first leg of our route from Vegas to Nevada city
    If I start on the 95 and drive up as far as Beatty then take the 374 as far as the 190 and then onto Owens Lake. I will then pick up the 136 to Lone Pine and then the 395 to Big Pine. onto the 168 to Bishop and then back on the 395 as far as Topaz. onto the 89 to Truckee then take the 80 (Alan S Hart Fway) and then finally onto the 20 straight into Nevada city.
    Do I know what I am doing or should I get further advice from an expert.

    This route will take me through National Parks etc so I am not just going from one city to another.

    Am I on the right track ?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    You're doing better, and believe me, Michael is one of our best gurus when it comes to his suggestions! Anyone who has "moderator" in his title, on this website forum, has many, many thousands of miles under his/her belt and can be considered an expert. As a matter of fact, I consider them better experts at road travel than most everyone at our local AAA office!

    I, too, was puzzled at the "Nevada City" reference, until you mentioned movies. Are you sure it isn't Virginia City you were thinking of? The movie "Nevada City" was actually filmed up in Santa Clarita, CA (north of LA) back in the 1940s. Anyway, Virginia City is closer to Reno.

    From Las Vegas, there's a "locally known" road from LV into Death Valley NP, which one of the others will detail. Taking US-395, you are on the eastern side of the Sierras. Beautiful drive, but there's no access to Sequoia or Kings Canyon from that side. Going into Yosemite would be through CA-120 over the Tioga Pass. Depending on when you are traveling, it could still be open.

    Another slight detour, which we took one time, was CA-168 into the White Mountains. Turn east at Big Pine. It's a very scenic road, and gets you to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, the oldest living trees in the US. Even in the summer, it was very cool up there since you are at 10,000 ft elevation!

    Lake Tahoe is beautiful. At Truckee, near Lake Tahoe, is an interesting place called Donner Memorial State Park. It was the site of a stranded emigrant party who reportedly resorted to cannibalism while stuck there one winter.


  6. Default

    Oh Donna thank brilliant, yes ha sad I know, its a film called The Christmas Card and I watch it all year round, the scenery is beautiful and there is a bridge over a river with a little viewing platform, I am so excited to go and see that and its not really out of the way (much) and as I say I am not that bothered about the big cities but as I am the designated driver I am having all the inbetweeny stuff. will have a little look at the map and see the route you mention. At least if I can get the first stage of our trip planned I will have more confidence in what we are doing and not cave and book a cruise :-(

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Oh, yes, I've seen that film (on Hallmark Channel, probably)! Checking the stats on that movie, it was indeed filmed partly in Nevada City, but also in LA.

    Don't book a cruise. :-) With a road trip, you are still able to decide where to go. On a ship, that's up to the Captain and the company he works for, and your only choice is to go or not to go!


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Maps?

    Are you actually working with good paper maps. You're not going to see all of your possibilities on a little screen. Good maps are available at AAA or get a road atlas at any big box store. Great investments.

    It is more than a decade ago I was in Nevada City, and whereas I have not heard of that movie, it was a pleasant little place.

    After SF, be sure your trip takes in the Pacific Coast Highway through Monterey (another lovely place) and along Big Sur. A drive not to be missed, even though it is slow going for most of it. Allow two days to get from SF to LA via the PCH.

    Most of these routes will take you through small town America, if you get off the interstates which mostly bypass the small towns. Bishop is a lovely place on 395.


  9. Default

    Thanks Donna, will have to have a proper look, ha no I was just being a brat saying I would book a cruise, definitely next year is a road trip. will have to make sure I know what I am looking for esp if we are going to LA as well.
    Lifey, at the moment I am only using google maps online but will invest in a decent one and was looking last night that yes the road goes right down through Monterey so will sort that out, I am making little notes, also I was looking on another website re planning ahead or not, I was looking at booking everything beforehand but then its not very spontaneous is it, as long as we have our flights there and back and a brief idea of timing, is it safe to leave booking motel until the day ?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Booking vs Winging it.

    There are two thoughts on booking or not. If you are the sort of person who feels more comfortable with having everything in place, then that's your mode of travel. However, near major national parks and around any holiday time, I would definitely recommend booking. It also pays to check the web when thinking about a certain town you are thinking of stopping, to check if there is by any chance some big function on at that time. I mean a BIG event. I once got to a place, and there was not a bed to be had. One motel offered to call the next town to see what was available.

    Which month is this trip taking place?

    On the other hand, many of us rarely, if ever book anything, other than the above exceptions. Preferring to be spontaneous and changing plans on the wing. Both modes are legitimate, just depends on the individual, and what it is that makes them more comfortable.

    But you've gotta get out and get good maps. Google only gives you little screen, you need the BIG picture and all the detail it gives you.


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