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  1. Default Newbie- West Coast NP Expereience

    I'm traveling across the US, and on the west coast I really (really!) want to do some real camping and hiking. I figured there is no better place for that then national parks. I admire nature and think the views on the west coast are something I need to see in my life.
    I'm gonna be in SF on september 25th. I think I'm gonna spend couple of days in the city (first time in the west coast..) and after that go out to the adventure.
    I thought about starting easy, going to Point Reyes Natinal seashore, it is very close and seems pretty easy task to camp there. Following that- the Big Sur. I understood the way there (road 1) is beautiful, and camping is not such a difficult thing logistically (PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong).
    The thing is, I want to know what is the best route to do in order to see the following:
    Sequoia&Kings canyon NP
    Yosemite NP
    Glacier NP
    Yellowstone NP
    Grand Canyon NP

    and maybe, if you guys think it's possible:
    Lake Tahoe
    Crater Lake
    Rocky Mountains
    Beautiful overview of Mount Hood (Oregon) that you recommend of (Lake/river can be nice)
    Joshua Tree NP

    The things I wish I knew, and ask you guys to think of are:
    Weather (rain mostly) [I figured starting my northern destinations and going south, what do you say?]
    Easy to camp (if i need to make reservations ahead on that time a year, please let me know whats the best thing to do about it)
    How Incredible and different from anything else a place is (seriously)
    How I prepare myself- Gas, Food, Water, Clothes, Camping gear
    If I won't have a car- What is possible to do? and how?
    Anything else you know from your experience.

    I will probably do it with 2 more friends, but theres a chance I'll do it alone, so if you can note the different preparations we need to do for 3 people or if I'm gonna be alone.

    I know it's alot, I know it seems like I have no clue, but it's my biggest dream to do that, and I hope you guys can help make it happen.


    I'm gonna do it by myself.
    The dates are Very late September/Very early October- November 20th
    What places do you think I can do and what are much harder due to season?
    If you can suggest a route, it will be a great help.
    Last edited by RoiM; 09-10-2015 at 05:38 PM.

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

    Default basic starting points

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you really need to figure out the logistics of your trip, and fast - assuming that the trip is this year.

    I'll say if you won't have a car, this trip is pretty much dead in the water. There is very little in the way of public transit option to the National Parks, especially considering that you're looking at a parks that are thousands of miles apart, and in the off-season.

    It's also concerning that you don't know who is going yet on a trip that would only be a couple weeks from now. There aren't huge differences in planning a trip for 1 vs. a trip for 3, but planning a trip for yourself and then having other people join you rarely works out well. When planning, you should be thinking about what each person in the group would want, and you can't really do that if you don't even know who is going.

    I'll also say that weather is actually a pretty major concern for your trip - but rain has very little to do with it. In high-elevation parks like Glacier and Yellowstone, the parks are going into Winter mode by late september. Many of those parks services will be closed or closing for the season, and it will be snow and cold that will be your major concern - not rain. (Glacier has already seen some snow this year!) If you're going to these places, I'd recommend you head there pretty much immediately, as you'll need a couple days of driving to get there from San Francisco.

    Speaking of cold, do you have any camping gear and/or where are you planning to obtain it? You're going to need some 4 season/cold weather gear to be safe and comfortable.

    You also never said how much time you have for this trip. The west is a huge place, and you're looking at a lot of driving to get to the places you've listed so far, and of course, in a transition season like the fall, some things you can do in september are no longer an option come October.

  3. Default

    Thank you for the quick reply!
    Ok, so lets sort things straight:
    It will be just me.

    If you say some places are going to be closed due to bad weather (snow is not an option for camping for me unfortunately, I don't have the gear for that), I won't do them. This is one of the reasons I put this post on, to figure that kind of stuff now.

    Let's say the trip will be from Very late september/the very beginning of October. What places that I listed will have fine weather to be at?

    I have until November 20th (it can be shorter, but that's how long I've got for it), I think it's more then enough, but you tell me. I'd like to spend couple of days at each place, not to rush anywhere. November is already winter, this is why I thought to "finish" with the cold places first, so I can go to the warm places later ahead.
    The thing is, I NEED A ROUTE.. That's something I really need help with.

    Gear- I have a regular sleeping bag (I know it's not idle), and haven't got a tent yet. If you have any recommendations about a tent, it will be very helpful.
    Clothes- I have short clothes but I don't think I have the clothes I need for cold weather, if you can suggest on that subject.
    I have a great 75+10 Backpack that I trust and it has raincover. and I got hiking shoes I can rely on.
    Any more gear I need to think about?

    Thank you so much, I know it takes time to help, I really appreciate it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default The alternatives.

    If you are travelling on your own, your best bet probably would be to choose Hostel accommodation. If you do not have a vehicle to take you around, and I know there is little if any public transport, you will find that most hostels run very affordable tours to the great attractions in their region.

    I would check out hostels in SF for Yosemite and attractions around there. Yosemite Bug in Pines is another. Flagstaff hostels run tours to Grand Canyon, Monument Valley etc., and Moab hostels run tours to the great attractions in that area. I know there are many more hostels in the areas you wish to visit. Most run day tours, but some run longer tours for campers and hikers.

    As well, you will often meet folk at hostels who are looking for companions on their planned trips. Many post these requirements on the hostel notice board.

    Once you contact the hostel be sure to make all these enquiries...... though I fear, you could be too late in the season for some of the above.


  5. #5


    Many of the National Parks, or their campgrounds, in the Rocky Mountains and high elevation areas (e.g., high mesas/6000 ft+) are closed beginning in mid-September -- many also average overnight freezing and below temps by Oct 1st.

    Many of the California state park campgrounds are closed due to water shortages. Check the status before you show up to their entrance gate!

    Also, given your timing, there is a good chance that the Federal government will be shut down for some periods of time during October and/or November, so you need to monitor that situation as well. That means the national parks, monuments and recreation areas won't be available to tour or for camping. Many times a nearby state park will offer camping options.

    Car rental can be expensive but you really need wheels. Forty years ago I was able to hitchhike around and it was great... the times have changed!

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