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  1. Default Denver to Heavenly Mountain Resort, via San Diego, LA and San Francisco

    Hi everyone,

    I am planning an intensive 15 days road trip with my girlfriend that includes both skiing and beaches.
    The idea of the trip is to start from Denver and then:
    - Day 1-3 stop at Vail Ski Resort from Friday to Sunday for skiing (no stops between Denver and the resort)
    - on Sunday after tracks close drive 6 hours to Salina and overnight there (stop for fuel only)
    - Day 4 depart from Salina at 10pm the next day to Death Valley (8 hours with stops)
    - overnight at Death Valley (is it worth overnighting there? anything nearby, knowing that we will arrive almost at sunset and will spend the night there?)
    - Day 5 continue to San Diego with a visit to Sequoia National forest and Mohave desert
    - Day 5, 6, 7 stay at San Diego
    - Day 8 early morning drive for LA and overnight there
    - Day 9 LA
    - Day 10 early in the morning drive the whole day to San Francisco (is it worth while driving along the coast through Santa Barbara and Monteray or that is a waste of time and it is better to go directly to SF, saving almost 4 hours?)
    - Day 11, 12, 13 explore SF and in the afternoon head for the Heavenly via Sacremento
    - Day 14, 15 stay at Heavenly
    - Day 16 in the morning leave the car at the SF airport and fly back to Denver

    Can you please tell me if this is a realistic plan and if I maybe missed something or could ommit something?

    Thank you,
    Gile

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default 'Worth it' is very much a personal decision.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip forum.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gile View Post
    - Day 4 depart from Salina at 10pm the next day to Death Valley (8 hours with stops)
    - overnight at Death Valley (is it worth overnighting there? anything nearby, knowing that we will arrive almost at sunset and will spend the night there?)
    I hope that is a typo, and you mean 10am. Death Valley is definitely worth spending a night, as far as I am concerned. With its remoteness from artificial lighting, you will be surprised how bright the night sky is. It is amazing how many stars one can see, and the brilliance of the Milky Way.

    - Day 10 early in the morning drive the whole day to San Francisco (is it worth while driving along the coast through Santa Barbara and Monteray or that is a waste of time and it is better to go directly to SF, saving almost 4 hours?)
    The spectacular Pacific Coast Highway is on most folks bucket list - one of these drive which is regarded as 'worth it'. However, if you are taking your travel times from a computer mapping program, be aware that those times are pure fantasy and do not relate at all to the real world. The drive on the PCH from LA to SF is a two day drive with much to see, many scenic view points and some stunning State parks along the way - even without Hearst Castle and the Monterey Aquarium..

    Lifey

  3. Default

    Yes, 10pm is a typo. :-) Thanks Lifey.

    I was relying on Google to provide the times, true that.
    If the PCH is a 2 days ride, that complicates a little bit. I assume I could trim down the LA or the San Diego time by one day to see the coast.
    Or you thing there are other places in my itinerary you could cut down from?

    By the way, what would be a good place for an overnight stay along the PCH?

    Thank you.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default That's something you will have to do.

    It is hard to trim any time from another's trip, as my interests are likely to be very different from yours. For one thing I would prefer not to spend any time in cities, after a while they all start to look the same. But you might have specific interests which take you into the cities.

    Popular half way points along the PCH are Morro Bay, Cambria and San Simeon.

    Anywhere where you have used the computer to get travelling time, add at least 20% or count on covering 55 miles every hour. That includes fuel, food and other essential stops.

    Lifey

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    I see a few potential trouble spots on your plan, in addition to what Lifey mentioned. The 55 mph average she mentioned only covers time on the freeways, btw - two lane roads will be much slower (The CA coast will likely see you average around 30, which is why it's a 2 day trip)

    Quote Originally Posted by Gile View Post
    - on Sunday after tracks close drive 6 hours to Salina and overnight there (stop for fuel only)
    350 Miles is a long way to drive after a full day on the slopes. Based on your plan, you wouldn't get on the road until at least 4 or 5 o'clock (especially when you factor time to put away your ski gear, pack up for the road, etc.) That means you'll be pushing midnight by the time you'd get to Salina - and the last 100 miles of that trip is really without services, so if you are exhausted and need to get off the road, you won't have anywhere to stop.

    - Day 5 continue to San Diego with a visit to Sequoia National forest and Mohave desert
    I'm not sure exactly what you're thinking with the Sequoia National Forest, but I will tell you that you're not going to be able to get to see any of the Giant Trees on this schedule. There are few Sequoia Groves outside of the National Park, but even those would be a large detour from the route to San Diego - and would take you far away from the Mohave.

    Really, I think it's optimistic that you'll get to DV before sundown the day before anyway, so if you want to actually see any of DV, I think you really just have to look at spending the morning in the park, and then spend the afternoon driving straight to SD.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    on Sunday after tracks close drive 6 hours to Salina and overnight there (stop for fuel only)
    I know this route very, very well, as we've traveled I-70 between Utah and Missouri a LOT for the past 35 years. By driving this route mostly after dark, you will miss some of the best scenery to be found on an interstate highway in the US. Between Denver and Grand Junction are beautiful mountain vistas. Between Grand Junction and Salina is the San Rafael Swell, very rugged mountains and rocky valleys.

    And, as has been mentioned, there are NO services for 108 miles between Green River and Salina, UT. If you still insist on doing this 8 hour drive (not 6) after dark, fuel up at Grand Junction, since Green River is pretty expensive and you may only have a fuel station or two that is actually open there.


    Donna

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    They're not the Giant ones that are found in Sequoia National Park, but they *are* pretty decent redwoods trees all along the coast. Hopefully this map will help you find some parks along your coastal route.

    redwoodstateparks.jpg



    Donna

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Photos of eastern Utah on the I-70

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    By driving this route mostly after dark, you will miss some of the best scenery to be found on an interstate highway in the US. Between Denver and Grand Junction are beautiful mountain vistas.
    Actually, that stretch of I-70 is my MOST FAVORITE Interstate Highway road in the country. I've driven it in all kinds of weather. By the way, sometimes snow closes that road for brief periods of time -- which will impact your progress!

    Now for some photos -- Here are two field reports for the section of I-70 that goes through the San Rafael Swell:

    Cove Fort to Green River

    Off-road in the Swell

    Mark

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