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  1. Default First Road Trip - Seattle to Las Vegas

    Hello All,

    My husband and I are just starting to plan our very first road trip and I wanted to see how do-able our plan actually is. We are planning to fly out of D.C. into Seattle on Friday, June 3rd and fly out of Las Vegas on Saturday, June 11th...renting a car to drive thru Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, a bit of Utah. He really wants to experience coastal Cali while I would love to explore the National Parks along the way. The things we would love to see are below.

    - Pike Place Market
    - Mount Rainier
    - Crater Lake
    - Redwoods National Park
    - Avenue of the Giants
    - Big Sur
    - Santa Monica Pier
    - Grand Canyon
    - Zion National Park

    Are we being too ambitious? If so, do you have any recommendations of how to best cut the trip short, what are the recommended stops?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. We are feeling a bit clueless. This will be our first time exploring the west coast and there is just too much that we want to see and not enough time to do it. :)

    Thank you!!
    Last edited by MSutton13; 04-10-2016 at 11:35 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    My initial thought is that yes, you're trying to do too much. Think of it this way, you've got about 7 days available, you've listed 9 things you want to see - many of which really are stops where you should be planning to spend a full day - and then you've got several days worth of driving to factor in as well.

    If I was going to cut something out, I think the Grand Canyon and Zion would be the obvious choices, as they are the most removed from anything else you want to see and do and would work better as part of a different trip in the future.

    I find the easiest way to tell if you have too much on your plate is to sketch out a day by day itinerary. You certainly don't have to stick to it, but it should tell you pretty quickly if you're trying to do too much too fast.

    I will also add, have you actually purchased plane tickets or looked at rental car costs? Doing a one way trip will generally add a lot of money to your costs, especially for a car rental. With just a week available, you may be better off focusing your time on a loop of just on one smaller area, like only the Pacific Northwest, Northern California, or the SF-LA-Vegas areas.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default A bit much for fun.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Your plan is doable on paper but in reality it is going to be hard pushed to get around and be able to enjoy the places you visit. That's around 5 days of driving with the slower coastal and NP roads and with only 7 days available considering you may want to be in Vegas by the 10th, it's not a good balance. What I would consider doing is head as far south as San Fran and then cut inland to Yosemite NP [a real gem of a place] and then head across the mountains on Tioga Pass [CA120] to US395 and then across Death valley to Las Vegas.

    Another option would be to think of this as part one of a two part trip and fly in and out of Seattle, or Las Vegas and create a loop trip and leave the other one for another day. That would also get rid of those pesky one way rental fee's on your car rental.

  4. Default

    Thank you so much for your input. I have not booked any flights or rentals yet and now that I have compared the prices to a loop route of a smaller area I see the huge price difference. I will re-plan with a route that begins and ends in Vegas.

  5. Default

    I have updated my trip to the following itinerary. My only concern is that we are not spending enough time in Zion. Should we just skip it and spend more time at GC or in Vegas? Also, I don't have a huge desire to stop at Joshua Tree NP, but I'm not sure what else is sight worthy between Santa Barbara and GC. And of course any other insights or advice would be appreciated. Thank you all so much!

    Friday, June 3rd
    • AM: Leave Vegas and drive to Death Valley
    • Arrive in Death Valley NP
    • Spend Night 1 here
    Saturday, June 4rd
    • AM: Leave Death Valley & drive to Yosemite NP
    • NOON: Arrive in Yosemite
    • Spend Night 2 here
    Sunday, June 5th
    • Day 2 in Yosemite
    • Spend Night 3 here
    Monday, June 6th
    • AM – Leave Yosemite & drive to Big Sur
    • Spend Night 4 here
    Tuesday, June 7th
    • AM – Leave Big Sur & drive to Santa Barbara via PCH
    • Arrive in Santa Barbara
    • Stay Night 5 here
    Wednesday, June 8th
    • NOON: Leave Santa Barbara & drive to Joshua Tree NP
    • Arrive at Joshua Tree NP
    • Stay Night 6 here
    Thursday, June 9th
    • AM: Leave Joshua Tree NP & drive to Grand Canyon
    • NOON: Arrive at South Rim of GC
    • Stay Night 7 here
    Friday, June 10th
    • AM: Leave GC & drive to Antelope Canyon
    • Arrive at Antelope Canyon for guided tour
    • Leave Antelope Canyon & drive to Horseshoe Bend
    • Leave & drive to Zion NP
    • Arrive at Zion NP
    • Stay Night 8 here
    Saturday, June 11th
    • Explore Zion NP
    • LATE AFTERNOON: Leave Zion & drive to Vegas
    • 11:30pm – Flight home

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default

    You have a nice plan coming together. With DV being so close to Vegas and the fact that it will be starting to 'warm up' in June [hot] you could consider staying out the other side of the park and a bit closer to Yosemite. The thing you will have to keep an eye on is whether or not the Tioga Pass [CA120] is open for the season after winter snow accumulation. There is a good chance it will be, but it's not a certainty by any means and if it isn't open it would mean you have to drive south around the mountains via Bakersfield.

    If you don't mind a long day on the road you could get from Santa Barbara to Williams the same day if you skip Joshua Tree NP and then it's only a little over an hour to the south rim. That would give you that bit of extra time from the GC onwards as travelling to Zion from there and taking an Antelope canyon tour and then having to get into Vegas for a flight would be a bit of a rush.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    If you want to avoid the majority of the LA traffic, take CA-126 out of Ventura to I-5, go south about 2 miles, take Magic Mountain Parkway east into Santa Clarita. Go about 2 miles and turn left on Valencia Boulevard. This becomes Soledad Canyon Road, take that to CA-14. Get off at Sierra Highway, this becomes Pearblossom Highway, bear right on CA-138. Continue onto CA-18 to Victorville and get on I-15 to Barstow and I-40.

    If you want to go to Joshua Tree, get off I-15 onto CA-18 about 3 miles after you get on, take that to CA-247 to CA-62. Take that east to one of the park entrances. The only lodging close to the park is in Yucca Valley and 29 Palms.

    To get to I-40 from 29 Palms, take Utah Trail north from CA-62 about 2 miles, turn right on Amboy Road, it ends at old 66 in Amboy, turn right and it will take you to I-40.

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    You have a nice plan coming together. With DV being so close to Vegas and the fact that it will be starting to 'warm up' in June [hot] you could consider staying out the other side of the park and a bit closer to Yosemite.
    Thank you, Dave! Do you think it would make more sense to just drive through Death Valley and see Sequoia NP instead? I'm thinking it might be in our best interest to see something different as we will have explored the desert quite a bit by then. But it seems like Sequoia is also such a side trip bc we would have to drive through Bakersfield...I'm torn.

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    If you don't mind a long day on the road you could get from Santa Barbara to Williams the same day if you skip Joshua Tree NP and then it's only a little over an hour to the south rim. That would give you that bit of extra time from the GC onwards as travelling to Zion from there and taking an Antelope canyon tour and then having to get into Vegas for a flight would be a bit of a rush.
    Good suggestion. I think we are going to plan on powering through and driving from the Grand Canyon to Santa Barbara in one day. Is that crazy? Also, my husband is now saying that he would prefer the route to go in the opposite direction. Starting with Zion and the Grand Canyon and ending with a drive through Death Valley? Any recommendations on what would be a better route?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
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    Default

    The Death valley landscape is quite remarkable and for me, you can't get too much. As I mentioned, if Tioga Pass is closed you would have to go the long way round vis Bakersfield which would mean Sequoia is not much of a detour. However I think there is a good chance it will be open and it's such a wonderful drive I would head that way given the opportunity. In theory, going the other way around would give even more chance of Tioga Pass being open. The advantage of travelling as you are is that travelling south down the coast will put the Ocean and it's scenic viewpoints on your side of the road.

    Travelling from SB to GC isn't in the 'crazy territory' but it will be a long day on the road and you will need to get an early start.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 04-12-2016 at 09:11 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    In many cases, we recommend going the way you had planned, because it puts you on the ocean side of the road while coming down the coast.

    However, because of the timing of your trip, I do think reversing things would make more sense. That means you'll get to Yosemite later, and thus have a higher chance of the pass being open.

    Going to Sequoia instead of Yosemite wouldn't really help you at all. There is no direct route from DV to Sequoia, so it really doesn't save you any miles. It's pretty much the same distance from Bakersfield to SF via Sequoia as it is via Yosemite.

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