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  1. Default 3-week trip through WA, OR, CA

    We're a couple from Europe in our mid-twenties planning a west coast trip. This would occur during the last week of August and first two of September, flying in to Seattle, renting a car for the trip and flying out of Los Angeles.

    We want to both enjoy the landscape and get to know the the west coast beyond major cities. The current plan is this and is also detailed below. I would like to have your opinion on it, as well as your help on some doubts, such as:

    - Is time allocated to each place enough?
    - Should we skip anything in the current plan (e.g.: I've read some bad reviews on San Francisco)?
    - When I put Santa Barbara, I meant somewhere in that region (close to LA), where I can camp (preferably cheap) and go to the beach. I've heard about Carpinteria, but there are so many bad reviews on space/management/price that I'd rather look for something else (Pismo Beach?).
    - What else should I consider doing/visiting?

    Regarding accommodation, we would be splitting things between AirBnB/Motel/Hotel in cities and waypoints (e.g.: Fort Bragg) and camping in NPs. With respect to food, we'll probably eat out of the cooler in NPs, but we really want to try local diners in the way (we're big fans of DDD!) - we welcome recommendations. We're also big craft beer fans and well, we'll pass through so many places with so many breweries that we will not have time to visit/try everything - again, we welcome recommendations.

    I've also been reading posts/blogs from foreigners, which usually include tips and advices of things that are different (e.g.: while driving) and to which we should pay attention, so if you have any, please do not hesitate.


    Morning Day Night
    1 Fly in Seattle
    2 Seattle
    3 Seattle Olympic NP
    4 Olympic NP
    5 Olympic NP via Astoria, Cannon Beach Portland
    6 Portland
    7 Portland via Newport, Florence Toketee Falls/Bend
    8 Toketee Falls/Bend Crater Lake
    9 Crater Lake
    10 Crater Lake Redwood NP Fort Bragg
    11 Fort Bragg San Francisco
    12 San Francisco Lake Tahoe
    13 Lake Tahoe
    14 Lake Tahoe Yosemite
    15 Yosemite
    16 Yosemite via Monterey, Big Sur Santa Barbara
    17 Santa Barbara
    18 Santa Barbara
    19 Santa Barbara Disneyland Los Angeles
    20 Los Angeles
    21 Los Angeles
    22 Fly out

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Firstly, have you considered doing a loop trip ?

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You have obviously done your research and have basically come up with a good plan. The first thing that sprung to mind was whether or not you have looked at the benefits of doing a loop trip ?Those are that you could choose the cheapest city to fly in and out of, which is often LA from Europe, and you would not have the extra one way rental fee which can be quite a lot when dropping a car a long way from where it is picked up. Another benefit is that you could see both, more of the coast and more inland features. The likes of Lassen Nat Volcanic park, the Columbia river Gorge and Mt Rainier are just a few examples. Of course the downside [perhaps] is you would have to cover more miles, but over 3 weeks it would not be significant when you consider the times you are zig-zagging between the coast and inland.

    Personally I like San Francisco and I not a City person. Like all city's there are bad neighbourhoods but in the City, China town, Fishermans Wharf it's lovely and to top it off you can take a boat trip to Alcatraz.

  3. Default

    Hi Southwest Dave! Thank you, the current plan is the result of endless iterations and alternative plans over the last month.

    With respect to a loop trip, we did actually consider it - it's our second plan (roadtrippers + excel sheet and all). We did shy away from it a bit (mostly my SO), since it would add ~13 hours. This is the main reason, since the plane tickets cost approximately the same as Seattle and car rental is one nightmare that I don't want to bother you with (either I pay young drivers fee or one-way fee).

    My question is then, would the extra miles/hours be manageable? You seem to believe it is. If so, then my second question is whether we would have enough time to visit/stay at the new places you mentioned. It seem we would need to cut on other places.

    Once again, thank you!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default It's possible, but may not work for you.

    There are many variables as we all travel differently, but yes I think you could stop along the way and enjoy other places, although you might have to juggle your timing a little bit. It's certainly possible but you may want a slower pace. You could look at those 13 hours you refer to as just 40 minutes a day extra travel time. To give you some insight, we took a trip from LA to Olympic NP and back in an RV over 16 days, you have 5 more to 'play with'. We didn't see Yosemite this time around, but it would be easy to spend a couple of days there on route to Lake Tahoe although we didn't spend multiple days in one place.

    If you would like to, take a look here at our trip report.

  5. Default

    I think the 13 hours <-> 40 minutes a day is not the correct way to see it, since there are days with no driving. Anyhow, I've reviewed the "loop" plan and it seems feasible. It just creates three days where driving time is ~8 hours each, but split between 2 should be more or less ok.

    BTW, I loved your report - it seems that with each new report I read, the more I want to go!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Your report.

    Having enjoyed Dave's report, you no doubt realise how valuable these reports are to new roadtrippers.

    I look forward to reading your report, in due course.


  7. Default

    After thinking, discussing and reviewing with my SO, we are now leaning towards the "loop" trip. Given that it changes the route and times spent at each place a bit, I would ask you for some feedback, mainly on whether we are under-estimating driving times in some days, as well as if we're giving too much or too little time to each place (e.g.: how much time to spend at Yosemite?). I've also taken some ideas from Southwest Dave's trip report.

    Again, all suggestions on what to/not to do/visit are welcome!


    Here is the plan in map and below the time partition table.

    Morning Day Night
    1 Fly in Los Angeles midway to Yosemite
    2 midway to Yosemite Yosemite
    3 Yosemite Tahoe
    4 Tahoe
    5 Tahoe Lassen Volc. NP
    6 Lassen Volc. NP Crater Lake
    7 Crater Lake
    8 Crater Lake Bend Portland
    9 Portland Seattle
    10 Seattle
    11 Seattle Olympic NP
    12 Olympic NP
    13 Olympic NP Eugene
    14 Eugene Redwood NP Eureka
    15 Eureka San Francisco
    16 San Francisco
    17 San Francisco Santa Barbara
    18 Santa Barbara
    19 Santa Barbara Disneyland Los Angeles
    20 Los Angeles
    21 Los Angeles
    22 Fly out

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    Having enjoyed Dave's report, you no doubt realise how valuable these reports are to new roadtrippers.

    I look forward to reading your report, in due course.

    Most definitely! It also seems a great way to log the trip - by this I mean, the "one person telling others" format, in contrast with a plain log - and at the same time, create content/info for future new roadtrippers (like me right now).

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default One Major Minor Tweak

    The first thing that jumped out at me about your revised itinerary was that first day where you plan to fly into Los Angeles from Europe, retrieve your luggage, clear customs and immigration, pick up your rental car, get through Los Angeles traffic and then drive halfway to Yosemite. That's really not the best idea. I would suggest that all you do on the day you land is get towards the northwest side of the Los Angeles Basin, say San Fernando, and crash in a nice comfy motel bed. Flights from Europe to the U.S. are typically daytime flights, departing their European gateway cities around mid-day and arriving in LAX in the early evening. BUT those flights take 12-16 hours! And when you land in LAX it will be 8-9 hours later by your body clock, or in the wee hours of the (next) morning back where you started in Europe. You are simply not going to be in any shape to drive 4-6 hours (which is what it would take to clear Los Angels in the afternoon rush hour and get halfway to Yosemite. Again, that is simply not in the cards.

    To 'make up' for that and to find more time for Yosemite, I would probably cut back a bit on Tahoe/Lassen Volcano/Crater Lake for which three rather than four days should be adequate.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    You have done a great job with your trip planning, but I do agree with Buck that resting when you arrive and starting out fresh the following day is the better way to go about it. I don't think you need to stop at Hood river unless you had activities planned in Bend that would dely you getting on the road. It would be a comfortable day through the Gorge to Portland direct from Bend and would acoount for the 'loss' at the start of your trip. I would also recommend you spend an extra day in Yosemite, it's an amazing place ! You could then just enjoy Lake Tahoe as you drive around it on route to Lassen. To see more of it, including the lovely views from Emerald Bay, you could go around the opposite side of the lake to your map. In fact there are a couple of nice campgrounds close to Emerald Bay. Eureka to SF via Fort Bragg is quite a long day as I would recommend you drive the Avenue of the Giants in Humboltd, but you have the option of staying on 101 if you run short of time. [I presume you want to head to Eugene for a particular reason as it adds time and misses some nice coastal spots.]

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