You were a great help to me in planning a trip earlier this year. What started out as a cheap flight into Atlanta to go to the Nascar race at Talladega turned into so much more than that - a great couple of weeks! Well now I'm coming back and was hoping you'd be able to help me out again.
Whilst not wanting to be predictable, we are going to be visiting California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah for a couple of weeks. Initially we had planned that this trip would be based around a trip to the Reno Air Races but we soon realised that we couldn't do everything we wanted to do in the time we had, so we had to cut that part of the trip loose. Still gutted about that.
There is so much information on this site that I have been reading for the past couple of months that I feel guilty posting more questions. However I hope that doesn't put you off - I'd really appreciate the help as there is almost too much information to read up on! - if a question has been answered a dozen times then a link to some info would be great. The itinerary is very basic right now and I need to fill in the gaps, hopefully you can help me do that by answering some of my many questions! It feels like I've been watching travel documentaries, reading websites and looking at guidebooks for ever but, sometimes, there is just too much information and you need someone who knows the lay of the land to offer their input so you can pull it all together.
I haven't booked any accomodation at all yet. We plan on spending the majority of the time camping and I would value people's experiences in the National Parks, do we need to pre-book at this time of year, and what level of facilities are generally offered? My only experience camping in a NP was my trip to the Great Smokey Mountains earlier this year where there was no problem camping, but there were no facilities at all, over and above cold running water. I have planned to intersperse our stays in the NPs with stops at more commercial sites in order that we can have hot showers and make use of the launderette if necessary, I have a copy of the Woodalls campground guide and will be making maximum use out of it when we arrive!
The only hotel stay we plan is whilst we are in Vegas. I can't imagine we'll have a problem finding accomodation on the day we arrive but is this the best way of getting a bargain? I am told that perhaps the best bet will be to buy a copy of the LA Times on our arrival and look for special offers in there. But can either of these tactics beat booking in advance on the net? I thought perhaps we might stay the first night in one hotel before moving on to another for a different experience the following night, is this worth the effort, or should we just stay put?
We'd like to visit a ghost town when we are over and Bodie and Calico obviously spring to mind. Any thoughts on this; how do they compare? Bodie fits in slightly better with our rough itinerary but the last day of our trip sees us pass along the I-40 right past Calico, though we don't really have time to stop unless we reshuffle the itinerary.
The whole trip is going to be a little hectic, to say the least, but the last few days might be particularly busy. After leaving the Grand Canyon NP we're pretty much just there for the driving. I initially had Flagstaff down as a place to pass through/visit. But is it worth the trip? Streets and Trips suggests heading south along US180/SR64 may be better. Thoughts?
Thanks for any help and/or suggestions you'd like to share. I'd be happy for all input so please shout up if I've done something stupid or missed something obvious!
Saturday 9th September: Depart LHR 1130 local arriving LAX 1450 local. Collect hire car from Hertz and drive to campground at Santa Maria (159 miles) via Beverley Hills. Be sure to pick up a copy of the LA Times for special Las Vegas hotel offers!
Sunday 10th September: Drive north along the Pacific Coast Highway passing through Big Sur (138 miles) and Salinas. Take the ’17 Mile Drive’ Toll Road through the Monterrey Peninsular. Set up at campground and head into San Francisco (147 miles) for a look around and to eat. San Francisco Giants vs San Diego Padres in the evening.
Monday 11th September: Explore downtown San Francisco and take Alcatraz tour (tickets booked, check time with Simon). Other ideas include the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, the ’49 Mile Scenic Drive’, sunset at the Twin Peaks overlook.
Tuesday 12th September: Explore downtown San Francisco in the morning then head across the mountains to Yosemite National Park. Camp halfway to destination (approx 100 miles).
Wednesday 13th September: Continue drive to Yosemite NP (approx 100 miles). Stop at park office and purchase National Parks Pass. Explore park and then camp in the park.
Thursday 14th September: Explore Yosemite NP in the morning before heading to Bodie Ghost Town (66 miles). Finally start driving towards Death Valley NP, stopping to camp halfway to destination (approx 130 miles).
Friday 15th September: Continue drive to Death Valley NP (approx 130 miles). Explore park (ideas include Devils Hole, Badwater Basin, Mesquite Creek, Scotty’s Castle.) Camp overnight in park.
Saturday 16th September: Explore Death Valley NP in morning then drive to Hoover Dam (146 miles). Camp overnight near Lake Mead National Recreation Area (8 miles).
Sunday 17th September: Drive up to Las Vegas (26 miles). Ideas include Indoor Skydiving, Machine Gun Shooting Range (check address with Woody), checking out the resorts along The Strip, visit Last Vegas Outlet Centre, and the rollercoaster on the roof of the Stratosphere. Stop overnight in a hotel.
Monday 18th September: Las Vegas. Stay overnight in a different hotel?
Tuesday 19th September: Set off early and drive up to Zion NP (163 miles). Explore park and camp there overnight.
Wednesday 20th September: Explore Zion NP in morning before driving to Vermillon Cliffs NM (130 miles) Camp in vicinity overnight (Page?)
Thursday 21st September: Cross Navajo Bridge and head south to the south rim of the Grand Canyon NP (180 miles) and explore. Camp overnight in park?
Friday 22nd September: Explore Grand Canyon NP then start to head back towards LA. Pass through Flagstaff (possibly check out Meteor Crater East of Flagstaff on I-40) and Kingman before camping overnight at Lake Havasu (313 miles), making sure to visit London Bridge!
Saturday 23rd September: Head back to Los Angeles via I-40 (319 miles). Drive through Hollywood and have a brief look at LA before heading to the airport for the 2050 flight back to LHR.
Sunday 24th September: SLEEP.
Approximate mileage: 2257 miles
Approximate driving time: 42 hours
Rest days: 11/9 17/9 18/9 24/9