It is so exiting to find this forum! My parents will come to USA this April and we are a trip in California for 14 days in early May. This is our first road trip so I am very exited about it and at the same time a little worried about all the preparation.. We will start from SF (actually San Ramon, CA) and would like to go though NPs and LV LA in 14 days. The trip we are planning are so hot that I have found a lot of discussions about the similar trips in this forum and modified my plan (as well as questions)as follows:
Day 1:SF (San Ramon, CA) to Yosemite National Park. Drive to Fresno and stay one night there.
Q 1: Is one day enough for Yosemite National Park? How many hours do you usually stay in the park? Since I don't think the Tioga Pass will be open by that time, we could only visit the south park of Yosemite. But I am still not sure whether the time is too limited here...
Day 2: Drive to Kings Canyon/ Sequioa NP and drive down to Bakersfield. Stay one night at Bakersfield.
Q 2: Also, not sure the time issue here. Would it be too busy? I donít want the schedule to be too busy. I heard that the road from Fresno to Sequioa is also close at that time? I am not sure though.
Day 3: Drive from Bakersfield to Death Valley and get to LV that night.
Q 3: Since Death Valley is quite hot at that time, is it the best just drive through and see the view on the way? What is the best route from Bakersfield to LV via Death Valley?
Day 4: LV
Day 5: Drive to Grand Canyon and stay one day there.
Q 4: Any good place to stay around Grand Canyon?
Day 6: Grand Canyon NP, and then drive back to LV.
Day 7: LV- LA.
Day 8-Day 11: LA and San Diego. Visit some friends also.
Day 12: Drive on the Rd 1 to Monterey and 17 miles, hearts castle. Drive back to Oakland by that night.
Q 5: How long will it take if we want to visit all these places? Still the time issue question. I heard that the speed at Rd 1 is just way to slow. Is it possible to finish these places and get back to Oakland?
I also have some very important questions that I am not sure about:
1. We are planning to rent a car in California. If the schedule is like above, is a midsize car like Mazda or Toyota camry enough? Or we need a SUV?
2. I am planning to buy a GPS for the trip. But it seems that when using a GPS, you cannot choose the route even though there is some better scenic driveways.. Is there any suggestions on this?
3. Time issue. I kind of think it is a little bit in a hurry in those NPs. If there is one more day, should we stay in Yosemite or Kings Canyon NP? I am not sure the time in NPs and also, time spending the road.
4. I heard that the view going south (Bakersfield) is not as good as 395. Unfortunately, I donít think I have time to drive up to Tahoe lake and drive down 395 this time. But still, is there any recommendation of scenic driveway and good places to visit on the way of trip that I omitted?
5. Is the estimate time in google map trustable?
Look forward to hearing from you! Many thanks in advance for your help!