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  1. Default Planning SF-LA via Columbia Park and Sequoia

    I've just joined the forum and have been reading the archives about road trips in California and picked up some really useful advice. I couldn't however find any trip with my routing so I'm wondering whether my plan maybe isn't that great or if it can be done better.

    I'll be travelling in CA for 12 days with my sister, parents and three kids. We're planning to hire a Toyota Sienna or a 7 seater Dodge or Ford. Anyone know how comfortable this will be - the kids are 8, 10 and 12. Given this, how much one can realistically expect to travel in day?

    We plan to fly in to San Francisco, arriving in the evening of May 30 and stay in SF till June 2.
    My plan is to pick up the rental car on June 3 head for the Big Sur along Hwy 1. I was initially thinking Carmel but on reading more about it I felt we didn't necessarily have to stay there. So question 1 is, would it be much more interesting to drive down Big Sur and are there any hotel/motel recommendations on this route in the USD 100 range?

    I then figured the kids might be interested in the Columbia State Park with the old gold rush town, so was planning to drive there from Big Sur on June 4 - but this means backtracking to roughly Monterey, or is there another route I'm missing?

    Is it possible to drive on the same day and reach Sequoia Park? What are the best options to stay in the park?

    We want to reach Vegas on June 5 and carry on to Grand Canyon the next day and then on to LA or at least somewhere near (the threads on this topic were very useful) the day after, i.e. June 7. We then stay in LA and fly back on June 11.

    Does this sound doable and/or can this be improved?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Tight All the Way Around

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Putting seven people in a seven passenger van would be a tight fit at best. Add all the luggage and the fact that 3 of the 7 are pre-teens, and it's beginning to sound a bit like the Griswolds go to Wally World. It's probably doable with clever, and light, packing, but be prepared to make fairly frequent stops just to let the kids get out and blow off some energy. So I wouldn't try to make more than 400 miles a day in three or four legs.

    The drive down the Big Sur coast will be even slower as it's a two lane road with lots to stop and see along the way. Also you'll need to worry about setting yourself up to head inland the next day. A good compromise, I think, would be to see as much as you can, but plan to spend the night in Pacific Grove, the more budget friendly of the towns around the Monterey Peninsula. This also means you won't have to backtrack as far to get to Columbia. It would also make it just within the 400 mile limit (with one of your out-of-car stops in Columbia) to reach Sequoia in the evening.

    Las Vegas is then another 400 miles and the Grand Canyon another day on top of that, and then a final run back into L.A. So, yes it's all doable but it will be frenetic, with a lot of time in the van for not much time at the destinations. If you could 'borrow' a day or two from the urban stays at either end of the trip, I think you and the kids and the grandparents would all have a more relaxed and enjoyable time.


  3. #3


    The Sonora / Gold Country is a lovely area and is a great place to visit and spend time. However, I would question making a long detour just to visit Columbia State Park.

    It was gold mining community in days gone by. It is now basically a short main street with several touristy shops / attractions.

    But let me add - if in the vicinity yes it is worth a visit.

  4. Default

    Thanks AZ and Eris. I just realized I made a mistake with the dates, i.e. we'd leave SF on June 2, not 3 as I had mentioned. So that gives us an extra day. If we avoid driving to Columbia that would give us a bit of breathing space too, although I am torn about leaving this part out. And maybe we could reach LA on the 8th, although the kids won't like that because they have plans for LA and 2 days will probably just let allow them to do Disney Land and maybe Universal or whatever. Our flight back is on June 11 morning.

    AZ, I agree that the mini van sounds a tight fit but couldn't find any rental company that offers say a 10 or 12 seater van (not an RV) so we can be more comfortable. Anyone know where one can rent these?


  5. Default Yosemite-Monterey on 140, I-5, 152

    Are the roads from Yosemite along the 140 down to the I-5, then south on the I-5 and then the 152 down to the Coast and to Monterey fine for an RV? And how long roughly does the drive take?
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 04-20-2008 at 08:14 PM. Reason: Moved Post to Current Thread About The Poster's Own Trip

  6. Default Night halts between Sequoia and LA (Anaheim)

    I recently asked for advice on our road trip this summer. We (4 adults and 3 children) will now (hopefully) be traveling in a 31' Class C RV. Due to time constraints we've now cut down on the route and left out Vegas and Grand Canyon (much to my regret!!). We have 4-5 days depending on whether we do Monterey in the RV or not.

    The plan is:
    SF-Sonora (1 night)
    Sonora-Yosemite (2 nights?)
    Yosemite-Sequoia (1 night)

    The distance between Sequoia and Anaheim is about 300 miles. Is it realistic to do this in one haul or should we break journey somewhere? If so, what's a good place?

    After reading comments on Hwy 1 from San Fran southwards I revised my original plan of hiring the RV in SF and driving to Monterey and from there on to Sonora.
    Does it make sense to hire a car for a day and drive to Monterey, return it the next day in SF and pick up the RV or should we just hire the RV throughout?

    TIA for all advice

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Less Worry, More Happy

    CA-140/CA-59/CA-152 connect two of the most frequented summer vacation spots in California, and I'm sure see more than their fair share of RV traffic. Depending on exactly how one reads California highway laws, your RV cannot be more than 102-108 inches wide (8½-9 feet) and the minimum recommended width of state highways is 18 feet with 20 foot widths preferred. With that in mind, I'd check on the actual width of the vehicle you've reserved and if you're under 8 feet, while you won't have a lot of leeway, you should be fine.

    300 miles, even in an RV and taking frequent short stops is quite manageable as a day's drive.

    Much of Monterey, including the Aquarium, Cannery Row, and the Historic Walking Tours can be done on foot from centrally located parking lots in the downtown area. Rather than take on the added expense and drive time of getting a car for that day, I'd just plan on parking and walking.


  8. Default Hwy1 in an RV?

    Thanks AZ. So you mean getting to Sonora/Yosemite from Monterey shouldn't be a problem in an RV? I just checked the interior width of the RV in the specifications: 96 inches.
    So not sure if I'd be under the limit or not. Will check with the rental company.

    My problem with Monterey was not the walking around part - we were planning to do that anyway. It was the getting there from San Francisco. I was reading comments on driving along Hwy 1 in an RV and decided that it's certainly not for us. Would going down Hwy 101 be a better option?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default done all the time

    Hundreds of RVs drive highway 1 every day. Its certainly a slow road that curves along the coast, but its that exact same appeal that draws people who are on vacation, including RV vacations, to use it. Although it should also be pointed out that the section south of Monterey, going through Big Sur, is the crown jewel of the Pacific Coast Highway in that part of California.

    US-101 south of San Francisco is a run of the mill, mostly 4 lane highway. There is nothing to worry about there.

  10. Default Car or RV

    Thanks Midwest Michael. This is our first time in an RV and it's a 31' vehicle at that so I think we will skip Hwy 1 this time. But Hwy 101 sounds fine to get us to Monterey then.

    However, I am still wondering whether it might make sense to hire a car to drive from San Francisco to Monterey (on Hwy 1) on Day 1 and then drive back to SF because pick up for the RV is after 1 pm. If we take a car to Monterey on Day 1 morning, spend the day there (it takes about 3 hours from SF-Monterey if you stop to take in the sights?) and drive back the next morning to pick up the RV by the early afternoon to head to Sonora we aren't wasting that time. And we'd get to drive on Hwy 1. However, it may still be unpractical for reasons I haven't considered.

    So what do the experts think?

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