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  1. #1

    Default 5 Week West Coast Trip - Rookie Road Trip Couple from UK


    We are an English couple in our mid twenties, coming to America in April for 9 weeks. We start in Boston (think we have that part of the trip sorted - planning on incorporating Stowe, VT; Green Mountains, VT; Cape Cod, MA and of course, Boston) then fly to San Francisco where we have 5 weeks of travelling before flying out of LA to Hawaii (we figured as new road trippers we deserved a traet at the end).

    From San Francisco to LA, we want to include the places with high priority - Yosemite, Vegas, Grand Canyon, Big Sur, San Diego and possible the lower priority - Death Valley, Napa, Palm Springs. We've also heard that Santa Fe & Albuquerque, New Mexico and Portland are great places to visit too.

    We are interested in nature (National Parks are a must), possible western ranches (are there any on route?), good food, beaches and generally having a good time.

    We can saty with friends for a few days in LA, other than that we will hostel in the cities and motel / camp in between. We aren't worried about camping as long as there are showers and it is a safe park. Our budget is tight so keeping costs down is essential. We were thinking of renting the car for just under four weeks, leaving a few days clear at either end of the trip whilst we're in SF and LA.

    We will have about £4000 for the trip which in this crappy economic climate amounts to about $5800. (We picked a great time for our trip - not!) Currently the only accommodaton we have for our trip is booked for the firs 4 nights in Boston. After that we are living on air I think! Looked at car rental - about £700 for 4 weeks for a mid sized car.

    Please can anyone suggest routes, must sees and any budget accommodation for our trip?


    L&G :-)

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

    Default Lots of options

    Hello and welcome to the R.T.A forums,

    Wow ! That's some adventure you have planned !

    With 5 weeks in the South west you have plenty of time to get around and there is no shortage of National parks, but you will need to research and decide what you want to see. As well as those parks you mentioned there are the amazing parks in Utah such as Zion and Bryce canyon, Capitol Reef and Arches to name a few.
    I would have a good search of the forums and road trip planning pages to get some ideas and then give us an idea of your itinerary and we can help you piece it together.

    Here are some great threads to get you started and this one has some great links for Things to see in the Northern New Mexico area.

    Navigate your way around the National parks website for some inspiration as well.

    It is worth mentioning at this point that the popular route from Yosemite to Vegas that crosses the Sierra's on the 120 [Tioga pass] will be closed in April due to snow but you can still visit the valley floor.

    Keep asking questions as you build your trip and we can help you piece it together.


  3. #3

    Default Rough Idea

    Thanks so much for the feedback, we have spent ages on this website (it's brilliant!) researching possibilities. I think that we have a rough idea now of how we'd like to proceed. Obviously keeping cost down is essential, so I would appreciate any ideas for campsites or cheap motels along the way. Also, my partner will be driving as he is 27 so renting a car is much cheaper (I'm under 25 so it's not an affordable option) he does drive long distances for work, so it doesn't faze him too much, although as I keep reading the distances are immense so we will stop fairly reguarly!

    Using AAA trip finder, we have created the following trip which looks doable - however any ideas on cost would be great.

    Arrive San Francisco - 4 days hostel
    Napa Valley - Camp 1 or 2 nights
    Yosemite NP - Camp 4 nights
    Sequoia NP - Camp 3 nights
    Death Valley - Motel 2 nights
    Vegas - Hotel 1 night / Hostel 2 nights
    Zion NP - Camp/Hostel 2 nights?
    Grand Canyon - Camp 2 nights
    Flagstaff - Hostel 2 nights
    Travel I-40 to California - Any ideas on where to stop along here and for how long?
    Santa Barbara - Hostel 3 nights
    Disney - Hotel/Motel 2 nights
    San Diego - Hostel 3 nights

    We have 5 weeks so there is loads of flexibility on time, just not budget! Any ideas would be much appreciated. Also are there any places we can safely stay in the car?

    Thanks L&G

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

    Default Looking good.

    Hi again,

    Your trip is taking shape nicely and the places you are visiting are awesome and there is a lot of diversity, cool. When you are visiting the National parks you are best off to camp in one of there designated campgrounds. It's quite reasonable [$18 or so] and save you having the expense and time of driving in and out of the park each day. As you are already visiting 5 parks it will be cheaper to get an annual pass $80 from the gate at the first park you visit or from the shop in San Francisco on Pier '39. All details on camping and entrance fees can be found on their website I linked you to in the earlier post. For sleeping in your car it is normally recommended to stay at a Truck stop where it is well lit and other people are about.

    Some other possibility's on the way.

    With some of the time you have available I would highly recommend taking the drive from Zion up the Mount Carmel highway toBryce canyon and it's red rock spires, a great drive also. From there you can head through Page and past Lake Powell to the Grand Canyon, with the possibility of detouring to Monument Valley, made famous by all those old Westerns filmed there.

    From the Grand canyon to the coast you might want to detour onto part of the original route '66 through Seligman, Kingman and Oatman with it's quirky little towns and stores and Diners. A stop at Lake Havasu City or a detour onto the Mojave national preserve are possible.

    You might want to head further North up the coast and explore Highway 1 and the Big Sur and Hearst castle e.t.c on the way down to Santa Barbara.

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