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  1. Default Traveling the NPs in south-west, what to do on the 4th of July?

    Dear RTA members,

    My girlfriend has a conference in San Francisco and because we're from the Netherlands I immediately suggested we append a vacation to it. We're a young couple (25y) and we really like the nature, so I created a itinerary to visit a few National Parks. To reduce the costs a bit we'll be tenting in the NPs.

    Below is my current itinerary:

    23 June: Leave from San Francisco to Yosemite Lake (camping spots available)
    24 June: Leave early to Yosemite to get a first-come, first served campsite on one of the campings on the Tioga Pass Road.
    25 June: Whole day in Yosemite
    26 June: Leave early to Las Vegas via the Death Valley (sleep in the Main Street Station Hotel)
    27 June: Have a nice breakfast at the Orleans and head to Zion NP (camping spots available)
    28 June: Whole day in Zion NP
    29 June: Head to Bryce Canyon for a first-come, first served campsite (I've mailed and if we arrive around noon there'll be enough spots left)
    30 June: Go to Sunrise Point and after that leave heading Grand Canyon, but stop in Page to take the Upper Antelope Canyon tour. (Marther Campground has camping spots available)
    1 July: Make a hike downwards the Grand Canyon.
    2 July: Leave early to Palm Springs (sleep in the 7 Springs Inn & Suites)
    3 July: Leave early to Santa Barbara, expecting a lot of traffic around LA. (Not decided where to sleep yet)
    4 July: Celebrate 4th of July, we won't expect to be able to travel much?
    5 July: Leave from Santa Barbara heading for Monterey (any nice tips for on the road?) (sleep at the Best Western in Monterey)
    6 July: Stay the whole day in Monterey, bike the 17 mile drive, visit the aquarium, possibly visit the Big Sur for some hiking
    7 July: Leave for San Francisco in the morning, possibly visit the Google Headquarters, and Intel Museum in Mountain View (stay at a hotel to be determined)
    8 July: Return car, enjoy last day of the vacation in San Francisco and head for SFO around 5 pm.

    One "problem" is that we're not sure what to expect around the 4th of july, our ideal itinerary would mean a day more in Yosemite and maybe one more in zion/bryce, and go from Grand Canyon to Santa Barbara in one day, but that day would be the 4th of july...

    So what would your advise be?

    Many thanks,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default holiday tourism

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You'll find lots of people traveling and celebrating on July 4th, so while you should expect things to take longer and to be surrounded by plenty of other people. There will be some businesses that will be closed or have reduced hours, but many places will remain open, especially places that cater to tourists. You shouldn't have to consider this a throw-away day, though you might find it fun to simply have a day where you find a town having a holiday celebration and see an american holiday celebration.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Santa Barbara is as good a place as any to celebrate. Here is what they did last year.

    I would rent a room for 2 nights and drive from Palm Springs to Santa Barbara on the 3rd. It's only 225 miles, and the following routing will keep you out of most of the LA traffic:

    I-10/I-215/I-15/CA-138/CA-14/Soledad Canyon Rd/CA-126/US-101.

    Leaving Santa Barbara, you should take the CA-1 coast road from San Luis Obispo to Monterey. It's a lot slower than US-101 all the way, but the scenery is spectacular and you will go right through Big Sur. You are only looking at 250 miles, which can be done in one day.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Excellent trip!

    Sounds like a blast.

    I'm a bit concerned about the Yosemite to Las Vegas leg via Death Valley. While it's do-able in a day, it's going to be a long one. So get an early start if you really want to be able to enjoy Death Valley, too.

    Same with the Bryce to Grand Canyon (South Rim). It can be slow-going and there's a lot to see along the way. So get a real early start that day, too. I've never had the joy of sunrise at Bryce but I bet it's amazing and worth getting up for. Also, if you don't get a campsite in Bryce itself, Ruby's Inn right outside the park entrance has one of my favorite commercial campgrounds.

    I like glc's suggestions. The 4th in Santa Barbara sounds great. Enjoy experiencing Americana.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default National parks.

    Check out the entrance fees to the parks
    as I am 99% sure you will save money by purchasing an annual pass for $80.
    You can buy it at the entrance to the first park you visit or if you are heading to Pier 39 in SF there is a small NPS shop there up one of the stairways.
    I would advise booking at the Watchman and Mather campgrounds ASAP and you could always book a site in Yosemite at either the Lower,middle or upper Pines area in the valley floor and explore Yosemite and then head up Tioga pass for a walk in site the next night, setting you up for a good start to Vegas. You should then be able to check the site availability situation up there by talking to a park ranger.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Yosemite to LV via DV same day is not too bad as long as Tioga Pass is open.

  7. Default

    @Southwest Dave, thanks for the tip, I already found the annual pass for $80, didn't know about the shop in Pier 39 though, thanks! The campgrounds on Lower,middle or upper Pines area are all full, so can't book there anymore.

    @PNW Judy, those two days are indeed the longest legs, we'll have to get up early indeed and drive on! Thanks for the Ruby's Inn suggestion, will write it down as backup.

    @glc thanks for the routing suggestion! I was already planning taking the CA-1, looks to be a amazing road along the coast line.

    After some more planning I found out that the First-come, first served camps in yosemite are only available starting July, so I'm mailing the park about details around those sites.

    I also thought about turning the route around, this would mean arriving at Yosemite on the 3/4th of july, so I'll ask about that as well.

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    I-10/I-215/I-15/CA-138/CA-14/Soledad Canyon Rd/CA-126/US-101.
    That's one hell of a trip, thanks a lot for the detailed route description.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Google is not routing you correctly. It's not anywhere near as convoluted as that. Here is a proper map and set of directions for you.
    Last edited by glc; 04-14-2009 at 02:47 AM.

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Google is not routing you correctly. It's not anywhere near as convoluted as that. Here is a proper map and set of directions for you.
    Thanks for the more detailed routing, it was not google who did it wrong, I read your directions wrong and forced google to take this road.

    I've redraw the route in google maps looks a lot cleaner now :)

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