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  1. Default 12 days in California


    Me and and my girlfriend just booked tickets to SF for our honeymoon. We will stay 12 full days Oct 5-Oct 18. We have nothing else booked or planned and we basically want to drive from SF to Las Vegas and back. We would like to see some of the famous coastal highway 1 route, and one or two national parks incl. Grand Canyon. Would you recommend us booking hotels in advance or is it easy to find hotels or guesthouses along the way? Any suggestions?


    Brian from Dublin.

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

    Default prebooking

    Considering the amount of time you have and the area of things you want to see, I'd probably pre-book for this trip. Areas right around Yosemite and Grand Canyon can fill up quite quickly, and you'll probably find better deals in cities by booking in advance.

    There are thousands of posts discussing this area and trips similar to yours. I would strongly suggest you spend a little time just looking around and soaking up all the information to get more ideas for your trip.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Under the Wire

    Céad Míle Fáilte! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Your trip may be a little hectic (especially for a honeymoon!) but still you should be able to make one of the all time great loop RoadTrips. Assuming you arrive in San Francisco on the 5th, just spend that day resting up and recovering from jet lag. Then take a couple of days to drive slowly down the Pacific coast Highway (PCH, CA-1) while visiting Monterey stopping to hike through some of the forests on the inland side and the beaches on the ocean side, visiting Hearst Castle, and staying overnight around San Simeon or Cambria. At San Luis Obispo a short jog north on US-101 will bring you to CA-41/CA-46 over to Bakersfield and from there the Interstates will take you to Las Vegas. The Grand Canyon will require at least two days from there including the time to get to it, see it and any of the surrounding sights, and get back to Las Vegas. The final leg of your journey will be up through Death Valley and cutting over to US-395, continuing north to Lee Vining and then taking CA-120 over Tioga Pass into Yosemite National Park before returning to San Francisco. It's this last bit where you may be getting in just under the wire. Tioga Pass is not plowed during the winter and becomes snowbound and closed to all traffic from around November to June. You should be fine, but be sure to check with the California Highway Department before setting out to cross it. If it's closed, you'll have to double back though Bakersfield, thus skirting south around the mountains. Generally speaking, and especially at that time of year, reservations should not be necessary. America tends much more to have motel accommodations than you may be used to in Ireland, and conversely far fewer guesthouses (referred to universally here as B&Bs) and nothing like your great farmhouses. B&B's are not heavily advertised and there are no government issued listings. So if you want to use them, you will have to do some research beforehand to find them, and they should be booked in advance since most are small with only a few rooms.


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

    Default A great loop.

    Congratulations on your up coming wedding plans !

    The loop Buck describes is a fantastic drive and so diverse from city's to coast to desert, valleys and mountains and one of the great wonders of the world, the Grand canyon. Although Yosemite is right up there with them. I personally would go from the coast to GC and then back to Vegas, it will save a little time [although not much] but mainly so that you don't go through the same place twice.

    As for booking places I think that generally speaking you will be OK in Oct but some people like the security of knowing where they are headed for the night and others enjoy the freedom and "wing it".

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default Tioga pass

    In the past 50 years, it has only closed once during the period you're going to be here; October 17th in 2004.

    While that's not a guarantee, assuming you're over the pass a few days before you head back, the likelihood you're going to hit a road closure is pretty slim.

    If you get there and it IS closed? There are other passes farther north, depending on which is open you'll be looking at a 4:30, 5:00, 5:30 or 6:00 hour detour. Ugly but not fatal to your plans.

    It would take one heckuva early season storm to close all the passes from Tioga up to Echo Summit.

    Note: if you find out while in Death Valley that Tioga Pass is closed, then AZBuck's suggestion would be what to do; head south around the bottom of the Sierras. My suggestion above is what do you do if you make it all the way up 395 to the 120 junction, and find it closed.
    Last edited by CalOldBlue; 08-03-2009 at 08:22 PM. Reason: clarity matters...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default Romantic spots when cost is no concern

    Since this is a honeymoon, and without knowing your budget limitations, here are those places my wife and I find "special" along your potential route.

    One of the B&Bs in Pacific Grove (wedged between Monterey and Carmel). Some of these have ocean views (my choice), all have great breakfasts and nice lodging. Can hit both Carmel and Monterey easily from a base in Pacific Grove.

    Cambria, at the far end of Big Sur. Some very nice motel/hotel options, along with a decent selection of restaurants and shopping.

    Any of the high-end National Park lodges: Ahwanee in Yosemite, Furnace Creek Inn (not Ranch) in Death Valley, El Tovar in Grand Canyon. You'll need to book these ASAP if you want one of these.

    Here's the pool at Furnace Creek Inn:

    Photo: Don Casey

    Ocean along 17 mile drive in Carmel, similar to what one would see in Pacific Grove or Cambria:

    Photo: Don Casey

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