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  1. Default Highway1 /Grand Canyon /Yosemite????


    Myself and partner are planning a road-trip to the West Coast next Autumn (Fall) and need some help putting things into a logical order.

    We'd like to see/visit the following if possible in 2 weeks:

    Grand Canyon,
    Yosemite /Death Valley/Sequoia national park (not necessarily all three but at least one),
    San Francisco (2 or 3 nights),
    Drive Highway 1,

    The H1 we're not sure if we should push to do the whole thing? We'd like a few relaxed beach stop-overs. Also best to drive up or down?

    Happy to incorporate some other suggestions too.

    I have thought about many, many combinations of this and I would like to know which order people might recommend or NOT recommend?


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

    Default thousands of suggestions

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    All of the places you've listed are certainly doable within 2 weeks, although you'll have to decide for yourself if it fits with the pace you'd prefer. You should probably just list out a tentative itinerary and see if you can come up with a plan that you think you'd like.

    The good news is this is far and away the most popular basic trip outline on the forum, with thousands of posts and ideas that have already been given here. I'd really think you'd do well to look around here a bit, with these threads being an excellent place to start.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Start and finish.

    Driving down the coast is popular and recommended as the coastal views are on your side of the road, but not the choice of those suffering from vertigo so I hear !

    As Michael has said, 2 weeks is a nice amount of time but you need to work out your start and finish points and whether to do a one way trip or a loop, starting and finishing in the same city. San Francisco heading South on the PCH, [as far as you want to travel] inland to the Grand canyon, back to Vegas and through Death valley and then decide whether to head around the Southern end of the Sierra's through Bakersfield to Sequoia and Yosemite NP's or head North and then West on CA120 [Tioga pass] into Yosemite and back to San Fran would make a good loop. This would work starting from LA or Vegas as well, so if you are flying in it would make sense to check costs of flights to each City.

    Depending on how late you are travelling in the Fall could affect the route across Tioga pass as it can close in October if there are early snows, so something to keep an eye on.

    Have a look at the links Michael gave you and when you have an outline plan I am sure we could help you "fine tune" it.

  4. Default

    Thanks to both of you! This is a brilliant site.

    I've been trawling though the posts and also got a map to help. I think we might go as far as Pismo down the coast road but I am not so interested in LA and I've read it sprawls quite a way up the coast.

    I thought of the SF -Coast-Grand Canyon-yosemite -SF loop. The only city where we want to spend some time is SF but happy to fly back from anywhere.

    I have been reading about Grand Canyon and I think we expected to do the day flight thing from Vegas but it seems this is not the best thing to do?

    I thought of flying into Phoenix and driving from there to the grand canyon as it seems a little nearer and avoiding too much double-backing. Then onto yosemite - SF then down the coast and fly home from LA.

    Originally I thought of doing SF-Coast- back up to Yosemite then out to vegas and fly home from here but I've seen we'd have to take route 41 from near pismo to Yosemite. I think this looks like too long a drive for 1 day.

    Anyway - Next step - Im going to start looking into flights.

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

    Default Grand canyon National park.

    I have been reading about Grand Canyon and I think we expected to do the day flight thing from Vegas but it seems this is not the best thing to do?
    It really depends on circumstance, but if you have the time then there is nothing like spending time in the National park and soaking up the atmosphere and surroundings and to witness a sunset and sunrise. Flights from Vegas head to the West rim on Indian lands which look spectacular but not the same as the famous views you usually see in photographs. No flights land within the National park.
    We had the best of both worlds, staying at the South rim and took a Helicopter tour from the nearby Grand canyon airport in Tusayan, over the Canyon to the North rim and back, awesome experience.

    As you have already discovered there are many options and it's a case of which one suits your needs the best. You could even head from Phoenix to San Fran if you go over the Tioga pass down to Sequoia from Yosemite and then across to the coast. One thing to keep in mind is the potential extra cost of a one way trip which is dropping the car off in a different location and flight costs.

    When you have worked it out let us know and we can help you "fine tune" the detail.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by charlotterb View Post
    I have been reading about Grand Canyon and I think we expected to do the day flight thing from Vegas but it seems this is not the best thing to do?
    I wouldn't say that. On my first visit to US and Las Vegas the time constraints only allowed for a flight over the Grand Canyon, out of Henderson I think it was. That was 2001. To this day I still treasure the memory of that fantastic flight, which at one point actually flies below the level of the rim.

    Since then I have had the fortune of visiting the Grand Canyon National Park four times, mostly to the North Rim (my preferred views). However, from the NP it is not possible to see the western rim, which has its own beauty.

    For me it is not an either / or.... If you only have time for a flight from Vegas, then go for it. It will certainly whet your appetite to make a return visit.

    Lifey who thinks you won't be disappointed

  7. Default

    After a few months I have a (slightly) more detailed plan.

    We are flying in and out of SF and have removed Grand Canyon from the plan.

    This is our approx schedule:

    Week 2 is more flexible and we just intend that to be more highway1/beach orientated. The part I need help with is the Yosemite and Death Valley part and what is realistic. Is it worth splitting the drive to death Valley into 2 days. Can you go via Sequoia? The quality of the views is a much higher priority than the speed of getting from A to B
    Sat Fly San Fran
    Sun Do stuff in San fran
    Mon Do stuff in San fran
    Tue Drive Yosemite (4 Hours)
    Wed 1 day hiking etc
    Thu Drive Death Valley (via Sequoia?) (8 Hours)
    Fri Drive round Death valley and head towards coast (4 Hours)
    Sat Drive Pismo (4 hours)
    Sun - WedsPismo
    Thurs Drive up HWY 1
    Fri Drive up HWY 1
    Sat Drive to SF (Home)

  8. #8


    Hello charlotterb,

    It appears that you're fine-tuning your plans somewhat, but ponder the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH)segment:

    The PCH features many, many pull-offs where one can stop and take in the views. The great majority of these are on the southbound side, meaning northbounders must turn across the road and re-cross at each stop. Some, especially the drivers, might find this somewhat disconcerting. My only traverse of the PCH (Monterey to Morro Bay) was southbound and I was glad to be headed in that direction. But.......... wife, rather fearful of heights, would have preferred to have been northbound, as her "view" from the passenger side of our pickup truck on the southbound side left her gasping for breath on quite a number of occasions.

    Have fun planning and taking your RoadTrip!


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Mountains in th way.

    Hi, welcome back.

    You will not get from Yosemite to Sequoia and then to Death valley same day and have any quality time in Sequoia NP, there is no direct route through the mountains so you have to go around the South towards Lake Isabella.

    The road from Yosemite across the mountains to Death valley [Tioga pass] is also very scenic and a big part of the "Yosemite experience" and by heading South to Sequoia would also mean missing out on that experience. If you really want to go to Sequoia I would consider using an extra day earlier in your trip and heading to Sequoia from San Fran and then head to Yosemite and then DV by way of Tioga pass.

    Two other options if you skipped Sequoia but wanted to see "big trees" would be to visit the Mariposa grove near the Southern entrance to Yosemite NP while there, or from Death valley while heading to the coast take an over night stop near Lake Isabella/ Kernville and venture into the Sequoia NM/forest where you will find the grove of giant Sequoias known as "The trail of 100 giants" near Johnsondale.

  10. Default

    Hi All

    It's been a while but I've still been merrily researching away for September...woo hoo it's soon now!

    Current plan is:

    Sat/sun/Mon San Fran
    Tues Drive Yosemite
    Weds Yosemite
    Thurs Drive Death Valley for 1 night stay

    Need to be back in San Fran the following Friday. Got a rough plan to stay a night at Big Sur around Tuesday and then maybe Weds/Thurs in Santa Cruz (not sure yet as gets mixed reviews and we'd like somewhere more relaxed maybe to end the trip). I love the sound of Mendocino but I think it's too far (not sure if it would take ages getting through/around San Fran)

    We also have a gap between leaving Death Valley and reaching Big Sur. Intend to head towards HWY1 but wonder if there is any interesting or unusual drives / places of interest we could do between DV and the coast (not necessarily touristy, small towns would be interesting maybe).

    We were considering driving down to San Diego for a bit of beach time and then driving back up but want week 2 to be pretty relaxed and am not really interested in LA and again not sure how much we'd be adding by trying to get round it/through it on the way back up to Big Sur.

    My tentative plan was:
    Friday/Sat basically "wing it" between DV and HWY1 (suggestions very welcome!)
    Sunday/Monday maybe San Lois Obispo/Pismo/Cambria
    Tues Big sur
    Weds/Thurs Carmel or Santa Cruz
    Fri Back to San Fran

    As always, tips most welcome. In return for future travellers I promise to publish photos and our actual itinerary on our return



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