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  1. Default RV trip from San Fran to Orlando

    We would like to ask for any advice. We are a couple with 2 small children (aged 3 and 4) from the UK. We are planning to hire a big RV in San Fran and drive all the way to Miami. We will be travelling for 4 weeks in Feb. Obviously we would like to drive along a scenic route and see as many attractions as we comfortably can. We would like to visit some national parks preferably where the weather is mild. Therefore we had to cross out some of our preferred attractions such as Yosemite nat park. Perhaps we can see the Grand Canyon and Death Valley though?
    We would appreciate any advice regarding planning our itinerary. This will be our first road trip in the USA.
    We also have the option of flying to LA and starting there instead of San Fran. What do you think????

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

    Default cutting out a lot?

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I will say the biggest concern is your definition of "mild" weather. Simply put, most of the US - even in southern states - sees pretty cool, and at times cold - weather in February.

    Winter can be a very nice time to visit Yosemite, but it is winter and it is in the mountains, so they see cold weather and snow. However, that is also true with almost every national park in the Western US.

    The Grand Canyon, for example, is also at 7,000+ feet of elevation and also sees snow and cold weather. Its also simply not possible to cross from California to Florida without going through areas that see snow every winter. In fact, even desert areas in California and Arizona can get quite chilly on an average winter night.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't take this trip by any means, but if mild weather is a big priority, it is going to put some pretty severe limitations on where you can go and what you can do. I would say that you should either be prepared for winter conditions, or put off this trip until a warmer time of year.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default "Mild" and "Big"

    Michael is absolutely right that you can't find a way across America in February that guarantees 'mild' weather all the way. Right now perhaps 90% of the contiguous U.S. is suffering winter weather every bit as severe as that which you're currently experiencing in the UK. Still, I suppose, highs of around 45°F (7°C) in Texas seem mild compared to the high(!) of -10°F (-23°C) in Minot, ND. On the other hand, traveling at this time of year means there will be far fewer, if any, other tourists at some of the places you'll be visiting, and scenic wonders take on an entirely different beauty when draped in snow or frost. If your rig has a good heater to get you through the nights, then this may be a trip worth making.

    Which brings us to your use of the term "big RV". I'll assume that you've at least priced out what it would cost to rent one of these for a month and leave it some 3,000 miles from where you pick it up and are comfortable with that. Use of such a vehicle and the attendant extra gas and time needed to move it down the highway mean that it is not a decision made on economic grounds, but rather a choice of lifestyle that you're willing to pay for. One of the other ways you pay for the RV lifestyle is that you may not be comfortable maneuvering your rig down certain roads. For example, I would normally strongly recommend that you take the Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1) between San Francisco and Los Angeles, but this is a twisty two lane road with occasional steep drop-offs and few places to pass. Not only may you be uncomfortable in spots, but there is a distinct likelihood that you will be holding up other traffic. Similarly, many of the roads in national parks are also slow going two lane roads. Other scenic roads, Gates Pass Rd near my home for example, carry restrictions prohibiting vehicles longer or wider than certain limits. It may be that you would be better off with a 'medium' rather than a 'big' RV.

    So, you can certainly make the trip you're looking at, but there are a few things you should keep in mind as you set up its basic parameters.


  4. Default

    hi, many thanks for your quick reply. We are aware of the genereal weather at that time of the year. Unfortunately this is the only time we can get the time off work. Our main concern was driving an unfamiliar large vehicle in unfamiliar territory and heavy snow. Although, as long as we can drive safely without chains we will be happy. Can you please recommend a route from san Fran or from LA to the Grand Canyon at this time of the year. Ideally we would like to see Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia Nat. P, Death Valley, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon and then drive south to Orlando via Phoenix, Tucson... many thanks.

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

    Default Open to change.


    I really like San Fran as far as City's go as it's fairly compact, has Lot's to do and a good transport network. You can get to Yosemite and the Valley floor, but the high ground will be off limits due to winter snow accumulation. Kings canyon will also be a no go area at this time of year. Sequoia is accessible this time of year, but like Yosemite valley could have chain restrictions in place and see snow. I think you might have to play it as you go and keep up to date with weather forecasts while on the move.

    The Generals highway [198] through Sequoia also has an advisory lenght restriction of 25ft [or there abouts] if you continue South to Three Rivers, but it's not a legal limit and we travelled it in a 30ft class 'C' RV. Slow and windy but worth the effort, although I am not sure it would be worth the risk if there is a lot of snow and ice around.

    If the weather isn't "playing ball" you could head down the coast on the PCH and cut inland. Another slow going windy road as previously said, but where ever you go in an RV it is customary [and legal requirement in places] to pull into a turn out and let traffic through if they are stuck behind you. We have done our trips in an RV and found the drivers in the US to be kind and patient and you will get rewarded with a toot of the horn and a big wave by acting this way.

    Continuing South around the Southern end of the Sierra's via Bakersfield or Lake Isabella and you can head North on 395 to Olancha or 178 through Ridgecrest and Trona to 190 across to Death valley junction to Pahrump on State line/ Ash Meadows Rd and 160 to Vegas. From Vegas you can head over the Hoover dam and 93 to I40 to the South rim of the Grand canyon.

  6. Default

    The rv we have been quoted for is about 30 ft long and is called a C class 30 if that means any thing to you. It's not the bus looking one but is a truck style with the sleep over cab. For us in the UK most USD style vehicles are very large. We have been quoted a one way special deal.

    We were concerned that 26 days might not be enough time to take it all in and we were hoping for at least a couple of days in the sun on the beach in South florida. Do you think that we have the time to fit it all in and are we better off starting the trip in LA instead of San Fran? What would you recommend?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default not big

    You could pretty comfortably make the trip across country in a week, so a month for a one way trip should really be just fine.

    I don't really see a significant advantage of starting in LA. It would make it more difficult to fit in either the Pacific Coast Highway or Yosemite into your trip, and you'd really only save a couple hours of driving towards Death Valley.

    If you check out the planning section there are several articles about RVs, including classes, option, and other info. How to Rent an RV really is should be on your must read list.

  8. Default

    Many thanks for all your replies. we are really grateful for all the advice. I think we are going to travel from SF down the PCH and cut across as recommended to Death Valley etc.

    Can anybody recommend a route from the Hoover dam heading south across Arizona? we are really keen to take in the classic wild west desert scenery. Where would be best to visit? Tombstone? what about after that through New Mexico /Texas? Again thanks in advance for your help.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default How I'd Do It

    Bearing in mind that this is just one man's (an Arizonan to be sure) choice of a route, and that you have plenty of time to wander off to see other things, but not the infinite amount of time it would take to see everything, here is one route through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas that should give you a good view of several different aspects of the desert southwest. After crossing Hoover Dam, continue down US-93 to Kingman and take I-40 west to exit 44 and county road 10, the Oatman-Toprock Highway, to Oatman. Double back to Kingman and use AZ-66, the old US Route 66, through Peach Springs to Seligman and Williams. Next head north on AZ-64 into and through Grand Canyon National Park exiting to the east and taking US-89 south to Flagstaff. Leave Flag on I-17 south and quickly exit onto AZ-89A south through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona, returning to I-17 on AZ-179. Head down I-17 to Phoenix and then take I-10 east to Tucson and take the time to visit both the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and the west unit of Saguaro National Park. Continuing east on I-10, your next stop would be on AZ-90, Kartchner Caverns. Tombstone would fit in here if you really want to see it, but I think you'd be disappointed. It is mostly tourist venues at this point with the exception of Boot Hill. But if you go, I recommend a walk through the Bird Cage, a brothel and gambling hall owned and operated by Wyatt Earp and one of the few authentic buildings remaining from those days. Whether you do or don't, your next target would be the old mining town of Bisbee after which a drive on AZ-80 east would return you to I-10 just inside New Mexico. At Las Cruces, leave I-10 ant take US-70 east to White Sands National Monument. From there you can head north on US-54 and NM-55 to Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument and then backtrack a bit to US-380 east to Roswell and then south on US-285 with a short side trip to Carlsbad Caverns before continuing on into Texas. At Fort Stockton switch to US-385 and visit Big Bend National Park. Then head east on US-90 to San Antonio.

    That is, as I said, just one interpretation of "a route from the Hoover dam heading south across Arizona...[and] after that through New Mexico /Texas". There are plenty of others.


  10. Default

    Thanks so much for all your kind advice. We are busy trying to look up all the great places and routes that you have given us.

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