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  1. Default Ideas Needed - Ultimate West Coast Trip

    Hi All

    We are leaving Australia to take 12 months off work to tour Europe but will be going via America. We would be arriving mid to late April. Our high level (but flexible) plan is to spend 4 weeks each on the West and East Coasts (including Canada). We are primarily interested in seeing natural sights (coasts, national parks etc.) but will want to spend 2-3 days in major cities / experience American culture.

    Our planning is currently focussed on the West Coast trip as this is our first destination. I've been reading the forums but the level of detail is overwhelming! I'm really after some advice on the 'must sees / dos' and a basic route (or links to other threads). We are thinking of flying into San Francisco / Las Vegas then making our way to Vancouver before flying across to the East Coast of Canada before heading back down towards New York to fly out to the UK. We could also start in Vancouver and head down if this makes more sense.

    High level things we would like to see / do on the West Coast:

    San Fran for 2-3 nights (or more if recommended)
    Grand Canyon
    Las Vegas (2 nights)
    Disneyland (unless there are strong recommendations on this)
    Grand Canyon
    Rocky Mountains
    Death Valley?

    But since we are flexible on time / route thoughts on the 'ultimate' route / itinerary would also be very useful.

    Any help / advice / links you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

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

    Default no such thing

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    As you look around here, you'll find one very consistent theme: There is no "ultimate route" or list of "must sees." What makes a roadtrip special is the ability to custom build your trip to your own personal tastes.

    Certainly all of the places you've listed could certainly make up that ultimate trip for you. Really the best thing we can tell you to do is to keep researching, looking for places you'd like to do based on your interests. Certainly, looking around more on this website can be part of that, as can looking at a good map and looking at things like that National Parks Service's website.

    One thing I will say is that your idea to drive from LA to Vancouver then fly east and leave from New York really won't work. You can't rent a car in the US and drop it off in Canada, or vice versa. Often you can drive across the border, you just can't rent in one country and leave it in another.

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

    Default Getting started.

    With a total of eight weeks in the US [and Canada], have you considered driving the entire route ? You would have the time to do so and see more from the ground. At the moment you have a "wish list" so you can put those dots on the map and start to figure out how to make it work into your overall plan. As you start to research and find the endless amount of amazing places between those dots don't be surprised to see your plan alter on more than one occasion. [Well mine always does !]

    Here is the National parks site Michael referred to where you can get info on every park across the US. You can use the search button and key words to find lots of threads such as this one with lots of ideas on the Pacific Northwest area or these great ideas in the Southwest and although the Rockies stretch far and wide my recent trip to Colorado and RMNP. In this one thread there are thousands of ideas covering each state.

    Once you have a better picture of the route that suits you it will become clearer as to where to fly into, and when all that comes together we can help to fill in the missing pieces of the jig saw, enjoy the planning it's a great part of the trip as a whole.

  4. Default Thanks for the advice

    Thanks for the advice. I'll keep researching. Re: car hire, we were planning to catch a ferry from Seattle to Vancouver.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    There is also a bus that goes back and forth from Seattle to Vancouver, in fact it stops at both airports.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default east end

    That will work while dropping off the car on the West Coast.

    For your travels east, I suspect the easiest option would be to fly to Toronto, where you could take a Buffalo and rent a car. There is also train/bus service between Montreal and New York, which could be an option.

    Something else to consider, I suspect it would be cheaper to fly from Seattle to New York than it would be to fly from Vancouver to Toronto or Montreal, since there is more competition and airline choices for US routes.

  7. Default Golden Triangle Loop (LA to LA) May 2010, 1 month


    Any advice or tips (things we're missing, driving lengths, alternative routes etc.) on the trip plan below would be greatly appreciated. The logic of heading in a clockwise loop is to be near the Tioga pass as late as possible (around May 20) to maximise the chances of it being open. We'll be hiring a campervan - will we need to book ahead for any of the venues below?

    Days 1-4 LA (4 nights)
    Day 5 - LA to San Luis Obispo ( via PCH1)
    Day 6 - San Luis Obispo to Monteray (via PCH1)
    Day 7 - Monteray to San Franscisco (via PCH1)
    Days 8-11 San Fransisco (5 nights)
    Day 12 - San Francisco to Napa Valley
    Day 13 - Napa Valley to Lake Tahoe
    Day 14 - Lake Tahoe to Yosemite
    Days 15-17 - Yosemite (4 nights)
    Day 18 - Yosemite to Mammoth Lakes (assuming pass is open)
    Day 19 - Mammoth Lakes To Death Valley
    Day 20 - Death Valley to Las Vegas
    Days 21-22 - Las Vegas (3 nights)
    Day 23 - Las Vegas to Zion
    Day 24 - Zion to Monument Valley
    Day 25 - Monument Valley to Grand Canyon
    Day 26 - Grand Canyon (2 nights)
    Day 27 - Grand Canyon to Lake Havasu
    Day 28 - Lake Havasu to LA

    Driving times appear manageable with most days under 4 hours. The biggest day will be Zion to Monument Valley (7 hours).

    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 03-23-2010 at 04:44 PM. Reason: Merged - Please don't create multiple threads about the same trip

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default I would.

    If your dates are set then I wouldn't hesitate to book the National park campgrounds as they can book up early, plus it can be quite a drive in and out each day if you have to find somewhere outside. The rest you could probably "wing it" incase you alter things a little but I would still do a little research on places that appeal and take a note of contact numbers so you could call ahead from the road.

    For NP's the campgrounds I have used and are in great locations are, Yosemite valley > the "Pines" [lower, middle upper] Zion > "Watchman campground" > Grand canyon> "Mather campground". In Vegas you could stay on the strip at "Circus, circus" but I have heard it is more of a parking lot, we stayed at the "Oasis resort" and was impressed. Although I haven't stayed there, Gouldings lodge has an RV park for Monument valley.

    You have done a good job with your planning but one thing I would change is to spend another night at Zion as you won't have much time to explore it with your drive times either side of your night there. Bryce canyon also stands out by it's absence but would also require shuffling another night.

  9. Default Thanks

    Thanks - good advice. Unfortunately looks like most of the national park spots are pretty packed so we'll have to look at alternatives.

    What chance do you give to the Tioga pass being open May 20 ish?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Guessing game.

    I would say you have a fighting chance of it being open and would put the odds slightly in your favour, however sometimes it doesn't open to June. Take a look here where you will also find links to historical data.

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