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  1. Default Your advice needed on my west coast loop itinerary please, i have questions :)

    Hi, what a informative site, i have read most of the recommened threads but still have some questions, i appreciate that this is a very popular route, hope someone can offer some advice.

    I'll be arriving in summer and have 20 days to do my loop. We are on a backpackers budget so everything as cheap as possible, but don't want to camp as we won't have any tents etc with us as we are flying over from south africa.

    This is my route: LA - San Fran on the 101, San Fran using I80+I580+I205+I5+120+120 to Yosamite travel via tiogo pass to lee vining then down on the 395 then onto the 190 at lone pine into Death Valley then the 160 into Vegas. Stay over there for 3 nights then go on to the grand canyon then on to San Diego and back up to LA on the 5.

    I will number my questions to make it easy to answer the ones you know about :)

    1. Is there anywhere that is good to overnight between LA and San Fran or should we just drive the whole thing in one go? Not into wine tasting, we are young, like beaches and quirky sights.

    2. Is the route i chose between san fran to yosemite the best and most scenic?

    3. Where is the best place to overnight in yosemite?

    4. Best place to overnight in Deathvalley? Low Budget please.

    5. Best route from Vegas into the grandcanyon and what area to overnight there, inside or on the rim, a cheapy motel? Would we need more than 1 night to take it all in, i guess so, if yes which 2 areas in the canyon should we stay?

    6. I would like to include Rachel Nevade in to do the ET highway and stay over somewhere there maybe, is the best way to go from death valley directly there and then down into vegas (is that even possible road wise?) or to go there after vegas en route to the grand canyon? And is that possible road wise?

    7. Best route from Grand Canyon to San Diego, i.e should we go via flagstaff and pheonix? Where else is good to stay over as it looks like a pretty long way from the grand canyon to San Diego.

    8. Where is nice to stay over between San Diego and LA?

    Thank you very much for your help!!! We are from south africa so not that clued up on america apart from what i can see on google maps which i have studied for hours and hours, so would really appreciate your expertise!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    1. 101 is a freeway that never sees the ocean except between Ventura and just west of Santa Barbara, and again for a brief stretch through Pismo Beach. I'd recommend you take CA-1 out of LA to Oxnard, then 101 to San Luis Obispo, then back on 1 to SF. This is going to be a long 2 day drive, but doable. A second night may be advisable. A good halfway point would be San Simeon, which has a Motel 6 which is about $70 a night.

    2. Yes.

    3. There is nothing inexpensive in or near Yosemite that I'm aware of, someone else may have some ideas.

    4. The least expensive lodging in the DV area is the Amargosa Opera House Hotel on CA-127 at Death Valley Junction. Rooms start at around $60. Reservations are essential and may be made online. Be advised that Death Valley is blazing hot in the summer. You may be able to find reasonable cost lodging in Ridgecrest or Pahrump. Lone Pine is an option, but more pricey. Bishop is a good option on the way down from Yosemite.

    5. US-93 across the Hoover Dam to Kingman, then either I-40 or old Route 66, to Williams. On a budget, you will have to stay in Williams or Flagstaff, there's nothing under $100 in or near the park.

    6. There is absolutely no lodging anywhere near Rachel. From Death Valley, go to US-95 to Tonopah. That is your last chance for anything - food, fuel, or lodging. Take US-6 to Warm Springs, where you can pick up the ET Highway. This ends at US-93, take that to Las Vegas.

    7. I-17 to Phoenix, then I-8. It's a very long 1 day drive, you should be able to find reasonable lodging in Phoenix or Yuma, there is nothing in between. The Motel 6 in Yuma is around $50.

    8. SD to LA is only a 2 to 3 hour drive on I-5, no point in stopping. I'd leave SD right after morning rush and get to LA before evening rush.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default Another precinct heard from

    1. Another option going up the coast is Cayucos, a funky little beach town with a few motels or slightly south of that in/near Morro Bay. It will be very very hard to find really cheap places anywhere along the coast (or in most of California for that matter, but you CAN find motels in Cayucos for under $100/night.

    Funky Motel in Funky Cayucos

    Photo: Don Casey

    3. Cheapest non-camping option in Yosemite Valley is an un-heated tent cabin in Curry Village at $110/night. Reserve early as all lodging in Yosemite Valley fills up during the Summer.

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

    Default Tent camping ?

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    If you are into camping have you considered purchasing some basic camping gear when you arrive in the US ? With 19/20 nights and the cost of lodging in and around the NP's it will be worth doing your sums and compare the cost of camping equipment against how many nights you will spend away from cities. While staying in the cities it might be worth checking out hostel options to help your budget.

    If you really wanted to head to Rachel your quickest option would be just to take a day trip from Vegas and back which would be about 5.5/6 hours of driving both ways, but be warned there is not much to see but a highway through the desert and a small diner with some UFO photos inside. I really enjoyed the drive through there but to make a large detour is something else. If you followed glc's route through Warm springs stop off there at the derelict buildings and you will see a hot spring that has been diverted into a pool. Although fenced off people have been known to dip their toes from time to time.

    E.T highway.

    Warm springs

    If you decided to camp it is quite common for people who have bought camping equipment to donate it to a charity at the end of the trip, they save money and it also helps less fortunate people as well, win, win !

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Two Thumbs Up for Cayucos

    Cayucos has been my place of destination for several years along the coast. Some of the motels are much nicer than funky... but none are very expensive. Great bar in town too!


  6. Default

    Thanks for all the advice guys!! So the plan is now:
    LA for 2 nights,
    then take 2 nights to do LA to san fran, stopping in San Luis Obispo and Monteray,
    stay in SF for 3 nights,
    drive over to yosamite, stay at the yosemitebug which was surprisingly cheap, it is just outside the park, i can't remember now but it is about $45 for a tent cabin.
    Get up real early and drive through yosemite, sleep over in either bishop or lone pine (hopefully at a Keough Hot Springs just south of bishop, also about $79),
    get up super early and drive to vegas through death valley, stopping for lunch somewhere to get out of the midday heat, maybe badwater,
    get to vegas late, spend 3 nights there,
    drive on to grand canyon, spend 1 night in the bright angel lodge in a cheap cabin for about $79.
    Then down to San Diego, and yeah there is not much to see inbetween the 2 places, going to be a looong drive, think we are going to overnight Lake Navasu city to break the 10hr drive in half, looked a bit more fun than Phoenix.
    Then from San Diego, after 3 nights, just leave real early and drive back up to LA slowly taking the whole day,
    then a few more days in LA before i am off to Hawaii.
    Rachel and area 51 looks like too much of a side trip, maybe if we get really bored of vegas we will drive up there as a daytrip.

  7. Default

    HI i have another question, this time about motels. Is it possible to just drive and find a motel as you go along for a night? Or does it have to be booked beforehand? Bit expensive for me to call the smaller motels from London and a lot of them don't have websites. We would like budget motels, a pool would be nice but not neccesary. Can anyone recomment a small motel in the below locations? Or at least the best area of the town to look for a motel that is easy driving to the center. Are chain motels like motel 6 and that lot soulless or are they OK? We want retro cheap and cheerful and not too much in the middel of nowhere.
    san diego
    san fran
    venice beach/santa monica
    san luis obispo
    lake navasu city.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    If you are staying at low cost motels - especially the mom and pops - most of the time you'll be fine without a reservation. It would be very rare in large cities not to be able to find some place to stay, even though it might not be exactly what you want. And chain motels make up the vast majority of motel stays in the US, so if you stay there you'll be doing what most other people do.

    Having said that, there are really too many motel choices in any one city for us to make specific recommendation that are based on much personal experience, and we certainly just don't have the resources to offer specifics on motels for every city in your trip. You'd be better off taking a look a site like trip advisor, or any one of the major motel booking sites which can provide much more specific information and reviews about specific places to stay.

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