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  1. Default First Road Trip from Midwest to San Francisco


    My friend and I are currently planning a road trip for June 16-25. I'll just give you all a quick run down of what our trip looks like so far. First, we are stopping in Colorado Springs for her cousin's wedding on the 18th. We have decided to stop at Ely, NV (a little over half way from Colorado to San Francisco) to camp overnight. We then planned on driving to San Francisco to stay in a hostel. I've already picked one out which seems like it is highly recommended by many reviewers.

    My questions are regarding time mostly. How long should I expect all this to take. Will there be time to do things on the way back? For instance, I would really love to drive through Yosemite National Park and possibly take a short hike. I think we might be limited to driving there and taking stops, however, and driving straight back. If this is the case. Are there any places we can stop overnight that are interesting between San Francisco and Minneapolis?

    Also, money is not unlimited. How much do you figure a trip like this would cost? I'm figuring about $600 for gas alone. Most lodging that we're looking at is not over $20 per night.

    Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!


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

    Default very short on time

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I really think you're really overestimating how far you can or should drive in one day. Even in a speed run, we really recommend that you keep your long haul driving days to about 600 miles. That's still a good 11 hours on the road, and is about the top end of what you can safely do, even with 2 drivers.

    Ely is nearly 800 miles from Colorado Spring, including more than 100 miles of 2 lane roads, that means you're looking at a good 15 hours on the road. That's far more than you should be doing, is going to leave you exhausted with another 600 miles to drive the next day, plus you're going to need additional time to find a campsite and set up camp.

    But even if you did that trip in 2 day, you wouldn't be getting to SFO until late on the 20th, where you're going to be exhausted an not in much shape to have much fun. You could spend one day in San Francisco, but then you're going to need a good 4 days, just driving straight back, to safely get back to Minneapolis. It would be very tough to work in a detour to Yosemite into your timeline.

    I will also warn you that your lodging costs are likely low unless you are really camping every night. Hostels are usually about $20 a night, but that is per person, and in SFO there is a very good chance you'll also need to account for more money to pay for parking.

    Honestly, I would strongly recommend one of 2 things. Either you need to plan to spend more time on the road. I'd say you'd need to extend your trip by at least 3-4 days to make California worthwhile, or you shorten up your plans. Instead of San Francisco, perhaps spend some time in Denver and check out some national parks in Colorado and Utah and possibly even looping up to Yellowstone before turning back home.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default $20 per night??

    Have you actually been in contact with campgrounds and hostels, and got their price directly from them? From my experience, prices on the internet for these establishments are mostly way out of date. It is rare these days to find a hostel dorm bed for less than $25 and often closer to $30. In premier places, such as San Francisco, it is likely to be even more. Same goes for campgrounds. Very few commercial campgrounds are under $25 per night just to pitch a tent (though unlike hostels, that is for two). State parks and forests can be cheaper.

    It is safest to contact each place you plan to stay well before hand to find out their prices.

    And I'd have to agree with Michael, you'd be really pushing it to get to CA. On the other hand, you could spend a month or more exploring beautiful CO.


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