We are planning a road trip in Western US for mid September - early October (~2.5 weeks), starting and finishing in Los Angeles. I want to hear your opinion and pick up some tips :-)
Here's a brief outline:
* Start in LA
* Drive up to SF through SR-1, visiting Santa Barbara, Hearst Castle, a Big Sur hike and Monterrey on the way (2 nights lodging in SLO + Monterrey)
* Spend 2-3 days in SF
* SF to Napa, spend a night there
* Napa to Lake Tahoe, hike, spend a night - perhaps American River rafting on the way
* Lake Tahoe to Yosemite through I-395 and then I-120, hike and lodge at Yosemite
* Yosemite to Las Vegas, through Death Valley (I-190 I think)
* 4 nights in Las Vegas, a daytrip to Grand Canyon
* Las Vegas to Joshua Tree, spend a night
* Joshua Tree to San Diego, two nights there, a daytrip to Tijuana
* Drive back to LA
Part of the trip (until Vegas) it's my girlfriend and I only, and I'm the only driver. From Vegas we'll have two drivers. We're looking for a laid-back time and beautiful views, maybe a couple of hikes here and there.
First off, I'd love to hear your comments about the itinerary, really, anything you might have to say would be valuable.
Other than that I have a few questions:
* Lake Tahoe - is it worth it? How cold would it be? South or North shore? Would I be better off just going through Fresno and I-120 from east? How bad is I-120 (the western side) that time of season? I come from a country with absolutely 0 snow, I don't want to chance snow-driving.
* I'm a bit overwhelmed by Yosemite Park. Where to start? Where to lodge? I'm looking for maybe a 3-4 hour hiking, hopefully some green areas and glaciers would be cool, I'll have plenty of desert in Death Valley. Is Inyo Forest the same thing as Yosemite? Is one day enough?
* Is I-395 a scenic route? Again, I'd prefer a "green" route rather than one with desert as I'll have that in Death Valley.
* A car or bus for the daytrip to Grand Canyon?
* Same for the daytrip in Tijuana
* My current itinerary puts me in cities (LV, SF, SD) during weekdays. How bad is that? Should I make a big effort to slide it so I can be in cities during weekends?
Thanks in advance!