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  1. #1

    Default LA to SF to Burning Man

    Hello everyone and Thank You for this fantastic forum!

    Me and my girlfriend are planning a small road trip this year. (I will be our first road trip too)
    We are flying to LA from Canada on August 19.

    This is my plan for now:
    See LA around 3 days

    Travel to SF via highway 101 (I plan to see things along the way, suggestions would be very welcomed) – I don’t want to drive to SF in one day. Instead spend a night at a motel and see more/make more stops.

    At this point I will take a day or 2 to set up for burning man festival

    Drive to Reno Nevada (maybe see some things on the way, any suggestions as to what?)

    After burning man is done I still have few days to spend. I will probably drive back to SF (I don’t know if there is anything to see in Reno, is there?)

    And finally I want to spend last few days in San Francisco Bay area.

    So here are some questions I wanted to ask.
    About car..
    Any tips of renting a car for people under 25 (I am 23years old any they try to charge me additional $20-25 per day)

    Any tips on car insurance. Does anyone know if any insurance covers “off-road” driving ? and generally, what insurance coverage do I need? (I want to be save)

    About places to see..
    So as I mentioned I will be really grateful if people can suggest places to see in and around LA, highway 101, SF, and on the way from SF to Reno.

    Also, I wanted to camp at a beach on Pacific Coast.. Is there a good place to do it? What can you suggest? (preferably near SF or on the way from LA to SF)

    I also wanted to see redwoods, but I found that that best parks are way up north (out of my way). Can I see redwoods without doing too far north in Cali? Please suggest the parks you like?

    Finally any other suggestions about this will be useful. Feel free to suggest a better plan if you think mine sucks. My dates are August 18 to September 8. I will be at burningman festival aug27 to sept3.

    Thanks to everyone for contributions!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-15-2012 at 11:53 PM. Reason: added some white space for clarity

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Welcome to the Forum

    Howdy, I wanted to greet you before I leave the office. I'm sure you'll hear from our Enthusiast group in a couple of hours. I've got to leave, but will be back in ~ 8 hours.

    Enjoy your time here.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I'm afraid it will be difficult finding a rental car without having to pay the young driver surcharge. You also will likely have to pay a one way drop fee to leave a LA car in SF. Also, taking a rental car off road will violate the rental contract.

    Why don't you plan out a "loop" trip - starting and ending in the same city? This may also save you on the airfare. You could go to SF, drive to LA along the coast, go back up inland, perhaps through Yosemite, then to the festival. From the festival, you could go see the redwoods then go back to SF.

  4. #4

    Default Rental car contract fine print

    Hello Andrei,

    First, a caveat: I've never been to northwest Nevada or to any Burning Man location prior to the mid-1990s move to the Black Rock Desert. But, ever the fan of a good spectacle, I've pre-planned (read:daydreamed on the computer) extensively about going out there one day. Surely by now you've spent much time doing the same. If so, you're probably in agreement that:

    1) The car is going to get covered in talcum-fine dust top to bottom, side to side, and inside and out. Getting it fully cleaned up before returning it will take a lot of quarters in the car wash/vacume, and it'll still be filthy enough for the rental agency to know exactly where it's been.

    2) The "off road" language on mainstream agencies' contract varies a lot, but they all generally try to prohibit it. Some say "paved highways only" while others say "numbered Federal, State, and Local routes only". The latter opens up the gravel roads north of Gerlach.

    3) The playa is NOT, to my knowledge, a numbered road of any sort. There's a designated entrance ramp from the numbered road, but then it's several miles across the playa to Black Rock City.

    4) I would assume your rental has a GPS which allows the agency to track your path, and I would further expect them to be fairly huffy about you violating the contract by taking it off-road in the sense that the contract attempts to preclude.

    5) Be extremely cautious from Fernley up to Gerlach. NV 447 crosses lots of Indian Nation land (Reservations) and you can expect vigorous enforcement efforts as the Burning Man hordes head north.

    6) If I were taking a rental there, I'd be highly motivated to purchase the additional insurance. There would seem to be more than ample opportunity for the rental to get dinged up on such a trip.

    All of that said, heading north from LA on the PCH would take you to Cambria, CA just south of the big mountains at Big Sur. The one trip I made on the PCH included a long, late lunch at Cambria, and we wished we'd have been able to overnight there. I haven't a clue as to motel costs but I strongly suspect they're quite pricey, but it never hurts to look around. Closer to SF, the PCH town of Capitola has a quaint motel right on the lagoon/oceanfront, but that's but an hour or so from your SF destination.

    Do post a trip report, won't you?


  5. #5


    Foy, do you think i will get in trouble for going to desert? I think my insurance will not be valid incase somting happends on Burning man or in the worst case insurance will be invalid for the whole trip. (not a positive thing)
    I found that often the same rules apply for driving to death valley, and yet people go there all the time (and survive).
    Do you know any good options for buying insurance on the side to deal with this?

  6. #6


    Glc, thx for idea, its an interesting one. I will need sometime to research it. but for the reason that i might have to meet people i will be camping with at BM, my primary way will be LA - SF - Burning man - SF

    What are the best things to see on highway 101?

  7. #7

    Default Can't begin to guess


    I don't regularly rent vehicles and I'm not a lawyer, so anything I might offer as to how an insurance rider on a rental vehicle might work is nothing but a wild guess. For those of us in the US, we can GENERALLY rely on our regular vehicle insurance (on the vehicles we own) to cover us when there is an accident involving a rental vehicle we've booked. The "damage waiver" offered by the rental agency then covers damage to the vehicle which our regular deductible would require come out of our pockets. I know nothing of Canadian insurance and how it might apply to a rental in the States, nor of how it may dovetail with "damage waiver" coverage on a US rental car.

    I can and will speculate any rental agency will take a dim view of violation of any material clause in the multi-page fine print contract written by a horde of Philadelphia lawyers, and the customer/violater can expect to suffer the financial consequences.


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

    Default the roads not the environment

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrei View Post
    I found that often the same rules apply for driving to death valley, and yet people go there all the time (and survive).
    Do you know any good options for buying insurance on the side to deal with this?
    The car/insurance problems that you could potential run into with Burning Man aren't caused specifically because of being in the desert, its the off-road driving needed to get there.

    That's what makes it different than Death Valley, which has miles of paved highways (of course, there are unpaved paths too).

    Even going off-road isn't typically a problem with insurance in a private car, the problem is that if your rental contract forbids it, then it could be considered an unauthorized use of the car and/or neglegance, and then used as a reason by the insurance companies to deny a claim. I don't really know a good way around that, even going with a 3rd party insurance company.

    What I would suggest is call around to different rental agencies in San Francisco and specifically ask them if you can take their car to burning man. See what they say, as I suspect you won't be the first to ask about it.

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by Foy View Post
    I'm not a lawyer, so anything I might offer as to how an insurance rider on a rental vehicle might work is nothing but a wild guess.
    Same applies to me as well. However, I will write about my own experience:

    I am from Toronto and travel to the US few times a year. My car insurance (Allstate) offers a feature where for few $s a month, I can add rental car coverage equal to my own car coverage. This ensures that whatever my own car is covered for, my rental will also be covered in the US. My insurance company sells this feature for both Canadian rentals (less $s) and American rental (more $s). Be sure to ask your insurance about American rental.

    On 101, north of L.A, Santa Barbara is a really nice town with some great beaches. Also, just north of that is the small town of Solvang which has a nice main street walk with cafe's and etc. once north of St Luis Obispo, Hwy 1 has some amazing views.

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