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  1. Default California Sept/Oct/Nov...advice needed!!


    We have been looking at doing a road trip to America for a while now and think we have finally decided where to go.
    We have decided to do the West Coast this time however trying to make sure we don't miss anything out and that the route is the one for us it what is holding us back.

    It is for 4 adults. We are in the process of trying to decide on September/Oct or Nov. Main thing is we want it a bit quieter than the hustle and bustle of peak season

    We are quite into a nice scenic trip and would like to see the beautiful national parks, lakes and nature. Therefore spending time in Yosemite is quite important. We also want a day to see Disneyland and Universal (maybe 1 park at the beginning of our stay and 1 at the end). We are considering 2 nights in Las Vegas and 2 nights in San Fran

    The route that 1 travel operator has set out for us is
    1 night in LA
    2 nights Sheraton San Diego Mission Valley
    2 nights The New Tropicana Las Vegas
    1 night Furnace Creek Ranch Death Valley
    2 nights Tenaya Lodge Yosemite
    2 nights Galleria Park Hotel San Francisco
    1 night Hilton Garden Inn Monterey
    1 night Crowne Plaza Ventura
    2 nights Sheraton Anaheim

    Anyone have any views on whether or not this is a good plan?

    We want to see as much as we can (so are spending 2 nights in al the above places necessary?) however we don't want to be driving all the time and missing out.

    We are going for 14 nights however can add a bit more if that may be necessary. Is there anywhere that we should certainly not miss whilst we are in the 'area'? Is there any attractions etc in the route that may be of interest? We have read through a lot of the forums on here and continue to try and get some ideas.

    Also we have focused on Los Angeles to San Francisco but we don't really know much about the way back (down the coast)

    We are very interested to hear any hints or tips anyone may have for us as this is our first time (hopefully not our last) doing an American Roadtrip!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Relatively Narrow Window of Opportunity

    Your basic trip is obviously a good one and one of the most discussed here. And the general timing - fall - should work, but there are a couple of things that you need to be aware of that will somewhat limit when you should do this trip. I'm assuming that, since September is still in the mix for possible dates, that this RoadTrip will take place next year.

    At the back end, of course your vacation window is limited by snow in Yosemite which typically closes Tioga Pass over the Sierra Nevada to the west around the end of October I really wouldn't plan on getting over the pass, or even being in the park, anytime in November.

    At the front end, you're simply waiting for the bulk of the summer tourists to clear out. The single event that will most determine when that will happen is when schools start back into session. This has been pushing back into August in recent years, all to the good for your purposes. The second major determinant will be weather. While no one can predict weather a year in advance, we can look at climatological averages over the last few decades and those predict that mid-September temperature ranges will go from a high of 82°F (28°C) during the day down to a low of 51°F (11°C) over night. In mid-October, that range drops to 71-42°F (22-6°C). August is also the driest month, with rainfall starting to increase slowly through September and October until the wet season during the late fall, winter, and early spring.

    For my money, I'd aim for the first couple of weeks in October. Crowds will be as low as they're going to be while still giving you a shot at good weather and still being able to get to the park from the east (Death Valley) through Tioga Pass. In addition, this is also the time of year when fall foliage usually reaches its peak in the valley. On the downside, the waterfalls for which Yosemite is renowned will be reduced to minimum flows. So, it's all a matter of balancing various tradeoffs, but again - I'd aim to be in Yosemite, the most time sensitive pace on your itinerary, in the first couple of weeks of October.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 10-06-2013 at 04:23 PM. Reason: Added info about rainfall

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

    Default Agreed.

    October can be a wonderful month to travel and explore in this area. As long as the tour operator is in tune with what you want to see and do then you have a wonderful trip to look forward to. If you have the option of spending another couple of nights I would certainly consider driving to the GC south rim from SD before heading to Vegas.

    Furnace Creek is a fine place to stop, but as it's only just over two hours from Vegas you could continue further and shorten your onward trip to Yosemite with time to explore some of the Valley. Lone Pine or even Bishop would be a couple of options on 395, or there are lodgings at Panamint Springs on the edge of the park on 190.

  4. Default

    Thanks so much for your help

    Beginning of October it is then. Bit disappointed about the waterfalls, have heard that before, if we were to go earlier in the spring when would you say the best month to visit would be?

    I will have a look at the other hotels you mentioned Southwest Dave thanks (see that's advice I couldn't buy! :D)

    Do you think it would be possible to do a night nr GC or is there too much to see? Also I really wouldn't be doing a helicopter ride when there (too scared) so is it still worth a visit?

    What about Lake Tahoe etc is that worth a visit or night stay? Love the thought of all the parks, lakes and nature however only seem to be getting all that at Yosemite.

    Also is that they way you would travel back (along the coast) is there anything go to see and do there? We aren't 'sitting relaxing on beach' kinda people so would be looking for things to do and see there but think we have concentrated too much on LA to San Fran.

    Thanks again!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default It's all about you.

    You could get away with one night at, or near to the Grand canyon as long as you are happy to have a long day on the road from SD.

    Seeing the GC from the rim with your feet firmly on the ground is the best way to appreciate it, even though a flight over the NP is spectacular and a memorable experience. A lot of people think they have been to the Grand canyon NP after taking a helicopter flight from Vegas when in fact they have not been to the NP at all, but to the west rim on Indian lands which is not part of the NP.

    Lake Tahoe along with many other stops would be considered worth it, but only if you have time to enjoy the places you are already visiting. It's all down to balancing your trip to match your tastes and at a pace that you are comfortable with and that's why I mentioned that point in reply to whether or not the tour operator has come up with a good plan. As an example my personal preference would be to visit the GC and go into southern Utah and visit Bryce canyon and Zion NP rather than spending time in LA and SD, but it's all about you and what you want to do.

    The coast road is a wonderful scenic drive with State Parks, seaside towns and attractions like Hearst Castle. Monterey has the Aquarium and nearby the famous 17 mile drive.

    You'll find a lot of info searching the forums and if you haven't already check out the link in Buck's earlier post.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Springtime

    I can't remember all the things we considered in our evaluation, but my wife and I recently (this year) looked at exactly the same question you're now mulling over: whether to go to Yosemite in the fall or spring, and which months are the best in each season. We ended up choosing spring over winter, and settling on the second or third week in May for a spring visit.


  7. Default


    You have Tenaya Lodge on your list for Yosemite. It is actually outside the national park in Fish Camp. The Wawona Hotel is in the park and Ahwanee, Yosemite Lodge plus Curry Village are in the valley. Reservations can be and are made far in advance.

    Oct is nice and usually cooler. Summer traditionally ends with Labor Day, the first Monday in Sept., and on many vacations our family found fewer travelers the next day.

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