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  1. Default Seattle - SF - LA - Yosemite - SF: First time RV in the US

    Dear all,
    my wife and I are really excited planning our first RV trip in the US. We have had a fantastic time driving an RV through New Zealand and would like to experience the US Westcoast.
    Reasons why we enjoy driving the RV:
    Be spontaneous regarding staying a bit longer in places we like, take a break anywhere any time, prepare your own meals and not being dependent on restaurants three times a day (food allergies), enjoy the driving (even on narrow roads such as in New Zealand)

    We are starting the trip in about 5 weeks from now and we have some very basic questions to start with

    1) Is an RV the right mode of transport for this trip or would you recommend a car (with some flexibility to sleep in) + tent + some motel nights?
    2) How spontaneous can we be with the RV? We have neither booked the RV (have some pending offers) nor any campgrounds
    3) We would prefer not to stay in extremely "advanced" and pricey campsites every night (we figured from NZ that we dont need much water, electricity, wifi etc.) - are there options available along our trip?

    I was really looking forward to the RV trip, but reading through some of the comments on other forums I am a bit freaked out (e.g., "you need to pre-book everything 4 months ahead at least" --> if that is true, then RV gives me no flexibility?). I was picturing us standing at nice designated RV sites in forests, at lakes, at times at RV camping sites, and if bad comes to worse at some Walmarts.

    Our itinerary looks roughly like the below (numbers represent the days)
    1 Seattle/Olympic National Park
    2 Seattle - Portland
    3 Portland - Crater Lake
    4 Cotton Wood to Redwood NP
    5 Redwood NP
    6 Cotton Wood to SF
    7 SF - Big Sur
    8 Big Sur - Santa Barbara
    9 Santa Barbara - LA
    10 LA - Sequoia
    11 Sequoia to Yosemite
    12 Yosemite
    13 Yosemite
    14 Nappa Valley
    15 Nappa Valley

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,023

    Default A bit of both.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    An RV can be a great Lifestyle choice but it certainly isn't a budget friendly option for just 2 travellers by the time you add all the associated costs (including fuel consumption) and you can't just pull up anywhere to sleep the night, it would need to be a campground, or with permission from places such as a Walmart or Truck stop for the odd free night, although it would be customary to give them some custom.

    You will likely struggle to find camp sites available in the National parks and possibly in the immediate areas around them during peak season so it would be worth researching and taking details of possible sites nearby so that you could call ahead to check availability. Having said that the National park sites offer great value and surroundings and if you are sure of any of your dates you could check for availability. (Yosemite for example) It certainly beats driving around for hours in the hope of finding an available site.

    There are plenty of private campgrounds that are not too pricey and offer full hook ups which are convenient. If you use them occasionally you can top up and empty your tanks while in a full service site.


    If you are not going to return the RV to where it came from you could also be facing a hefty one way drop off fee, although that would apply with a car as well. An alternative you may find appealing is an Escape camper van or Lost campers. You would then have the option to spend an odd night here and there in lodgings and enjoy a bit of both.

  3. Default

    Great, thank you so much Southwest Dave.
    Would you have any advice on the itinerary in general? Both my wife and I love hiking, spending time at the sea. We are not so much interested in spending much time in cities/towns during our trip (will have a few days in SF at the end anyways).
    Also, are there any campgrounds in particular that you could recommend along this route?
    Best

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,023

    Default

    A couple of things to point out is 1) To travel from Seattle to Olympic NP is really too much for a day trip and that's if you have already picked up your RV/car the day before. It would likely be close to an 8 hour round trip just to stop at Hurricane ridge. 2) You will need to keep an eye on updates in this thread regarding Big Sur as it is subject to a closure and may not be open when you travel.


    If you prefer wilderness I personally would recommend you cut back on your itinerary and even consider not going all the way down to LA. You are adding a lot of driving while heading straight past places like Mt Rainier, Mt St Helens, Lassen Nat volcanic park and the Oregon coast while not really having time for Olympic NP. Your trip is certainly doable and you have obviously done your homework, but if you do want to go the RV route I think a slightly slower pace would benefit you. If you scroll through this thread you will find some campgrounds that may be helpful to you. I would also grab a campsite in Yosemite NP if it's still at all possible.

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