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  1. Default Planning San Diego to Portland, OR Road Trip - Advice needed

    We are planning a trip this summer flying into San Diego as our starting spot and flying home from Portland, OR. Our list of sites that we really want to see would be Joshua Tree NP, Death Valley, Yosemite, Sequoia NP, Big Sur, possibly Napa (though we will have our 11 year old daughter, so this would be a little more limited in winery visits, etc.), and possibly a couple of days at Disneyland if time/budget allow. At this point, we're planning for 2 weeks. Is that doable? Any pointers on possible routes to prevent a ton of backtracking or wasted driving? We really prefer the "road less traveled", so avoiding interstate driving, when possible and feasible is a plus. Also, any other advice on points to see would be great! This is our first time to both CA and OR, so we're starting from scratch!

  2. #2
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    Default Have you considered a loop trip ?

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Your 2 weeks is quite doable but are you aware that dropping a car off in a different state can be quite costly and your flights could also be higher in price. Have you considered doing a loop trip, perhaps out of LA? You could head to Sequoia and Yosemite and continue on an inland route to Portland (Lake Tahoe, Lassen Volcanic park, Crater Lake, Columbia River Gorge) and return via Napa and Big Sur. This would not involve any back tracking and you would potentially see more sights.

  3. Default

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for the super quick reply. Yes, we actually did look into that as well, and that could still be a possibility. We've done the one-way trip before (actually last year doing Glacier, Yellowstone, GTNP and on over to SLC). I've actually priced flights, and they are surprisingly affordable with the one-way tickets (very close to the same as a round trip, believe it or not). We were just concerned about a time crunch with a loop trip. Do you feel that we could just as easily do the loop in the time we have as to do the one way "zig-zag" style trip?

  4. #4
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    Default

    I certainly think it's doable, particularly if you started out from LA but it will depend on your priorities for the trip and at what pace you like to travel. If you definitely want to start out in San Diego and see Joshua Tree and Death valley it would obviously add time to the loop trip as they are further south and east. Of course if you have priced the flights and car rental costs and the one way trip suits you then that's good. I'd still check out Lassen Volcanic park, Burney Falls, Crater Lake and the Columbia river gorge on the way though. Have a look at your options and once you have a basic plan sorted we can help with suggestions.

  5. #5
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    Default

    Whether you do a one way or a loop, consider driving the coast from north to south so the scenic turnouts are on your side of the road.

  6. Default

    Thank you so much! This is all very helpful. GLC - That's a great point! Our first inclination was to do coast from north to south, but that point solidified that idea.

    I think we are liking the loop idea, if we can get everything in. We would really like to start in San Diego, though, and catch Joshua Tree, even if for a short sightseeing trip, I think. Flights are a good bit cheaper into San Diego, as well, for us. I had initially thought the rental car wasn't as bad for the one-way rental until I compared a little more closely (after our crazy one-way rates last year from Kalispell to SLC, it didn't seem quite so bad), but the savings there would be worth doing the loop. Thank you so much Dave, for that suggestion.

    So, here is what I've come up with very loosely. If it helps, we are looking at June 12-26th for the trip.
    Day 1 - Flying in and starting out in San Diego. We would have an early flight, but we don't want to plan much for this day in case of flight delays and to allow for some jet lag resting. If time allows and we are up for it, we thought we may try to do a 1/2 day at the zoo with our daughter. Our thoughts were to drive out of the city for lodging on the first night to get a jump start on the driving for day 2 (possibly overnight in Alpine).
    Day 2 - Drive through Joshua Tree and head toward Death Valley. This day is one of our biggest challenges as there doesn't seem to be a lot of lodging options between Joshua Tree and Death Valley. We are looking at trying to make it to Pahrump, NV just due to limited other options, but wondering if this is too lofty a goal. Open to suggestions here.
    Day 3 through Day 5 - Death Valley, Sequoia NP, King's Canyon & Yosemite. I'm really stumped on the best plan of driving for these days and best places to stay. Will 2 1/2 to 3 days be enough for these parks?
    Day 5 - Head towards Lake Tahoe
    Day 6 - Lake Tahoe & Lassen Volcanic NP
    Day 7 - Burney Falls and to Crater Lake
    *** I have looked at this point, with doing a loop trip, of looping from Crater Lake back down. We were only planning for Portland as a place to depart back home, but are there points north of Crater Lake that we should try to include?
    Day 8 - Crater Lake and head back toward CA and Hwy 1
    Day 9 - Redwood NP and Hwy 1 toward San Francisco
    Day 10 - San Fran with Muir Woods, GGB, etc. and continue down Hwy 1 via Big Sur, etc.
    Day 11 - Finish up coastal drive ending in Anaheim
    Days 12 & 13 (If time allows) - We thought we may change the pace a bit and end up in Anaheim for a couple of days at Disneyland. These days could be built into the driving, if they are needed, though, but after so many days on the road, we thought this would be fun, if we could work it out.
    Day 14 - Back to San Diego for flight home

    Obviously, that's a HUGE trip. We've got a couple of big road trips under our belts, so I feel pretty comfortable about the length of time in the car, etc. We love National Parks and National Forests, and we much prefer the off-the-beaten-path locations to the cities/big tourist locations. Our daughter is a traveling trooper, so she's good for lots of time in the car as long as we can have some good scenery and a few interesting stops along the way.

    So my questions are, is this very loose plan doable at all, and do you have any pointers on routes, especially in the DV/Sequoia/Yosemite area of the trip? Any tips for good spots to stay are also very welcome as that seems a little challenging as well.

  7. #7
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    Default

    Going from Joshua Tree to Death Valley, your best lodging options are in Ridgecrest CA. There's a "back way" into DV from Ridgecrest - the Trona road. Between DV and Sequoia, there's lodging in Lake Isabella, Bakersfield, Porterville, and Visalia. Between Kings Canyon and Yosemite, there's Fresno, Oakhurst, and Mariposa.

    Leave Yosemite via Tioga Pass to get to Tahoe. Take US-395 north to CA-89 over Monitor Pass and Luther Pass.

    I'd head back to the coast after Crater Lake, trying to do any more north of there will be too much for the time you have available.

    Rather than spending time in Redwood NP, take the Drury Parkway through Prairie Creek Redwoods SP and the Avenue of the Giants through Humboldt Redwoods SP. Those are both the old routing of US-101 now bypassed with new roads.

  8. #8
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    Default Initial thoughts.

    A couple of initial thoughts. I think Baker or Shoshone would be options for an overnight on route to Death valley although they have limited options. That would set you up nicely for heading to Badwater Basin and Furnace creek etc the following day. I'm also thinking that you could see the giant Sequoia's in Yosemite and as you are also visiting the Redwoods it might be worth considering leaving Sequoia NP and heading towards Lee Vining and over the Tioga Pass into Yosemite. As you are not intent on heading to Portland you may have a more relaxed time heading to the coast from Lassen/Burney Falls to the Redwoods, it would certainly make your trip more relaxed.

  9. #9
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    Default

    Cutting out Sequoia/Kings Canyon would help with your time a lot. There's 1 fleabag motel in Baker with bad reviews. Shoshone has one hotel, the Shoshone Inn, with decent reviews.

    Leave Joshua Tree at the north entrance - Utah Trail - go across CA-62, turn right on Amboy Rd. Take that to the end in Amboy and turn right on old 66, check out the old Amboy tourist stop. Turn left on Kelbaker Rd and head in to the Mojave Preserve. Check out the Kelso depot and stay on Kelbaker Rd to Baker. Take CA-127 to Shoshone, then CA-178 into DV through Badwater. Leave DV on CA-190 to CA-136 to Lone Pine then take US-395 to Lee Vining, take CA-120 over Tioga Pass into Yosemite. In Lee Vining, stop at the deli in the Mobil station, excellent food. There's a good selection of lodging in Bishop.

    To get to Tahoe, leave Yosemite on CA-120 to CA-49 through Sonora, then take CA-88 to CA-89 to US-50 to Tahoe. You can stay on CA-49 to US-50 but CA-88 is less traveled and very scenic.

  10. Default

    Wow! Thank you both so much for your input! This is super helpful. These road trips are always so hard to plan and estimate times on when it's somewhere new (I had the same difficulties last year with our trip of Glacier NP to SLC via Yellowstone and Grand Teton). All of your suggestions are great! As I get into the Hwy 1 portion of planning, I may have more specific questions about drive times and points to stop/stay since most of the time MapQuest doesn't want to route you along that route and really stinks with drive time estimates.

    Thank you so much again! :)

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