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California circuit trip

Bristol, United...
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California circuit trip

(reposted from another)

We (2 adults) are booked on a flight Heathrow to LAX for 26th March (yes, 1 week now), returning from LAX -> Heathrow 16th April, so have 3 weeks. So far have only booked 3 nights hotel in Los Angeles just to get us started.

From there we were either going to do 'walk-in' or possibly using a chain (say Comfort Inn) booking ahead 'on demand'.

I have a notion of a circular route taking in Phoenix - Grand Canyon - Las Vegas ( was unsure, but everyone seems to say its a place you must see, even if you hate it :) ) , Death Valley, possibly Yosemite (option) but not if closed by snow, round to San Francisco, then down the coast for LA departure.

Anyway, it's all very flexible and open to recommendations.

We also need to arrange a car for that.

Oh, and if someone can stop the bloody GB Pound sinking further against the US Dollar that would be nice.

TIA

Marina, California
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for Tucson
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1. Re: California circuit trip

You're probably too late to be able to stay inside Grand Canyon National Park, but it's always worth trying. But I wouldn't recommend trying "walk-ins" at hotels in most of these places. You'll generally get a worse rate than you would had you booked online, and there may be something random going on in the city in which you're trying to stay filling up all the hotels. Phoenix will still be busy earlier in the month because of baseball Spring Training.

Yosemite will not be closed, but the pass over the mountains in Yosemite will definitely be. You will have to cut south to Route 58/Bakersfield to get around. Some of the roads in the park also may be closed, but there's no telling.

You should see Las Vegas if you never have before. From there, you can decide whether or not you would go back.

Uden, The...
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2. Re: California circuit trip

Blame Cyprus for it ;) You are rather late planning this trip.

Los Angeles-Kingman-Grand Canyon-Page-Bryce-Zion-Las Vegas-Death Valley-Yosemite (via Bakersfield, Tioga Pass will be closed)-San Francisco-Monterey-Cambria-Los Angeles will be doable in 3 weeks.

Rent the car now. Maybe try www.carhire3000.com or http://www.usrentacar.co.uk/default.aspx

Tet

Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
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3. Re: California circuit trip

Hi again Hans

Thanks for starting your own topic.

Yes, I too wish the pound wasn't sinking so fast. It's affecting my upcoming travel plans, and I'm not even going to the USA!

Book your car rental ASAP to get the best prices. Don't use a .com website, either use a consolidator (list to follow) or the .co.uk version of any global rental company. The consolidators are usually cheaper than the same car booked directly, but you do need to research to be sure.

Make sure the prices you are given include all the necessary insurances such as CDW and SLI (there are other names and abbreviations for these, just to confuse matters), plus extra drivers and other needs. Book the car you want, upgrades at airports are rarely cheaper, even when they claim they are!

Try:

www.rentalcars.com

www.usrentacar.co.uk

www.holidayautos.co.uk

There are others, too - perhaps look at the travelsupermarket website. For lots of tips and info on the whole can of worms that is renting in the USA, see this long running topic. Some of the better tips are buried in the many responses:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i12567-k4713887…

If you've any questions once you've started to shop around, just ask. do note convertible Mustangs are popular but pricey and don't hold much luggage. Most regular road trips aim for a medium size SUV as you get a high positions for the views. They won't necessarily actually be 4WD.

Finding your accommodation on the fly is probably fine at that time of year as its before the main travel season and there are no public US holidays then. However, you don't necessarily get the best price that way. Always try and get them to match their web price or ask for a AAA discount - as you are unlikely to be asked for membership proof. Also, as you cross state borders, tourist ofices plus gas stations anywhere can have coupon books for discounts on hotels, motels and meals - but usually for mid week deals rather than for weekends. Keeping to one chain can build up enough points for a free night, ChoiceHotels have the widest number of properties and one of the better schemes. There are several brands under their umbrella at different price points and levels of luxury.

Now the route: If you research on googlemaps or other websites, do know that the driving times are usually optimistic and don't allow for traffic congestion, road construction or fuel and comfort stops and meal breaks.

In a 3 week loop back to LAX, you could head to Palm Springs, Phoenix (a good base but not really a tourist destination), Sedona, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Page/Lake Powell area, Moab (for Arches and Canyonlands NPs), Capitol Reefs, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Las Vegas, Death Valley, a stop on 395 somewhere (Lone Pine or Bishop) (Yosemite not available in April) so Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Monterey/Carmel, Pismo Beach/San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. From there, if your fight leaves late evening you can make it back to LAX comfortably on the last day.

If you're interested in all those national parks, buy the $80 park pass at the first one. If less interested, skip some and after Lake Tahoe add some time in Napa/Sonoma before heading to SF via the Golden Gate bridge.

There are a few spare nights for extra stops. If you've no interest in Vegas don't bother.

Have a great trip, and post a trip report please.

SWT

Edited: 19 March 2013, 15:08
Lewes, United...
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for Road Trips
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4. Re: California circuit trip

Tet, it isn't Cyprus's fault but those ***%*** unelected Germany centric Eurocrats! I will say no more on this topic!

SWT

Houston, TX
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5. Re: California circuit trip

If you cannot secure accommodation within Grand Canyon National Park, look at Tusayan, which is the small gateway town at the southern entrance to the park. There are 5 or 6 places there, but if the park is full, they might be fully booked too. For Zion, if park is full, look at Springdale. For Bryce Canyon, check Ruby's just outside the entrance. Really take a look at lodging in/near Death Valley National Park if that is in your plans--very remote region and I wouldn't take a chance on just turning up and hoping for the best.

The $80 pass is well worth it if you are visiting multiple national parks. As mentioned, you can buy it at the entrance to the first park you visit. The ranger will use a permanent marker to write the name of the primay passholder on the pass itself. Then at each park you visit you show the pass and the photo ID of the primary person to get in at no additional cost.

Uden, The...
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6. Re: California circuit trip

Think Moab and lake Tahoe will be out of reach in a 3 weeks roundtrip but you always can try if you don't mind the extra driving.

Lewes, United...
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for Road Trips
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7. Re: California circuit trip

Didn't make myself totally clear, sorry. That was a list of places to consider. You cannot do it all in 3 weeks!

SWT

Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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8. Re: California circuit trip

Many many US public schools will be on Spring Break next week or the week after. So you'll probably see lots of families vacationing with you and taking up space in those nice hotels you had hoped to stay in. Get reservations now.

Bristol, United...
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9. Re: California circuit trip

Thank you all for your suggestions.

I have been working my way through them and making reservations as appropriate.

Still a few loose ends to tie up, but its getting there.

Thanks again.

10. Re: California circuit trip

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