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West USA trip help please!

Kendal, United...
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231 posts
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West USA trip help please!

Hi, thank you for your patience, I realise this question has been asked many times. We are planning a west USA road trip in mid-September 2014. Having done some research there is a massive amount of advice out there, but I am suffering from information overload and having trouble deciding which route is best for us.

We are a couple in our early 50's, whose main interest is seeing beautiful scenery and natural wonders, although we also enjoy soaking up the atmosphere when visiting interesting cities. We are very fit and active, enjoy driving long distances, and have done so in the US before.

We only have 2 -3 weeks available, and although we don't mind spending a lot of time on the road, would also like time to linger in the most beautiful and rewarding areas.

A rough itinerary, including things we would like to see most are:

Fly into San Francisco from London. (3 nights?)

Rent a car.

Yosemite NP, followed by Tioga Pass and Death Valley. (4 - 5 nights?)

Las Vegas, (1 night?)

Grand Canyon NP. (2 nights?)

Somewhere between! (1night)

Santa Monica (1 night?).

The Pacific Coast Highway including Cambria, Big Sur, Monterey (4 nights?).

San Francisco (1 night).

We are also considering adding on a visit to San Diego.

I cannot decide if it will be better to do a loop as above or fly in/out of San Francisco/ LA or Phoenix following a different itinerary if this one is too ambitious.

Where are the most scenic places to break the journey between Yosemite and Las Vegas, also between GC NP and Santa Monica?

If anyone has any other suggestions of best places to stay the night or visit please tell us!

Thank you so much in advance for your help, your advice on these forums is invaluable and much appreciated.

Liverpool, UK
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1. Re: West USA trip help please!

Your plan is reasonably sound but I personally would do in a different order as follows.

Fly to Las Vegas for 2 nights followed by a 1 night at GCNP (you'll only need 2 if you plan to do any hiking in my view).

Return to LV for 1 night and then on to Death Valley for another night and then Yosemite for 2 nights followed by 3 in San Francisco (drop off car on arrival)

Leave SF for your coastal drive to LA and either fly home from LA or continue down to San Diego for a week and fly home from there.

Just another option for you to consider.

Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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2. Re: West USA trip help please!

I actually really like the loop you've planned. But of course it's your trip and you get to do it your way.

Yosemite - Las Vegas tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c182361

If you have 4 nights, how about 2 in or near Yosemite Valley, 1 around June Lake, and 1 in Death Valley NP?

GCNP - L.A. How about Kingman, AZ?

Monterey is "only" 2 hours from SFO. If you have an afternoon flight, it's not too hard to drive to SFO from Monterey in the morning.

Wednesbury, UK
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
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3. Re: West USA trip help please!


Like PNWF I quite like your plan the way you have it, taking Yosemite first (and minimising the very minor but increasing risk of some poor Fall weather end of the month).

If you have three weeks you could probably put Sedona( 2 nights) into that after GCNP (1 night) if you liked?

Kendal, United...
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4. Re: West USA trip help please!

Thank you for your imput, We had considered spending extra time in LV, but decided that 1 night just to take a quick look would suit us more, so we could stay longer in the more natural scenic areas.

Thanks Pacific for the link seems I missed that one, it was just we were looking for to help plan the route also June Lake looks a great place to stop over.

We are now also considering adding Sedona on instead of San Diego, will have to do a bit more research!

5. Re: West USA trip help please!

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