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18 day SF, LV, LA loop itinerary

Cambridge, United...
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18 day SF, LV, LA loop itinerary

Hi,

I'm planning a trip in the autumn/fall (end of sept) to California; it started at 14 days but after researching on here I realised that was a bit hectic so added some extra days. We're into scenery, culture/history, Americana, but will probably be tucked up in bed with our cocoa by 11pm.

I'd be grateful for any feedback from local experts on the following itinerary:

1 Fri Arrive SFO

2 Sat SF

3 Sun SF

4 Mon Drive Yosemite

5 Tue Yosemite

6 Wed Yosemite -> Lone Pine

7 Thu Lone Pine -> Death Valley -> Las Vegas

8 Fri LV [Grand Canyon tour]

9 Sat LV -> Barstow [Calico ghost town, mojave preserve?]

10 Sun Barstow -> LA [explore]

11 Mon LA [Universal Studio Tour]

12 Tue LA [Hollywood etc]

13 Wed LA -> Santa Barbara

14 Thu Santa Barbara -> Cambria

15 Fri Cambria -> Monterey

16 Sat Monterey -> Santa Cruz [Big Basin/Henry Cowell] -> HalfMoonBay

17 Sun SF, Fly home

I've taken the oft-given advice of renting a car as we leave SF. We're including LV just for the whole experience, plus the Grand Canyon trip. Bar the first couple of legs, the day to day driving is pretty undemanding, and I've finished up with a gentle jaunt up highway 1 in the last few days. I'm planning on seeing some big trees at Big Basin, rather than try to build in a difficult detour to Sequoia NP.

Route is here: https:/…5383b3ca1be74ab14f00301b

Many thanks!

Washington State
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1. Re: 18 day SF, LV, LA loop itinerary

This looks terrific!

Not interested in driving yourself to the South Rim of Grand Canyon NP and enjoying sunset & sunrise?

I'm not sure about Barstow. Hopefully others will add their 2 cents.

Cambridge, United...
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2. Re: 18 day SF, LV, LA loop itinerary

Is the South Rim superior to where the helos go? I hadn't considered it, but it probably actually works out cheaper, altho would have to find a day from the rest of the schedule. "Not sure about Barstow" seems to be the prevailing opinion ;) It is about halfway tho and puts us in a good spot for Calico.

Norwich, United...
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3. Re: 18 day SF, LV, LA loop itinerary

> Is the South Rim superior to where the helos go?

Yes. The helicopters go to Grand Canyon West which is in an indian reservation, not the national park, and the general opinion is that the views in the park are far superior. Helicopter trips are of course extremely expensive but I guess also a great experience.

However, you'll need an overnight stop in or near the Grand Canyon (in descending order of desirability: in the park - might be booked up; Tusayan just south of the park, Williams on I-40, or as a last choice Flagstaff on I-40).

You'll almost certainly bitterly regret not giving Yosemite another day, so I'd agree with the other poster's suggestion of dropping Barstow, or perhaps only spending one day in San Francisco (but that's a very controversial suggestion and it's your holiday, your time, your money, and your decision).

Uden, The...
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4. Re: 18 day SF, LV, LA loop itinerary

I consider Galico a tourist trap but that's just me. A very genuine ghosttown is Bodie and you can add this between Yosemite and Lone Pine but an early start from Yosemite is required. You'll get to Lee Vining at the east side of Tioga pass and count on 3 hours for a visit to Bodie from Lee Vining-Bodie and back to Lee Vining. Also Mono Lake is worth visiting. Instead Lone Pine you also can stay Mammoth Lakes or Bishop.

And yes, add a night to GCNP but make a reservation www.grandcanyonlodges.com

You can save a day and add it some place else by driving from LA to Cambria with lunch in Santa Barbara. Good plan to take all day between Cambria and Monterey. October is the time for the scare crow festival in Cambria (very nice) but I suggest to make a reservation there also. If you can afford, Moonstone beach has a great location.

The drive between GC and LA will be 8-9 hours. Maybe also check out Sedona and Palm Springs in between. Both places have a lot to offer.

Tet

Cambridge, United...
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5. Re: 18 day SF, LV, LA loop itinerary

Thank you all for your help! I've taken your advice, ditched the helo trip for "proper" Grand Canyon. Was able to get one of the last rooms available in the park itself, so that was very timely & useful advice! They only had friday availability and I can't change my SF reservations, so Las Vegas has got squeezed a bit but hopefully it's enough to soak up the ambience.

Itinerary now looks like this:

1F Fly SFO

2S SF [Alcatraz]

3S SF

4M Drive Yosemite

5T Yosemite

6W Yos -> Bodie -> Mono Lake -> Lone Pine

7T Lone Pine -> Death Valley -> Las Vegas

8F LV -> Grand Canyon NP

9S Grand Canyon -> Sedona

10S Sedona -> Palm Springs

11M Palm Springs -> LA [explore]

12T LA [studio tour]

13W LA [Hollywood etc]

14T LA -> S.Barbara -> Cambria [Moonstone Bch Dr]

15F Cambria-> Monterey

16S Monterey -> S.Cruz [Big Basin,H.Cowell] -> Half Moon Bay

17S SFO->UK

revised route: https:/…5383b3ca1be74ab14f00301b

Uden, The...
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6. Re: 18 day SF, LV, LA loop itinerary

Go for it!

Santa Clara...
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7. Re: 18 day SF, LV, LA loop itinerary

>>> I'm planning on seeing some big trees at Big Basin, rather than try to build in a difficult detour to Sequoia NP<<<

Just to clarify, the big trees at Big Basin are coast redwoods while the ones at Sequoia NP are giant sequoia. Big Basin is relatively harder to get to via a very narrow country road. You can see them at Henry Cowell where you are going already. But it looks feasible if you are just going from Monterey to both Henry Cowell and Big Basin before landing at Half Moon Bay.

Another place to see the giant sequoias is the Mariposa Grove in the southern part of Yosemite NP but it does take some efforts.

Here is more info in case you haven't seen this: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c195829/Califo…

I hope you built yourself some down time when you get home. It is a busy but exciting road trip.

Danville, California
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8. Re: 18 day SF, LV, LA loop itinerary

This is a very well planned road trip! You will have a wonderful time, especially with the "usual" great weather in late September, early October!

Enjoy!

Washington State
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9. Re: 18 day SF, LV, LA loop itinerary

Many visitors travel from San Francisco to the South Entrance of Yosemite NP, visiting Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias first thing. Then they continue north into the Park on Wawona Road / Hwy 41.

Cambridge, United...
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10. Re: 18 day SF, LV, LA loop itinerary

Thanks, that is an excellent suggestion, I think we'll do that too.