Sorry for submitting the usual questions about the West Coast america route but just wanted to get some advice.
Originially we were thinking of starting in San Fran and taking the Big Sur down to LA. We also want to go to Yosemite Park (as this seems to be the best located NP for where we are going) and also go to Las Vegas for a few days.
We're happy to rent a car or use public transports. We're mid-range budget really (don't want to stay in dumps but at the same time can't afford luxury!).
Would you suggest we start the trip even further north i.e. in Seattle? Are there some excellent things to see and pass through on our way down to San Fran? Or should we just stick to San Fran as the starting point.
Also would you suggest we go to the Grand Canyon? Is it easy to add on give the area we're covering?
Any thoughts/tips/suggested places welcome.
How much time do you have? If you have a lot of time, I'd say do all that you mentioned. If you have only a couple of weeks, I'd focus more on 1 or 2 of your areas, cuz the route you are driving, or riding is a long road, and you don't want to spend all your time in a car.
I can recommend the coastal route, Monterrey, Big Sur are beautiful. The coast north of San Fran is also amazing. Yosemite is awesome, the Grand Canyon is awesome.
There are a lot of cool places along the way, but like I said, it depends on how much time you have, and what time of year are you coming? Motels during the winter are usually not as busy, and have better rates than the summer months. However, access to the parks may not be possible, depending on snow amounts.
thanks very much for your thoughts.
Apologies for not including the time of year/duration.
We're thinking of going mid-July for about 6 weeks. I know that is primetime for most places in America due to Summer holidays etc. But as we're planning on moving on from America for our round the world trip, it works out to be the best time.
With six weeks you could see Seattle and also go down to San Francisco, then on to Big Sur and Monterey, then Yosemite, then onto Las Vegas, then to the Grand Canyon and back to Las Vegas.
However, driving back to Seattle from Las Vegas would take a lot of time and you wouldn't have enough time. For this reason, you need to price you trip for picking up a car in Seattle and dropping it off in Las Vegas--or for taking a train from Seattle to San Francisco, and then getting a car there (which you could either drop off in Las Vegas or drop off back in San Francisco).
Personally, I would do this. Start in Seattle--then go see Vancouver, then go back to Seattle, take the train down to San Francisco (flying is also an option although the scenery in Oregon and northern California is beautiful), then get a car there and go through Yosemite and Death Valley to Las Vegas. Then drive to the Grand Canyon and back. Then drive back to San Francisco by taking the car to Paso Robles, CA, visiting wineries and going over to Cambria, visiting Hearst Castle (buy your tickets early), then going north on Highway 1 up through Big Sur and Carmel, (and the 17 mile drive), then going north through Monterey and Santa Cruz and back to San Francisco.
Ah, Mid summer. Good time to go.
IF you guys are into checking out cool cities, you can't go wrong with Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, San Fran. Along with visiting these cities there are beautiful views along the way. With 6 weeks time, you should be able to see a good amount.
IF you guys are into more of the natural side of things, I'd still start in Seattle and check out the coastal drive going south to San Fran. Lots to see and do, maybe swing in to Check out Crater Lake, Mt. St. Helens, Columbia River Gorge, Yosemite National Parks. If you are going to the Grand Canyon, I'd try to see the north side, that way you can work Zion National Park into the same trip.
You obviously have a lot of options,
Good Luck and Happy Travels.
One advantage to starting in the Pacific NW is that it will still be green in summer. This is the dry season on the W. Coast, but the NW has the occasional rain shower in the summer - unlike most of California. (S. California will be mostly brown in summer) The traffic and crowding are also much less than in California. The downside is that northern beaches are much too cold for any real swimming attempt! Traffic can be overwhelming at times in the SF Bay Area and always a problem in both LA and SD.
The drive from the Seatle area to the San Diego area would be an adventure.
Not what i'd call cheap but hotels can easily run over $100 per night and its easy to spend $50 a meal at restaurants..
Doing the camping gets you a campsite every night for less than $20 and cooking your own food can probably be done for around $20-$30 per day
[ Edit: Edited on 15-Jan-2010, at 16:46 by jambo101 ]
thanks very much for taking the time to write a response. There is some great stuff here and so I'm going to go away and see what we can work with!
We're happy to end up somewhere like LA for the last stop as we need to fly on to Hawaii so think that works best.
If you get into the Las Vegas area the Hacienda Hotel Casino has cheap rooms near Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, good hiking in the area on the railroad trail, you can take this trail from the hotel to the dam where you can take a tour.
Canoe and kayak trips from the base of Hoover Dam with desert adventures are really fun. Black Canyon is a volcanic rock canyon with hot springs to camp at and slot canyons to hike. Google kayak hoover dam.
[ Edit: Edited on 29-Jan-2010, at 15:03 by lasjim ]