Road trip through the West Coast

Old Jan 14th, 2020, 12:14 AM
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Road trip through the West Coast

Hello, I’m planning a 3 week trip to the west cost of the USA for mid September. We would like to see LA, SF, Las Vegas, and some National Parks (Yosemite, GC, Bruce). This forum was very helpful for me some years ago when I visit the east coast, and I would like to ask you again about this new trip to the USA.

I’ve read some blogs and forums and I’ve prepared the following planning, even though some improves are needed, I guess:

Day 1:Arrive at Los Ángeles.
Days 2 and 3: Los Ángeles (maybe it is better to let LA for the end).
D4: Los Ángeles - Calico – Mojave (night in Needles, 412km)
D5: Rout 66 to South Rim – Grand Canyon (night in Williams, 378km)
D6: South Rim – Grand Canyon (night in Williams?)
D7:From Grand Canyon to Monument Valley (341km)
D8: From Monument Valley to Page, evening at Horseshoe Bend (205km)
D9:Visit to Antelope Canyon and Bryce Canyon (246km)
D10: From Bryce Canyon to Las Vegas ¿sightseen Zion NP? (396km)
D11: Las Vegas
D12: From Las Vegas to Yosemite NP, trhough Death Valley National Park (564km)
Dias 13 y 14: Yosemite NP
D15: From Yosemite to San Francisco (268km)
Days 16 and 17: San Francisco
Days 18 and 19: Big Sur (2 nights)
Day 20: Santa Bárbara (f.e.) – Airport.

I have another idea for the days 7 to 11, including Zion NP, but I am not sure whether it would be too much the day 7, and also few time in Las Vegas as we would be there D10 at night when with the other option we could be there for lunch.

D7:From Grand Canyon to Monument Valley (341km), visiting antelope canyon and horseshoe bend
D8: From Monument Valley (sunrise + loop)to kanab
D9: Bryce NP, night in Panguitch
D10: Zion NP , night in Las Vegas
D11: Las Vegas

What do you think about it? Any suggestion? My main doubts are:

- Are the journeys well balanced? I mean, I know this is a road trip, but I don’t want to be the whole day driving, but, on the other hand, It would be a pity to have to much time and finishing the visits at 15.00, for example.

- Would it be better to see LA at the end of the trip, after SF and Big Sur?

- Any suggestion about where to sleep between SF and LA?

Any suggestion is wellcome! Thank you very much in advance and sorry if my english is not perfect! .
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 04:33 AM
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Here is a site that puts the Utah part of your trip into a map with a list of more realistic times for travel.

Southern Utah Map - OhioHick's Travel Tips

I would be concerned that you have spent too much time on the road and not enough in the parks.

Unless you plan on a lot of hiking, one full day would be enough for Grand Canyon, and I would want to spend the night in the park. If you can get there before sunset, see the light change, spend the night, see sunrise,hike a bit, head east on 64 stopping at the viewpoints, then head up towards Monument Valley.

In Page, try for seeing Horseshoe bend in the morning and Antelope Canyon during mid day. The sun will be overhead in antelope canyon and in the afternoon, the sun at Horseshoe is in your face, on the back side of
Horseshoe, so morning is better there.

Panguitch is out of the way for visiting the Bryce/Zion part of the trip. Look for lodging nearer or in Bryce, and in Zion or in Springdale for visiting there.
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 05:24 AM
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Regarding Panguitch - we did base there for a Bryce visit last time, but that was to stay at a particular B&B (which has since closed and the proprietor retired). There was really nothing more to recommend the town or any particular lodgings I'd stay at, particularly given the extra distance.
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 07:38 AM
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Don't spend a night in Needles! If you can't make it to Las Vegas, spend a night in Primm (Exit 1). Leave Los Angeles for the end of the trip. If you don't want to drive all the way to Santa Barbara from Big Sur/Monterey try for SLO. Be sure to see the big Coast Redwoods at Henry Cowell or Big Basin.
Between Las Vegas and the south rim of the Grand Canyon, stop to see Hoover Dam.
Fill the gas tank at Tuba City on US 160. Gas station are scarce in northeastern Arizona.
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 08:47 AM
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I'm going to be somewhat blunt, but believe me when I say I'm not trying to insult you.

Basically you're making a common mistake among would-be first-time road trippers to the western US. Too much too fast.

I know it's tempting to include everything you can given the amazing diversity of this region. But when you look at it realistically, you're going to see that so much of your time is going to be spent behind the wheel, much of it hot and boring, that even with three weeks you're going to feel rushed.

For one thing, I don't know what source you're using for time estimates, but if it's one of the major mapping sites like Google or Bing, you're going to have to add at least 25%, up to 50% on top of their time estimates, and count yourself lucky if that's all it is. Remember those are "wheels turning" estimates (they're still wrong) but there's hardly one segment of your route where there won't be numerous places to stop, get out of the car, get a meal, use the loo... one after another.

The other thing is timing. You will be in some of the hottest places in North America at the hottest time of the year. Death Valley didn't get its name for nothing, and actually when it's 48C (118F) it's not especially scenic anyway (heat haze) and you can't stay out of the car for more than a couple of minutes. Yosemite's famous waterfalls will be trickles or even dry; you'll be lucky if you can avoid the (now annual, it seems) forest fires that plague the Sierras, and lodging options in all the national parks will be extremely limited.

The good news is that you have plenty of time to plan.

Can I suggest a "thought experiment?" You're coming from Europe, so consider landing in Las Vegas instead of LA. In September prices will be cheap, and the beauty of using LV as your arrival point is that there's no better place in the US to overcome jetlag since it's a 24 hour city. When the bedside clock says 3 AM but your body clock says noon, no problem, things will be hopping downstairs. Or you can go out into the desert and watch the sunrise.

Anyway, what I'd suggest is two driving loops. The first one would be a "red rocks" loop out of Las Vegas that would include Bryce and Zion, then the Grand Canyon, then back to Vegas. I'd then drop the car and buy a one-way ticket to San Francisco (around US$75.) Visit that city, get another car, and do a one-way trip south. If you want to chance Yosemite, you can go for it, but bear in mind it may well be hot, smoky, and crowded. I'd focus on the coast, especially the area around Monterey Bay and south along CA Hwy 1 past Point Lobos, Big Sur and the Hearst Castle, down to the LA area.

If you're still desperate to see the desert and sample Route 66, then swing inland from the coast to Palm Springs. You can access parts of Hwy 66 from there, and if you want a desert national park, Joshua Tree is very close to Palm Springs and is easily visited as a day trip "drive-through" destination.

Here's a map showing an imaginary route for this second drive; google the places on it - https://goo.gl/maps/kfAraGiH7n3mLqfn7
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 10:14 AM
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I'd start all over again - sorry

As Gardyloo says, you are trying to cover WAY too much territory in WAY too little time. You won't see much but your steering wheel for many of those days. And places like Needles (OMG - no! ) and Death Valley could be insanely hot.
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 03:41 PM
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Forget Needles (been there years ago for a BBQ) and in fact I would ditch the whole Route 66 part and drive LA to Vegas, then to Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, etc.
Do you have reservations for Yosemite? Places book up a year in advance, even campsites (in fact they go first).
Big Sur lodging is mostly rustic, or expensive or Uber expensive (like $600 per night and up for Post Ranch Inn) so stay two nights in Monterey instead, then a night in Cambria, Pismo Beach or Morro Bay (I am not a big fan of SLO unlike others on this forum) and then a night in Santa Barbara time permitting.
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Old Jan 14th, 2020, 10:26 PM
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If you want to drive part of what was US66 you can get off I-15 in Victorville and drive to Barstow on the National Trails highway. Get back on I-15 and head for Las Vegas. Baker's claim to fame is the world's tallest thermometer. Sadly it does not work and the Big Boy next door has closed. The old Rt. 66 does not go to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. If you want to visit a ghost town, try for Chloride AZ off US 93 between Hoover Dam and Kingman. I've been to both - Chloride is better than Calico.
There are Rt. 66 museums in Victorville and Barstow. You are more likely to find the one in Barstow to be open. It is in the lower part of what was once the train station and Harvey House.
Another section of Rt. 66 you can drive that is not under I-40 is between Seligman (pronounced Se LIG man) and Ash Fork AZ.
I also favor flying to Las Vegas and renting a car there - cheaper than renting at LAX
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 07:03 AM
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Fodor's Forum and it's members is the best place to seek advice on tuning up your itinerary. You've already got many great advices, but at the end, you'll have to tune it up per your personal liking and the things you want to do.

As others noted, you need to be more specific how would you utilize your time during this trip? Would you like to spend a whole day hiking or you want focus on scenic drives with stops at the scenic viewpoints combined with short to moderate walks?
Once you clear this up, you'll get more realistic responds.

Anyway, it is a good idea to depart LA right away, and leave it for the end of this trip. While the weather should be great, it is important to be aware, this trip will fall at the end of the Monsoon Season.
Read more HERE:.
If you'll drive a lot, it would be good to allow some idle time to catch up or modify your itinerary if the weather backfires at you.If not, plan something extra around to see or to arrive earlier in your next destination.
Lodging may be expensive and hard to find at major sites like Grand Canyon, etc., you may want to look into booking it right away if you want to stay right at the Grand Canyon for example.
You already got many great advices here, I'll throw one more for the starter too, but only if you want to maximize the site seeing and spend a bit more time driving.
There are more majestic N.Parks to see then the Big Sur. After my road trip to the West, I'd spend most of the day day in Big Sur for photo opps. The time saved, plus maybe an extra day, I'd use it like this:
I'd depart Grand Canyon South Rim early in the morning and drive to the Horseshoe (aprox. 2 hrs 30 minutes drive to Page, AZ), morning is the best for viewing with the Sun in your back. From there, I'd take the Antelope Canyon tour (need to book one soon)
around 11/12 o'clock. Please verify the Page AZ time, they do not participate in the Daylight Saving Time if I remember correctly. After that, I'd drive to monument Valley and see it before the sunset, with the sun in your back again.
Sleep and next day, early morning again, rather the backtracking, I'd drive toward Moab and see Arches N.P. and Canyonlands. It is so worth the drive. I'd allow a half day driving around Canyonlands, visiting all the viewpoints and taking a short hike to the Mesa Arch. If you can do a longer hike, I'd recommend the Delicate Arch hike in Arches N.P. before the sunset. It's not as hot later on and you can come down from there in the dark, you won't be alone on the trail there. Many great stops at Arches with fairly short walks, the Delicate Arch is long and rewarding, the only long hike I wouldn't miss.
from there, take I-70 West, and engage in the whole line of N. Parks at any point you'd like on the way toward Vegas. Pick and choose, time dependable.

As other noted, pay attention to the Service Area signs (gas stations) how far to the next one. Don't fall below half full gas tank to stay out of trouble.

EDIT: You should purchase America the Beautiful Annual Pass. Buy it at the first park you enter, it'll be way cheaper than paying entrance fee at every N.P. you enter.

Last edited by andyg5056; Jan 15th, 2020 at 07:19 AM. Reason: Adding info on America the Beautiful annual Pass
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 01:14 PM
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Hi Sircharles, I just did a similar trip (5000+ km in 28 days) in August (see my trip report: Trip Report: All Across the Southwest), and despite the warnings of this forum on the mileage, it worked out well for us. This does not necessarily mean that it will work for you, it really depends on your travel style, how many people you are, with or without kids etc.
I recommend to take the concerns of the other posters seriously and trim down your itinerary a bit. I would skip Calico (nothing there, really) and Route 66 which is over-romanticised in Europe.
We also chose to not visit Death Valley (for the heat) and Monument Valley, and I don't think we missed much.
Doing Antelope in the early morning and then be in Bryce NP for sunset is possible. Just passing through Zion, you would miss out. I would plan at least one-and-a-half days there (which you would have to cut out somewhere else).
With respect to crowds, I would not worry ... our trip was in mid August and it wasn't bad, yours is in mid September (and the most crowd prone place on your list, Yosemite, is towards the end, so late September), so you should be fine. Of course, book accomodation at Yosemite early still.
Not sure why you would want 2 days in Big Sur but just one in San Francisco, but of course this comes down to personal preferences (myself, I get a kick out of just simply walk the SF streets, I could do this for days, just love the place).
Hope it helps! Either way, have a great trip, and don't forget to post a trip report after.
Cheers

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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 12:35 AM
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Thank you all for your great advises!!!

Actually I’m not surprised about your concernings regarding the long distances I am trying to cover in “only” 3 weeks. In fact this is also one of my concerns and one of the reasons I posted here , I wanted to know your thoughts about it.

In any case, I am not worry about a whole day driving as long as I have many places to stop and visit during the route. What I definitely don’t want to do (at least no more than 1 or 2 days if necessary) is to drive f.ex. 5 hours with no stops, only to get to one particular place. I guess that in my planning the “hardest” days in this sense are the 10 (BC to LV) and 12 (LV to Yosemite), the other days will be more balanced, am I right?

I will study the options you provide me, including flying from LV to SF, it sounds good and it would avoid one of the main car journies we’ll have to face . And I’ll definitely discard Needles and Panguitch, no doubt about it!

Mac_kraut, I will be 2 days in SF, not one. Is this enough or should I try to add one more day to SF?. Regarding Monument Valley, this is a “must” for me, I saw it in many many western movies when I was young and I want to check whether John Wayne is still walking around

I have to review in detail all your advises and i will try to tune the planning, hope this weekenend I have enough time.

Greetings from Spain!
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Sircharles75 View Post
Thank you all for your great advises!!!

Actually I’m not surprised about your concernings regarding the long distances I am trying to cover in “only” 3 weeks. In fact this is also one of my concerns and one of the reasons I posted here , I wanted to know your thoughts about it.
...
Well, we did a bit over 5000 miles, not kilometers, in like 23 days. It's doable with planning. But, make sure to allow yourself to run a bit ahead of the schedule, rather then trailing it. Also, just in case, have a plan of what you could skip or alter if you need to catch up with the schedule if necessary. Select several MUST SEE destination, especially the one with hard to find last minute lodging locations, like Grand Canyon, Yosemite. So you can book lodging way ahead of your trip. Also, make sure you'll allow some extra time to get there, for example, if weather delays your departure from last place visited. Or you just like something You see and want to spend more time there. Half of our nights we slept at roadside hotels/motels we just drove up to. But, there are available in populated areas. When it comes to Arizona/Utah Canyons and National Parks, there aren't that many, if any that are available and on your drive path. Just like the gas stations.

Also, rent a car with GPS unit, installed or attached. some areas have no Cellular reception at all, your phone based GPS will not work there.

P.S. You're thinking Monument Valley & John Wayne, and my kids were thinking Windows screen saver when they saw Monument Valley...

Last edited by andyg5056; Jan 16th, 2020 at 10:30 AM.
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 10:56 AM
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I just drove from San Diego to St Louis and back. I found the time estimates on Google maps were fairly accurate. Of course, it depends on what speed you travel and you have to add on time for any stops you make. If your car has cruise control, use it. On the Interstates, beware of big trucks pulling out right in front of cars to overtake other big trucks, very slowly. I can't tell you how often that happened to me.

I would stay in Flagstaff rather than Williams. We stayed at the La Quinta on S. Beulah, traveling with a dog so La Quinta's were great. It has been completely renovated quite recently and was very nice, modern, very clean. It's in a lovely wooded setting.
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Sircharles75 View Post
Mac_kraut, I will be 2 days in SF, not one. Is this enough or should I try to add one more day to SF?. Regarding Monument Valley, this is a “must” for me, I saw it in many many western movies when I was young and I want to check whether John Wayne is still walking around
OK I get the point on Monument Valley. Not sure if John Wayne is still around.

How many days in SF? This is impossible to say, really depends on you and your preferences. Of course you could spend weeks in a city like that and still not get bored. So it's really up to you. This forum has plenty of advice on what to see in SF, this will be a much better source than I ever will be.
From my limited experience: When we were there, we went drove across GG Bridge like any good tourist would. I took the kids to the Exploratorium which was great. And we did lots of cable car rides, the whole family loved this ... go early to avoid the long lines and buy the MUNI day tickets (7$). The rest was just walking around the different neighbourhoods and absorbing in the atmosphere.
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 12:42 PM
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If you plan your lodging to ease the driving times, you can really cut down on some time behind the wheel. For example you have D5 in Williams. If that is as far as you want to drive before going to Grand Canyon, the fine, but if you could get to GC before sunset, then stay in the park or closer, perhaps Tusayan, or Cameron, then you could see sunrise and explore the rim west to Hermit’s rest and down into it a way on Bright Angel or South Kaibab trail, then head east on. 64 with stops at the overlooks on out to Cameron Trading post for night 6. This takes you part way to Monument valley so I less than 3 hours you can be there.

As has been mentioned, the times of travel when you are not on freeways are often longer than you plan for. Some of the areas have “open range” which means that animals like cattle and horses might bo on the road. Deer,elk, antelope and other wild animals are also often crossing your path,especially at dawn and dusk, try to avoid a close encounter with them.
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Old Feb 8th, 2020, 02:30 AM
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Hi there!

I have a new planning for my next trip to the USA, after having read all your comments, other blogs, and reviewing flights, rental car options, prices, etc, that I would like to share with you.

The idea is to enter the USA through Chicago and spend there 3 nights. Then we would then fly to Las Vegas. After a couple of nights in LV, we would rent a car to do Zion Park – Bryce Canyon – Page (Horseshoe bend/Antelope) – Monument Valley – Grand Canyon – LA (through some parts of Route 66) – Big Sur and San Francisco (where we will fly home)

With this planning, we would miss Yosemite and Death Valley (the cons), but instead, we could see Chicago (I city we would also love to see), we could make Zion Park, we would skip the long drive journeys from LV to SF (the part of my previous plan that “scare me” the most), and we would rent a car for 12 days instead of 20, because in Chicago, SF and LV we won’t need it one I guess.

More pros, the trip would be cheaper, since we will rent a car for fewer days, and the international flights (Spain – Chicago, SF – Spain) are almost 200€ cheaper than a return flight to LA. (Other options like Spain – LV are more expensive). This also means that we would spend fewer hours behind the wheels ...

The detailed planning (subject to changes) would be as follows:

- Day 1 to 3 Chicago (we would expect to arrive there day one in the morning).

- Day 4: Chicago – LV (morning as well).

- Day 5: LV

- Day 6: LV (car rent) – Zion NP – Night near Bryce Canyon or in BC.

- Day 7: BC – Page (We would left BC after lunch to see the sunset in Horseshoe Bend).

- Day 8: Page – Monument Valley (Horseshoe Bend again to see it in the morning and Antelope, afternoon in MV).

- Day 9: MV – GC (maybe Tusayan)

- Day 10 – GC

- Day 11 – Gran Canyon – Barstow (or another place on route).

- Day 12 – Barstow – LA. (one friend suggested me to sleep in Santa Mónica)

- Day 13 and Day 14 in LA.

- Day 15 – LA – San Luis Obispo

- Day 16 – SLO – Monterrey

- Day 17 – Monterrey – Silicon Valley – Muir Woods – Sausalito – SF (returning car).

- Days 18 to 20 – SF and flight home.

If needed, we could have one more day (returning the 21).

What do you think? Hope to read your thoughts about this!

Regards from Spain!


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Old Feb 8th, 2020, 09:41 AM
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I've done maybe a dozen or so of that kind of trips in the SW and West.. but my "style" of travel does not have to be your style.

First, just a few generic remarks:
I prefer to rent SUVs when exploring the SW. It gives you extra clearance (and peace of mind) if you divert from the main (paved) route onto some gravel roads. If only to go 3 or 5 miles to some sight that is off the main highway. Plus you can see better than from a regular car. Just my opinion.

In high season, the major national parks may have systems of crowd (car traffic) control in place. So you have to leave your car in a parking lot, and use shuttle buses. This can add substantially more time to your planned stay in those parks. Check if this applies to any of the parks you want to visit. GC NP had this for the kinda short road that goes West from the main visitors center. It took forever to get on one of those buses (and back).

And yes, get the annual pass for $80. It's good for all passengers in your vehicle (or up to 3 or 4 people wherever you need to pay per person.). Most NPs in the West have a "per car" fee policy. Even smaller parks now charge $20 per car. So those $80 will be a bargain eventually.

Day 4-6 Las Vegas
If you stay in one of the (casino) hotels on the Strip, you don't need a car. You can walk, take the overpriced elevated monorail, or buses that cruise up and down the strip. But if you save money and stay in one of the hotel away from Las Vegas Boulevard, a car can be useful as you probably want to see the big casinos. All the casinos have HUGE free parking garages. Nevertheless, it's also cool to stay right on the Strip. More or a less a matter of preferences and budget. When you check Vegas hotels on booking.com or similar, keep an eye on the "resort fee". Aside from the room price, almost all hotels on the Strip will add that fee as a surcharge. You should know how much it is per night, as it is never included in the room price you see on booking.com

Day 7
Bryce to Page
If you feel "adventurous", there is a shortcut that shaves off many miles from the route via Rte. 12 and 89 (via Kanab).
Drive from Bryce a few miles East to Cannondale on Rte 12 and take Cottonwood Canyon Road South to US 89.
It's 80kms unpaved road, easy to drive BUT: Never ever during or after rain. Inquire locally.
https://www.earthtrekkers.com/drive-...yon-road-utah/

Day 8
Monument Valley is s-p-e-c-t-a-c-u-l-a-r.
Your entrance fee (NP pass not valid as the park is on Navajo Nation lands) included a scenic loop drive with awesome vistas. This drive is gravel/sand. It *can* be done with regular cars, but you'll be happy to have an SUV here so you don't have to care about potholes.
The two major hotels in MV are ridiculously expensive, but the view of the Valley at dawn is just magical. If you want to splurge, this could be the place. And it would cut that very long drive from Page to MV to GC in easier to handle bits.

Day 11+12
Instead of spending the night in Barstow and have not that much to see from Williams to L.A., I'd prefer to drive from GC to Twentynine Palms via Rte 66 from Seligman to Kingman (stop at Hackberry to take the usual pictures). In Kingman: Route 66 visitor center and museum (entrance for museum includes nearby Mojave Museum and the historic Bonelli House for just few dollars). If you want to see the remains of the treks to the West, there are traces in Kingman as well: https://goo.gl/maps/fTTkAaFZhTRz8Nb19
Fill up gas before you get to California, it's much cheaper in Arizona.
Take I-40 W until you get to Old Route 66 (National Trails Highway) to Amboy, then S on Amboy Road to Twentynine Palms.
Spend the night in 29Palms, and drive through Joshua Tree NP next day on your way to L.A.
The short loop from 29Palms to Joshua Tree (the town) / Yucca Valley is quite okay. The eastern road to I-10 takes a lot of extra time.

Day 13+14
Santa Monica sure is nice. If the hotels are within your price range, why not. But: L.A. is a huge thing. Identify the places you really want to see, and try to stay close. Take also into consideration that there is a Metro. Which also extends to Santa Monica. Last week it took me 1.5 hours from Santa Monica back to my hotel in Glendale, just 30kms, after 7pm.

Day 17
If day 17 should be on a weekend (with nice weather), be prepared that Muir Woods can be packed with no chance to park your car.
Silicon Valley is as exciting as the suburbs of Madrid. I would stay on Highway 1 and take the coastal route all the way to SF.
Immediately after you crossed the Golden Gate (take note of the way you have to pay "peaje" after you went back to SF : https://www.bayareafastrak.org/en/ot...eSpanish.shtml), take Alexander Avenue exit, keep left, turn left, and follow signs to Marin Headlands.
The spots along the road are the places where all the pictures are taken of the bridge with the city as backdrop.

Buen viaje!

P.S. You don't have to pay for GPS in your rental car. Get HereWeGo app for your mobile phone, and download maps for CA, AZ and UT before you go. The app works offline, and GPS signal reception of your mobile phone does not depend on cell phone coverage.

P.P.S. Don't use Monterrey as destination on your GPS on day 16. It will send you to México. The city you want to go to is spelled with just one "R".

Last edited by Cowboy1968; Feb 8th, 2020 at 09:53 AM.
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Old Feb 8th, 2020, 01:30 PM
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This is much better than your original plan.

But some comments:

• Day 6: LV (car rent) – Zion NP – Night near Bryce Canyon or in BC.

No - just no. The drive alone would be more than 5 hours and you also want to squeeze in seein Zion. Stay the night In Zion NP or in Springdale. Driving from Vegas to Zion to Bryce means essentially no time IN Zion which is a real shame.

• Day 11 – Gran Canyon – Barstow .

NO - just no! Drive straight through to LA. It will be a long, boring drive but anything is better than staying in Barstow. If you simply want to break the journey, stay the night in Palm Springs. It would take about an hour longer than the route to Barstow but at least you'd be in Palm Springs and not Barstow.

• Day 17 – Monterrey – Silicon Valley – Muir Woods – Sausalito – SF (returning car).

Day 17 is pretty much insane (Sorry ) What do you want to 'see' in Silicon Valley? It is mostly a vast suburban sprawl with horrendous traffic and a few quite interesting bits but not someplace one can just tour around. That day's drive could easily take 5-6 hours depending on what times you are passing through various parts of the Bay Area. That 5-6 hours does not count any stops/sightseeing. Cowboy's comment re Muir Woods is a little out of date - you can't just arrive at Muir Woods -- it requires advanced booking and timed tickets. And you cannot park at all without this advance reservation. Forget about it. There are bigger/better Redwood parks between Monterey and San Francisco -- Henry Cowell State Park is the most convenient, Big Basin State park is a little larger. So just do Monterey to San Francisco with one of the redwood parks en route.
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Old Feb 8th, 2020, 01:35 PM
  #19  
 
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Good plan so far. For day 11/12 check the cost for driving from GC back to Vegas, dropping the car and flying to LA then renting another car. It will save a day of car rental, a night lodging on the road, and gas as well as a not very beautiful (boring) drive to LA.

If you wanted to you could stop ar Hoover Dam on the way from GC to Vegas drop the car, and spend the night near the airport then fly to LA in the morning.
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Old Feb 10th, 2020, 12:56 AM
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Thank you all!

First step done! I’ve already bought the international flights! (Arrive at Chigaco the 19th of Sept – Depart from SF, the 9th of Oct).

I still have to book the domestic flights from Chicago to Las Vegas. I saw several options with UA and AA. Spirit Airlines do not have the fares yet for late september, but apparently (at least until September) their fares are the half than the other 2 in general. Have you travelled with this company? Is there any other low-cost company that makes Chicago-LV?

Finally, I have one more day to add to the planning, where would you spend it? Maybe Las Vegas? With the current planning, we would be there 2 nights, only 1 full day … Or would it be better to spend this extra-day in SF? (current planning - 3 nights:2 full days + the afternoon we arrive + the morning we leave).

Cowboy 1968, great advises, thank you!. I will follow some of them, including the SUV option, I agree it is maybe the best options, and not too expensive. Regarding the Rte 66 day, if we spend the night in 29Palms I guess that it worth to spend some time in Joshua Tree NP, isn’t it?. I will be careful with Monterrey (in Spanish) vs Monterey (in English)

Janisj, you say that Las Vegas – Zion – BC is too much few time for Zion, but … LV – Zion NP takes 2,5 h, so we could be there at 10.00h – 11.00h am I guess. Sunset that day will be at 18.33h, so we would have at least 6-7 hours for Zion. It is not enough?

Regarding Silicon Valley, I though that it was in the middle of our way to SF, coming from Monterey, but according to your comments I guess it means to take a quite longer route, isn’t it?. If it means to add 1 hour or so we could do it only to take some photos to the main buildings of Google, Facebook, etc (yes, a bit freaky I know ), but if it means more than that it doesn’t worth it.

Oldemalloy, the Hoover Dam is one of the things I’d like to see, but with the planning I guess it is not easy to fit, because I prefer driving to LA than going back to LV to take another flight. Maybe we could do it if we spend the extra-day in LV. Does it worth it?
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