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California and the National Parks

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I'm planning a trip around California and the National Parks (first trip to the West) in July and August. Can anyone give me some advice about my itinerary?
Day 1, day 2: San Francisco
Days 3 and 4: Yosemite
going to Las Vegas during the night
Day 5: Las Vegas
Day 6: Zion
Day 7: Bryce Canyon
Day 8: Arches
Day 9: Canyonlands
Day 10: Monument Valley
Day 11: Page
Days 12 and 13: Grand Canyon
Day 14: driving to San Diego and spending the night there
Day 15: San Diego
Day 16, 17, 18: around Los Angeles

We want to see as many things as possible (this is the frist trip to the US for two friends of mine)

Thank you in advance for your advice!

  • Report Abuse

    Isn't this the 2nd time you have posted this question? There are several answers on your original thread

    (if it wasn't you, someone else is going EXACTLY the same places in EXACTLY the same order - wiedr, huh?)

  • Report Abuse

    Wow! I've been to most places on your list, but not in one trip. For a whirlwind trip, depending on your interests and what activities you want to engage in (besides driving through), I'd suggest: SF--a day in the tourist center of the Wharf, Chinatown, cable cars, etc. and a day to cross the bridge to see Muir Woods and smaller towns, then a day to see Victorian homes or other sights such as parks, museums, clubs, drive down coast to Half Moon Bay--whatever interests you. After the several-hour drive to Yosemite (sometimes in the summer it is fun to stop at roadside stands for fruits and vegetables along the way) a half day to see the trees and views from on top and a full day in the Valley to see waterfalls, hike a trail, see the old hotel, etc. The drive up through the Park to Nevada is beautiful and then there is the strange Mono Lake worth a short stop. If you drive down the Nevada side to LV beware of the road--there is a section of very sharp dips that I would not want to happen upon at night. If you are not going through Yosemite, but driving down through California, then you could see the sequoias in Sequoia/Kings Canyon. LV (to me) is best in the evening and at night--as I am not a gambler or drinker, I am happy with a walk down the Strip, visit inside Caesars etc., see the light show downtown, and pull a few slot machines. Serious gamblers and show goers would want to stay longer. All the Utah parks you list are beautiful and each has unique features. They can all be very hot in July/August. Zion puts you in the valley and Bryce up on top. Canyonlands can be either and Arches, well... the name says it. Because of the distances, this may be where you consider cutting or leaving unscheduled so you can change your mind on the road. Zion is the closest to LV. Driving from LV you can do a drive through in half day, but no time for hiking. It gives you the sheer red walls but not all the rock formations you'd see at other parks. The arches are pretty--I guess my problem with this park at peak season is that it is almost too accessible so there are many cars driving from arch to arch, parking, people walking only a few feet (it can be very hot), taking a photo and getting back in the car. Not much solitude to enjoy the beauty except early and late in the day. That said, if you are avid mountain bikers and want a real challenge the Moab area is famous for its challenging red rock trails. I'm sure others can give you better estimates for time at each park as I've only been to each once. Time at GC depends on whether north or south rim and what activities you want. Many people spend just one day driving along the rim (maybe bus at that time of year), stopping at viewpoints, and taking pictures. It's great to slow down there to see the different colors at different times of day. I'm really glad to have stayed a couple of nights there to get the dawn and dusk views and the quieter times when many visitors are gone. San Diego is another spot that I think is OK, but on such a whirlwind trip could be cut unless you are a big zoo fan. My favorite parts of visiting there have been the zoo and old town. LA is not my favorite place so I will leave that to others.

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