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Mar 24th, 2013, 12:39 PM
  #1
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California National Park Road Trip Help

Hi Everyone,
It has always been my dream to travel round the California Parks and see the Redwood trees etc. Finally that day has come! In mid May me and my girlfriend are planning a 14 day trip arriving and leaving from San Francisco. Our idea is to visit the following places in the following order:
San Francisco-Point Lobos-Sequoia National Park-Yosemite National Park-Lake Tahoe-Lassen Volcano-Redwood Park- Fort Bragg(I drop my gf off here as she is doing a nutrition course there)-San Francisco.
My questions are to anyone who may be able to help..
1. If this too ambitious for 14 days (The nights in San Fran so not count in the 14 days)?
2. We love food and love to cook and discover new cuisine. Are there great places to eat along this route?
3. I would love to stay in really nice hotels or the nicest accommodation available, are there decent places along this route or are they all lodges?
Any other recommendations would be most welcome as we are not savvy on California. We will be travelling from Mexico where we lice so are really excited about this Trip.
Thank you,
Alex
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Mar 24th, 2013, 01:06 PM
  #2
 
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I think I would drop Sequoia NP from your itinerary and give yourselves a little more time in the other parks. You can see sequoias in Yosemite.

Lee Ann
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Mar 24th, 2013, 01:07 PM
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Very doable IMO. But the VERY first thing you need to do is try for accommodations in Yosemite. Either in Yosemite Valley or just outside in El Potral (there are two motels in El Portal - the best being Yosemite View Lodge)

The rest of your route (except around Lassen) has every sort of accommodations from cheap motels to 4 and even 5 star properties. Near Lassen you will probably have to book in Redding.
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Mar 24th, 2013, 02:43 PM
  #4
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Thank you very much for the info so far.. will start researching lodging. Also thanks for the heads up on dropping Sequoia, as I would have never even thought of that and it will be give me more time in other places.
I think it will be more of driving and viewing Trip as I have a Lumbar Hernia so I cannot trek huge distances as it gets too painful. I love photography so will be very interested in finding some great spots for some nice pictures.
Thanks,
A
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Mar 24th, 2013, 03:41 PM
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Agree-drop Sequoia. If you come in to Yosemite by the south entrance, turn right as soon as you pay at the gate and go to Mariposa Grove. Heading to the Valley from Mariposa Grove, turn left into the parking area just after you come out of the tunnel. From there you get a spectacular view of Half Dome and several other great rocks.
IMO after you see Yosemite, Lassen will be a let down.
While in the area of Redwood NP, make a stop at the "Trees of Mystery". You get a ride in a gondola car to the top of the mountain where on a clear day you can see the ocean.
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Mar 24th, 2013, 03:49 PM
  #6
 
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>>Agree-drop Sequoia. If you come in to Yosemite by the south entrance, . . .<<

Sort of conflicting advice since if one drops Sequoia/Kings Canyon, they wouldn't be coming in the south entrance.
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Mar 24th, 2013, 10:06 PM
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Yeah, drop Sequoia.

>> Sort of conflicting advice...
Assuming you keep on going past Pt Lobos thru Big Sur down to at least San Simeon, then you would go into Yosemite via the south entrance. And if you like photography, you should probably drive all the way through Big Sur.

Here's what I'd do:
- From San Francisco, take Hwy 1 down to Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel, Pt Lobos, Big Sur, and San Simeon.
- Stop in Paso Robles for some wineries if you're into that.
- Then head across the San Joaquin valley to Yosemite, via the south entrance. See the giant sequoias at the Mariposa Grove just inside the south entrance.
- From Yosemite go up to Lake Tahoe, and then up to Lassen
- Not sure how you're going to go from Lassen to Redwood NP. Those roads from Redding and Red Bluff have a reputation for being endlessly winding (I've never driven them). If you have time, consider going up 5 past Mt Shasta (more photo ops), into Oregon (Ashland is a very nice little town to spend the night), and then down 199 from Grants Pass to Crescent City. You can drive Mt Shasta to Crescent City via that route in 3.5 hours if you want to.
- By the way, the south Oregon coast, just north of Crescent City, is very scenic if you have time. (Brookings, Gold Beach, etc)
- Then start hitting the parks down along the coast. I think Humboldt Redwoods State Park south of Eureka is just as good as Redwood NP if not better.
- Mendocino (south of Ft Bragg) is pretty and a nice place to stay, and good for photography
- From Mendocino, I'd turn southeast on 128 thru Anderson Valley (good wineries) and pick up 101 again. Hwy 1 south of Mendocino is just more of the same, and it's endlessly winding and slow and really tiresome.

That's a pretty great tour of Northern California I think. I haven't checked that it's doable, but off the top of my head it doesn't sound like too much in 14 days, especially if you're not into hiking.
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Mar 24th, 2013, 10:10 PM
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OK, I just checked. Google shows that route as 1537 miles in 30 hours of driving.

For really nice places to stay, see if you can get into the Ahwanhee in Yosemite.
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Mar 25th, 2013, 07:57 AM
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The trees are very good in both Yosemite and Redwoods. However, I do feel the trees in Sequoia are unmatched.
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Mar 25th, 2013, 08:55 AM
  #10
 
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Point Lobos is a State Natural Reserve, it is not a National Park.

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=571

If you are including Point Lobos in your trip, and you should, then you should consider going further down along the Big Sur coast, one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world (that has a road running along it).
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Mar 25th, 2013, 09:06 AM
  #11
 
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Not for sure about all the roads being open in Mid May. Especially for Lassen.
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Mar 25th, 2013, 07:31 PM
  #12
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Ok so looks like I should drop Lassen....
kbob88 - Thanks for that great detailed information I will start plotting see what it looks like. I love hiking but unfortunately I cannot
Any more recommendations for accommodations would be great.
Thanks for all your amazing valuable input!
Alex
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Mar 25th, 2013, 07:35 PM
  #13
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Actually I have another question? If you are on a road trip one wants to take it easy and arrive when you want... however, from what most people say, it seem you have to book accommodations in advance... which kind of adds a stress element as you have to start arriving as planned. Also for visitors like me who have never been we have no idea how long we would like to spend in each place....
Do I have to book in advance?
Thanks,
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Mar 25th, 2013, 09:40 PM
  #14
 
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Yosemite-definitely. People sometimes book a year in advance. You want to stay inside the Park if at all possible.
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Mar 25th, 2013, 10:03 PM
  #15
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What about renting an RV? Can you park and sleep anywhere?
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Mar 26th, 2013, 04:20 AM
  #16
 
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There are some campgrounds that are reservable(also fill up months in advance), then some are first com first serve(those fill up early each day). I'm not sure Lassen would be out, its different each year, depending on snowfall. Even Yosemite has several roads that may not be open.
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Mar 26th, 2013, 11:57 AM
  #17
 
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You cannot just park and sleep anywhere, you have to stay in RV parks or for those more hardy (I am not one) you can stay for free on Bureau of Land Management properties.
Personally, RVs cost a lot of money, have lousy gas mileage plus you get charged on a per mile basis. Usually you are given a small amount of miles daily and after that you pay like 30 cents per mile so easy to rack up hefty charges. Also lots of companies will charge for things like linens, pots and pans, etc.
Personally just stick with a economy car and cheap motels, it will cost the same or less most likely.
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Mar 26th, 2013, 01:56 PM
  #18
 
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Here's a link to Lassen NP's website. You can check conditions and opening times: http://www.nps.gov/lavo/index.htm

Lee Ann
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