Yellowstone to San Francisco - choices

Old May 3rd, 2006, 11:17 PM
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Yellowstone to San Francisco - choices

In Sept/Oct well be visiting (from Australia) the NW states and western Canada, taking 5-6 weeks overall. We'll drive north from San Francisco (coast road) then Portland, Victoria and Vancouver BC; east to Calgary, down through Montana and Wyoming and back to SF.

Right now my biggest itinerary blank is between Yellowstone and SF. Should we
- go west through Idaho into eastern Oregon then south? or
- south to Salt Lake City then west through Nevada? or
- something in between?

Well have the first week-and-a-bit of October for this leg 8-9 days.

Im interested in the history and culture of places I visit and grew up on Hollywood westerns. Im also deeply suspicious of all animals larger than a house cat, dairy cows included, and believe that human progress was designed to get us out of tents, not into them. Weve agreed to disagree on the last two points. Shes into the Great Outdoors.

Id really appreciate suggestions for an interesting route to round out our trip. We've previously driven Santa Fe-Santa Fe via the Four Corners, Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, so weve seen something of that part of the west.

And I just realised that this post might be longer than any of the responses I get...
Neil_Oz is offline  
Old May 4th, 2006, 02:26 AM
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Since we did a similar tour in 2000 I'll give you our itinerary:
-S.francisco -Napa valley-Eureka-Redwood nat.park-coos bay-kelso-Mount rainier- seattle-vancouver-clearwater-jasper-columbiua icefields-banff-waterton lakes-glacier nat.park-kalispell-helena-gardiner(visit yellowstone)-jackson-salt lake city-elko-lake tahoe-mono lake-tioga pass(yosemite)-mariposa-San francisco.
It's was fabullous.Greetings from Belgium.Paul
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Old May 6th, 2006, 02:53 AM
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Many thanks, Paul. If you have any comments about the highlights of your drive from Yellowstone to SF I'd be grateful.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 03:25 AM
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After having visited Yellowstone we drove to Jackson(grand tetons).You should visit Jenny lake . Next day we drove to Salt Lake city(stayed at the motel6 not far from the temple).Visited the temple square.You get a Mormon guide to visit the different buildings(except the church).The following day we drove through the Nevada dessert and stayed in Elko for the night. Then we drove to Lake Tahoe visiting the east side.The next day we visited the west side.We also stayed at the motel6 there. Then we had a nice drive via Mono lake and Tioga pass to Yosemite.We stayed two days in a nice motel in Mariposa.This is not far from the park entrance.Then we drove to S.Francisco and stayed two days before driving to San Jose and visiting the Winchester mystery house and going to Oakland for our flight back to Belgium.Since I'm retired we always plan our tours in order to see as much as possible without stress.We have the time. September/October is the best time for visiting the US.You get the Indian summer.Hope this will help you in your planning. Paul
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Old May 6th, 2006, 08:42 AM
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Two things not to miss:
1.Avenue of the Giants-last of the
humongous "old growth" Redwood Trees
near Eureka,Calif.
2.Mt.St. Helen's--the current active
volcano between Seattle and Portland.
it's actually pushing up debris into
a "fin" like projection as we speak.
The very last lookout point has a
magnificent tourist center with a
show of the May 18,1980 eruption.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 08:57 AM
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Going west through Idaho into Washington or Oregon will be a lot more scenic. I've done both.
Old May 6th, 2006, 09:15 AM
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I find the Nevada desert fascinating, espcially with its contrast betwen high altitude aspen woods and the dry desert below. But if you are not camping, I would not bother with Nevada and would try to get through it as quickly as possible. Lake Tahoe is a worthwhile stop. If you go through eastern Oregon, try to hook up with California hwy 89 to go down to Lake Tahoe. It basically takes you along the crest of the northern Sierra.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 11:32 AM
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You don't mention when in Sept. & Oct. Things start closing in September and October in Yellowstone. Please check this out:

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Old May 6th, 2006, 03:27 PM
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Thanks to all. utahtea, thanks for the tip - we should be at Yellowstone about Sep 29 and I take your point. Hopefully the closures won't limit us too seriously (mental note: more research needed).

Michael, Tahoe sounds good - I wonder what are the odds of snow on the northern Sierra in the first week of October? We're planning to rent a standard car and I'd rather not get involved with snow chains - not much call for them where I come from. The rental company mightn't like it either.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 04:00 PM
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Snow usually does not come until Thanksgiving, exceptionally we might have some by Halloween. You should not need chains.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 01:25 PM
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We were in Yellowstone last year during the first week of October. We had snow, which closed a couple of the roads in YNP for half a day. A minor inconvenience, but be prepared for it. When my brother lived in West Yellowstone, he always said the first snow came on Labor Day and the last one in June.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 01:48 PM
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I've done this route, though in reverse (SF-Tahoe-SLC-Grand Tetons-Yellowstone-Glacier-Banff-Jasper-Vancouver-down the PCH back to SF). I chose the southern route to hit Great Basin national park, a very little visited national park, and to take US 50 across Nevada.

From Yellowstone, a visit to Grand Tetons is worthwhile and Jackson is an interesting town. I didn't find SLC that interesting, but I was only there for one night. Great Basin national park is worth a visit to see the caves and hike amongst the Bristlecone pine trees. You could also head a bit further south and hit Capitol Reef National Park which I find to be an excellent place to visit.

US 50 across Nevada and follows the old Pony Express route and was dubbed, "the loneliest road in America" by some travel magazine. It's a two-lane highway, so don't expect to make a lot of time. There are a number of interesting stops along the way.

Once you reach Tahoe, I'd head down 395 to see the Eastern Sierra, maybe stopping by Bodie, the ghost town, and definitely checking out Mono Lake. Fall colors may be out by the time you get there. Head over Mono Pass through Yosemite and back to SF.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 02:37 PM
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Whatever you choose, check distances by going to MapQuest or other similar mapping web sites.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 06:23 PM
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Once again, thanks to all - there's plenty of food for thought there. Decision, decisions ... but I'm sure we won't regret whichever route we take.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 11:57 PM
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I am a "native westerner" who has done this trip many times, and I support 'tovarish' that right? On your way across Nevada be sure to eat in a basque restaurant ...Elko or Winnemucca.
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