west coast trip planning -advice please

Discussion in 'Beginning RVing' started by Liz, Jul 14, 2008.

  1. Liz

    Liz New Member

    Hi everyone,
    I am from the land down under (Australia )and are planning to visit the US in Oct '08. We are planning on picking up a rental RV in LA and travelling to Vegas,Grand Canyon and up to Yellowstone NP.
    From there we are unsure which route to take to get us back to LA incorporating as many of the great spots as possible. We have 25 days in total. We were thinking of heading west to Portland and travelling south taking in Redwood NP, San Francisco, & Yosemite. Any advice would be greatly appreciated as we have no idea what to expect particularly inbetween Yellowstone and the coast. Also any interesting spots on the way to yellowstone from Bryce Canyon.
    Also does anyone know of a site/forum which we could use to check out the past history of whichever rental company we choose. We would hate to make a mistake.
    Thanks heaps Liz
     
  2. LEN

    LEN Senior Member

    Re: west coast trip planning -advice please

    If were me with those places in mind I would go for September rather than October. The places you mention are great but they are high 5000' to almost 10,000 and snow comes early or can come early. You will have freezing nights in October. Once to Portland Rain maybe in the forecast in October but September could be sunny afternoons with a bit of fog in the morning.
    If you can pickup a rental in the Boseman Montana area and make a one way to Frisco or LA might be the best route. Then route through Yellow Stone, Tetons, Grand Canyon, Brice, Zion, then on to the West coast with maybe time for Mount Rainer and St Helens on the way.

    LEN
     
  3. Liz

    Liz New Member

    Re: west coast trip planning -advice please

    Hi Len,
    Thanks for the info.I knew there were mountains but did'nt know if there were low areas inbetween that we could travel thru. Unfortunately one way hire of a RV is really expensive and a lot of companies don't do it. So the best option for us is to try to come up with a circle route.Just want to see as much of your beautiful country as we can. Maybe we might need to just stay further south and miss Yellowstone (but that would be a shame). :) :)
     
  4. aussie Keith

    aussie Keith New Member

    Re: west coast trip planning -advice please

    Liz, we spent more than a month just touring through Arizona and Utah. And would still go back for another one toexperience it again and see what we missed. It was awesome (that is an old-fashioned "awesome, not a teenage one). Your 25 days will amount to a net 3 weeks after arrival and departure days so, imo, don't try to cram in too much by having a whistle stop tour. Also, the weather should be kinder if you stay further south. For Yellowstone you would need nearly a week to do it any justice. So I would say Leave LA as soon as possible, enjoy the desert trip to Las Vegas (stop at the factory outlets at Barstow on the way to fill your suitcases) have a few days of the glitter at Vegas (great RV Park there - Oasis) then get out to geab the "Red Rock Country" experience. Pick out the main Parks, Bryce, Zion, Arches etc for sights you will never forget. Across the Hoover dam to Grand Canyon would be the start point. If you need any more detailed tips, just shout.
     
  5. Liz

    Liz New Member

    Re: west coast trip planning -advice please

    Hi Aussie Keith thanks for the advice. Your reputation precedes you as thru this forum i have got to know Shona. She has told me how you helped her out.We actually have 30days in total but have already allowed for arrival/departure etc.
    Like Shona we are very used to long distances but the mountainous terrain and the cold (Oct) might hinder. Would you still Suggest giving Yellowstone a miss and staying further south as unsure if we'll ever get the chance to come back. If we can come up with an exit point from yellowstone to the coast even if we have to come down as low as Sacramento so we can do San Francisco & Yosemite we would be wrapped. But will take on board everyones suggestions. I know what you mean though, the south west is so full of amazing attractions.
    Hope to hear from you again Liz xxx
     
  6. Daily Double

    Daily Double New Member

    Re: west coast trip planning -advice please

    Surely your rental will have a heater of some sort in it!!! If not you can but an electric plug in heater anywhere! I would not let the cold deter me for one second, you won't be but about a day from warm weather in Utah.
     
  7. DL Rupper

    DL Rupper Senior Member

    Re: west coast trip planning -advice please

    Hey Liz, we were in Yellowstone off and on during the month of May and it was cold and snowy. You may get a beautiful Indian summer in October and be ok, but you might get really cold snowy weather. Most services will be closed in the Park in October.
     
  8. Kirk

    Kirk Senior Member

    Re: west coast trip planning -advice please

    As a former resident of Wyoming, I would keep Yellowstone on the agenda, if you can get there by mid October. Just keep a close eye on the weather forecast and have an alternative route available in case it should get bad. October in Yellowstone is usually a beautiful time of year with golden leaves and lots of wildlife activity with few visitors. It is true that it could snow there and most years they do receive one or two snow storms but it seldom lasts long that early and weather can be beautiful. Major storms are usually predicted well in advance and are pretty easy to avoid.

    The fact is that you can get snow in October at either Bryce Canyon or at Zion National parks also, but not a great deal. In any part of the mountains, October can bring snow and you do need to keep an eye on the weather. Even Grand Canyon could get snow. But the scenery with a light dusting of snow is even more spectacular than without.

    I would try to get up that was as early in your trip as you can and then work your way back south. If you were to get there and spend a few days before the middle of the month you will probably have pretty good weather. Just keep an alternate plan in case winter should come early. I have hunted the mountains very near to Yellowstone in late October many times with little or no snow. But I have also seen serious winter weather on a few occasions so just plan an alternative.

    While it would be quite possible to spend a week in Yellowstone, most people spend two or three days. You can see the highlights in that time, but it would take months to see in detail. If you have only three days, you should still see it if weather cooperates at all.
     
  9. Liz

    Liz New Member

    Re: west coast trip planning -advice please

    Thank you eveyone for all your advice.
    We are fairly game and so would like to give Yellowstone a try.(Obviously with a close watch on the weather).

    Should be there and out by 9th October,but where to from there? Had originally hoped to head across to Portland and travel south down the coast from there. But have become nervous of what terrain and weather conditions we may encounter. Haven't been able to come up with a route to get back south other than through Salt lake city again. Can anyone suggest a route from Yellowstone to the coast as we would hate to miss out on San francisco and Yosemite NP.
    Unfortunately the only time we could travel was in October but anytime is better than never experiencing your great country.
    :)
     
  10. aussie Keith

    aussie Keith New Member

    Re: west coast trip planning -advice please

    For my DW the week that we spent in Yellowstone was the absolute highlight of our year of touring the country. We saw Black and grizzly bears, Elk, moose, wolves, Bison, eagles and the most fantastic scenery. We were there in late May and experienced a snowstorm on the high ranges but it did not spoil a thing. There are 2 "loops" to drive around that are about 150 miles each. So you need a minimum of 2 days and we went around both twice. Just below Yellowstone there is Grand Teton NP that we missed through ignorance and were told after that it is a place that should always be included if you are in the area. I would think that the safest way back to San Francisco would be to double back to Salt Lake City but someone with more local knowledge may be able to help and, of course, it would all be dependent on the weather at the time. Again, it may be difficult to get into Yosemite in late October. Not sure what dates the roads close for winter but, again, someone with more local knowledge should help you there.
     
  11. Kirk

    Kirk Senior Member

    Re: west coast trip planning -advice please

    For me, the route that I would take would again, depend upon the weather forecast. If it is for good weather, then I would probably take US89 north from Mammoth Hot Springs up to Livingston, MT and there travel west on I-90. Bozeman is an interesting town and the same is true of Butte. If weather holds and continues to look good, I would travel south from Missoula on US93 to US12 and follow that west across Idaho to Lewiston. If you have time, take one of the je-tboat tours of Hell's Canyon while there. Continue west on US12 to Wallula, WA where you take US730 south to meet I-82, following it south to I-84 and then west on it.

    That route will take you through the Columbia River Gorge which is very scenic and then into Portland. From Portland, go west to the coast and there follow US101 south along the coast all of the way to San Fransisco.

    Should the weather go somewhat bad, I would stay with I-90 through Spokane and on west to Ritzville, where I would take US395 south to join I-82 on down to I-84 and the Columbia River.

    You will then have another back-up of going back to Salt Lake and the follow I-80 west to San Fransisco, keeping in mind that Donner Pass in California could get bad but that early in the winter it won't stay that way long.
     
  12. Liz

    Liz New Member

    Re: west coast trip planning -advice please

    Hi Guys,
    Thanks again for the info. Have traced your routes on the map Kirk and so appreciate the detail you gave.We are feeling so much happier about giving Yellowstone a try knowing we have alternatives in case of bad weather. What website is the best for us to use to keep track of the weather?
    Now don't laugh people but with all the wildlife at Yellowstone when you drive around the two circuits do you get out of the car. And Aussie Keith thanks for the tip on the shopping in Barstow, (my husband just groaned, i've shopped him out) ha,ha.

    Any advice on points of interest and good overnight stops inbetween Sacramento and Salt lake city would be well received.
    Have a nice day!
    Liz.
     
  13. aussie Keith

    aussie Keith New Member

    Re: west coast trip planning -advice please

    We saw a group of people stopped by the side of the road on one circuit, together with an ambulance. A group stopped usually indicates a "sighting" so of course we stopped as well. Quickly asked a ranger there what we were looking at and she pointed out a grizzly bear about 100 metres away who was being shadowed by a wolf. Then asked what the ambulance was for and she replied "just in case"! On another occasion we pulled up behind one car stopped and saw two black bears romping just 20 metres to the side of the road. they then ran, playfully, on to the road and crossed between our two cars. You would spend about a third of your day out of the car either following the sightings, or checking out the subterranean outbreaks that are common on one of the circuits. One tip - take a packed lunch and flasks of coffee with you as there are very few places for human grazing but some wonderful picnic spots that certainly top queueing for a greasy burger. Mind you, at that time of the year you shouldn't be bothered by crowds and that will make a big difference to your enjoyment. Have a great trip, you'll love it.
     
  14. cardinal1

    cardinal1 New Member

    Re: west coast trip planning -advice please

    I was born in Butte, lived in Star Valley until 07, and now live in the Star Valley area during summers (115 mi. from YNP) and if you are planning on staying in that area, but not in the park, I suggest driving thru Jackson and going to Star Valley via Snake River Canyon. It is about 50 miles from Jackson, but the area is beautiful and the going rates for campsites are much less than the park and Jackson, and there is also quite a few free spots. If you are going towards Salt Lake, there is a couple of nice scenic routes you could take. If you prefer Interstate, then the Bozeman/Butte route on I90/I15 is good, but boring once you get past Butte. Like everyone has said- Watch the weather, it can be downright miserable one day and gorgeous the next, and also snow a few inches during the fall. When you rent the RV, ask if it comes with weather/emergency equipment such as a roadside repair kit, small shovel, and tire chains just in case you run into a storm that wasn't forecasted or have any RV trouble. Have a great trip and enjoy the beautiful country! :)
     
  15. Daily Double

    Daily Double New Member

    Re: west coast trip planning -advice please

    Liz. be sure to let us know thw results of your trip!!!!!!!!!! :)
     
  16. Liz

    Liz New Member

    Re: west coast trip planning -advice please

    Hi Everyone,
    Thanks for all the input. We have now booked a rental RV and madly saving, excercising(so i can tramp my little legs off) and arming myself with as much info as possible. You have all been so helpful. Have heard of wildfires raging in the U.S. at present are they on the Westcoast near anywhere that i may be going to. Thanks for the info on Jackson i'll certainly look it up. Now to put this Aussie girls mind at ease, whats the story with racoons. I also have been looking at a website called bearmans on Yellowstone NP. The video footage is hilarious of elks and bison attacking people and cars but i'm just thinking we may have to pay for the higher level of insurance to the rental company. And to think people are worried about the spiders and snakes in Australia. At least they are little. Happy camping
    Love Liz :) :)
     

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