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Andeh

Original Poster:

750 posts

111 months

[news] 
Sunday 23rd September 2012 quote quote all
I posted on here a few months ago about a trip to New York and received loads of positive input which was greatly appreciated. So, in light of that...

I'm planning a fly-drive road trip to California/Nevada for some time around May next year for me and my girlfriend. So far i've worked out a rough 2 week schedule which i'd appreciate some input on from others who have done this sort of route before. I'm led to believe it's quite a common journey!


Land at LAX - Collect car - Stay 3 nights

LA to Monterey - Stay 2 nights

Monterey to San Fran - Drop car - Stay 2 nights (Have been told a car wont be needed here - Save £)

Collect car - San Fran to Yosemite - Stay 2 nights

Yosemite to Death Valley - Stay 1 night

Death Valley to Vegas - Drop car - Stay 3 nights

Fly home.


I was hoping to be able to arrange a Mustang, Camaro, Challenger or Corvette for the journey but it seems that Hertz wont be able to accomodate my request because i wouldn't be able to take a car from LAX and drop it off in San Francisco. I'm not sure about whether i could scrap dropping the car at San Francisco and just keep it for the duration until we get to Vegas. I'm pretty sure i've read that taking the car out of the state causes issues too.

Alamo are competitive on price and don't have any issues with one way rentals and will even allow my g/f to drive for free. However, from searching around on the 'net it seems that their 'Mustang or similar' frequently translates to 'We've got one mustang and you'll be lucky to get it. Here's a PT Cruiser/VW Beetle/Chrysler Sebring in it's place.' If it comes to that, i'm a bit stumped because i don't really want to end up in a Nissan Altima or a Toyota Corolla. I quite fancy an SUV like a Tahoe or a Cherokee but are they going to be completely naff and waste loads of fuel? Having the right car will really make the trip special for me!

I'm happy with the hotels i've chosen but i'm undecided on whether 2 nights in Yosemite is going to be too much. We don't plan to do much there other than take in the scenery and i'm pretty sure we could do that in a day. Any suggestions on this? Would i be better off with an extra night in San Francisco?

Other than that, i'd really appreciate some input on things to do/see along the way. We're planning on doing a tour of Hollywood and will hopefully spend a day at Universal. We'll go to Alcatraz and drive over the Golden Gate, and obviously there's the enticing sights and sounds of Vegas to look forward to.

Thanks very much!

Rollin

3,328 posts

133 months

[news] 
Sunday 23rd September 2012 quote quote all
From Yosemite, you will want to go over the Tioga Pass towards Death Valley. Be aware of previous opening dates for this road.

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tiogaopen.ht...

Rollin

3,328 posts

133 months

[news] 
Sunday 23rd September 2012 quote quote all
With regards to Yosemite, I have stayed in and out of the park. It is difficult to find accommodation in the park if you don't book a long time ahead. I have stayed in Groveland a couple of times which is on the west side of the park and is a decent place to stay. Iron Door Saloon is fun. Hotel Charlotte is a nice place to stay.

If you only want to see the scenery and not actually do some hiking etc, then I suppose 1 night would be enough. I would say it's a bit of a wasted opportunity if you don't do some walking though. The road through the park has plenty of viewing points and although it may not seem very far, it takes a long time to get through. I once went and there was an accident which took hours to clear and the road was closed for that time. You will want to go to Glacier Point.

In Death Valley, I prefer Stovepipe Wells to Furnace Creek as the latter seems more like a theme park. Be aware that the bar in Stovepipe Wells will only sell you 4 alcoholic drinks a night. Apparently this avoids you turning into an alcohol fuelled crazy in the middle of nowhere. Death Valley is amazing. Some of the best places require 4 wheel drive to get to. Take a walk at night into the desert to appreciate the sky away from the motel lights.... Don't be scared by the howling coyotes which will surround you. For a more unusual place to stay, have a look at the Amargosa Motel. When we stayed there, I think there were only a couple of other guests. The staff leave at 6ish and leave you to it...No food, no bar and it's quite isolated (the perfect horror movie set). They left us our keys taped to the motel door. You will need a bottle of wine to help you sleep as the place is quite creepy. I was woken in the morning by a horse trying to get it's head through the window. GF was stting herself and didn't sleep.

People will tell you to avoid LA at all costs. I believe these people are wrong and just simply don't know how to enjoy themselves smile



Edited by Rollin on Sunday 23 September 15:29

HappySilver

82 posts

52 months

[news] 
Sunday 23rd September 2012 quote quote all

I've never had a problem taking hire cars across states, done it loads of time including with Hertz. I don't recall it ever even being raised as an issue. Took one into Canada once, again no problem but that time I think there was a little extra paperwork.

As long as you drop the car off where you say you will I can't see what the problem will be. State lines tend to just be a sign so I can't see any issue at the point of crossing and I'm pretty sure the insurance is US wide (if not I've been very naughty).

Managed to blag the Mustang convertible from Hertz a few times too. The one time I really wanted one and ordered it in advance they substituted it with something awful that I cannot even remember the name of as it was so bland...

Matt..

2,372 posts

77 months

[news] 
Sunday 23rd September 2012 quote quote all
Yosemite is well worth at least 2 nights.

Do a couple of small hikes at least. You will enjoy it, and you dont have to walk very far as it's America, and you can park right next to everything!
You should at least do the basics, eg: Yosemite Falls, Mono lake, Vernal/Nevada falls, and Sentinal dome. Just driving around the valley loop you will see a lot smile (eg. tunnel view, valley view, el cap, etc...). Try to time it for a week day though. It is insanely busy at the weekend.

Have you tried calling Hertz about one way rentals? I had a Challenger R/T (from the Adrenaline collection) from SFO to LAX late last year.


This is how easy a lot of Yosemite is:

The famous tunnel view.

Step back a bit...

wink

Yosemite is amazing really early in the morning when no one is around. Between 10am and 4pm it's crazy busy in the valley!

Edited by Matt.. on Sunday 23 September 16:29

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Bradgate

1,200 posts

35 months

[news] 
Sunday 23rd September 2012 quote quote all
I did almost this exact itinerary, but in reverse, a couple of years ago. We are fairly well travelled, and this was one of our best holidays ever.

We hired a convertible from LAS, and got a Chrysler Sebring. This appears to be the default convertible rental car. On a previous trip to Vegas, I hired a convertible and got a Mustang, so the luck of the draw applies to some extent.

If you specifically want a Mustang, you may need to go to a premium hire company, but this will obviously cost more than hiring a generic convertible. If you want to hire a Corvette, you will definitely need to go to a specialist.

Whatever you choose, you should be able to pick up at LAX and drop off at LAS for no extra charge. Crossing state borders is not an issue at all.

Have a great time! smile


HappySilver

82 posts

52 months

[news] 
Sunday 23rd September 2012 quote quote all
Chrysler Sebring - that was the one. Terrible, terrible car.

Deva Link

26,934 posts

133 months

[news] 
Sunday 23rd September 2012 quote quote all
Andeh said:
Land at LAX - Collect car - Stay 3 nights

LA to Monterey - Stay 2 nights

Monterey to San Fran - Drop car - Stay 2 nights (Have been told a car wont be needed here - Save £)

Collect car - San Fran to Yosemite - Stay 2 nights

Yosemite to Death Valley - Stay 1 night

Death Valley to Vegas - Drop car - Stay 3 nights

Fly home.
You didn't mention it, but did you choose that route so you could drive the Pacific Coast Highway? LA to Monterey is a long drive - where you planning to stop overnight on the way?

I've done that tour a couple of times, but it was many years ago. We went LA - San Diego - Vegas - Yosemite - Monterey - SF, but we did it over 3 weeks. We stopped overnight somewhere between Vegas and Yosemite but I guess you could do that in Death Valley. Our kids were smallish when we did it so didn't want to drive too long or go to Daeth Valley.

One advantage of finishing in SF is you could dump the car for the last few days. I've had cars in SF though - some of the good sightseeing places around SF need a car to get too and getting around isn't too bad, it's just that you need to find a hotel with parking and ideally get them to include it in the rate you get otherwise it'll cost up to $50/day.

Matt..

2,372 posts

77 months

[news] 
Sunday 23rd September 2012 quote quote all
You would be wise to stop somewhere before Monterey (as mentioned above), though it does depend where you are staying in LA somewhat. Even getting as far as Santa Barbara is probably going to be 2hrs+ from LA, and Monterey is ~5hrs with no stopping from Santa Barbara. Having somewhere to stop will also give more chance to redo some of the PCH if the weather is bad (this is quite likely to happen).

Your drive from Yosemite to Death Valley is probably 5hrs+ too, and that's without stopping (and if the Tioga pass is closed it could be a lot longer [eg. maybe 3hrs more?]). That's most of a day, so make sure you plan that one properly. Also it's worth noting that some of the sights in Death Valley are very far apart, and can take hours to get to on their own.

You really should plan out your days, and work out how long the drives are, and how much time it gives you in places. Some of the routes are long, and will take most of the day and give you very little time at your final destinations. Driving to Vegas (eg. HW95) can be boring, but most of the rest of your drives will be very scenic though smile Your trip will probably be ~1,500miles?

With regards to the question about another night in SF... no, don't do that. The rest of your trip looks very tight on time when taking into account the drives, and you'd probably be better off taking a night off LA/LV and putting it somewhere else (eg. PCH, or between Yosemite/DV).

If you can, take a sat nav. It will make everything far easier. Especially one with lane guidance, as it can get very confusing around cities!

Edited by Matt.. on Sunday 23 September 18:56

CDP

5,078 posts

142 months

[news] 
Sunday 23rd September 2012 quote quote all
Rollin said:
From Yosemite, you will want to go over the Tioga Pass towards Death Valley. Be aware of previous opening dates for this road.

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tiogaopen.ht...
Definitely, I was there in late May and the road had only opened that week - there was snow down the sides.

If you like hiking try and extend your stay in Yosemite, take decent boots and torches. Personally I could have spent a couple of weeks there.

If you can get a manual car, highway I120 from SF to Yosemite and the Tioga Pass are worth it. The automatic Chrysler C200 was completely out of it's depth and even my diesel Vectra would have been better. The back roads round Sierra Nevada are quite good fun too, even in the Chrysler.

Including getting a very lost on the twisty minor roads I did Yosemite to Vegas in about 10 hours. Arriving at Las Vegas in the dark is another one of those motoring experiences to savor.

Most important of all, get decent maps.

No more important still : Have fun.

Bradgate

1,200 posts

35 months

[news] 
Sunday 23rd September 2012 quote quote all
We stopped for the night at both Santa Barbara and Monterey. Route 1 is absolutely spectacular and the coastal drive will be a highlight of your trip, so you will want to take your time, enjoy the views, stop when it takes your fancy and make the most of it.

Deva Link

26,934 posts

133 months

[news] 
Sunday 23rd September 2012 quote quote all
Bradgate said:
We stopped for the night at both Santa Barbara and Monterey. Route 1 is absolutely spectacular and the coastal drive will be a highlight of your trip, so you will want to take your time, enjoy the views, stop when it takes your fancy and make the most of it.
The snag with the coastal route is it might be foggy. All day.

GCH

911 posts

90 months

[news] 
Sunday 23rd September 2012 quote quote all
One way rental in cali isn't an issue with hertz- as there is no penalty if it's one way in the same state. No one way rentals allowed on the adrenaline collection or the fast stuff though, which is why you are finding issues. Nowhere near as fun a journey in an svu as opposed to muscle, and going south down the pch is better than going north as you are on the correct side for the ocean.

Taking out of state isn't a lot problem (apart from mexico) but drop off in a different state and you get charged.



San Luis obispo is a convenient 1/2 way point stopping point for the nite between la-sf with plenty of motels in the area. Some great vineyards there I can recommend- very different wine to napa.

Edited by GCH on Sunday 23 September 20:39

davepoth

23,552 posts

87 months

[news] 
Sunday 23rd September 2012 quote quote all
As they've said, stopping somewhere before Monterrey is a good idea. Anywhere up to San Luis Obispo is fine IMO, but it's a good idea to take your time up the PCH at Big Sur. Given the extra price of one way rentals it's probably worth keeping the car in San Francisco - a day out to Marin county north of the Golden Gate is worth it anyway.

Rental prices can vary hugely - take a look at the price to return the car to LAX, it may well be cheaper to drive it back and fly home from there, or even fly back to Vegas and then on to home.

Tioga Pass is lovely, but as has been said it could well be closed even in May, depending on how bad winter is. You have to go a long way south or north to find another pass.


Rollin

3,328 posts

133 months

[news] 
Sunday 23rd September 2012 quote quote all
Shouldn't be a one way charge for LA and LV on a normal convertible and LAX should have plenty of Mustangs.

Deva Link

26,934 posts

133 months

[news] 
Sunday 23rd September 2012 quote quote all
GCH said:
One way rental in cali isn't an issue with hertz- as there is no penalty if it's one way in the same state.
Ah - that's another advantage of starting in LA and finishing in SF rather than LV.

GCH said:
San Luis obispo is a convenient 1/2 way point stopping point for the nite between la-sf with plenty of motels in the area. Some great vineyards there I can recommend- very different wine to napa.
That's where we stopped on our second trip - we missed out Vegas that time and we stopped there en-route from LA to either Monterey or Yosemite (can't remember the running order). We just stayed in an Embassy Suites, which was ideal with the kids.

Andeh

Original Poster:

750 posts

111 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Thanks for all the replies, there's some really helpful information. It sounds like i need to have a bit of a re-think of my schedule.

Also, for anyone who is curious about Hertz Adrenaline one way rentals. I've had an email confirmation from them that they will not accomodate this. Plus, it was working out at £1100 for 14 days on a round trip to LAX.

I've emailed Dollar as someone on another thread suggested that all of their convertibles are Mustangs. There's still a glimmer of hope it seems!

Please keep posting photos from your trips, they're great inspiration.

Thanks!

warp9

911 posts

85 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
One night MAX in LA at Santa Monica - done! Good calls on Santa Barbara and San Louis Obispo, there's not a lot in Monterey, but the 17 mile coastal loop is well worth a drive. While Yosemite is well worth a visit, it does get horrendously busy and you'll need to book well ahead. However, I personally prefer Sequoia - virtually empty by comparison and those trees are just incredible. If you like star gazing, an overnight in death valley is a must. Have fun!

CDP

5,078 posts

142 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
warp9 said:
While Yosemite is well worth a visit, it does get horrendously busy and you'll need to book well ahead. !
It was OK when I went but that was during the week in May so I'd guess well out of school holidays.

furtive

3,659 posts

167 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Deva Link said:
You didn't mention it, but did you choose that route so you could drive the Pacific Coast Highway? LA to Monterey is a long drive - where you planning to stop overnight on the way?
I can highly recommend the Madonna Inn. Bonkers place:

http://madonnainn.com/
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