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Need help with itinerary planning for several NPs

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WV
posts: 3
reviews: 2
Need help with itinerary planning for several NPs

We are driving from WV by I-70 to the Great Basin National Park and plan on visiting the following additional national parks—Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Saguaro, Carlsbad Caverns, Guadalupe Mountains, and possibly Big Bend if time and funds permit. (We have been to the other parks in that area). We are in our mid60s and in good health. We know that we can’t do justice to all there is to see and do on a short timetable, but if something really appeals to us we will return and concentrate more time at that area. We have revisited Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Bryce, Zion, and the Grand Canyon in the past. We will be traveling with people whose schedule will not allow for in depth exploring on this trip.

We need help and suggestions on these things:

1) What is the best order and routes to visit these parks? Would it be easier and a better route to go to Death Valley from Great Basin, and then back track to Kings Canyon and Sequoia? We don’t really see what way to go to Death Valley.

2) What are some interesting things to see and do at any of these parks? (My “must see” is a huge redwood or sequoia)

3) What are some interesting things to do along the route? Restaurants, sights, events, etc. ?

We will be leaving West Virginia Sept 8 and will return in about 3 weeks. We did a trip out west 5 years ago by using Trip Advisor. Your suggestions included Pagosa Springs resort, Pagosa Springs brewery, Durango Silverton narrow gauge railroad, Valley of the Gods, the Fiery Furnace hike at Arches, tram rides, Café Diablo,etc. It was the best trip ever!!

We will really appreciate any and all suggestions. Thanks.

Susan

San Diego...
posts: 7,936
reviews: 29
1. Re: Need help with itinerary planning for several NPs

For a trip like this including so many states, I would recommend that you post this in the Road Trips forum here: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g1-i12567-Road_Tri…

You can use this thread you started in the Sequoia/Kings Canyon forum for planning your time in those parks.

To include all of the places you listed in one driving trip from West Virginia will mean driving about 6,200 miles, with about 100 hours of driving time. Spread out over 3 weeks that's an average of almost 300 miles per day, an average of almost 5 hours driving each day. I think it would be kind of exhausting and I would recommend trying to scale it down a little to make it more enjoyable.

The desert parks such as Death Valley and Joshua Tree will still be very hot in September. Probably over 100 degrees at both of them. And almost as hot at Saguaro. You might want to reconsider including those parks in this trip, due to the heat. However you could still pass through Death Valley on your way in or out of California.

Here is a trip report of one area of California, the eastern Sierra Nevada and vicinity, which also took place in September. Maybe some of these places will be of interest either before or after your time in Sequoia/Kings Canyon. You can use Tioga Road through Yosemite National Park to cross the Sierra Nevada and get over to the entrance to Sequoia/Kings Canyon NP. travelswithbillandnancy.com/eastern_sierras.…

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 13,593
reviews: 1,227
2. Re: Need help with itinerary planning for several NPs

First, since your trip crosses several states I would also post your question in the road trip forum.

tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g1-i12567-Road_Tri…

I would suggest going to/from on different routes to California. For the California piece, I would recommend:

1) Drive first to Reno, Nevada. This will put you also at Lake Tahoe.

2) Drive down highway 395 to June Lake and Mammoth lakes for a night and stay at either; have dinner at the restaurant at Convict Lake Inn (a little pricey but special place).

3) Enter Yosemite via Tioga Pass - just north of June Lake Loop and do a day drive through Yosemite - see Toulumne Meadows, Yosemite Valley, and then exit via Wawona area possibly staying at

http://www.tenayalodge.com/

Have dinner at Wawona Lodge in Yosemite (reservations a must)

http://www.yosemitepark.com/wawona-hotel.aspx

(note its close enough to stay at Tenaya and then return.)

3) Drive from Tenaya Lodge to SEKI (Sequoia and Kings Canyon). Enter via highway 180 - 3 river road is somewhat nasty 180 switchback turns and we have even had to do it in the fog once (yuck). In SEKI September most lodges are still open but Wukachi is a nice place to be (reservations required for lodging and meals.)

4) I would not stay in Kings Canyon - since you are not doing hiking. Its a pleasant slow but pretty 4 hour drive to the bottom of the canyon and back up. Watch out for rocks on the road.

5) You might want 2 nights in SEKI area.

6) Then drive to Palm Springs (you will be arriving late but would still have time potentially to take the arial tram ride and see the Living Desert, before departing for Joshua Trees. yeah, it can be hot - but you are in an air conditioned car. I would enjoy the park and then stay at 29 Palms (north of the park for the night.) Its a smaller town so Best Western here is a good place to stay.

7) Depart from 29 Palms and drive to Death Valley. You might want to just drive through and then continue on to Las VEgas. For off strip lodging, we like the Station Casinos. Red Rock Casino is very close to Red Rock Canyon. If you do stay in Death Valley lodging is minimal and there is a motel there for less costly accommodations. There is an excellent Death Valley expert on this forum so if you have specific questions on this area - just post another forum question specific to this area.

8) I would then head to Grand Canyon for the night...and then continue on with your trip to Carlsbad Caverns, Guadalupe, etc. I would do this towards the end as it will be cooler once you get there. I would ask for more information on this in the road trip forum (we've been to these places but generally just flew into Albuquerque or other to see the places and not did it through a road trip.).

Yeah - there are other ways to do this, but this is one way through california to take in what you want to see.

I will give you some links to look at in a follow on forum post.

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 13,593
reviews: 1,227
3. Re: Need help with itinerary planning for several NPs

Here are some links:

For Lake Tahoe, area see

http://www.visitinglaketahoe.com/

If you want low cost but nice lodging walking distance to lake with a nice outside deck to sit on (not lake view but in the trees)

http://www.alpenroseinntahoe.com/

For June Lake Loop see

http://junelakeloop.org/

For Mammoth lakes see

http://www.ci.mammoth-lakes.ca.us/

For Convict lake resturant see

http://www.convictlake.com/restaurant.html

for Wuksachi Lodge in Seqouia see

http://www.visitsequoia.com/lodging.aspx

For Palm Springs arial Tram

http://www.pstramway.com/

Living Desert

http://www.livingdesert.org/

29 Palms Best Western

http://bestwesterngardens.com/

for lodging in Death Valley

www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/lodging.htm

Red Rock csino

https://redrock.sclv.com/

(by the way very reasonable $ dolalr buffet) wonderful swimming pool

Red Rock Canyon

http://www.redrockcanyonlv.org/

Hope this helps for now - as there are lots of options, but wanted to give you some help for now....

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 13,593
reviews: 1,227
4. Re: Need help with itinerary planning for several NPs

A few other things on food, trees and events:

Food:

1) If you do stay in Palm Springs area, the date gardens and their date shakes are fabulous. There are several; one such is:

http://www.hadleys.com/

2) If you leave SEKI in the morning, you will be in Bakersfield around Lunch - they have excellent family style basque lunches and dinners in Bakersfield. For more on this, see Smithsonian article:

smithsonianmag.com/travel/Indulging-in-Ameri…

Trees

1) For those in the party who can take the walk, General Sherman tree is a must

www.nps.gov/seki/naturescience/sherman.htm

2) If you do opt to do the yosemite route to SEKI (versus the boring desert drive both ways) - also do the Wawona Tram Tree Ride in Yosemite or the Yosemite sugar Pine Railroad (sometimes they offer this in conjunction with a fun barbecue).

www.yosemitepark.com/big-trees-tram-tour.aspx

yelp.com/biz/yosemite-mountain-sugar-pine-ra…

3) and for events - if you are willing to go to a really good fair, the Los Angeles fair takes place in September. This is east of LA - about a 70 to 90 minute drive to Palm Springs area. Lots of things to see; music; events; great food; cultural and so much more (and yeah the fun zone but there is enough other things to do there like wine tasting; tram rides and more to fill the day without even going there if you do not want to)

http://www.lacountyfair.com/2012/

If you want to go and spend the night there look for lodging in Pomona (not LA as its quite a drive or stop at the fair on the way to Palm Sprigns). In Pomona, Sheraton Fairplex has a perfect location

http://www.sheratonfairplex.com/

WV
posts: 3
reviews: 2
5. Re: Need help with itinerary planning for several NPs

Thank you so much for your prompt responses and suggestions. We are waiting on maps from AAA which will make those routes easier to figure out. Thanks for the links, too. As we get further in our planning, we will post in the other forums, too. Your help has steered us in the right direction. Susan

6. Re: Need help with itinerary planning for several NPs

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