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2 weeks in Caliafornia

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posts: 6
2 weeks in Caliafornia

We arrive in San Francisco on 29th March 05 and plan to leave on 1st April with a view of visiting different places. We need to be back in San Francisco on 10th April to fly home. We definitely want to travel down the coast towards Monteray/Carmel but after that? What we would like advice on is: can we see Death Valley and Yosemite or are we being too adventurous (i.e. too much driving/too many miles) Any thoughts?

Colchester UK
posts: 1,627
1. Re: 2 weeks in Caliafornia


Take CA1 (The Pacific Coast Highway) from San Francisco to Monterey and overnight. Continue on PCH to San Luis Obispo, this is the most scenic section of PCH, and overnight. From S.L.O. take CA58 to Bakersfield, Barstow then I-15 to Baker and overnight. From Baker take CA127, CA190 to Death Valley NP then NV374 to Beatty and overnight. From Beatty take NV374, CA190 and CA178 to Bakersfield and overnight. From Bakersfield take CA65, CA198 to Sequoia NP and Giant Sequoia NM, then CA180 to Fresno and overnight. From Fresno CA99 to Merced and overnight. From Merced CA140 to Yosemite NP and return to Merced and overnight. From Merced CA59, CA33, CA152 then US101 to return to San Francisco.

Hope this helps, if I can be of any other help let me know.



Santa Barbara...
posts: 1,772
reviews: 1
2. Re: 2 weeks in Caliafornia

Hmmm. 2 weeks. 3 nites in SF. 3 nites in Monterey, 3 nights in Yosemite, 2 night in Death Valley, back for 1 nite in SF. I like driving. So I think it can be done.

San Mateo...
posts: 1,695
reviews: 6
3. Re: 2 weeks in Caliafornia

Here's an alternative plan:

April 1

Leave SF and go to Yosemite (3 1/2 to 4 hour drive). Stay 3 nights in or around Yosemite. The best lodging outside of Yosemite is near the South Entrance.

April 4

Head to Death Valley. Leave Yosemite via the South Entrance taking Hwy 41 to Hwy 99. Take 99 south to Bakersfield where you will turn East on Hwy 58. Take Hwy 58 towards the town of Mojave, and just before Mojave you will connect with Hwy 395 going North. Take Hwy395 to Hwy 190, and Hwy 190 will take you directly into Death Valley. Your total drive time from Yosemite to Death Valley should be no more than 5 hours. Spend 2 nights in Death Valley. (FYI...if you were visiting in the summer, you would be able to take a faster route from Yosemite to Death Valley by exiting Yosemite via the East Entrance at Tioga Pass and then taking Hwy 395 down to Death Valley. Unfortunately for you, they do not clear the snow from the road going over Tioga Pass until late May so it will still be closed when you are visiting)

April 6

Leave Death Valley and go to Santa Barbara to start your coastal journey. Take Hwy 190 West to Hwy 395. Go South on 395 (which turns into Hwy 14 just past Mojave) until you get to the Los Angeles area. Follow the signs to Simi Valley and get on Hwy 118 going West. You will eventually drive through Ventura and get to Hwy 101. Go North on Hwy 101 to Santa Barbara. Spend 1 night in Santa Barbara. This drive from DV to Santa Barbara is approximately 5 hours.

April 7

Leave Santa Barbara and drive up the coast towards Monterey. Depending how far you want to drive in 1 day, you could drive all the way to Monterey in one day (approximately 5 to 6 hours) or stop somewhere near Hearst Castle (Cambria) and spend the night. Depending on which you choose, you spend either 2 nights in Monterey and 1 in Cambria, or 3 nights in Monterey.

April 10

Drive from Monterey to SF to fly home. Drive time to airport from Monterey: 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

The first poster suggested staying in Fresno and Merced. I would suggest NOT staying in these towns, as they offer little to see except freeways and farmland. If you are going to visit the Nat'l Parks, stay in or very close to the parks, not 50 miles away (Fresno and Merced).

Santa Barbara...
posts: 1,772
reviews: 1
4. Re: 2 weeks in Caliafornia

Krs has recommended a great loop trip for your itinerary. I used map software to measure a version of Krs' route:

SF to Yosemite - 160 miles

Yosemite to Death Valley - 365 miles (I used hwy 14.)

Death Valley to Santa Barbara - 264 miles

Santa Barbara to Monterey - 227 miles

Monterey to SF via Hwy 1 - 114 miles

By the way the route from Death Valley to SF via Santa Barbara is 605 miles while it is 470 miles to head straight back to San Francisco from Death Valley.

I see a theme in your itinerary - city, mountains, desert and the sea - pretty clever.

The desert is your toughest decision. Apparently, the wildflowers are out in force right now.

I'm not saying you should skip the desert, or Santa Barbara, but here is an option that saves mileage. Go to Cambria, Morro Bay, Avila, Shell, or Pismo Beach after you leave Yosemite.

Here are a few websites on the Death Valley:




Have fun!

san luis obispo
posts: 53
reviews: 29
5. Re: 2 weeks in Caliafornia

A couple of previous posters left some thoughtful and detailed itineraries... Don't miss Death Valley, as this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the desert bloom after a record rainfall. And make sure you drive Hwy 1 between Monterey and Cambria.

London, UK
posts: 311
reviews: 53
6. Re: 2 weeks in Caliafornia

I did this journey in Octobr - more or less as krslong has suggested (more by accident than by planning). I took a few days longer than two weeks, but that was because I fell in love with Pismo Beach and stayed there 4 days! Death Valley is wonderful, but personally I think 1 night there is enough. It's a good itinerary

The mileage seems a lot to us, but US driving, as you might already know, is vastly different to here, and, apart from the bigger cities' freeways, really quite relaxing. I drove it all myself and consider myself a wimpy girl driver...

posts: 64
reviews: 28
7. Re: 2 weeks in Caliafornia

One word for you:


While on vacation in S.F., we went to Yosemite National Park. This was a week ago, and it was a long drive, but well worth it.

Mokelumne Hill, CA
posts: 98
8. Re: 2 weeks in Caliafornia

Personally, I'd skip the Death Valley part of the loop, and I'd probably spend the extra days in Yosemite. This is the perfect time to be there -- the falls are running (my mother, who has gone there at least twice a year for about 75 years now, went up yesterday) and the fact that it's raining doesn't matter one bit.

If you're going to stay in the park, you're probably going to wind up either at Curry (around $70 a night for a heated tent) or the Ahwahnee (around $280 for a world class hotel).

After a couple of nights in SF, I'd drive to Yosemite (go through Modesto, up through the Big Oak Flat entrance), and stay there for a couple of days. Leave via the Mariposa exit, so you'll be able to go through the park most of the world doesn't see (have breakfast or lunch at the Wawona).

www.yosemitepark.com for reservations. A sneaky trick is to call them, as opposed to using the online reservation system, which isn't always up to date on cancellations. The phone system is.

Take Highway 41 through Fresno, and follow it over to Highway 101, then head north into Monterey. A couple of days there will enable you to see a lot of the peninsula and to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, plus take the 17-mile drive. We had a marvelous dinner at the Blue Moon on Cannery Row.

Then take Highway 1 back up the coast to SF, and spend another day or two there before heading out.

Taunton, United...
posts: 315
reviews: 31
9. Re: 2 weeks in Caliafornia

use mapquest to get an idea of distances. We are doing all this in two weeks, we fly tomorrow!

Fly into vegas, stop 2 nights, travel to Lake Tahoe via 1 night stop in Bishop, poss via death valley, 2 nights in Lake Tahoe, 3 nights in San francisco, 1 night Monterey, 2 nights on the coast, 2 nights San Diego, return to vegas for 1 night to fly home.

Yes it is a tight schedule, but we have planned well. Around 1400 miles in total. Trip of a lifetime!

Mokelumne Hill, CA
posts: 98
10. Re: 2 weeks in Caliafornia

You can actually make the drive from Las Vegas to Tahoe in a day, but it's worth going up through the Owens Valley through Bishop and by Mono Lake. Great trout fishing over in that area; there's a ranch south of Bishop called Hot Creek that's one of the world's best places for rainbow.