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6 week trip to California and Vegas plus Crater Lake?

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
36 posts
1 review
6 week trip to California and Vegas plus Crater Lake?

Hello,

I was hoping for some advice for our holiday arriving 19th June and leaving 1st August 2017.

2 adults and 3 children (4,8,10). We will be hiring a car to travel through California and Vegas.

My question is:

Should I include Crater Lake into our itinerary? It looks amazing but adds another ~ 6 1/2 hours driving from Lake Tahoe. If we do, would 2 nights be enough time? It would be mid July when we got to Crater Lake.

This is our potential itinerary...

LA including surrounding beaches 5 nights

Palm Springs 2 nights

Joshua Tree NP

Lake Havasu 1

Grand Canyon 2

Las Vegas 5

Death Valley NP 2

Sequoia/Kings Canyon 2

Yosemite National Park 4

Lake Tahoe 3

Crater Lake 2

Redwood National Park 2

Eureka 1

Mendocino/Fort Bragg

Point Arena

San Fran 5

Santa Cruz

Monterey 2

Hearst Castle

Pismo Beach

Santa Barbara2

San Clemente

San Diego 3

Anaheim 3

12 replies to this topic
Eugene, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Eugene, Springfield
Level Contributor
9,933 posts
200 reviews
1. Re: 6 week trip to California and Vegas plus Crater Lake?

You'll certainly be doing a ton of driving. Not sure what route you're planning to take from Tahoe to Eureka if you skip Crater Lake. If you do go to CL you would take 199 from Grants Pass to Crescent City and 101 south through the redwoods.

Since it's probably already too late to get reservations at the lodge, you would also have to determine where to stay near the park. Whether you spent one or room days at CL would depend on what time of day you arrived. Some are content with a look-see and others with a full day or two.

My advice would be to stay flexible and allow yourself to decide as you go. On such a long trip things are going to happen to make you want stay a little longer in some places and do less in others. Don't be a slave to a preset itinerary.

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
36 posts
1 review
2. Re: 6 week trip to California and Vegas plus Crater Lake?

Thanks for your advice oregonpoppa. I'm keen to go, but still not sure if I can warrant such a long drive with the kids.

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,715 posts
21 reviews
3. Re: 6 week trip to California and Vegas plus Crater Lake?

I know that you are from Perth, but several of your destinations will be unbearable in July. Death Valley and Joshua Tree will be dangerously hot. When I say dangerous, I mean life threatening. What will you do with the children for your 5 days in Vegas? The town flirted with being a family destination about a decade ago. It didn't take, and Vegas is back to selling a somewhat Disneyfied version of Sin. Yosemite and the Grand Canyon will be absolutely packed.

You chose very well known, very popular, destinations, lots of them. Too many of them, really, especially for this hot time of year. Could you tell us what you plan to do in places like Santa Barbara, San Clemente, and even Lake Tahoe with such young kids? Some of the destinations, such as Monterey, have wonderful things for the children, but many seem like odd choices for a family with a 4, 8, and 10 year old.

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
36 posts
1 review
4. Re: 6 week trip to California and Vegas plus Crater Lake?

Hi kaleberg,

Joshua Tree we will just drive through on our way to Lake Havasu, so I think that'll be ok. I was hoping we would be able to get a bit of a look around Death Valley early morning/late evening or is that just unrealistic?

I've changed Vegas to only 3 nights now, one day for relaxing and a couple for checking out a few child friendly shows. I would also like to be there for Independence Day for the fireworks. Another tripadvisor member recommended Zion and Page for a night each, so I've added in those destinations instead.

Lake Tahoe we will be wake boarding, water skiing, swimming and a little bit of hiking to see the sights.

I haven't got to checking out the west coast stops yet, so may change those - you've recommend Monteroy, where else would you recommend to stay a few nights?

Eugene, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Eugene, Springfield
Level Contributor
9,933 posts
200 reviews
5. Re: 6 week trip to California and Vegas plus Crater Lake?

Kaleberg makes some good points. Of course, you know your children best. How many days are they happy just seeing scenery vs. actually doing something fun? How far can they hike before complaining?

The problem with you proposed itinerary is that it covers such a huge area and we don't know why you picked some places. Why Lake Havasu in the middle of nowhere? Or Pismo Beach, Point Arena or San Clemente? You could confine your trip to California and put together a great itinerary. You'll need reservations to spend any time in Yosemite, but you could see the huge sequoias and drive the 49er route through the Mother Lode Country to Sacramento and up to Tahoe. Or 395 from L.A. via Mammoth Mtn to Reno and Tahoe...then west to the coast. Grand Canyon is a great destination, but is it the primary reason for going to Vegas?

Since this is the Oregon Forum, I probably should concentrate on this state...but my advice would be to skip Oregon unless you are making time to continue north from the redwoods up the coast. From Tahoe, you can just head west to SF and up 101 to the redwoods....but where to then? Too many options and too many roads that don't lead to your next obvious destination. I think you do need to trim lessen your scope and put more time into fewer places where the whole family will enjoy experiencing and spending time.

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
36 posts
1 review
6. Re: 6 week trip to California and Vegas plus Crater Lake?

Thanks oregon poppa, I will leave Oregon off the list for now.

Lake Havasu and Vegas are my husband's choices so I need to work these into the itinerary somehow, but I think we'll all enjoy the Grand Canyon.

Pismo Beach and Saint Clemente were mentioned by Lonely Planet as places to stop while driving the 101, but they are not definite stops on our trip at all. What would be your pick for places to stop along the West coast of California?

Thanks for you time, I appreciate it. It's difficult to judge what to do when I don't know too much about the area!

Vestal, New York
Destination Expert
for Auburn, Finger Lakes
Level Contributor
11,199 posts
205 reviews
7. Re: 6 week trip to California and Vegas plus Crater Lake?

FYI it's San Clemente.

I agree that Monterey would be a great stop (great aquarium is a plus). Santa Cruz has a fun area known as the Beach Boardwalk that your kids would probably love. Near Carmel, Point Lobos State Park is worth exploring.

If in the Big Sur area on a Thursday, consider San Luis Obispo for the great downtown evening farmers market/street fair. I enjoyed the tide pools at Montana de Oro SP in that area.

Further up the coast, Mendocino and nearby McKerricher State Park are worth checking out. Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park (Crescent City) is a great stop. I like Trinidad for an overnight and nearby Patrick's Point State Park is beautiful.

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,715 posts
21 reviews
8. Re: 6 week trip to California and Vegas plus Crater Lake?

Please read up on Death Valley. It is no place to visit without knowledge and preparation. Preparation includes carrying a huge amount of water in case of a breakdown. Joshua Tree is no joke, either. This is the Mojave Desert. I really don't think you have thought this through. You will be driving 3 young children over thousands of miles at the hottest time of the year in two of the least hospitable deserts in North America. Just the idea of cooping up a 4 year old, an 8 year old, and a 10 year old for hour after hour is disturbing. Adding on destinations such as Zion because a friend suggested it is unwise without research.

You need to read some guidebooks that will give you a sense of the climate and the scale of the region you plan to visit. You also need to get a sense of just how crowded places like Yosemite and the Grand Canyon will be in July.

Houston, TX
Level Contributor
5,177 posts
22 reviews
9. Re: 6 week trip to California and Vegas plus Crater Lake?

Re your time at the national parks--if you don't already have some bookings for lodgings in/near the parks, that would be the place to start for them. The lodges begin accepting bookings 12-13 months in advance and you will be traveling at a popular time of year; it's not unusual for them to be fully booked. You need to check now on the park websites for lodging availability in the park lodges; if nothing is available then check for rooms in the gateway towns, where they exist (Tusayan for Grand Canyon NP, for example). The same situation may exist there. You may well find that lodging availability will determine part of your itinerary.

Also look into the America the Beautiful Pass, which is good for admission to all national parks, national monuments and some other federally controlled land for a year. It costs $80. so depending on how many parks you end up visiting it may be worth it and save you some money. You buy it at the entrance to your first park. The ranger will put the names of up to 2 pass holders on it with permanent marker. At each subsequent park entrance the pass holder shows the pass and photo ID and then the car and all passengers go.

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
36 posts
1 review
10. Re: 6 week trip to California and Vegas plus Crater Lake?

Thanks rj0810 and Txoffwego for the great tips, that is exactly what I was after, especially regarding the west coast. I hadn't heard of the America the Beautiful pass, I will definitely look into it!

kaleberg I will continue to do my research, thanks for you advice

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