Change of plans, we are going to Sequoia NP and I need help with itinerary

Discussion in 'California & the West' started by isabellea, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. isabellea

    isabellea Combining beach and Disney!

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    A few weeks ago I posted in the DLR forum about what would be the best itinerary to fit Huntington Beach, San Diego and Disneyland in one week (April 21-28). I was very happy with what was suggested and I was able to make all my reservations. Well, DH decided he wants to visit Sequoia National Park instead of San Diego. Since I kind of imposed our stay at DLR, I told him he was choosing what we would do the rest of our stay in California and that means Sequoia NP! BTW, I really don’t mind as I like visiting national parks. April 21-28th 2018 is also National Park week so the admission will be free and it looks like the Wuksachi lodge is available for our dates.

    Now I need help with our itinerary. I don’t want to only do interstates and would like to make the traveling to or from Sequoia as scenic as possible. What would you do to avoid as much traffic as possible (I know there’s always traffic in LA but which option would be better)?

    Our plane lands at 11am at LAX Saturday April 21st and we want to be at DLR at the end of the day Tuesday April 24th.

    1) Drive from LAX to Sequoia using interstate I-5N/CA-65N (3h45) on Saturday, stay two nights at Wuksachi Loadge before heading back south to DLR driving first to San Luis Obispo (CA-198W/CA-41W) and staying Monday night in Santa Barbara before heading to DLR on Tuesday driving south on Highway 1 (PCH)? I know it will add at least 3 hours compared to interstate 5 but we are renting a convertible car and we love roadtrips.

    Saturday (4/21) - LAX to Sequoia NP

    Sunday (4/22) - Sequoia/King Canyon National Parks

    Monday (4/23) – Sequoia NP to San Luis Obispo and then Santa Barbara (spend the night in Santa Barbara)

    Tuesday (4/24) – Santa Barbara to DLR (arrive at Best Western Park Place Inn around 4-5pm)


    2) Drive north on PCH/Hwy1 to Santa Barbara on Saturday and then to San Luis Obispo and Sequoia on Sunday. Drive south to DLR on Tuesday on CA-65S/I-5S?

    Saturday (4/21) - LAX to Santa Barbara

    Sunday (4/22) – Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo then to Sequoia NP

    Monday (4/23) – Sequoia/King Canyon National Parks

    Tuesday (4/24) – Sequoia NP to DLR (arrive at Best Western Park Place Inn around 4-5pm)


    Thank you all for your help!
     
  2. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

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    Using I-5 is rather unavoidable. A lot of the side/frontage roads may be usable, but they can be really slow. The Google Maps straight shot from LAX passes through State Route 65, and that's a freeway. On the way to/from SLO/SB there are some interesting farm roads. I've taken one on the way to Bakersfield.

    A lot of these roads are farm roads that are interesting in their own way, but not necessarily that different than the view from the interstate or other major freeways. While California State Route 99 isn't technically an interstate, it's a major freeway that's pretty much indistinguishable from one.

    It may be a little bit further, but what about Yosemite? I've enjoyed SEKI on my visits, but Yosemite is iconic in a different way.
     
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  4. isabellea

    isabellea Combining beach and Disney!

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    Using I-5 is rather unavoidable. A lot of the side/frontage roads may be usable, but they can be really slow. The Google Maps straight shot from LAX passes through State Route 65, and that's a freeway. On the way to/from SLO/SB there are some interesting farm roads. I've taken one on the way to Bakersfield.

    I'm not against taking some interstates or freeways and for one way, we will to save as much time as possible and that's why I planned a big detour (3h+) to San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara to see some scenic views from Hwy 1. I am mostly wondering now on when to take I-5/CA-65 vs Hwy1/CA-198W/CA-41W to avoid as much traffic as possible. Should I take I-5/CA-65 on a Saturday vs a weekday? What about Hwy 1 to get from Santa Barbara to DLR, is it really bad traffic-wise on a weekday?

    A lot of these roads are farm roads that are interesting in their own way, but not necessarily that different than the view from the interstate or other major freeways. While California State Route 99 isn't technically an interstate, it's a major freeway that's pretty much indistinguishable from one.

    That's too bad there's not an awesome road to take but thought it was worth it to ask in case there was one. Being from the east (Montreal in Canada) and being our first trip in California, we want to see as much as possible and interstate/freeways are, in my experience, very similar no matter where you are in the country or continent.

    It may be a little bit further, but what about Yosemite? I've enjoyed SEKI on my visits, but Yosemite is iconic in a different way.

    Yosemite is for a future trip in Northern California that will also include San Francisco. I also prefer to discover the pacific coast a little (hence the stops in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara) with the extra time it would take us to drive to Yosemite. But it's definitely on my bucket list of parks to see (that lists includes Yellowstone, Zion, Glacier, Great Smoky Mountains that we will visit next summer and some Canadian national parks like Banff).
     
  5. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

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    I don't know about awesome roads. I've gone off the beaten path before out of curiosity. The most awesome roads are going to be in the national parks or perhaps around Lake Tahoe, although they may not be that great if you're easily carsick or afraid of heights. Generals Highway from the south to Lodgepole has beautiful views although it has a lot of hairpin turns. Personally I think the best mountain road in California is Tioga Pass through Yosemite. Outside the parks there are are quite a few smaller communities and tons of farm country. It might be more interesting to take the freeways that pass through some of the middle-sized cities like Lemoore or Dinuba. You can certain see them on any mapping tool. Still - a lot of this would still be going through farm country.

    I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and on my typical way to Yosemite there are some ways through small cities like Escalon or through little towns like Groveland. If you're on your way SEKI you're going to pass through many similar places like Orange Cove or through.
     
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  6. SteveMP

    SteveMP DIS Veteran

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    Hmm from LA to Sequoia, if you like whitewater rafting you could drive to Kernville( through the desert if you want some differrnt views), do some rafting, then drive up to Sequoia from there, some cool scenic roads there as well, and Kernville is kind of in the southern foothills of Sequoia national forest
     
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  7. elaine amj

    elaine amj DIS Veteran

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    We did route #2.

    The Farmers Market in SLO was a big highlight for us (bought a giant case of strawberries that we spent the next few days enjoying). Can't remember what day of the week though.

    We also loved stopping at Pismo Beach next door. We did a very reasonably priced whale watching boat tour on a tiny inflatable speedboat. We didn't see whales but still had a blast.

    Instead of Santa Barbara, we chose to spend a bit of time in Slovang - a charming Danish town. Very pretty and touristy.

    The drive across central Cali to Sequoia was very blah. But so worth it. SEKI was amazing and we spent 3 nights in the area. I would love to go back. Those giant trees were a delight.
     
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  8. isabellea

    isabellea Combining beach and Disney!

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    I like that idea! Any suggestion on a rafting company? I never saw a desert so that would also be very interesting. Thank you for the suggestions!
     
  9. isabellea

    isabellea Combining beach and Disney!

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    I noted the Farmers Market for things to do in SLO! Do you remember the name of the boat tour company? I will also check Solvang versus Santa Barbara and let DH decides. ;)
     
  10. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

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    It's just seemingly endless farm country. Not that it's without any charm, but most people don't think of flat farmland as terribly touristy. I mentioned Lemoore. Here's a photo of the area from above. This is actually Naval Air Station Lemoore, but it gives a good idea of how much farmland there is in the Central Valley.

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. SteveMP

    SteveMP DIS Veteran

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    We usually use Sierra South, because as a repeat customer they send emails for 30% off if I book ahead etc. great, friendly people who know what they are doing. And its walking distance from where we camp and from Kern river Brewing company where we like to eat.

    The desert can be beautiful in the spring and a lot of cool things to do if you know where to go. For example if you were to head NE from LA through Lancaster, you could pass theough Mojave near Edwards Airforce base(used to watch the space shuttle land there), then through Red Rock canyon state park which is gorgeous and a shockingly different from Sequoia which is a short drive away. Of course thats a longer drive than taking the ultra boring 5 and then cutting through Bakersfield.
     
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  12. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

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    Driving past joshua trees can be rather interesting in its own way.
     
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  13. SteveMP

    SteveMP DIS Veteran

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    Yeah the dirst time I drove through Joshua Tree NP on the way to Skull Rock, I felt like I was on another planet.
     
  14. VandVsmama

    VandVsmama DIS Veteran

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    A few suggestions to consider for your trip:
    1. If you're flying from eastern Canada to LAX, probably the LAST thing you're going to want to do is to drive 4 hr to Sequoia NP on your arrival day. Do NOT go with option #1.
    2. I would do option #2. It's ~ 2 hr drive from LAX to SB. If you're interested in farmers markets, SB has them all over town. Often 1 on each day of the week...just do some research online ahead of time to find times & locations. And the farmers markets in SB & SLO are really great.
    3. Driving from LAX --> SB: It's ~ 2 hr drive NOT in rush hour and ONLY on major freeways. Keep in mind that technically you won't be able to drive to SB only on Hwy 1. Between Venture and SB, 101 and Hwy 1 are basically the same...so you WILL be on a major freeway, but it hugs the ocean the whole time. You could choose to go on frontage roads for part of that way, if you want, but it will take a lot longer and you will basically see the exact same stuff you'll see between Ventura & SB if you're on 101.
    4. On your SB -->SLO-->Sequoia NP day: If you'd like to have lunch with ocean views, stop for a bite to eat in Pismo Beach.
    5. SB --> SLO route: do NOT bother with Hwy 1. It's not very scenic. It's not interesting. It doesn't follow the coast. I've driven that route before and it's really really boring. And long. Just go on 101. If you want to make a stop along the way, stop in Solvang and look around there for an hour, but then get back on the road with the goal to be in Pismo Beach/SLO around lunch time. That's because...
    6. SLO --> Sequoia NP route: This part of the drive will take about 3 hours. Well, the shortest route is 3 hr according to Google Maps (101 --> CA-46 east --> CA-41 north--> CA-198 east). OR you could take the 3.5 hr route (101 --> CA-46 east--> Corcoran Rd --> CA-43 north --> CA-198 east). Both routes will be relatively boring with a mix of rolling California hills & central valley farm land before you get to the mountains.
    7. Don't try to also fit in Death Valley and/or Joshua Tree National Park. You have to pick 1...Sequoia or Death Valley/Joshua Tree. You won't have time for both.
    8. Sequoia NP --> Anaheim route: Most direct & fastest option is basically I-5 the whole way (ok, it's CA-198/CA-65 --> CA-99 south --> I-5) and will take you 5 hr with no stops. Option #2 would be to go CA-99 south--> CA-58 east--> CA-14 south, then near Palmdale, you go on CA-138 east, then I-15 south (big freeway), then US Hwy 60 (big freeway) west to Anaheim. That will take you ~ 5.5 hours. It's 60 extra miles of driving, but you'd get to see California desert for sure. It's pretty barren and totally different from Sequoia, different from the beach communities, and different from Anaheim and the rest of So Cal. There's a 3rd option that Google Maps recommends which takes 6 hours, but ironically it's ~ 25 fewer miles than option #2...you'd still get to see plenty of desert.
    Whichever way you slice it, your Sequoia--> Anaheim day is going to involve a fair amount of driving. Same thing with the SB--> Sequoia day. SB --> SLO usually takes about an hour on 101.
     

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