Las Vegas to The Coast Fly Drive through National Parks
A holiday of contrasts as you drive from the desert to the ocean. High rolling energy in Vegas to the solitude of Yosemite; the heat of Death Valley to the cool sea mists of San Francisco Bay. Take in the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park to pan for gold in the American river and revel in the sight of serried rows of vines contrasting with the wild vegetation of the High Sierra, this fly-drive holiday assaults all your senses.
Here's a day-by-day guide to your itinerary. Feel free to ask us to add other days or ideas and excursions by adding them to your wishlist, so we can give you the best price.View full itinerary
Fly from the UK to Las Vegas where you can stay anything from 2 - 5 nights depending on what else you would like to do in the area. If you would just like to get a glimpse of Vegas, 2 nights is probably enough but if you would like time to take an excursion to the Grand Canyon or add a few days in Arizona or the Hoover Dam you should plan to stay longer. There are plenty of ostentatious and OTT hotels on the strip, but if you want a luxurious hotel just away from the hustle and bustle, Frontier America can recommend several.
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Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park
Well named as temperatures in summer reach well over 40 degrees, Death Valley National Park dips 282 feet under sea level. It assaults all the senses with its colours, smells of sagebrush and visions of the shimmering heat haze over the desert. In summertime you will probably not want to walk too far (although it is a dry heat which is much more comfortable) but if you are there in the spring or autumn, do make time to walk through the Golden Canyon or the Ubehebe Crater.
IMPORTANT TIP - Take lots of water.
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Your route today will take you from the heat of Death Valley to the comparative cool of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks.
These two parks share some of the attributes of Yosemite but are far less well known and subsequently receive many less visitors.
At the heart of the park, in the shade of towering sequoias and redwood groves, the Giant Forest is home to half of the Earth’s largest and longest-living trees. Named in 1875 by John Muir, the forest is a stand of more than 8,000 colossal sequoia trees – many standing just as Muir found them. Amongst these monsters is General Sherman tree reputed to be the largest living tree in the world and the largest living organism, by volume, on the planet. It is thought to be 2,100 years old, weighing 2.7 million pounds, 275 feet tall and be 100 feet wide at its trunk.
One of the lesser known facts about Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is that they are home to over 200 caves! containing rare minerals and unique animals
TIP Hike the High Sierra Trail to Bearpaw Camp.
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Spend your day exploring the park; we would recommend (if you haven’t already) that you drive the National Scenic Byway 180 along the Kings Canyon created by the rushing waters of the King River taking your time to stop at the many pull outs and stretching your legs on some of the easy hikes into lakes and stunning waterfalls.Close
So much has been written about Yosemite, it is hard to find anything new to say. No matter how much you have read or how many photographs you have seen, it will quite simply take your breath away which is why we suggest a three night stay. You need time to explore the park whether on your own two feet or by taking one of the excellent tours on offer such as the two hour trolley tour around the valley floor of Yosemite or the tour around the Redwoods of nearby Mariposa Grove. Do visit the Ansel Adams gallery - if you are not familiar with his work - he was a phenomenal black and white photographer who spent most of his life photographing the American West but especially Yosemite.
There are few hotels actually within the park; The famous Ahwanee Lodge is right in the centre but is both expensive and fills up as soon as bookings open. The Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is also right in the middle of the park whilst the Redwood Vacation homes and the Tenyara Lodge are near the South Gate and the Yosemite View Lodge is near El Portal and just outside the park boundary.
3 nights in Yosemite National Park.Close
Yosemite National Park to Sacramento
When you finally say goodbye to Yosemite, you will be driving northwards towards Sacramento is the capital of California. Depending on where you stayed in the park, the journey will take you between 2 and 3 ½ hours. Do make sure not to join I5 but instead take route 4 or 120 and highway 99 which are beautiful roads travelling through small towns; watch as the scenery changes from rugged to agriculture and the beginning of the vineyards. Another option is to deviate a little to the north to visit the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. You will want to arrive in time for dinner to sample one of Sacramento’s excellent restaurants.
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Sacramento to Napa Valley
After a morning in Sacramento seeing the Capitol Buildings, the River and the markets, head west into the Napa Valley. This will be a beautiful drive through the fruit orchards which slowly give way to the vineyards of the famous Napa Valley. Most of the wineries have tours and some of their wines on offer to taste (at a cost). However, be warned the tastings are generous and you might be better advised to leave your car and take the Napa Wine Train or one of the tours available. Frontier America can organise a private tour if you wish as well.
The Valley stretches from Napa in the south to Calistoga in the north. If you are a wine connoisseur, it might well be worth putting an extra night or two on to your holiday and stay at both ends. There are some glorious award-winning hotels and several exceptional restaurants including 3 Relais & Chateaux properties and two 3* Michelin Restaurants (The French Laundry in Yountville and The Restaurant at Meadowood) both of which have to be booked months in advance and will cost in the order of $700 for two. If you choose to eat at both of them, do let Frontier America know to allow us to make the restaurants aware so they will co-ordinate to make sure you can enjoy complementary meals.
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Drive today through the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma as you make your way down to San Francisco . Do allow time to stop in the pretty town of Sausalito at the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. Discover the Golden Gate Park, the old naval base of Cavallo Point and the tiny side streets full of fascinating boutiques. Drive across the iconic bridge and into the city of San Francisco.
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This is a selection of hotels for this itinerary. Some areas have many more choices; please use the search function above if you wish to find an alternative hotel.
Death Valley National Park
Yosemite National Park
Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Parks
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