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California Trip after PCT

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California Trip after PCT

Hi everyone,

Next year, after me and my boyfriend finished the Pacific Crest Trail (in September, 2019) planning a 2 months long road trip from Seattle to San Diego.

We would like to visit San Francisco, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara. I would like to ask some recommendations what else to visit (this will be our first time in the States and we would like to see small and interesting places as well, not only the well known cities).

We are backpackers and planning to travel by bus, but if it's necessary, we can rent a car for a couple of weeks.

Many thanks,


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San Jose, California
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1. Re: California Trip after PCT

Congrats on your impending PCT hike! It's on my list of things I would like to do, but I don't think I am quite rugged enough to do it, so I have complete respect for those who do.

And then having 2 months to get back to San Diego is great. In the US, our long distance bus network does leave a lot to be desired. We also have some train service, which has connector buses - so between buses, trains, and local transport, you can cobble something together. There are some great places that just aren't accessible though, so if you can rent a car for at least part of the trip, you'll be happier.

In addition to the places you have mentioned, in California, I would add the following places:

North coast redwoods - from Crescent City down to about Humboldt state park. The show stopper there are the old growth redwood trees - groves and groves of them. There are also a lot of neat beaches and some cool towns. And if you like breweries, there are some good ones there too.

Coastal Mendocino county - Hwy 1 through Fort Bragg and Mendocino - fabulous coastline, neat towns, some great state parks

Santa Cruz county - South of SF is Santa Cruz, which is a cool CA beach city with a strong surfing culture. There are also some neat parks and communities in the Santa Cruz mountains, as well as other beach towns south of Santa Cruz

Coastal Monterey county - South of SC county is Monterey county - the Monterey Peninsula and the Big Sur coast are spectacular. Definitely worth a visit.

These are all coastal places, as opposed to up in the Sierras since you'll be hiking through a lot of that on your way north :-)

Edited: June 13, 2018, 12:26 am
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2. Re: California Trip after PCT

If you want to see the Grand Canyon Naitonal Park, your best bet would be to fly to Las Vegas and eiither rent a car and stay at least one night inside the park


Or there are bus tours from Las Vegas but they tend to be a day trip. As it's a 4 hour drive there and 4 hours back to Las Vegas, those bus tours only give you about 4 hours on the ground and you really miss the best of the Grand Canyon, which is sunrise and sunset

And we all recommend against the tourist attraction called the Grand Canyon Skywalk which is not in the National Park, but in a separate Navajo tribal park

Edited: June 13, 2018, 12:32 am
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3. Re: California Trip after PCT

Funny you mention the PCT. Was just there at Mile 0 at the Southern Terminus on Saturday.

Also in April,was there yet again when I met the PCT coordinator who told me all about the route and gave me some interesting brochures.

Have a great trip, sounds awesome.Pics of start...


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4. Re: California Trip after PCT


Here are some destinations which are definitely worth visiting in my opinion. They're not necessarily lesser known, however most people who visit the West Coast for the first time typically bypass these destinations; mainly because of time and distance constraints. But since you'll be roadtrippin', these destinations could be folded into your itinerary relatively easily.

- Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California (historic architectural triumph)

- San Luis Obispo (colloquially known as SLOw, can be visited in conjunction with Hearst Castle)

- Santa Barbara (Spanish colonial hillside wino community meets college surf town)

- Palm Springs (for desert/resort vibes)

Tips on getting around:

- Renting a car is ideal, but NOT critical.

- Instead of a bus, consider taking the train. The Amtrak Coast Starlight is one of the most famous and scenic train routes in the world. While I have not ridden the route in its entirety, I have ridden the section between Los Angeles and SLO and it is convenient and beautiful. That said, service does tend to be slow and the trains are often delayed.

- Getting around in Los Angeles can be done without a car. The local Metro system has been expanded over the years, lending greater accessibility over a large geographic portion of the city. Between the Metro, Uber/Lyft, city bicycles, and walking, you should be able to reach most all of the highlights of Los Angeles with relative ease.

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5. Re: California Trip after PCT

Thanks all for your useful replies! :)

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