4 weeks in California (and around) with a Camper
Replies: 7 - Last Post: May 29, 2012 7:33 AM Last Post By: nutraxfornerves
May 28, 2012 8:54 PM
4 weeks in California (and around) with a CamperHi,
We are arriving in Fresno beginning of July and would like to spend 4 weeks touring in a camper. Sites we know about are Yosemite, San Fran to LA coast road, Grand Canyon, Napa Valley .............not much I know.
Can anyone suggest a route that leaves us near LA after 4 weeks?
The van hire prices seem crazy high in July, anyone know of cheapies/locals in Fresno?
We would consider buying and maybe spending a little longer, or heading down into Mexico.
- Could we sell in Mexico?
- Best websites/ways to find vans/campers/trucks?
Is freecamping available and safe in most of CA? Any websites/books that could help?
Chris and Charly
May 28, 2012 9:18 PM
1Yes, Camper van rentals are very expensive. No,there are no cheap options that are modified to camp.Yes, you can purchase...and probably be able to license,pay taxes,and expensively insure...No, you will not be able to sell it in Mexico...I personally would not attempt to drive one through Mexico & into Central America (busses are comfortable frequent & inexpensive)...Craiggers.com is a consolidation site that allows one to browse units offered nationwide on Craigslist...IF your browser will support it...gives a good idea of whats available "by owner"... happy trails, carracar
May 29, 2012 1:10 AM
2We are arriving in Fresno beginning of July and would like to spend 4 weeks touring in a camper.
As carracar says, campervans are not cheap in the US - there is not the same market of cheap campers for backpacking young people that you can easily find elsewhere.
My advice would be (a) don't buy anything - it is usually a hassle, and (b) just rent the smallest sedan or hatchback that you can find on the Internet, and get some cheap or second-hand camping gear in Fresno, and do it that way. When you get to cities (like San Francisco or Las Vegas), you can find hostels with dorm rooms at a reasonable price.
July is also the busiest tourist time for Americans on holiday, so there will be crowds everywhere you go. Some places (Grand Canyon, Yosemite, etc) you will need to pre-book your campsites.
And with four weeks, you can certainly head as far east as Colorado, and come back through southern Utah, or alternatively, head north into Oregon and Washington. Or even go to Yellowstone NP.
May 29, 2012 1:34 AM
3Agree that a camper is more trouble and expense that it's worth. As suggested, rent a modest car and buy some halfway decent camping gear at Target / Wall Mart / etc. You can find pots, pans, plates, etc., maybe even a stove, at the nearest 'Goodwill' thrift shop for next to nothing.
Finding a campground inside a National Park can be tricky. AFAIK, all except N. Rim G.C. and those in Yosemite Valley (Yos has several first-come sites along Hwy 120) have at least a few first-come sites. Arrive before noon and you'll have a decent chance of getting a spot.
Here's a good source for developed campsites run by the Nat. Forest Service. Most charge a minimal fee. http://www.forestcamping.com/
Free, 'distributed' camping is generally available on all Nat. Forest land. Just find a likely dirt road and drive 'till you see a developed area. Of course there are no tables, toilets, etc. This is, IMO, 99% safe. Very pretty forests outside both GC rims, surrounding Yosemite, and a few miles w. of Bryce.
Some of the above seen at: http://freecampsites.net/usa/
State parks also have campgrounds, usually with showers, etc.
With 4 weeks, you could do a nice loop from Fresno, SF, Yosemite, Hwy 395, Vegas, Zion and/or Bryce, Grand Canyon, Flagstaff/Sedona, and back to Vegas and then LA. With more driving, you could add a loop to northern California, Oregon and Washington, OR extend the Utah leg to include Yellowstone. Don't get carried away and try to see everything west of the Mississippi or you'll wind up doing one of those 8-hours-in-the-bleeping-car-each-day trips that can rapidly become hell on wheels.
May 29, 2012 1:39 AM
May 29, 2012 4:29 AM
5Not only are camper vans expensive, but gasoline is now around $4.50 per gallon and campervans are gas hogs. It'll cost over $100 just to fill the tank. Better to rent a fuel efficient car and camp out of that.
There are four National Forests, three National Parks and two National Monuments all within a 1/2 day drive of Los Angeles. IN July it will be hot, so you'll probably want to be high in the mountains to avoid the heat. I'd head for Sequoia National Park and explore the park and adjacent Sequoia National Forest then looping back towards L.A. down highway 395 stopping to see the Brstlecone Pine preserve in the White Mountains (Death Valley N.P. will be exteremly hot in July, so you might pass that by this trip). As you approach L.A. a side trip to the coast from Santa Clarita would be worthwhile and more camping in Los Padres National Forest or state parks along the coast.
May 29, 2012 5:42 AM
May 29, 2012 7:33 AM
7I am not aware of a place in Fresno that rents campervans--vans that are actually fitted up for camping. You would have better luck and probably find better prices if you rent in Los Angeles and return the van ot the same place where you rented it. Even renting in SF and dropping it off in LA might be cheaper. Why are you starting in Fresno? How are you getting there?
If you have not already booked a campsite in Yosemite, then you may have a serious problem finding a place to stay inside the park. The first come-first served campground in Yosemite Valley fills up very rapidly in summer and many people are turned away. The other campsites are in more remote parts of the park, and you would indeed have to arrive very early. Camping Without a Reservation for information.
You cannot spend the night in your camper in Yosemite except in a campground or in lodging.
There are a number of wine regions in the US that produce very fine wine, but are just less known than the Napa Valley. There are many places you could hit between SF and LA.
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