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  1. Default First roadtrip in California

    Hello folks,

    I will be arriving from the UK to San Francisco on an eight day holiday in September (not long enough unfortunatley). Would like to stay in San Fran for two days to see San Fran itself - Golden Gate bridge, Golden Gate Park, China Town, Fisherman's wharf and Muir Woods.

    I would also like to visit

    Lake Tahoe
    Yosemite National Park
    Grand Canyon (really excited about seeing the canyon!)

    I have maps and tourist books but I am undecided about whether I should drive from San Fran to Lake Tahoe then Yosemite Park and then on to the Grand Canyon or whether I should some how see the others and then fly from San Fran to Las Vegas and drive to the canyon from there... I am not sure how long all the driving will take. Any ideas as to the best way to see all these amazing places will be much appreciated. Also any recommendations for places to eat or hotel/motels on the way would be fab. Sorry for the long message. I am also aware that this is a TALL order. Many thanks. Nicky

  2. Default

    Hi Nicky,

    That's a lot to fit in over 8 days, but it can be done. For your 2 days in SF, i'd also recommend Twin Peaks also for a great panoramic view of the city.

    I'd say head out towards Sonora and do route 108 over the Sonora pass. Once over there you can head north to see Lake Tahoe. Haven't been up there yet myself, but hope to next year.

    Then i'd come back down the 395 to Lee Vining and check out Mono Lake - well worth a stop off. You can then spend half a day going from there into Yosemite via the 120 Tioga Pass and see the most amazing views. I'd come back that way to the 395 and go south to Lone Pine which is a good stop-over before going to Death Valley.

    There are plenty of sights in Death Valley so allow a good half day for it and try to see Rhyolite ghost town as you leave on the 374 before hitting a town called Beatty. Las Vegas is only just over an hour from Beatty on I-95.

    Grand Canyon is about 4-5 hours from LV by taking the 93 and I-40 to the south rim. Also you'll pass over the Hoover Dam going this way - it's about 30 miles outside of Vegas. Head north from the I-40 at a town called Williams (the south rim is about 50 mins from there). Williams has plenty of motels and so does a village called Tusayan which is 2 miles from the park gate.

    To get back to SF from there, take the I-40, then the 58 at Barstow to Bakersfield, then it's about 15 miles to the I-5 which takes you to SF.

    The early parts of the trip may take some time because there are so many stunning views, you'll want to take it slow. The 'just get there' drives are from LV to Grand Canyon and then the run back to SF from the Grand Canyon. I'm sure there is stuff to see on those roads, but don't think you'd have time!

    Feel free to ask any questions. It stirs up so many great memories of travelling around this area over the last few years.

    Cheers
    Adam

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Something's Got to Give

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.

    Adam is right in that you COULD drive to all the places you've mentioned, and the drives themselves would be beautiful, and the locations terrific, but... You'd really be doing little more than driving and looking, driving and looking. I think it would be much better if you saw fewer localities, but spent a bit more time at those you do visit. To that end, I'd recommend that you drop Lake Tahoe and instead concentrate on the three great national parks on your agenda, Yosemite, Death Valley and the Grand Canyon. Each of these locations is within a relatively easy day's drive of each other, although the drive back from the Grand Canyon to San Francisco will take longer. Be sure to leave the canyon early in the evening two days before you have to be in San Francisco, get as far as Needles or even Barstow, and then plan on taking the next day to complete the journey. While they don't get the press that the other places on your itinerary do, the Mojave Desert and Central Valley also are worth the drive, so don't just fly over them.

    Also, when you pull up to the entrance gate of your first national park, be sure to ask for a National Parks Pass. This costs $50 but will admit you and everyone in your car to all national parks for a year. The individual entrance fees to the three national parks you'll be visiting add up to $65. And be sure to make use of the rangers at the parks. Stop at the visitor centers, get whatever advice might help and check if there are any talks or ranger-led tours being offered. They are absolutely worth the time and will make your visit to the parks much more memorable.

    AZBuck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Sonora is a gorgeous route

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamUK
    That's a lot to fit in over 8 days, but it can be done. For your 2 days in SF, i'd also recommend Twin Peaks also for a great panoramic view of the city.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!
    I'd say head out towards Sonora and do route 108 over the Sonora pass. Once over there you can head north to see Lake Tahoe. Haven't been up there yet myself, but hope to next year.
    I really like Sonora Pass, but I wonder if Nicky has done much mountain driving? This is a road that requires a certain amount of expertise to drive safely.
    Then i'd come back down the 395 to Lee Vining and check out Mono Lake - well worth a stop off. You can then spend half a day going from there into Yosemite via the 120 Tioga Pass and see the most amazing views. I'd come back that way to the 395 and go south to Lone Pine which is a good stop-over before going to Death Valley.
    Your suggestions are all excellent, but the timing is a bit fast.... and like AZBuck mentions, it would be hard to see much beyond what is visible from a car window to cover this much ground this fast!

    Mark

  5. Default Thanks

    Hi Guys,

    I just wanted to say thanks very much for the advice. I am still unsure what route I will take but this forum has been really really helpful. Thanks very much.

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