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  1. Default Advice needed on California Road Trip

    Hello,

    My wife and I are planning a California road trip in October.
    It is the first time we go to the states (apart from Hawaii).

    So far our route looks like this - split over 14 days:

    - Arrival in LA on Oct 6
    - Death Valley
    - Mono Lake
    - Yosemite
    - San Fransisco
    - Coastal road to LA
    - San Diego
    - Departure from LA on Oct 22

    First dilemma; Since we arrive in LA at 14.00 and most likely will have jet lag, we don't want to drive very far. Where on the route towards Death Valley would be nice to stay overnight? Barstow?
    The plan is to continue next morning and arrive in Death Valley early enough to spend most of the day.

    After a night in Death Valley we'll continue towards Yosemite - would you recommend staying overnight somewhere on the way, and if so where?

    Thanks:)

    Mariana & Henrik

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Getting Started

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.

    My own experiences with jet lag, both good and bad, have made me extremely cautious about predicting how I will feel after a long flight through many time zones. I now generally try to be somewhere that I can sleep within a few hours of landing, and don't plan any stringent activity or long drives for about a day. For your purposes that would mean trying to clear the Los Angeles Basin and not much more. Barstow is as far as I would want to try to get that first day. I might even be tempted to look at staying in Hesperia or Victorville that first evening, The 50 miles or so saved might prove to make a big difference.

    If you're going to give Death Valley it's due, you'll have to spend the better part of a day there (drink lots of water), but if you spend the night in Death Valley, then it is quite possible to make the drive into Yosemite in a day (It's only about 250 miles.) and an overnight stop should not be required.

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    Hmm... if you arrive at about 2 in the afternoon, and figure another couple of hours to get through customs, get organized and allow for a little delay in the flight arrival or whatnot -- that will put you on the road at about 1600 or 4 pm. That's right in the middle of LA area rush hour. You *can* get out of the city doing that -- but it will take easily an extra hour of time to drive in traffic, while you're perhaps jetlagged and not at your best. (If you want, I might be able to suggest a non-obvious route that would be the easiest to drive, but traffic at rush hour is sometimes unpredictable)

    As an alternative, you might want to get a room in one of the many large hotels right near LAX (LA International Airport) and have a nice dinner and a drink, and unwind from a long flight day. Then the next morning, about 9 am, to hit the road and head for Death Valley after the morning rush hour is over. Moreover, since the rush hour in LA ebbs and flows from the LAX area, you would be heading against the flow of traffic, so you'll be on the side of the road with less traffic to start with. Drive time to Death Valley from LAX is about 5 hours (not in rush hour, and not including gas stops, food/ restroom stops, etc.) so you will still arrive in the early afternoon. However, you should note that distances may be significant in getting to other parts of the Park, like Scotty's Castle from the main headquarters in Furnance Creek. You can definitely visit Badwater, Artists Palette, Furnance Creek, the Borax works, and a few other places in an afternoon coming into Death Valley.

    From Death Valley to Yosemite Village is about 7 hours drive time, so it is possible to do the trip in a day, as AZBuck has pointed out. If you want to stop somewhere short of Yosemite, Mammoth Lakes is a possible stopping point. Its a major ski area and has a number of hotels and other accommodations, but in October you should be ahead of the major snow & ski season -- so it shouldn't be too busy. There are some very nice lakes and trails to visit, as well as natural hot springs and places like Devils Postpile.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the replies.
    Taking jet lag and rush hour into account, it would probably make sense to stay a night in LA and get rested - since the airport is close to the coast, we shouldn't have to drive far to find a nice hotel.

    If we drive towards Death Valley around 8 next morning, we should have the most of the day to spend there.

    I definately think we will stay overnight somewhere between DV and Yosemite - not to rush there before it gets dark and to enjoy the scenery.

    Thanks again

  5. Default San Gabriel Mountains - California RoadTrip

    Hi,

    On our trip from LA to Death Valley, we are thinking about planning the route through San Gabriel Mountains (Angeles Crest Highway).
    Is it worth it, and how much longer would it take compared to taking highway 15 (which is 6 hours I was told)?

    Thanks

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Only you can judge that!

    Quote Originally Posted by Henrik
    On our trip from LA to Death Valley, we are thinking about planning the route through San Gabriel Mountains (Angeles Crest Highway).
    Is it worth it, and how much longer would it take compared to taking highway 15 (which is 6 hours I was told)?
    Depending upon where you are starting from in LA and the time of day, you can expect a trip from LA to Las Vegas to be about five hours. I recently covered much of that distance in three hours, but I will refrain from recommending anyone with more than two brain cells attempt to match that feat!

    That being said, I have always loved the Angeles Crest highway, but it will add 1.5 to 2.0 hours to your trip and there are a number of other alternatives for scenic travel to Las Vegas. So, how long a journey are you interested in making this transit?

    Mark

  7. Default

    Thanks for the reply.

    We arrive in LA (from London) around 14:30 and think about stying overnight in LA or even driving a bit of the route towards Death Valley to save time.
    We want to get there as early as possible the following day so we can spend the most of the day there.
    I was just thinking if there is a more scenic route than highway 15, but if it's additional 2 hours I think we'll take the straight route.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Now, I am officially confused...

    Quote Originally Posted by Henrik
    We arrive in LA (from London) around 14:30 and think about stying overnight in LA or even driving a bit of the route towards Death Valley to save time.
    I have looked at all of your previous posts and now I am confused. Are you traveling to Las Vegas by way of Death Valley in one day? If so, depending upon how long you spend in Death Valley, your travel day would be much closer to 8-10 hours than five.
    We want to get there as early as possible the following day so we can spend the most of the day there.
    I was just thinking if there is a more scenic route than highway 15, but if it's additional 2 hours I think we'll take the straight route.
    If your destination is Death Valley (and not Las Vegas) than there are three primary routes. All are scenic and offer several places to stay at overnight on the way.

    The fastest route is I-15 to Baker, California and then north on SR-127 to either Shoshone or Death Valley Junction and then in. LAX to Death Valley this route is about four hours. You could stay over-night at Victorville, Barstow or even Baker.

    The other 2-3 routes involve approaching Death Valley from the west side (very scenic approaches). There are three different ways to reach the west side. Depending upon the variables of this route, it could be 2-3 more hours than the Baker approach.

    Your second fastest route would be LAX, north on the I-405 to I-5 to SR-14 to Mojave and up to Ridgecrest (Ridgecrest has several nice places to stay overnight) and then either US-395 to SR-190 or SR-178 to SR-190 (there are several posts on this Forum about these routes -- if you read this one, you will get a good sense of the possibilities).

    Your third fastest route would be I-15 to US-395 to Ridgecrest and up.

    Your fourth fastest route (and also the shortest by several miles) would be to take the Angeles Crest Road to the Pearl Blossom highway to SR-14 and up to Ridgcrest and beyond.

    Hope this is helpful!

    Mark

  9. Default

    You may want to check road conditions before you leave. Angeles Crest highway is currently closed, so if you were planning on taking it across to the 15 you'd be stuck. I think you could still go up over Angeles Forest Highway to Lancaster though.

    Also, if you're planning on leaving on Friday afternoon, the 15 up to Barstow will be crowded, guaranteed. Plan on at least 4-5 hours sitting in traffic just to get to Barstow. If I were starting from LAX, I'd opt for the 14 to 395, it will still be crowded in the beginning, but at least it'll clear up after a while. Plus, if you're heading to Yosemite and Mono Lake, you'd want to be on the west side of Death Valley anyway.

    If you've never driven in the states, I wouldn't recommend driving here right after you get off the plane. When I drove in England, it took a couple days and a couple of near head on collisions to get accustomed to driving on the wrong (not right) side of the road. Highways aren't much of a problem, but 2 lane roads with a lot of turns and no dividers got confusing, especially when tired.

    I think I've pretty much gone on every section of your itinerary within the last 6 months, you'll have a lot of fun doing it. On your way up the 395, stop by Schatts bakery in Bishop for some great snacks, and also the Galen Rowell gallery if you like to see the work of a photography master. He was a Bay Area photographer, so a lot of his subject matter was around the places you are visiting. Hope you have reservations in Yosemite already, if not you could be out of luck. I'll be up there the week before you, should be really nice and most of the summer crowd will already be gone.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-30-2006 at 09:50 AM.

  10. Default Clarification on the closure

    Actually, the road is closed due to storm damage, not the yearly snow closure. It's not scheduled to reopen until summer of 2007. But the closure is up past Chilao Flats, meaning you can still take Angeles Crest from La Canada up to Angeles Forest and go north to Palmdale.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-30-2006 at 09:51 AM. Reason: my mistake -- thanks for the clarification!

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