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  1. #1

    Default Las Vegas to San Francisco

    I'm about to leave the US after finishing my PhD. I don't know when I'll be back again, so I've decided to go on a few road trips before I leave. I've seen most of the East Coast, so we'll be flying to the West with my girlfriend. The first trip is going to be from Las Vegas to San Francisco, but there are a couple of alternative routes and that's where I need your help.

    We'll arrive in Las Vegas on October 25th and will be flying from San Francisco on the 30th. 26th is for seeing the Grand Canyon. The next day, we'll set out from Las Vegas in the morning. There are 2 alternative routes:

    1. Drive through the Death Valley NP from Beatty. Pass Bishop and all the way up to Yosemite where we'll stay the night. Next day, we'll take the Tioga Road(assuming it's still going to be open on the 27th) through Yosemite. And to San Francisco.

    2. Drive down to Bakersfield, then Fresno. See the Sequoia NP. Drive up to Yosemite and stay the night there. See Yosemite and drive west to San Francisco.

    So what it boils down to is either we go through Death Valley and as a result take the popular Tioga Road later or we go see Sequoia NP.

    What do you think? Which one would you suggest? What are the chances of the Tioga Road being closed on October 27th this year?

    Also, I'm planning to take a lot of photographs and the route that offers more opportunity to take landscape photography is better for me.

    Thanks for all the advice and suggestions...

    Memet

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default How do you do the Grand in a day?

    Quote Originally Posted by memetu View Post
    I'm about to leave the US after finishing my PhD. I don't know when I'll be back again, so I've decided to go on a few road trips before I leave.
    Sounds like an excellent idea! Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!
    We'll arrive in Las Vegas on October 25th and will be flying from San Francisco on the 30th. 26th is for seeing the Grand Canyon.
    Just curious -- were you planning on driving to the Grand Canyon and back to Las Vegas in a day? As you long as you don't mind a 20+ hour day, I guess that will work....
    1. Drive through the Death Valley NP from Beatty.
    You should certainly include Death Valley in your route, but going all the way to Beatty makes little sense. There are over 200 threads on this Forum that discuss the "local's route" to Death Valley -- but in essence you would use NV-160 to Pahrump and then use Bell Vista Avenue (on the north side of town -- it is well marked as the route to Death Valley) and on over to Death Valley Junction. Explore the park and then you can go to US-385 past Bishop and up to Yosemite. Although as I have said in many, many posts -- you really ought to stay in Bishop and see Tioga Pass in the daylight!

    Alternatively you can still do Las Vegas to Death Valley and see Sequoia National Park. The most scenic route is to use the southern most pass -- Sherman Pass. I drove this route a couple of weeks ago. It takes all day, but it is an awesome road. Of the two routes -- the most familiar and the one with the most travelers is Tioga Pass and Yosemite.
    What do you think? Which one would you suggest? What are the chances of the Tioga Road being closed on October 27th this year?
    Unlikely, it was already closed for a few hours due to snow a week or so ago, but the outlook for this week looks good.
    Also, I'm planning to take a lot of photographs and the route that offers more opportunity to take landscape photography is better for me.
    I like both passes -- but few would disagree that Tioga will offer more opportunities for you.

    Mark

  3. #3

    Default Tioga Pass it is...

    Thanks Mark! This was really helpful. I think we're going to turn our front wheels in the direction of Tioga Pass on your suggestion.
    Quote Originally Posted by Editor View Post
    Just curious -- were you planning on driving to the Grand Canyon and back to Las Vegas in a day? As you long as you don't mind a 20+ hour day, I guess that will work....
    Maybe not 20 hours, but close:) We'll wake up in the middle of the night to head to the canyon and get ready for a long day...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Seriously, it can not be done!

    Quote Originally Posted by memetu View Post
    Maybe not 20 hours, but close:) We'll wake up in the middle of the night to head to the canyon and get ready for a long day...
    Even a professional driver would not attempt this stunt. At the least you should plan to stay over-night at the Grand Canyon (either at the rim or at Williams or even Kingman. If you really only have time for a 24 hour visit to the Grand -- think seriously about using one of the helicopter flights or even a bus tour (on a bus you can sleep while the driver zooms back).

    These days it is running about two hours to cross the Hoover Dam (a distance of about 30 miles or so). You will be able to return to highway speed for most of the rest of the trip after you leave the secured section of the dam -- but I seriously think it is "impossible" to drive to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas and return the same day -- unless you limit your time at the Grand to less than 20 minutes.

    I don't know in what subject your PhD was awarded, (congrats by the way) but you really need to apply your cognitive skills to this question. I know you are grossly over-estimating just how far you can drive in day in the west.

    Mark

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor View Post
    If you really only have time for a 24 hour visit to the Grand -- think seriously about using one of the helicopter flights or even a bus tour (on a bus you can sleep while the driver zooms back).
    Mark
    I took a look at the helicopter tours from Las Vegas and read a lot of negative reviews about the tour companies. Do you have any suggestions, recommendations, or warnings?

    The helicopter might be a nice alternative to the 10hr drive as we can only spend one day at the Grand Canyon, but it's pretty expensive and I'm kind of worried about falling head first into a tourist trap.

    I don't have any experience driving in the West and your advice was definitely very helpful. Thanks...

  6. #6

    Default 5 days in the West

    Finally back from our trip in the West and I couldn't get enough of it. We tried to fit as much as possible in the 5 days we had.

    I recommend the helicopter tour to the Grand Canyon if you don't have enough time, but there are several tour companies and read carefully what's included in each and also there are different prices for the exact same tour.

    The drive through the Death Valley was amazing. It reminded both my girlfriend and me the landscape you come across when you drive through central Anatolia (Asia Minor) and Cappadocia. The barren landscape, salt lakes, and rocks... We started out in Shoshone where we bought gas and headed toward Badwater on 178. We saw the Artist's Palette and drove to Furnace Creek where we had lunch (I recommend the quesadillas). Then we continued to Stovepipe Wells. On the way, I almost ran over a road runner which supposedly can fly, but prefers to run and this time it preferred to run almost under my wheels. The sand dunes is a sight not to be missed and we spent quite some time photographing there. Stopped at the bar in Panamint Springs (beautiful bar counter) and continued to Father Crowley Point with a little daylight left.

    We stayed the night in Bishop and drove to Yosemite the next day. The early morning sunshine on the Sierras gave great photo opportunities. Due to increased geothermal activity, it was not possible to take a dip in the hot springs along the way, but still it's definitely worth taking a look at. The Tioga Road was beautiful all along the way. Even though the rest of the park is also spectacular, there were too many people and tour buses, etc to enjoy it as much as one would like.

    We finished out trip in San Francisco and stayed a day there. Driving in Death Valley and Yosemite was fun (would have been much more fun on a motorcycle though). You definitely get to practice your driving skills with all those curves. Also, driving from -85.5 m to 3000 m, your ears get to pop quite often. I put some of the photographs from the road here temporarily: http://picasaweb.google.com/memetu

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