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Thread: Southwest Trip

  1. Default Southwest Trip

    San Francisco Airport to Yosimitie via Golden Gate

    Hi, We arrive about 1 pm local, pick up our Dollar hire car and then drive to Cedar Lodge, 8 mile from Yosemite. It would be nice to drive over the Golden Gate, and back, but I don't want a nightmare drive, get stuck in the rush hour and then face 200 miles odd to our Hotel. Is it 'doable' or should we just hope to see it out of the aircraft window as we approach?

    Palm Springs to San Diego

    We are making this journey from Palm Springs along #10,and I was wondering if it would be too far a drive to visit the Planes of Fame Museum at Chino. Google Earth says it's 'only' about 30 miles off their suggested route "Palm Springs to San Diego" and having got there, had lunch, looked round we could retrace our route OR go costal and enjoy #5, San Clemente, Oceanside and on to San Diego which I have to say looks pretty good.

    Grand Canyon to Palm Springs, via Joshua Tree

    Google earth can't plan this route for me, but it looks reasonable. Any specific advice I need?


    Gareth (first US trip coming up!)
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 12-10-2006 at 11:49 AM. Reason: 3 threads for same trip merged into 1 post.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Don't be a hostage!

    I don't think you'll be able to fit the Golden Gate into your drive, at least according to your current plan.

    Just getting to the Bridge would be at least a 30 minute drive, one way from the airport. And really, after getting to the bridge, you'd basically have to cross it, and then turn around and go right back over it to be on the direct route from Yosemite. I'd say in the best case, you'd be looking at an extra hour of travel, but probably more with traffic.

    If you are scheduled to land at 1, its probably optimistic to even expect to be on the road before 2 by the time you get your bags and your car. So even leaving right then, you wouldn't be getting to Yosemite until the early evening. The longer you'd wait, the more likely you'd be hitting traffic, and the more likely you'd be approaching the park in the dark.

    You also didn't say where you are from, but keep in mind, you'll most likely be looking at some jet lag issues too. Since you want to see the Golden Gate, you might be better off spending the afternoon exploring SF, and then waiting a day to head off to Yosemite.

    As far as your Palm Springs area question, my advice would be pretty simple: don't to become a hostage of Google Earth - or any other computer program. One of the great joys of a roadtrip is to be able to set your own route and timetable. Keeping that in mind, If you want to visit a museum thats 30 miles off the direct route, by all means do it!

  3. Default Planes of Fame and Joshua Tree

    I've been to Planes of Fame at the Chino Airport a couple of times, and if you're an airplane buff its worth a stop. It is off the direct route from Palms Springs to San Diego, but its not far from I-15 which is a major north-south freeway and would take you down to San Deigo via Temecula. If you're coming from Palm Springs and you want to do this, the best route would be west on I-10 to Beaumount, and then west on the 60 towards Riverside as it splits off from the 10 at Beaumont. The 60 is a good, fast freeway although they are doing upgrade work to it, and I'm not sure when they'll be done with that (widening it,and lengthening the carpool lane coverage on it). It's my primary route between Palm Springs and LA since its usually not as busy at the 91 or 10.

    Chino Airport is about 5 miles west of I-15 and about 5 miles south of 60, so its not that far off the freeway. You can spend a couple of hours though walking through the exhibits. My complaint about the musuem though is that a lot of the displays aren't well explained -- although once you realize what you're looking at its amazing. (How about one of 3 Japanese-built Me-163 Rocketplanes? just hanging on a wall, with virtually no explanation...) Also, there are a lot of vintage aircraft which are based at Chino airport. While we were there, we watched a pilot rev up and fly off a B-25, and then watched a number small planes come in and snatch up advertisting banners they were going to tow over the beachers of SoCal that day (A tow line for the banners is held up between what look like 20-30' long bamboo poles. The small plane which is towing a hook flys low above the poles and snags the banner and pulls the plane up while gunning the engine. The banner is snatched off the ground and towed behind the plane.. pretty exciting to watch, particularly if they miss the banner or mis-hook it and have to drop it and return for another pass.)

    For a route from Grand Canyon to Joshua Tree to Palm Springs, there are a couple of options. Probably the most interesting and scenic is to take I-40 west to Needles. Then just outside of Needles to catch the "National Trails Highway (old Route 66) to Amboy. Then from Amboy you'll turn south, go over a small range of mountains and come into 29 Palms from the north and east. That lets you be on part of old Route 66, and you can stop at the recent volcanio cone of Amboy Crater.

    Your alternative route would be to head south from the Needles area via I-95, and then head west to 29 Palms at Vidal Junction. That's an interesting route for scenery, since its out in the middle of nowhere (even more than the other route), and if you know where to look there are some abandoned airbases and military training based and mining towns not far from the route.

    My preferred route from 29 Palms would be to head west to the Western Entrance of Joshua Tree National Park (about 10 miles more west), and then transverse the park to come out the south entrance near Chiraco Summit. (there's a George Patton Musuem at Chiiraco Summit, since he trained his tank crews in the dessert near here). That'll put you back on I-10 about 10-20 miles east of Indio and Palm Springs. In Joshua Tree, some of the interesting places to stop include Samuelson's Rocks (about 2 miles off the road -- its a hike to and from them), driving out to Keys View for a Panoramic view over the dessert and Banning Pass, Jumbo Rocks (for rock scrambling), the Cochella Cactus forest, and the old Mastadon mine (sealed off near Cottonwood at the south end of the park -- another day hike).

  4. Default

    Thanks both, thats REALLY helpful on all fronts. Looks like it's going to be great....


  5. Default Other places to stop if you're into planes..

    I was thinking about your post last night radiogareth, and thought I'd mention a couple of other things

    There's a pretty good aviation museum at the Palm Springs Airport. Check out if you have any interests -- their specialty is WWII aircraft, and they have quite a few, and a fair number of them in flying condition.

    Depending upon your timing and other routes -- Edwards Air Force Base area/ Palmdale area in the desert north of LA (its about 2 hours north of downtown LA) is sort of a mecca for aircraft fans. There's a couple of musuems and open air displays up there that have a lot of cool aircraft, including the base musuem at Edwards. That's pretty much post WWII aircraft, but includes SR-71s and the like. If you're coming in from overseas, you'll need to write the base public affairs office before hand, or tag in on one of the public tours. There's a second site in Palmdale where they have SR-71 and U-2 displays at the factory they were built in

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    I don't think you'll be able to fit the Golden Gate into your drive, at least according to your current plan.
    I'm not sure. When we were there earlier this year we did Alcatraz after lunch, then drove out over the Golden Gate Bridge and back, a couple of laps of Lombard Street (don't miss out on that, it's great fun!) and then set off over the Bay Bridge through Oakland (terrible traffic jam), stopped at a Walmart and then finally stopped for the night at a motel about 40 miles shy of Yosemite. So a quick trip over the GG Bridge and then straight to Yosemite shouldn't present a huge problem.

    Where you flying in from, Gareth? Unless you've got a US passport I'd expect around an hour queuing at immigration and then the usual excitement collecting the car. But I'd still think there'd be time to do what you want to do?

    Whatever you do though you'll have an amazing time - enjoy!

  7. Default

    Thanks everyone on this - it does look like we have a plan after all and all the views and advice has been really helpful in guiding us in our plans. We are flying from London, so yes, we will be jet-lagged but with just 18 days (school holidays) it was always going to be busy.
    Depending on how long it takes to get the car, we might drive the Golden Gate (or not, most likely), then off to Yosemite. After 2/3/4 days (depending on the weather) there we will head off to Death Valley (only if we leave Yosemite early otherwise it's straight to Vegas) just for an overnight at Furnace Creek Ranch. 2 days in Vegas then Grand Canyon, 2 day there then Palm Springs (2 days) to include the Cable lift, Indian Canyon and the Air Museum, then San Diego (via Chino Planes of Fame) for 4 days, then up to LA for a flight to New York for 3 nights, then home to the UK. Phew....

    Looking forward to it, we have been meaning to try this sort of trip for years and now all of a sudden here it is.....

    Thanks for the help and guidance, I'll post when back.....

    Gareth (now packing!!)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Looking forward to your trip report!


    Not much time for relaxation -- but should be fun!


  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by radiogareth View Post
    there we will head off to Death Valley (only if we leave Yosemite early otherwise it's straight to Vegas) just for an overnight at Furnace Creek Ranch.
    nonono...! I probably sound like a walking talking billboard for Death Valley (!) but you have got to go there! Yosemite is brilliant, but Death Valley is Death Valley! Sorry, I'll calm down now ;)

    The rest sounds great though, have a great time! (and New York too? *jealous*)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default My reasoning

    So a quick trip over the GG Bridge and then straight to Yosemite shouldn't present a huge problem.
    Making it from the Golden Gate to Yosemite in an afternoon isn't the big problem that I see. This would be a different story if he was starting out in downtown SF.

    Where I think the problems would lie is that SFO airport is about a half hour drive to the Golden Gate - and in the opposite direction from Yosemite. Considering that this journey wouldn't start until at least 2pm, he wouldn't really be heading towards Yosemite until almost 3. Throw in that there is jetlag factor after flying in from London, and I think a golden gate detour would just be a bit too much.

    In fact, seeing that there are plans to spend several days in Yosemite, I would certainly spend at least one night in San Francisco instead. It would just be a shame to be so close to such a lively city, and not spend any time there. But that's me, there will certainly be more than enough to occupy your time for a couple of days inside Yosemite.

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