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  1. Default Through the West - Nov2007

    Hi guys,

    I'm 'new' here, but I think this forum will be a good help. To introduce myself, I'm Laurent from Belgium. I spended my last 4 vacations in the States doing roadtrips in California, Nevada en Georgia/Florida.

    From october 30th till november 10th I'm back in the States. Like previous years I'm first in Vegas to photograph a show in the convention center. Normally after a few days, I'm heading west with my rental car to pass a few days in LA too.
    This year, it's going to be different.
    After a few days Las Vegas, we'll spend one day at the Grand Canyon and return in the evening to our hotel in Vegas. But the next day we're heading for San Francisco. It's a long trip but we want to do it in one day. Leaving very early in the morning around 6-7am, and have a late arrival in San Francisco to visit the city the day after.

    I studied some roadmaps to pick out a good route, and we want to go through Death Valley and then north west, trough Yosemite to San Francisco. Normally we will also have a GPS but I rather check my route on a map too, and double check it now here with you guys.

    This what I found out as route from Las Vegas to San Francisco :

    Las Vegas
    Highway 95 north to Beatty
    I-374 west through Death Valley to Keeler
    I-136 west till junction with the Highway 395
    Highway 395 north to Bishop
    Highway 395 till junction with I-120 West
    I-120 west through Yosemite Nat. Park, direction Oakdale/Manteca
    Highway 205 west
    Highway 580 west till Oakland
    Highway 580 west till San Francisco
    San Francisco

    It's +500 miles (or +900 kilometres) to do in 1 day, but like said we leave early in the morning and late arrival is no problem. We also rented a comfortable SUV so that should do the job :)

    After spending 1-2 days in San Francisco, we're heading south. Then we want to take the coast route '1' from San Francisco to LA.

    If you guys have any advice on my route to maybe improve it, please feel free to post it. If you think that something is nice to see on our road, let me know. We're open for suggestions.

    Thanks for any help.

    Laurent
    Belgium

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

    Default Doubtfull that Tioga Pass will still be open

    Quote Originally Posted by Laurent View Post
    From october 30th till november 10th I'm back in the States. Like previous years I'm first in Vegas to photograph a show in the convention center.
    is this the Tile Contractor's Show? Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!
    After a few days Las Vegas, we'll spend one day at the Grand Canyon and return in the evening to our hotel in Vegas
    It would be a mistake, even with your extensive road trip experience, to think you can drive to the Grand Canyon as a day trip. By the fastest possible route, it will take you at least five hours to drive to the south rim (Grand Canyon Village) and if you spend 3-4 hours enjoying the view, you will still have 4-5 hours to drive back in the dark. Are you sure you want to do this?
    But the next day we're heading for San Francisco. It's a long trip but we want to do it in one day. Leaving very early in the morning around 6-7am, and have a late arrival in San Francisco to visit the city the day after.
    You can certainly cover this distance in a day -- but you will probably not be able to go over Tioga Pass (into Yosemite) it might well be closed by then due to snow. If you use the southern route, you can swing by Death Valley and you can expect to reach San Francisco in 9 to 11 hours, depending how long you spend in Death Valley.
    After spending 1-2 days in San Francisco, we're heading south. Then we want to take the coast route '1' from San Francisco to LA.
    That is a very nice drive -- it will take you about 8 to 10 hours.

    Mark

  3. Default

    I'm every year in Las Vegas to photograph the Sema Show (car customizing).

    Maybe I have to clear out the Grand Canyon trip a bit more. We will not drive that ourselves, but we ordered a day tour. Just to relax a bit and because those guides now better than anyone the viewpoints of the Canyon that are a must-see. So we don't have to bother about the route to the Canyon, they will sort that out for us. Maybe in a few years I will go for a big canyon drivethrough but including Bryce canyon, monument valley, and others. But not this year (we're to short in time).

    Normally we won't spend a lot of time in the Death Valley on the trip to San Francisco. Just have a nice stop, take a picture and continue our trip. But I have to be sure I'm going on the right highways & interstates.

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

    Default Yeah, that makes sense

    Quote Originally Posted by Laurent View Post
    I'm every year in Las Vegas to photograph the Sema Show
    I forgot about SEMA -- I used to cover that myself.
    Maybe I have to clear out the Grand Canyon trip a bit more. We will not drive that ourselves, but we ordered a day tour.
    A bus tour makes more sense -- but do they really drive all the way to the south rim and back in one day?
    Normally we won't spend a lot of time in the Death Valley on the trip to San Francisco. Just have a nice stop, take a picture and continue our trip. But I have to be sure I'm going on the right highways & interstates.
    You can go to Death Valley, no matter which mountain passes are closed -- but going all the way to Beatty -- makes no sense -- that is miles out of your way if you want to see Death Valley!

    I-15 to NV-160 to the town of Pahrump and then north to "Ash Meadows Road" it is marked with a sign to Death Valley and then west on Ash Meadows Road to State Line Road (same road, it just changes the name when it reaches California). When you reach Death Valley Junction, go west on CA-state highway 190 into the park. Take the short round trip on the Twenty-mule Team Road, (it is dirt, but easy to drive). Stop at Zabriskie point and then stop at the visitor's center in Furnace Creek and then take the short drive down to Badwater, before retracing your route and drive the Artist's palette Drive.

    Continue northwest on CA-190 pass the Sand Dunes and Stovepipe Wells, and up over the Towne Pass before plunging down into Panamint Valley. Stop for an ice tea at Panamint Springs -- great redwood burl bar there! And then follow the tight curves as you wind along Rainbow Canyon headed for the Owen Dry Lake Bed.

    If you know that CA-State Route 120 is open (Tioga Pass) you can head north on US-395 and approach Yosemite from that way. From Owens Lake Bed (Lone Pine) it is about 11 hours to San Francisco.

    If it closed, turn south when your reach US Highway-395 and proceed to the town of Mojave, whereupon you will head west on CA-State Highway 58 to Interstate 5 (I-5) and then north to I-580 for the run into San Francisco. From this point, (Mojave) it is about 8 hours to San Francisco.

    Mark

    PS: Here is your route with some notes:
    Las Vegas
    Highway 95 north to Beatty
    Addressed above, this is out of your way.
    I-374 west through Death Valley to Keeler
    OK, just so you know, that highway is NV-state highway 374 from Beatty, NV to the California state line. When it reaches Daylight Pass, the name in California changes to Daylight Pass Road and ends when it reaches CA-Hwy 190.
    I-136 west till junction with the Highway 395
    There is no highway 136 -- it is only CA-190. Also, Keeler, only exists on the map -- there is no place that you can spot in person. There is a driveway very close to where Keeler is marked -- but no actual town of any kind
    Highway 395 north to Bishop
    Highway 395 till junction with I-120 West
    US-Hyw 395 to CA-120 west
    I-120 west through Yosemite Nat. Park, direction Oakdale/Manteca
    Again, this is a California state highway -- CA-120
    Highway 205 west
    Highway 580 west till Oakland
    Highway 580 west till San Francisco
    These are all US Interstate Highways -- so I-205 to I-580 to San Francisco.

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 09-25-2007 at 11:38 AM. Reason: highway designations

  5. Default

    Thank you for your advice Mark.
    I just checked your route with my roadmap, and your guidelines make more sense to drive through Death Valley.
    I'm just a bit surprised that from Owens lake (exiting Death Valley) it's still an 11hour drive to SF. We better take off really early that day :)

    Are there any websites online where you can check if the Tioga Pass is open ? (CA-120 west through Yosemite Nat. Park). If we check it a few days in advance, we can adjust our trip and drive south on the 395 via Mojave and then north on the I-5 to SF.

    Again, many thanks man ! ;)

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

    Default It could be done in 6.5 hours

    Quote Originally Posted by Laurent View Post
    I'm just a bit surprised that from Owens lake (exiting Death Valley) it's still an 11hour drive to SF.
    It is only 353 miles from Lone Pine to San Francisco via Tioga Pass. And assuming that you drive a rational pace, and never stopped for the views or whatever, and the roads were clear and dry, you could probably make San Francisco in 6.5 hours. But you will be driving along some of the most magnificent scenery in the west and even the most seat-hardened driver will stop some place for the views. Plus, you will be going right by Yosemite Valley -- one of the most gorgeous places on earth and yet you won't be able to see it unless you detour down on Big Oak Flat Road. For that reason, and because I have driven this route a few times, I would still suggest that you allow at least 8-10 hours for this part of the drive. Now, to do this all in one day -- you need to leave Las Vegas before first light ~ not later than 5:00 am putting you into Death Valley for the sunrise at ~ 7:00 am.
    Are there any websites online where you can check if the Tioga Pass is open ? (CA-120 west through Yosemite Nat. Park).
    Yes. Here is is and here is the road conditions hotline: call 209-372-0200 (press 1 then 1).

    Mark

  7. Default

    Yeah, you're right...we will stop now and then for the view ofcourse.
    But still, it's not really a problem if we arrive late in San Francisco. Worst case scenario, we drive till we can't go anymore, and hop in a motel for the night. But, as close as possible to San Francisco.

    Interesting link ! I'll put it with my favorites.
    Just to be sure, can we expect snow in the beginning of november at the Tioga pass ?

    Thanks again ;)

  8. #8

    Default

    There has already been snow in that area. The question is, will it affect your plans? No one really knows but, if I was a betting man, I wouldn't put money on it being open.

  9. Default

    I think we check the website now and then to see if the Tioga pass is open, and maybe check on the phone number a day in advance.

    I would like to pass through Yosemite because it seems a really beautiful drive, but we won't spoil our time heading for San Francisco via Yosemite if the Tioga pass is going to be closed. Than we rather go south via Mojave and take the (more boring) I-5 north to San Francisco.

    If you guys have some tips about our other drive from SF to LA via the coast route 1. Some nice places to stop or nice viewpoint, feel free to post them up. As a car addict, I'm thinking for a short stop at the Laguna Seca in Monterey on the road to LA.

    Another time, big thanks, I'm enjoying the help and the reading here !

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