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  1. Default San Francisco to Lake Tahoe to Yosemite or Mammoth to Las Vegas

    Hi,

    We are doing a trip from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe and then down to Las Vegas. I am from Australia and don't really have much idea of the terrain or conditions we will experience.

    So far we have planned to leave San Fran on the morning of the 17th of December and drive to Kirkwood.

    Arrive in the morning of the 17th at Kirkwood and stay the 17th & 18th (2 days boarding @ Kirkwood)
    Drive to South Lake Tahoe in the morning and stay (19th & 20th) (2 days boarding @ Heavenly)
    Drive to St Rose in the morning for a days boarding then on to Reno for a night (21st) (1 days boarding @ St Rose)
    Drive to Olympic Valley (Squaw) in the morning for a days boarding (1 day boarding @ Squaw)
    Then on the night of the 22nd head south ...towards which option??

    Option 1: should we stick to US 395 and stay the night at Mammoth on the 2nd then do another days snowboarding in Mammoth Lakes on the 23rd, stay a night then drive through Death Valley the next day on the way to Vegas? Or skip Death Valley and do two days boarding arriving in Vegas that night.

    Option 2: should we should detour to Yosemite instead and stay somewhere close on the 22nd. Then do Yosemite on the 23rd ,then stay somewhere on the 23 and head to Vegas the next day. I am not sure if we could also fit in Kings Canyon.

    What would be the best option?

    Our accomodation is already booked up until the 21nd in Reno...and then again on the 24th of December in Las Vegas

    From what I can work out going to Yosemite would add on about 5 hours to the trip.

    We are in Vegas from the 24th until the 30th and have planned to go to Bryce, Zion and The Grand Canyon so we will be seeing a few parks along the way

    My other question is what sort of car we should hire. We were just going to hire an economy vehicle but from what I am reading a 4wd may be necessary. Cost is an issue so if I can I would prefer to get a cheaper vehicle. I am not sure whether I will also need one with snow tyres or if I take the economy hire car I am allowed to put chains on it. If anyone can recommend a cheap car hire place that would also be great.

    All advice is welcome.

    Thanks

    Tim
    Last edited by timsie; 10-22-2007 at 05:09 AM. Reason: error

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

    Default Your Actual Routes May Vary

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Winter in the Sierra Nevadas is a great time for skiing and snowboarding, but an unpredictable time for driving. Some of the roads across the mountains are closed intermittently due to snow, and some close for the entire winter. Your best source for up-to-date information on road conditions is the Caltrans Site which is updated hourly. If you don't have your own computer and WiFi access while travelling, stop in at local libraries which will usually set you up with an hour or so on the web for free or a very nominal fee. As to your specific questions or Options:

    Option 1: I think I'd opt for spending some time in Death Valley. You seem to have quite enough snowboarding already built into your trip and you should take this time to see something different and unique. I don't think you'll regret that choice ever.

    Option 2: CA-120 over Tioga Pass and into Yosemite is one of those roads that closes permanently for the winter. Crossing back from US-395 to Yosemite is not an option. Just enjoy your time on the east side of the mountains and in Las Vegas.

    Unless you have considerable experience in winter driving with heavy snow, a 4WD vehicle is not going to gain you much in terms of getting around and might actually give you an unsubstantiated sense of confidence that will just get you in trouble. I'd go ahead and get the econobox and just resign myself to the fact that the weather and road conditions may dictate some restrictions in my driving options. The tires that come on the vehicle should be fine - you're not going to be able to change them out anyway. As for who's the cheapest, that will vary by location, time of the year, day of the week, etc., etc. You can compare the rates of all the rental car companies by using the "Travel Reservations" button on the green toolbar at the top of this page. All the major U.S. car rental companies offer roughly the same type of cars and the same level of service, so you can let price be your determining factor. Be forewarned, however, that you will pay some substantial fees if you plan to leave the car in Las Vegas rather than return it to San Francisco, and if any or all of the drivers are under 25 years of age.

    AZBuck

  3. Default Thanks

    Hi AZBuck,

    Thanks for the reply.

    If we were to take option 2 we would be driving from either Reno or Olympic Valley. Is it a difficult drive to Yosemite or just time consuming?

    If we take the Death Valley option how long would you recommend is needed to check it out? Would we essentially just drive the 395 the on to Lone Pine and drive through from West to East, arriving on the other side at Beatty before heading South to Vegas? Or would we approach it from the Eastern side?

    Thanks again

    Tim

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

    Default Ya gotta ski Mammoth!

    Quote Originally Posted by timsie View Post
    Option 1: should we stick to US 395 and stay the night at Mammoth on the 2nd then do another days snowboarding in Mammoth Lakes on the 23rd, stay a night then drive through Death Valley the next day on the way to Vegas? Or skip Death Valley and do two days boarding arriving in Vegas that night.

    Option 2: should we should detour to Yosemite instead and stay somewhere close on the 22nd. Then do Yosemite on the 23rd ,then stay somewhere on the 23 and head to Vegas the next day. I am not sure if we could also fit in Kings Canyon.

    If we were to take option 2 we would be driving from either Reno or Olympic Valley. Is it a difficult drive to Yosemite or just time consuming?
    If you guys are boarders -- you have got to ski Mammoth -- the snow there is hands-down the best (driest) in the west. The cornice runs are steep and plentiful. So, for me I would recommend Option 1 with no reservations!

    I would also schedule the drive to see Death Valley -- it is awesome.
    Option 2: should we should detour to Yosemite instead and stay somewhere close on the 22nd. Then do Yosemite on the 23rd ,then stay somewhere on the 23 and head to Vegas the next day. I am not sure if we could also fit in Kings Canyon.
    As AZBuck pointed out, above, the pass will be closed from US-395 to Yosemite in December -- you can not do Option 2 without a helicopter in your time frame. Peddle to metal, and roads being dry -- you might make it to Yosemite (approaching from the west of the mountains in one day from Squaw Valley) but your time in Yosemite would be very short and you would most certainly not have time for Kings Canyon on your way to Death Valley and Las Vegas.
    If we take the Death Valley option how long would you recommend is needed to check it out? Would we essentially just drive the 395 the on to Lone Pine and drive through from West to East, arriving on the other side at Beatty before heading South to Vegas? Or would we approach it from the Eastern side?
    Well, let's see if you were really to see the entire park -- it would take about six months. That might be tough on your schedule. But, yes you would use CA-136 from Lone Pine to CA-190 to Furnace Creek and as much time as you have to spend there. There are over a hundred threads here about Death Valley -- so look around a little. But you would not leave DV through Beatty (way out of your way) use Pahrump and then NV-160 to Las Vegas.

    Mark

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