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  1. Default LA to Vegas to San Fran and back again?

    Hi all,

    I am trying to plan a road trip for 4 adults which will hopefully include the following places. Fly to LA, pick up minvan sort of car, then drive to vegas, then Grand Canyon, then back to Vegas. Then on up to San Fran via Death Valley, giant redwood area, and we'd love to spend a few days in Yosemite. A bit of time, maybe a night or two in San Fran, then the pacific coast down to LA for a flight home with a bit of beach life thrown in.

    I've been looking all over the web for advice and driving times and distances but have been failing, but luckily i have found this excellent forum.

    Please can anyone advise me of how long this may take at a comfortable pace? We have 2 weeks for the holiday in mind. We are prepared to drive for up to 6 hours of a day, but do not want to drive everyday as we'd like to spend a day or 2 in the three major cities, and maybe the same in yosemite.

    Will it be possible? And what routes would you recommend. Also, we're planning to go in May, so will we be able to find little motels on the way to stop over in the middle of nowhere, etc?

    Thanks for your anticipated help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Read On

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Well. you're looking at about 40 hours of driving, presuming you want to do a little bit more than just race from place to place between the places you've listed. So if on days you drive you only go for 6 hours or so, a very comfortable pace, you only have to be on the road 7 of your 14 days which leaves plenty of time for exploring your destinations. The one big problem with your plan is that in May, Tioga Pass, through which CA-120 crosses the Sierra Nevadas, is quite likely to still be snowbound. So you'll have to double back from Death Valley through Barstow and Bakersfield to get to Yosemite. But I did take that into account in my 40 hour driving estimate. For more on all your destinations and the roads between them, check out these threads.


  3. Default

    Brilliant. Thanks for such a swift response. It's 2am here and am knackered so will check those threads out tomorrow.

    Thanks for helping.

  4. Default


    I've been looking at google maps and google earth and have been bearing your snowbound Tioga pass in mind.

    In May, could we drive West from Death Valley 190 to join the 395 and head south and then head west on the 178 towards Wofford heights in order to head towards the giant sequoia national monument the following day? Or would this road still be snowed in as it seems to go quite high. Otherwise i guess we'd continue to Bakersfield going further south on the 14 and then 58?

    Thanks for your help.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default that would work

    CA-178 is generally open year round, so that would certainly be an option. There is a pretty good range of lodging options in the Lake Isabella/Kernville area, and in mid-may you should have no problem finding a place to spend the night there, for a nice easy trip into the National Monument.

    Just so you know, the Sequoia National Monument isn't the same thing as the National Park. It is still a very nice place to visit, and has some groves of Giant trees, but if you planned to go to the National Park, you'd probably be better off from a time perspective going around via Bakersfield.

  6. Default

    Thanks again. Interesting point you raised about the Sequoia place. All we want to see with regards to trees are the really huge ones. I've seen documentaries and am never sure if the huge ones are sequoias or redwoods. I remember seeing ones you can drive through but i can not seem to find them as there seem to be a few.

    Would you recommend going to the national park for the trees then? Sorry for asking so many questions, but you are clearly full of knowledge of the area.

  7. #7


    You may wish to simply visit Mariposa Grove whilst in Yosemite...?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Slight differences

    Its understandably a little hard to understand the differences in the Big Trees of California and the different places to view them.

    Giant Sequoias include some of the biggest trees in the world and are only located in a handful of groves the Western Sierra Nevada mountains. Many of these groves are located within the National Park, including the biggest of the big, like the 2200 year old "General Sherman" the largest tree in the world (by volume). There are also groves of these giant trees located within the National Monument, and as Craig pointed out, in Yosemite National Park.

    These trees are different than the Redwoods found in Redwoods National Park in Northern California. These trees are taller than the Sequoias, but they are not as big around.

    Both are amazing, but different. I believe Redwoods NP area is where you can (or could, it might be closed now) drive through the base of an upright tree, while Sequoia NP has a fallen tree than has been carved to create sort of a tunnel that you drive through.

  9. Default Giant Trees...

    As noted, the worlds largest trees are the giant Sequoias by volume, although the tallest trees are up in the Redwoods area in NW California. The giant Sequoias are very impressive.. and almost all are located within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. There's one grove of pretty big trees in Yosemite (the Mariposa Grove), but if you want to see the Giant Sequoias, you really do need to go to the National Park. Sequoia National Forest isn't the same thing (there's a big difference between National Forests and National Parks in the US), and while there are a couple of scattered groves of the big trees in the Sequoia National Forest, there aren't the number nor size of the trees in the National Park.

    The easiest way to see the park is to take one of the roads in from the West -- there are no routes from the east into Sequoia as that would require driving over the crest of the Sierra Mountains, where there are few roads if any.

    For timing of a visit, you *can* make Sequoia National Park in a long day's drive from Las Vegas or Death Valley, going through Bakersfield and up 99. The southern route through the Mojave is open year round. There are a couple of hotels in Sequoia National Park, which are pretty good, and some good campgrounds, but otherwise there are limited services. From Sequoia to Yosemite National Park is about a half day's drive -- there is not direct route (since it would require going along the steep western slope of the Sierras), so you have to drive back down into the California Central Valley, head north to Yosemite, and then go back up in to the Sierras to Yosemite Valley. It's also possible to drive to Bakersfield area (although I'd stay a bit farther north if possible), then drive to Sequoia the next morning, spend some hours in Yosemite, and then drive on to Yosemite in a day -- but that's pushing it in my opinion.

    There is a northerly route available as well --depending upon if Tioga Pass is open (its closed for the winter due to snow). Tioga Pass goes over the crest of the Sierras and can take you from near Mono Lake on the eastern side to just north of Yosemite National Park on the west. But its closed due to snow in the winter and into the spring (usually opens about Easter or within a couple of weeks after that..). For that route you can go over Tioga Pass into Yosemite, then south to Sequoia, and then west across California to the Coast.

    Most of the Giant Trees to drive through are up in the Redwoods country about a day's drive north of San Francisco. There are several up there, mostly privately owned tourist attractions. The Redwoods there are very large trees as well -- and the forests of them stretch for hundreds of miles in the coastal mountains.

  10. Default

    That is great advice. I just didn't realise how many different routes there would be and how twisty some may be. Perhaps when we get to the general area, we'll just go with the flow and stop in a motel when we are tired rather than precisely plan on places to get to for a fixed time.

    When we get to the death valley area, what is an appropriate town to stay in a motel with a little pool? Also, is there a way of finding out if the Tioga pass is open when we are in Death Valley and about to head towards Yosemite?

    Thanks again.

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