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  1. Default Need your help with planning roadtrip through South-West USA

    Dear Roadtrip American's!

    Me and a friend of mine are planning a road trip in the South-West of your beautiful America (since we are from the Netherlands, Europe). Our time frame is from 01 feb until 22 feb this year (Already in three weeks!!!). We will rent a car from rentawreck.com, since this has the lowest surcharge for underage drivers (5$ per person/day).

    In our preparations we found this site very helpful! However, we still have some questions which maybe you could answer. The most important: is our planned trip doable in wintertime?

    Our trip:

    1st day: Santa Cruz, Monterey (Aquarium), 17 mile drive, Carmel (126 mi)
    2nd day: Hearst Castle, Santa Barbara, LA (326 mi)
    3rd day: LA (can you drive relatively safely into, for example that is not something I would do in Paris without knowing the exact route)
    4th day: Joshua Tree Park (146 mi)
    5th day: Joshua Tree Park, drive to Mojave National Desert Reserve over
    Amboy Road (130 mi) (Is this road open during
    winter-time?)
    .
    6th day: Drive from Mojave National Desert Reserve to Grand Canyon (South
    Rim) over I-40, AZ-64, AZ 180 (350 mi) (Are these
    roads open during winter-time?)
    .
    7th day: Grand Canyon

    Now, there are two options:
    a) 8th day: Drive to Zion National Park over AZ-89 (300 mi)
    9th day: Zion National Park
    10th day: Drive to Vegas over I-15 (162 mi)
    But can this be done in winter time? What are the odds
    that these roads will be open?


    b) 8th day: Grand Canyon
    9th day: Drive 'back' to Vegas over I-40 (300 mi) Then do I take the US-
    93 and the Hooverdam (what are the waiting times here due to searching
    and is this worth it?) or 'just' the US-95?

    11th day: Las Vegas
    12th day: Drive to Death Valley (200 mi) over US-95.
    13th day: Death Valley
    14th day: Drive to Sequoia National Park (350 mi)
    15th day: Sequoia National Park, drive to Yosemite Park (201 mi)
    16th day: Yosemite Park
    17th day: Drive to Lake Tahoe (210 mi)
    18th day: Lake Tahoe
    19th day: Lake Tahoe, drive to Napa (100 mi)
    20th day: Napa, drive to San Francisco (50 mi)
    21th day: -
    22th day: Fly back to the Netherlands.

    We will camp/stay in motels+hostels/sleep in the car during the trip. Whatever is convenient/price efficient. What concerns me most is that since we have a rental car, we probably are not allowed to use any chains.

    Does this trip sounds like this can be done? Or is this far too much? Moreover, are there any great places we have missed in the planning or, on the contrary, do people believe we should not visit any places mentioned above? Please let us know if you have any tips/hints/criticism/advice!

    P.s. Can anybody recommend a Road Atlas that includes all the roads we are traveling in just one Atlas?

    Best regards,
    2 Europeans.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Quite a trip!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Henk View Post
    We will rent a car from rentawreck.com, since this has the lowest surcharge for underage drivers
    That is an interesting bit of intel that I was not aware of -- Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!
    The most important: is our planned trip doable in wintertime?
    Absolutely, winter is a very popular time for road trips in the United States and beyond.
    3rd day: LA (can you drive relatively safely into, for example that is not something I would do in Paris without knowing the exact route)
    It is not really much of a problem to drive in LA -- LA was built to accommodate cars. Here is a great overview about visiting LA.
    5th day: Joshua Tree Park, drive to Mojave National Desert Reserve over Amboy Road (130 mi) (Is this road open during
    winter-time?)
    .
    I am not sure it has EVER closed....
    6th day: Drive from Mojave National Desert Reserve to Grand Canyon (South Rim) over I-40, AZ-64, AZ 180 (350 mi) (Are these
    roads open during winter-time?)
    .
    Snow storms can close sections of these roads -- but in general they are always open. You might wish to drive a small section of Route 66 on your way from the Mojave Preserve -- I think you would really enjoy the Sitgreaves Pass and the burro policeman at Oatman!
    10th day: Drive to Vegas over I-15 (162 mi)
    But can this be done in winter time? What are the odds
    that these roads will be open?
    100% chance that roads will be open.
    Then do I take the US-
    93 and the Hoover dam (what are the waiting times here due to searching
    and is this worth it?) or 'just' the US-95?
    It is very rare that a passenger car is searched here. But traffic delays due the construction can be 1.5 hours -- However, it is 110% worth it to see the dam and the new bridge being built. Don't miss it!
    14th day: Drive to Sequoia National Park (350 mi)
    15th day: Sequoia National Park, drive to Yosemite Park (201 mi)
    16th day: Yosemite Park
    17th day: Drive to Lake Tahoe (210 mi)
    18th day: Lake Tahoe
    19th day: Lake Tahoe, drive to Napa (100 mi)
    Are you aware that you are zig-zagging back and forth across the Sierra Nevada passes? This could be challenging if we get any more large Pacific storms.
    What concerns me most is that since we have a rental car, we probably are not allowed to use any chains.
    That is probably correct although you will be required to carry chains in your vehicle if you visit Lake Tahoe.

    Your planning is quite good -- but I would suggest dropping Lake Tahoe in favor of being able to enjoy more of Yosemite and/or Napa and Sonoma valleys.
    P.s. Can anybody recommend a Road Atlas that includes all the roads we are traveling in just one Atlas?
    Absolutely, here are our atlas recommendations!

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default closures

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    I don't think you should have any problems with road closures in the areas you've highlighted, if you saw any problems it would be a very short term issue. None of those roads are closed long-term.

    However, another part of your trip could be problematic. You have got yourself crossing the Sierras a couple times, going from DV to Sequoia, crossing again from Yosemite to Tahoe, and then back once more on the trip to SF. You can make this trip, but your options for crossing the passes will be limited to the Bakersfield and Lake Tahoe areas, so you'll be doing a fair amount of extra driving. It would probably make more sense to visit Tahoe after Death Valley, and then go back south to Yosemite and Sequoia.

    Just a couple other thoughts, if day one is the day you land, I'd recommend spending at least one day in the SF area to get beyond the jet lag and rest up a bit for your long trip.

    Driving in LA is a challenge, and it also includes a very large area. I would suggest you plan well in advance what areas of the city you plan to visit so you aren't trying to guess too much while driving in this very busy area.

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