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  1. Default What to do so much to see, so little time !!!!

    OK this is a big ask I know !, we are a family of 4 from Australia, kids age 15, 16, we have never seen snow before and looking forward to having a snow fight, we are visiting my sister in Texas, now this is the problem, We only have 5 days for a road trip at the end of our stay in USA, we leave LA at 1030pm on the 18th Jan, what to do!!!. we would love to drive San Fran to LA I would like to see Yosemety, see some snow but not be rushed, never driven on icey roads before. I understand that weather has a lot to do with things so I guess what I'm asking is how can we get the most out off this without possible weather restrictions. An Rv sounds great but I dont wish to waste time washing and cleaning vehicle at end as I think this could easily take a half a day. On the day we leave we would see Universal studios

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

    Default do what you've said

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You didn't really say where you are starting this trip, other than you are visiting people in Texas and leaving via LA, so I'm going to assume your roadtrip would also start in LA?

    I think you could do pretty much the trip you've laid out. Spend the first 2 days driving up the coast to SF, spend most of day 3 in SF and head for Yosemite in the afternoon. Spend day 4 in Yosemite and then drive down to LA for day 5.

    I agree, I don't think an RV would make much sense for a quick trip like this. Rent a car and enjoy the trip.

  3. Default What to do so much to see, so little time !!!!

    Thanks for the prompt reply this is great. We will start the road trip in San Fran. after a couple of days looking around the city. We come from a very small town in the Centre of Australia so we won't mind a couple of days here, as this will be an eye opener for sure.
    So you really think Yosemity will be possible mid Jan. And I guess we are after the more quirky things to see along the drive also, if any body has any ideas on little known short walks, views, detours etc.

  4. Default January Snow near LA

    As a rule of thumb, snow ini California is typically found only in the Sierras and Shasta/ Trinity mountains north of San Francisco - usually only at the higher elevations.

    If you're concerned about icy roads, probably your best options are just to stick to Yosemite. It *is* possible, depending upon the weather, to see snow in the higher passes through the mountains as well. If it's a wet and stormy year, you could see some coming over the major mountain passes into or out of LA.

    From the LA area there are several places you can see snow. The San Gabriel/ San Bernadino/ San Jacinto mountains on the north and east of LA go up to over 10,000'. It's not uncommon to see snow in these mountains -- this January/ February snow levels were down to about 4000' at times (meaning snow on the ground above 4000' elevation), with several feet of snow on the ground at elevation. There are several snow play/ downhill skiing areas within 2 hours drive of LA -- Wrightwood, and Big Bear Lake are the largest. They also have large snow making machines, so if the temperature is right, there's usually some snow there.

    Depending upon the year (and if its a cold wet winter -- this year its been a bit more wet than average so far), you can find snow in a number of places near LA. Frazier Park/ Mt Pinos (there's still snow on the ground there, as of now), Mt Wilson/ Angeles Crest (enough snow this winter that it took out several major radio antennas for stations serving LA), Mt Baldy, Arrowhead Lake/ Big Bear Lake, Mt San Gorgonio, and Mt San Jacinto all still have snow on them in March.

    The most unique place for snow play in the area is at the top of the tram above Palm Springs. You take a tram from the desert floor up to near the summit of Mt San Jacinto (which is about 10,800' elevation at the summit). This isn't a real downhill ski area, but you can cross country ski and snowshoe in the area near the top of the tram. Then at the end of the day, you can ride the tram back to desert floor where its typically 25-30 F warmer, and have dinner, swim, etc in Palm Springs.

    The best scenery with snow would be Yosemite. Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park is very scenic, and the roads are kept open year round into the National Park. It is possible to visit year round -- but.. depending up specific weather conditions, the road could be closed for a few hours or overnight if its snowing hard.

    As a note about winter driving -- as a rule of thumb, most of the roads are kept free of snow so you can drive in and out in the winter (like Yosemite). But it may take a day to plow the roads out, and the minor roads maybe a day after that. But if you arrive in the middle of a snowstorm, it'd probably be best to wait out until the storm passes (usually a day), and then go in after the roads have been plowed, and the warmer weather following a storm has cleaned things up a bit on the road.

    The best area for snow that's closest to LA is Mammoth Mountain on the east side of the Sierras (the opposite side from Yosemite). I've seen up to 15 feet of snow there in a wet winter, and its a major world-class downhill skiing area (plus cross country and snowshoeing, etc), about 5-7 hours drive from LA (depending upon where you start). Yosemite is more scenic in general, but Mammoth mountain is not too far from Death Valley and Las Vegas, as well.

  5. Default What to do so much to see, so little time !!!!

    Oh boy, that is great info, I really like the idea of the tram from Palm Springs into the Mountains how many hours from LA would this be, and could it be incorperated in the SF to LA coast drive as a detour or is it a little to far out of the way, I'm really excited about the possibility of visiting Yosemite at this time of year, I really thought this would not be an option in winter.
    Thanks again for your time!!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Yosemite in Winter

    My last trip to Yosemite was in winter, and I found it to be a great time to go. There was snow on the ground, which added to the experience, but it wasn't so cold you couldn't enjoy yourself either. There are also smaller crowds, which made it easier to enjoy and there are some things you couldn't even do during summer - for example, Yosemite has an outdoor ice skating rink!

  7. Default What to do so much to see, so little time !!!!

    I really am getting excited about this trip now this it is bringing 2yrs of hard work together now that I payed the airfares, I encourouge enybody who has info, even if they think is insignificant to a road trip of the west coast to share with me of their experiences no matter how small, I think in many ways it is those little unexpected places that will really make our trip unforgetable, I am spending many hours lately searching the internet on our plans for our trip, but there is no knomledge like local first hand knowledge.

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

    Default look around some more!

    At last count, I think there are about 1400 threads on this forum about traveling along the California Coast and the Yosemite areas! Doing a search of the RTA website (top left corner) just for the word Yosemite came up with more than 3200 hits!

    Not all of that info will apply directly to what you are planning to do, but I'm sure you'll find some very helpful first hand knowledge as you sort through some of those threads and articles.

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