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  1. #1

    Default Driving San Francisco to Las Vegas

    Hi
    Just planning the trip of a lifetime to USA and one option is to drive from San Francisco to Las Vegas via Yosemite National Park,next Autumn, taking 2 days (or would 3 be better) Can anyone tell me the mileage and give some ideas of reasonably priced places to stay.Is SF airport the best place to pick up the hire car?
    Thanks , Janet

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    11,004

    Default popular

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    We've got several hundred threads discussing this basic trip that have lots of ideas to help you with your questions. I'd start by looking at these threads, but also use the search functions to get lots of other good ideas.

    The total distance for the trip is about 600 miles, but some significant portions are pretty slow going mountain roads. You'll need at least 2 days, but you could very easily fill 3 days with all there is to see.

    It never hurts to shop around for a rental car, and sometimes you'll find better rates at rental locations in the city. When you factor in the time and effort to get from the airport to another location, you'll probably find that renting from at the airport (or a location just off airport property) is your best bet.

  3. #3

    Default Driving San Francisco to Las Vegas

    Thanks Michael. I'll look at all the threads.We could be put off by finding out that it is expensive to hire a car in California and drop it off in Las Vegas, so may rethink that one. An alternative plan is to hire a car in San Francisco, drive to LA, spend a few days there, take the Amtrak bus to Las Vegas , then hire a car to do the Grand Circle canyon tour which is really the focus of our visit to USA
    Janet

  4. #4

    Default Driving San Francisco to Las Vegas

    Thanks Michael. I'll look at all the threads.We could be put off by finding out that it is expensive to hire a car in California and drop it off in Las Vegas, so may rethink that one. An alternative plan is to hire a car in San Francisco, drive to LA, spend a few days there, take the Amtrak bus to Las Vegas , then hire a car to do the Grand Circle canyon tour which is really the focus of our visit to USA
    Janet
    Last edited by Jantomo; 08-25-2008 at 01:30 PM. Reason: sent twice

  5. #5

    Default

    JAnet...

    try usrentacar.co.uk for booking a car from California to Nevada....i found the prices from Dollar very very good and i don't think you will have a problem with price...just a tip for you...

    we are looking at a similiar trip at present :D
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 08-25-2008 at 01:43 PM.

  6. #6

    Default Driving San Francisco to Las Vegas

    Thanks funky fin. I've bookmarked the car hire website and am gradually getting a better idea of my plans.
    This Great American Road Trip forum is brilliant!!!
    I think we will be hoping to go
    Day 1 - from San Francisco by way of Manteca , on Highway 120 to Crane Flat. (overnight in that area)
    Day 2 - Over the Tioga Pass to Lee Vining then on towards Death Valley
    Day 3 - Cross Death Valley and on to Las Vegas.
    Now can anyone help with these questions ?
    1) On day 1 would we have any time to just visit Yosemite valley from Crane Flat?
    2) On Day 2 how far are we likely to get towards Death Valley and where would be the best place to stop overnight?
    3)On Day 3 would it be feasible to cross Death Valley and get to Vegas , or should we stop before Vegas and make a day4 (morning)?
    I would be grateful of any help. This trip is not happening until September 2009 - but at the rate I'm going it will take me that long - especially as the next part of the trip is the Grand Circle tour from Las Vegas to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Lake Powell ( possibly Page), Monument Valley ( from Kayenta), back to the Grand Canyon and via the Hoover Dam to Las Vegas. We want to allow 10 days for this trip. Any help will be well received.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    8,472

    Default Doable

    Hi there,

    1) On day 1 would we have any time to just visit Yosemite valley from Crane Flat?
    With an early start from S/F then you should be able to visit the valley floor. There is a loop road you can drive around with places to stop and take pics e.t.c. Allow 5 hours or so to get here and 40 mins or so to get back to crane flat. That should give you 4-5 hours to have some lunch and stretch the legs having a look around the valley, a long day but worth it.

    2) On Day 2 how far are we likely to get towards Death Valley and where would be the best place to stop overnight?
    Depending on how long you spend travelling over Tioga pass [great views and lots of stops] you should be able to get anywhere between Bishop and Lone pine, setting you up nicely for Death valley.Another early start and you may want to take a ride up to Glacier point in Yosemite before leaving, a fantastic view. If you were to consider this, then you could possibly stay in the Wawona area the first night and you will be on the right road to detour at the beginning of day 2.

    3)On Day 3 would it be feasible to cross Death Valley and get to Vegas , or should we stop before Vegas and make a day4 (morning)?
    That's feasible, the nearer to Lone pine you get the more time you can spend in D/V. However if you did have a little more time to spare you could push everything back a little and be less rushed in Yosemite, and it's the type of place you don't want to leave.

    I would be grateful of any help. This trip is not happening until September 2009 - but at the rate I'm going it will take me that long - especially as the next part of the trip is the Grand Circle tour from Las Vegas to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Lake Powell ( possibly Page), Monument Valley ( from Kayenta), back to the Grand Canyon and via the Hoover Dam to Las Vegas. We want to allow 10 days for this trip. Any help will be well received.
    That is a nice amount of time for this part of your trip.
    I'm not sure if your 10 days includes staying in Vegas or not, but here's a rough idea.

    Vegas to Zion on I-5 then the 9 to springdale [lovely little town] and the park. 2 nights.

    Zion to Bryce up the Mount Carmel highway north on 89 west on 12. A short drive but allow time for stops on the checkerboard mesa and red rock canyon. [1 night poss 2?]

    Back on yourself to Page, maybe include a visit to Antelope canyon before heading to M/V. 2 or 3 nights between the 2.

    Head for the Grand canyon on 160 / 89 and then the 64 into the east entrance where you can take in all the views along Desert view drive. Stop at the entrance and the old watchtower for your first views of the Colorado and canyon. 2 nights.

    Then out the south entrance and get on part of '66 before heading over the dam to Vegas.

    Here's a link to our trip, that covers much of the same area. It should give you an insight as to what's in store for you.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 09-01-2008 at 09:57 AM.

  8. #8

    Default Driving San Francisco to Las Vegas

    Hi Dave - thanks for your reply, it's so useful. Been away for 3 weeks in Uk but am now going to follow all the relevant threads , then hopefully can get back to you with few more questions when I've finished planning.The 10 day Grand circle trip is in addition to staying in Las Vegas and I'm hoping to plan driving for every other day so we can explore the places we stop in .
    Janet

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    8,472

    Default Exciting times ahead.

    Hi Janet, welcome back.
    When you have put an itinerary together, let us know and I am sure we can help you "fine tune" it. I bet you can't wait. It is an amazing area with so much diversity that we don't see the likes of here in the U.K.
    Enjoy the planning, it is a great part of the whole experience.

  10. #10

    Default Just done it

    Janet,

    We returned just last week from much the same trip although we had 3 nights in San Fran before moving off. If you do stay there do the Alcatraz tour, spooky! Also I'd recommend a ride on the Cable Cars, a one day passport was $11 and a 3 day one was $18.

    We stayed 2 nights in the Yosemite Park, and 1 night in Death Valley and I'd recommend both. I've posted quite a few queries on the forum & the help I got from those in the know was excellent. As regards the travel time you take between SF and the Grand Canyon I'd build in a few extra nights as there's just so much to see & do. If you don't allow sufficient time you'll pass them by & wish you had longer.

    Our intended route was from SF to Yosemite, out via the Tioga pass, then down to Death Valley, and across to Vegas. A route that was recommended to me for the first part was from SF towards Sacrament then down what I think was called the Gold Rush trail, with a stopover at Murphys. We stayed there in the Murphys Hotel and it was excellent, I'd recommend it. With a Saloon where the regulars were drinking and Dinner and Breakfast in the Garden it was gorgeous. The town itself is a quiet little place, beautiful.
    If you’re a wine drinker there's a ton of Wineries nearby worth a visit. We visited 'Ironstone' and took the free tour, which is followed of course by tasting.

    Driving to and through Yosemite needs extra time allocated as the roads are nearly all up & down with plenty of bends. Glacier Point is well worth a visit for the views alone. We stayed in what was called a 'Log Cabin'. With 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms between 3 couples we had load of room! The highlight of our stay was on the 2nd evening when we were sitting on the rear dock having our bbq when a Deer wandered past with a fawn following. If you Google 'Redwoods in Yosemite' you'll see the type of thing I mean, although they are at the southern end of the park and hence about an hour away from places such as Glacier Point. It's not a huge problem but you may wish to bear it in mind if you're allocating travel time. There are some private developments at Yosemite West that are a little nearer.

    Once through the Tioga Pass we carried on down towards Death Valley and stopped overnight in Bishop. Quite a lot of hotels there, but if I went again I'd carry on to Lone Pine. Not so much choice on the hotels side of things but a great Saloon and a bit more character.

    Death Valley was everything I expected, miles of nothing but rocks, sand and scrub. We stayed overnight at Stovepipe Wells and the views of the Sand Dunes at sunset and the night sky once it was fully dark were beautiful.

    Again, I'd allow extra time for driving in DV as the roads getting there are mountainous but for me this was my favourite place.

    We left DV & drove on to Vegas, but I have to say it didn't quite do it for me. Imagine DisneyWorld where everything is pretend 24/7 and you'll get some idea of what I mean. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I went & would probably go again, but it can be a bit overwhelming. Obviously this is all subjective and if thrill rides, shows, and gambling are your thing then you'll love it. Personally I preferred being one amongst a few as opposed to the thousands that throng the streets there. If you do go I can recommend the fountains at the Bellagio and the view at night from the Stratosphere.

    As to the Grand Canyon Tour, many of these collect you from your hotel, and drive out to the Boulder City airport, where they fly you out to the Grand Canyon. The views of the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, and the surrounding area are incredible. We did the plane/helicopter/boat trip which was stunning. If like us you do need to escape from Vegas you could do as we did and drive up to Boulder City yourself. We stayed at the Boulder City Hotel, a historic little place from the 1930's which was used to house the top team of the Hoover Dam building project. From there the Dam is just a short ride away, (tours available) and Lake Mead is well worth a visit. You can hire boats and Jet Bikes if you fancy a trip out on the water.

    As to your query about the car, not sure whether it's any dearer dependant upon where you pick up from, but there's more selection available at the Airports than in Town so if you need something out of the ordinary it's probably better to do so at the former, and if you're flying in to SF it's about a $40 plus taxi ride from the airport to SF City itself.

    All in all a fantastic trip which I'd recommend to anyone. If you want to pick my brains about anything feel free to get in touch & I'll answer as best I can, (and rest assured if I can't there'll be someone on the forum that can).

    Charlie

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