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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    South-Western France
    Posts
    14

    Default Planning a 2-week roadtrip (SF-LA-Vegas)

    Hi everyone,

    My gf and I are planning a trip to the West (CA and national parks). We have found plenty of information on this great site (and others), but would need some general advice concerning certain points...

    2nd and 3rd week of Nov., we are planning to:

    - fly into SF (1-2 days there), then drive to Yosemite (1 day). I understood the East exit would most likely be closed at that time, which makes us wonder whether it would be easier to just drive around or drive back to SF and take a flight to LA or Vegas to save some time... (And I don't wanna miss Yosemite)

    - LA (is it worth spending a day or two or should we just drop it considering we don't have that much time?)

    - Vegas (we definitely want to plan at least 2 days/nights there)

    - Then either from LA or Vegas, we would drive the last 9-10 days or so through Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Lake Powell/Glen Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce and finally fly out from either Vegas, LA or Salt Lake, depending on the best way to see the highest number of gorgeous landscapes...

    Anyone has any advice concerning such a program? Is it realistic? What is the best way to integrate the driving in the trip? Always drive early in the morning, or late in the afternoon to be up and ready in the morning?

    Thanks in advance for any help!

    Mikael

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default hit or miss

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    There are a number of things to think about here as you make your decisions.

    First, Tioga Pass might be closed, but it might not be either. The pass typically closes some time in November, so you'll be in a period where you might be able to can use it. It all depends upon the weather.

    Regardless, I don't think I would bother going back to San Francisco. By the time you drive all the way back to SF, go through Airport Security and the other hassles of post-9/11 air travel, you're going to basically lose the day anyway. If you are planning to go to LA from here, then it would certainly be faster just to drive, and I'd say your trip to Vegas would be pretty similar in total time.

    I'll also say that if you are planning to go to Death Valley, it would make more sense to do that as part of a drive to Vegas. Its only a couple hours from the strip, but its the opposite direction from the other places you plan to visit over your 9-10 day section.

    As far as when to drive, that's purely a matter of personal preference. The only thing I might take into account is driving East early in the morning or West in the late afternoon can be a little more challenging because of the sun rising and setting, but thats certainly a very small portion of the day.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Full Two Weeks

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    There comes a point at which a RoadTrip becomes so full of amazing attractions that you lose sight of the purpose, to see and experience the places and people you'll be visiting. Your trip is starting to sound like you're close to, if not over, that line. Yes, you can get to everything you've listed in two weeks, but why? Just to check it off a list? The places of natural beauty in particular are ones that require some time for quiet reflection to really enjoy. For as important as Yosemite is to you, are you really willing to settle for 'drive in - shoot some snaps - drive out' type visit. That's all the time you're scheduling. So, my first bit of advice is to think about what you really want out of this trip and then start paring down on the place on the map and concentrate on the places in your heart. The good news is that Los Angeles is not at all out of your way. If you want to, you can stop there between Yosemite and Las Vegas for fewer than 100 extra driving miles, assuming Tioga Pass is closed and you'll have to drive down through Bakersfield anyway.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 09-08-2008 at 07:50 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    South-Western France
    Posts
    14

    Default

    Thank you for your kind answers, Michael and AZBuck. You are so totally right about the necessary "time for reflection". I more than fully agree but, as always, we have personal considerations which have led us to these choices. Just wanted to let you know that I have all this in mind as well...

    We still have to finalize the end of the trip and most details, but here is what our draft plan looks like:

    Day 1: fly into SF
    D2: SF
    D3: SF --> Mariposa (Yosemite)
    D4: Yosemite --> Bakersfield (for the night) (should we spend most of the day in Yosemite again, or stop in Sequoia NP or Kings?)
    D5: Bakersfield -->Shoshone (Death Valley) (I think we have a problem here)
    D6: Shoshone --> Las Vegas (we'd better plan Death Valley that day)
    D7: Vegas
    D8: Vegas --> Flagstaff (Grand Canyon)
    D9: Grand Canyon --> Kayenta (Monument Valley)
    D10: Monument Valley --> Page (Glen Canyon)
    D11: Page (Lake Powell)
    D12: Page --> Cedar City (Bryce)
    D13: Cedar City --> Vegas or SLC or LA
    D14: fly out of Vegas, Salt Lake City or LA (evening)...

    I guess we have a problem with Day 5, maybe we could push to LA or drive directly to Shoshone?

    Can you see anything that would not be feasible? What do you think?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default including LA?

    Driving from Bakersfield, through DV, ending in Shoshone is possible in one day, but does your plan for day 5 include driving from Bakersfield to LA and then back towards DV?

    If that is what you are thinking, then yes, I would agree that you have a problem. LA really is a huge area, and I think about the only thing you'd get to see at that kind of pace is just how bad LA traffic can be. You really wouldn't have time for anything more than that.

    If visiting LA is a priority then I might just drive straight there from Yosemite on the afternoon of D4, spend most of D5 there, and then either spend the night there, or try to make a little progress towards DV, staying somewhere like Mojave or Ridgecrest. You could spend D6 exploring DV and then still arrive in Vegas for the night.

    I really like Sequoia/Kings Canyon, but you really don't have time for them at your current pace.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    South-Western France
    Posts
    14

    Default

    No no no... By "push to LA", I meant driving to LA and staying there for the night. Then spending the day in LA before taking the road again.

    But we already have a good pace. I think we'd better skip it for this trip and spend more time on what we have already planned.

    So this leaves us with a "light" Day 5, unless we drive through DV that day. You say it is actually possible?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Yup, it works in one day!

    Bakersfield to the western edge of Death Valley is only about 200 miles so it's easily done in a 4-hour drive, give or take a bit. It's roughly another 80 miles to the eastern edge of Death Valley. You can take the day, spend the night in Death Valley, and then continue on to Las Vegas; or simply spend a few hours in Death Valley and still get to Las Vegas that night. It all depends on how in-depth you want to explore Death Valley.

    I agree that skipping LA makes sense for this trip. It's huge and you'll only see the freeways and buildings with the limited time you have. No time to explore all the fine things within the city.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default Agreed

    I think that is a good plan. The best part is that it should leave you in a good position to drive over Tioga Pass if it is still open. Instead of Bakersfield, then you could spend the night in Lee Vining, and still be in good shape for a trip through Death Valley the next day.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    South-Western France
    Posts
    14

    Default

    Great! Thank you so much you guys...
    We finally have bought our tickets, this is so exciting! We'll actually fly out of Salt Lake City. So that leaves us with the following plan:

    Day 1: fly into SF
    D2: SF
    D3: SF
    D4: SF --> Yosemite --> Night in Mariposa or Lee Vining/Mammoth Lakes/Bishop if Tioga Pass is open, which gives us extra time at some point for Yosemite or DV... but let's assume it's closed
    D5: Mariposa --> Ridgecrest (maybe a quick stop in Sequoia/Kings NP)
    D6: Ridgecrest --> DV --> Las Vegas
    D7: Vegas
    D8: Vegas --> William/Flagstaff (quiet day)
    D9: William/Flagstaff --> Grand Canyon --> Kayenta
    D10: Kayenta --> Monument Valley --> Page
    D11: Page (Lake Powell/Glen Canyon)
    D12: Page --> Cedar City (Bryce)
    D13: Cedar City --> Salt Lake City
    D14: fly out of SLC (evening)...

    Depending on how things turn out... And I'm sure we'll change our mind when we get into details. But by skipping LA, we managed to add almost a day in SF and some parts are a bit more "quiet" than they were.
    I'm just wondering about days 8-->11. I know this goes too fast, but how can we manage to do better from Vegas?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Shorter days.

    Hi there,
    As Buck said earlier, is it enough to drive in and take some snaps of Yosemite and The Grand Canyon. They are 2 amazing places and you will have no time to absorb the splendour of it all.
    It is tough when there is so much to see and do but you need to take into consideration the fact that in November the days are also much shorter, leaving your time to see Yosemite very restricted even with a relatively early start from San Fran, a possibility would be to leave San Fran in the afternoon of day 3, but that will depend on what you see as more beneficial to your trip.

    You will have a great time whatever you decide, great places to visit and you must be very excited.

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