We are planning a road trip in December from L.A. to San Francisco to Lake Tahoe to Yosemite (if we can access the park) and King Canyon/Sequoia.We intend to go from there to Las Vegas, sightsee around the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam and maybe visit Phoenix or other places of interest. We plan to go from there to San Diego and back to L.A. As we are coming from Brisbane, Australia we are unfamiliar with road conditions in the U.S.A. especially in winter and have the following questions/concerns: can we access the places mentioned? do we need chains? do we need to backtrack from east to west to access Yosemite? should/could we access the Grand Canyon by car or is it p-referable to go by light plane? would Flagstaff be a better place to spend a couple of days than Phoenix? is it safe and/or difficult to enter Mexico on the return leg to San Diego? would we need a visa to enter Mexico? We would appreciate any advice from experienced travellers.
Welcome to the RTA Forum!
The basic outline you've described is a very popular trip, and you'll find lots of information about these legs if you look around a bit.
In answer to your basic questions, All of the areas you are talking about will be open, but tioga pass through Yosemite will be closed, so that will limit your ability to cross the Sierra. Since that crossing will be closed, and there is no direct route across the mountains from Sequoia National Park, it might make more sense to visit Sequoia and Yosemite before going to Tahoe, so you don't have to cross cross the mountains as many times.
The Grand Canyon can be seen by a number of different options, each will give you a different perspective. Personally, I like to be able to stand at the top and enjoy, but the views from the air would be specacular too.
If you want to go into Mexico, you probably will not be able to take your rental car, but it is easy to walk across the border. Having said that, I have no idea what the rules for Austrialian Travel to Mexico, so you should consult Mexican authorities to make sure your travel would be legal.
More then chains, while in the sierra's, you need caution. if they have a big snow you are better off getting out of the mountains. tahoe is beautiful but the snow can be overwhelming, so have some options.
Flagstaff is great little city. it is close to the grand canyon and has a nice atmosphere. there are good daytrips in the area. i would pick flagstaff over phoenix.
The national park service website has updated information about road closing in yosemite and kings canyon.
If you are going anywhere near the Sierras in December, it would be prudent to have a set of cable chains with you. Here are the chain laws as they pertain to the Yosemite area.
Thanks for advice and assistance from moderator and others. Trip getting closer now -excitement level rising rapidly. Will buy chains for mts and bring large amounts of caution with us. Sure hope we can make it to Tahoe though to enjoy a white xmas - it will be our first. Will stopover in Flagstaff as suggested by forum and go to San Diego from there via Phoenix. Have since been told about Meteor Crater and Wupatki(?) Should we go back through Yuma? Sounds like the wild West and a heap of fun. Can we go into Mexico there? Would appreciate any advice.
Tahoe is (pretty much) a certainity
Cool! There have only been or two storms in the last thirty years that effectively shut down all of the roads into Lake Tahoe -- I can't imagine you will have any problems.
Originally Posted by dgall31
How much time do you have for this?
Um, looking at your route again -- how much time are you allotting for this adventure? Wintertime travel you need to allow a minimum of two weeks do you have that much?
Originally Posted by dgall31
Wupatki NM is a good stop and a beautiful place. It’s close to Flagstaff which is a plus. it is especially scenic with snow although that may limit one of the hikes.
Sedona is also scenic if you have the time.