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  1. Default San Fran > Yosemite > Sequoia > Grand Canyon > NM

    Hello,

    I am so impressed with this site and intend to become an obsessive user helping other people on their road trips as soon as I'm through with this one, which we're taking the second week of December:

    Start in San Francisco
    Stay one night in Yosemite
    Stay one night in Sequoia
    Stay one night at the Grand Canyon

    Then we start to head home:

    Stay one night in Phoenix, visit White Sands the next day
    Stay one night in Las Cruces, visit Carlsbad the next day
    Then onward home to Houston via a margarita night in San Antonio

    On our last road trip through the Smoky Mountains and Kentucky last December, we encountered some really scary night driving, especially in Kentucky, where the hills were substantial, everything was dark, we were trying to just get through the drive with our sanity intact while semis rushed around us because they knew the dark hills far better than we did. It was the most frightening six hours of my life and I never want to do it again.

    I don't know what's in store for me in California and Arizona. We're not used to driving in snow (we're Houstonians, after all), and the prospect of scary night driving is freaking me out. Are there any scary areas we should expect day or night on this path that we're taking? Better to know now so I'm not the one driving when they come up.

    Thank you so much for any help you can provide, guys. Oh, and a little tip: don't drive in Kentucky at night unless you like the idea of unlit hills and curvy roads and semi trucks.

    Thanks,
    Sara

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Comfort zone.

    I am so impressed with this site and intend to become an obsessive user helping other people on their road trips as soon as I'm through with this one, which we're taking the second week of December:
    Cool, it's always great to hear about other peoples experiences.

    Hi Sara, Welcome to the R.T.A forums,

    Start in San Francisco
    Stay one night in Yosemite
    Stay one night in Sequoia
    Stay one night at the Grand Canyon
    From Sequoia to G/C is a very long day, in perfect conditions you are looking at 12+ hours, with poor weather conditions/delays it could turn out much longer. You will need to think about the possibility of needing snow chains/cables for your tyres if you Haven't got some already. It is recommended that you practice fitting these before leaving rather than waiting to see how it's done in a winter storm on the side of the road. This is some info from the Sequoia site.

    On our last road trip through the Smoky Mountains and Kentucky last December, we encountered some really scary night driving, especially in Kentucky, where the hills were substantial, everything was dark, we were trying to just get through the drive with our sanity intact while semis rushed around us because they knew the dark hills far better than we did.
    Never feel hurried along by other people, you should always drive at a pace you are comfortable with and let other people "do there thing". If you feel really uncomfortable with driving conditions [including snow and ice] it's time to pull up for a rest or for the night. Ignoring those warning signs from your in built radar can have serious consequences.

    I don't know what's in store for me in California and Arizona. We're not used to driving in snow (we're Houstonians, after all), and the prospect of scary night driving is freaking me out. Are there any scary areas we should expect day or night on this path that we're taking?
    I think you should get up to date weather forecasts prior to leaving and decide where to go from there. The main point of a road trip is to enjoy the road not be terrified of it, Lol!
    Going to Sequoia could mean driving the Generals highway, which is a mountainous winding road with possibilities of snow and delays putting you under pressure to get to the Grand canyon and driving long into the night. Maybe it would be more prudent to skip it on this occasion and enjoy the rest of your trip, but of course you must expect the possibility of a winter storm just about anywhere and that the Interstates are the main priority to keep clear and open to traffic. Any chance of an extra day or two?

    You should decide what you are comfortable with and make it an enjoyable experience, so good luck and we look forward to hearing about your experience, Dave.

    [Any more questions don't hesitate to ask]

  3. Default Rethinking this

    Thanks for the help, Southwest Dave.

    From Sequoia to G/C is a very long day, in perfect conditions you are looking at 12+ hours, with poor weather conditions/delays it could turn out much longer.
    This concerns me. We were working under the assumption that we would leave at sun-up from Sequoia, then Google says it takes 9.5 hours to get to Flagstaff and we can do that during the day, then another 1.5 hours to get to the lodge in the Grand Canyon from Flagstaff, and that doesn't look like a terrible drive. We figured we could get to the Grand Canyon before sunset. In perfect conditions, is this possible?

    Going to Sequoia could mean driving the Generals highway, which is a mountainous winding road with possibilities of snow and delays putting you under pressure to get to the Grand canyon and driving long into the night. Maybe it would be more prudent to skip it on this occasion and enjoy the rest of your trip, but of course you must expect the possibility of a winter storm just about anywhere and that the Interstates are the main priority to keep clear and open to traffic. Any chance of an extra day or two?
    No extra days, unfortunately. We would be driving from Yosemite to Sequoia in the early morning; how bad does the weather have to be before we cancel this drive? Would a little bit of snow be a problem? And are you advising skipping Sequoia or the Grand Canyon? If we skipped Sequoia, should we just continue on to Grand Canyon from Yosemite, which looks to be an 11 hour drive from Yosemite? Or should we plan on a stopping point somewhere in between? If so, where would be a good stopping point?

    Thanks again.

    Sara

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    Hi Sara,

    We figured we could get to the Grand Canyon before sunset. In perfect conditions, is this possible?
    To do this in 11 hours you would be looking at averaging 60 m.p.h non stop, no stops for food, bio or refuelling and starting out on a mountain road. I am afraid the mapping programs do not allow for things us humans need too, Lol! So my answer would be not possible I'm afraid. If you were to arrive in Yosemite by lunchtime and look around your first day and got an early start you could possibly drive through Sequoia and continue on to somewhere near Bakersfield/Barstow leaving you with a shorter drive to G/C [around 8- 10 hours.]depending on where you stop.

    And are you advising skipping Sequoia or the Grand Canyon?
    More of a suggestion, but I was referring to Sequoia purely for time.

    If we skipped Sequoia, should we just continue on to Grand Canyon from Yosemite, which looks to be an 11 hour drive from Yosemite? Or should we plan on a stopping point somewhere in between? If so, where would be a good stopping point?
    Once again the mapping times are over optimistic and I would be looking to stop on the way, I would estimate a 13 to14 hour day otherwise.
    You will be looking to head south from Yosemite towards Bakersfield as the Tioga pass [HWY120] that crosses the sierra's from Yosemite will be closed due to snow. I would see what time you leave Yosemite and travel as far as you are comfortable before stopping for the night.

    We would be driving from Yosemite to Sequoia in the early morning; how bad does the weather have to be before we cancel this drive? Would a little bit of snow be a problem?
    You would need to get weather updates and ask the N.P rangers for any advice and decide whether you feel comfortable with it.

    Dave

  5. Default

    Great, thank you for your help, Dave. I should have come here BEFORE forking over money for all of the park lodges. Sigh.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Still possible.

    Hey Sara,

    I didn't realise you had already booked lodgings but was more concerned that you might end up taking on a little to much and not have time to explore the places you are visiting, adding to that possible weather disruption and you not feeling to comfortable night driving made me think it might be an option to skip Sequoia, but it is possible still.

    Just keep your fingers crossed for kind weather, and as I said in my first response it's possible to get from Sequoia to G/C in a long day ,so you may miss the sunset but getting there is certainly possible.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 11-26-2008 at 10:31 AM. Reason: Added title

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default routes

    Google says it takes 9.5 hours to get to Flagstaff and we can do that during the day, then another 1.5 hours to get to the lodge in the Grand Canyon from Flagstaff,
    Actually, why are you going all the way to Flagstaff? That will add a good 50 miles to your trip. Cutting north at Williams will be a much better choice.

    Where exactly are you planning to stay in Sequoia? I think that will play a pretty big role. If you are starting your day in the valley outside the park, then your trip to GC will be long but not too bad. If you are spending the night in the mountains, then you'll have to factor in a couple hours driving back down out of the park.

    In either case, I don't think getting to the park by sunset is possible. The sun will be setting by 5pm, and even if you were starting from Visalia (well out of the park, meaning mostly freeway travel), you're looking at 10+ hours to the park gate in good conditions. It often takes some additional time to get into the park, and then you'll need a place to park and get to the rim. Those little things take time, and short of leaving well before sunrise, I just don't think you'd make it.

  8. Default More questions

    Where exactly are you planning to stay in Sequoia? I think that will play a pretty big role. If you are starting your day in the valley outside the park, then your trip to GC will be long but not too bad. If you are spending the night in the mountains, then you'll have to factor in a couple hours driving back down out of the park.
    We have a reservation at Wuksachi Lodge in the park. I realize we can cancel it within 48 hours of our scheduled arrival, so I'll be keeping a close eye on the weather when we arrive in San Francisco on Friday night. I'm trying to convince my travel companion that we could skip Sequoia, or at least keep traveling after we see it so that the trip isn't that long, but he's being pretty insistent. Can anyone tell me if Sequoia is really worth the trip given our schedule? It's so close to Yosemite that I wonder if we'll just be seeing more of the same.

    I am convinced now that we won't be able to make the Grand Canyon during daylight, so how bumpy will the trip be during the last leg of our trip there? Is it well-lit? I would like to drive in well-lit areas even if it means a longer route. If so, we'll be fine.

    Thanks,
    Sara

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

    Default By the Light of the Silvery Moon

    Many of the roads you'll be traveling are in the wide open West and have no artificial lighting at all. Certainly that's true in the National Parks and away from the Interstates. On I-40, by contrast, there will be plenty of other traffic in the early evening, and well-lit exit ramps and roadside gas/food/lodging oases. But if you really need well-lit roadways, then you're going to have to use the only natural night-time lighting available, the Moon. To take full advantage of it for illuminating the road in the early evening, you should plan your evening drives for time when it is between first quarter and full.

    All of the main Interstate, US and state highways you'll be on are well paved and well traveled, so I wouldn't worry a whole lot on that score.

    AZBuck

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
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    Default Informed decision.

    [/URL]
    Quote Originally Posted by sarahoustontx View Post
    We have a reservation at Wuksachi Lodge in the park. I realize we can cancel it within 48 hours of our scheduled arrival, so I'll be keeping a close eye on the weather when we arrive in San Francisco on Friday night. I'm trying to convince my travel companion that we could skip Sequoia, or at least keep traveling after we see it so that the trip isn't that long, but he's being pretty insistent.

    Thanks,
    Sara
    I would wait and see and then make an informed decision. You can get updates from the link I gave you in my other post. There is a telephone number listed for road conditions inside the park if you are still unsure. The weather channel either on line or the T.V in your lodgings is also a good resource.
    You are taking all the necessary precautions and it is an all year round visiting place so I wouldn't worry to much, just wait and see and come to a decision you are both happy with.

    if Sequoia is really worth the trip given our schedule? It's so close to Yosemite that I wonder if we'll just be seeing more of the same
    From a personal point of view and on merit alone I would say yes, it's a wonderful drive and very scenic. If the roads were clear of snow and it wasn't shrouded in fog I would do it, but in the knowledge I have a long drive the next day. [Driving is something I love to do]. But you have to feel that it's right for you and that you will enjoy the experience and the travelling time on the road taking conditions and night driving into account..
    If the weather wasn't favourable then I would spend a bit of time at the giant trees in Wawona grove near the South entrance of Yosemite when leaving the park.

    There is no one correct answer I'm afraid you will have to balance the pros and cons.

    I am convinced now that we won't be able to make the Grand Canyon during daylight, so how bumpy will the trip be during the last leg of our trip there? Is it well-lit? I would like to drive in well-lit areas even if it means a longer route. If so, we'll be fine.
    As Buck rightly said, I-40 will still have traffic and shouldn't offer any real challenges along that route. [or scary night driving ;-) ] I would most definitely prefer to be driving along it in the evening then trying to get out of Sequoia before day break.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 11-29-2008 at 05:53 AM.

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