We've done this trip a few times and are gradually refining it. Here's our itinerary:
3 days staying with friends in S.F.
Day 4 Pick up car and drive to Yosemite - stay two nights
Day 6 Lone Pine ( Perfect location )
Day 7 Furnace Creek ( We love Death Valley, but have never stayed )
Day 8 Las Vegas Luxor ( Very good value ) 2 nights
Day 10 Grand Canyon (One day's drive will do it )we've got cabin with view!
Day 11 Phantom Ranch ( My wife and some friends - I'm driving round )
Day 12 North Rim
Day 13 Cliff Dweller's Lodge ( Very good )
Day 14 Monument Valley
Day 15 ?????
Day 16 Bryce Canyon 2 nights - The lodges are excellent
Day 18 Las Vegas
Day 19 Malibu ( Dine at Paradise Cove - a must!)
Day 20 Carmel
Day 21 San Francisco Airport
The two unknowns are Yosemite. What to do with a full day? and day 15 What's the drive like from Monument Valley to Bryce? Where to stay?
I hope I'm not hi-jacking your thread, but there are so many similarities, I thought I'd share my thoughts.
If we hadn't been before, we'd stay at least an extra night at the Grand Canyon.
Lone Pine rather than Bishop
The drives are magnificent, so don't underestimate how far you can go.
A day to the Canyon is fine. It's a long haul, but take in the Hoover Dam and enjoy!
Pick one of the big hotels at Vegas. They will all charge more for Friday and Saturday, but when you can get Sunday at the Luxor for $80 why complain?
Some of the newer hotels would be worth exploring, but be prepared to pay more.
Check out the free displays at the hotels. I particularly liked the one at Caesar's Palace ( quite cheap to stay there )
After Yosemite, take a short detour to Mono Lake - very weird.