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  1. Default California road trip August 2009

    Hi guys, great website, love the insight!
    We're planning a 1-week road trip through California in 2 weeks, to visit some of the beautiful highlights, then end up in Las Vegas for a couple days. I've seen a lot of California already (though by far not all), whereas it would be my girlfriend's first visit.
    I already read up on a lot of existing info on the forum which answered most of my questions, so I'd like to just ask about a couple points I couldn't find enough about.
    Basically LA - Coast (Hwy 1) - SF is a given. The question is what's best on the way back down to Vegas, given that we just have a 2-3 days left for that. We're hesitating between Yosemite, Kings Canyon / Sequoia, and Death Valley, or maybe even some other cross Sierra Nevada route.
    The thing is I've been to Yosemite - albeit just the loop, not Tioga Pass road - but never to the others. Plus we're not crazy about mountains (seen the Alps already :)), unless it's really worth it, and prefer driving through with some short walks rather than hiking.
    Would appreciate your recommendations!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Why CA-120

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Since your girlfriend hasn't seen anything of California yet, and you haven't driven the Tioga Pass yet, that's the way I would suggest you go: San Francisco through Yosemite, over the Tioga pass, down scenic US-395, and cut through Death Valley to Las Vegas. That's a very scenery-packed route and there will be many opportunities for short hikes throughout, even nature trails in Death Valley. And two to three days is not too long to take for a good relaxed transit.

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    Thanks for your input AZBuck.
    Your suggestion sounds good. I take it you recommend Tioga above Kings Canyon / Sequoia NP. Any chance to at least catch some of those amazing sequoia's anywhere?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by doronber View Post
    Basically LA - Coast (Hwy 1) - SF is a given.
    If you're going to drive the coast highway, see if you can arrange to do it from SF to LA. That way you are not constantly crossing over oncoming traffic for the many turnouts and overlooks.

    Enjoy!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Mariposa grove.

    Quote Originally Posted by doronber View Post
    Thanks for your input AZBuck.
    Your suggestion sounds good. I take it you recommend Tioga above Kings Canyon / Sequoia NP. Any chance to at least catch some of those amazing sequoia's anywhere?
    I agree with Buck, with the time you have going over Tioga to Vegas via Death valley is overall your most scenic option, however you can have a "big tree fix" on the Southern edge of Yosemite. The Mariposa grove, Wawona should do the trick and on the way to the valley/Tioga you could head up Glacier point, it doesn't matter how many mountains I have seen it's a view I will never tire of looking at. With 2-3 days to do the journey in, I would definitely try to find 3 to really enjoy it.

  6. Default

    Thanks guys for all the feedback, this looks like a great plan. I would just like to know how hard of a drive it is to Glacier Point & through Tioga, for somebody who isn't very comfortable on curvy mountain roads on the edge of steep drops...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Travelled by millions.

    The roads are well paved and you won't be subject to any real "wheels clinging to the edge of the cliff" moments. The Tioga pass has some drop offs at the start of the ascent but there is a wall between you and the edge, once you are up there it's relatively easy going and Glacier point is an easy ride. Myself and many thousands of other people have driven these roads in 30ft plus RV' s with relative ease, so don't worry.

    The beginning of Tioga.


    and when you are crossing the Tioga.







    I really think you will have nothing to worry about.

  8. Default

    Hi
    We will be doing a similar run this August., going the other way round.

    My only concern is travelling between Yosemite and LV via Death Valley.

    We plan to leave LV early for a an overnight stay near Yosemite.

    I have been advised that it will be way too hot to drive through DV with kids.

    Is this so?? if so is there an alternative route avoiding DV ??

    We are a family of 4 from Uk , not normally the adventurerious type!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Plenty do.

    Hello nilman and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Death valley will certainly be hot in August but many thousands of people drive through the park during the summer months without problems. Make sure you have topped up with gas, carry plenty of water and snacks and if you plan on getting out the car wear head gear and have sun screen lotion. On some stretches in the park they recommend you turn off your air con to help avoid your vehicle over heating but as long as you keep an eye on the temp needle and it doesn't rise it shouldn't be necessary. The drive itself is pretty amazing and as long as you don't venture from the beaten path any assistance you may need won't be long in coming so if you did have a problem [mechanical failure which you can experience anywhere] just stay with your vehicle. The 160 from Vegas to Pahrump and then Ash meadows/State line road to Death valley junction and 190/136 to Lone pine is a popular route to take.
    Yes there are alternatives, one would be to go around the Southern end of the Sierra's through Barstow, Bakersfield and Fresno and approach Yosemite from the South or you could head North from Vegas on 95 to Tonopah and head West or take 266/168 to Big pine a little earlier and then 395 through Bishop. You might want to check the conditions before leaving Vegas and then make the final decision.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Even if you do not get out of the car, Death Valley is a spectacular place to drive through. And as mentioned above, if necessary, help is never far away. I was surprised how many were there.

    I drove Death Valley in May 2007, and well recall taking a photo of a thermometre on the outside of a building... it read just over 100F at 10am. The few times that I briefly got out of my air-conditioned car, I left the engine and the a/c running... keeping a close eye on the temp gauge.

    Lifey who thinks it is too great to miss

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