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  1. Default Winter circular tour from LA via GC, LV, SF

    I'm planning to drive with my wife on a 12 day circular from LA late January /early February and have outlined the following route. I plan to drive up to 400 miles and 8 hours on 'driving' days:

    Day 1 LA to Flagstaff
    Day 2 visit GC and back to Flagstaff
    Day 3 to LV
    Day 4 visit LV
    Day 5, 6 visit Death Valley and Yosemite NP's. Brice would be a plus if we could manage it
    Day 7 to Sacramento
    Day8 visit wine region, to SF
    Day 9,10 SF
    Day 11 to Monterey
    Day 12 to LA

    I would really appreciate advice from those who know the area, especially in winter if this is doable, and especially:

    - the inevitable holidaymakers dilemma: am I trying to cram too much in?

    - are my 'driving' days too long particularly given the smaller more mountainous road in places?

    - after LV, what routes and overnight stops would you recommend? I see from other threads that entry to DV from the east or north-east maybe blocked by snow, so does that just leave a long drive though Ridgecrest and Lone Pine as the only alternative?

    - Is Brice Canyon just an option too far - I can't see a way of getting there from LV without doubling back?

    - after Sacremento the route to wineries, SF and back to LA seem straightforward - is that presumption correct?

    Thanks in advance - all advice will be gratefully received!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default roadblocks

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Your pacing for the most part seems fine, but you've got a couple things that you seem to have confused a bit.

    Your first day will be a bit over 400 miles and will likely take more than 8 hours of driving, depending upon how bad traffic is in the LA area. Its still very feasable for a long day of driving, although you could shave off a few miles by staying in Williams instead. I'll also say that if "day one" includes a flight before the roadtrip, then you could be looking at too much for one day.

    Bryce Canyon is exactly the opposite direction as Death Valley from LV, so you wouldn't be able to do it where you've currently put it. In fact, if you wanted to add it in, the more logical place to do it would be after the Grand Canyon, and instead of staying in Flagstaff/Williams for a second night, you'd want to go around towards Cameron or maybe Page.

    You also seem to have gotten things confused between Death Valley and Yosemite. There are no significant road closures that you need to worry about in Death Valley. Its Yosemite that you will not be able to access from the east. Tioga Pass is closed in winter, so that means you need to go around the Sierras, going through the Bakersfield area. This detour will make it difficult to see both parks with just 2 days, and I'd recommend adding in a 3rd if you can - or just make sure you spend most of your "sacramento" day inside yosemite, and just make the trip late in the afternoon. In fact, I'd probably skip Sacramento all together, and just make Napa a daytrip from San Francisco.

  3. Default

    Thanks for a very helpful reply, and sorry for the Yosemite/ GC snow confusion.
    Taking your advice, I would be grateful for you view on the following revision:

    Day 1 LA to Williams (we arrive in LA 2 days earlier from Hawaii, so should be recovered by then, but getting out of LA early is the key I guess to this day's drive)
    Day 2 to GC then Page
    Day 3 to Brice then St George
    Day 4 to LV (an easy day!)
    Day 5 LV
    Day 6 to DV then Ridgecrest
    Day 7 to Oakhurst
    Day 8 to Yosemite then SF
    Day 9 day trip to Napa - then as before

    The routing looks OK on the map, but I'm a bit worried about average speeds and January weather on the smaller roads, and then not leaving enough time in each park. I'm planning on a minimum of 2 hours in each - is that sensible?

    If it is too much to cram in, I guess I would have to drop a National Park (but perhaps an excuse to return another year!). Of the four which would you suggest for the short straw?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default 2 hours?

    You've basically squeezed more things into the front 9 days of your trip, to the point where I now think you are doing way too much.
    I'm planning on a minimum of 2 hours in each - is that sensible?
    To be honest, most people could spend 2 days in each park, and two hours will barely give you time to see one or two highlights.

    I would either drop Bryce or Napa, and actually, instead of doing Bryce at all, I'd probably look at Zion which is a bit closer and will save you some driving.

    Instead of Ridgecrest, I'd be looking at getting farther away from Death Valley - with the Lake Isabella area being a popular stopover point.

    I would also look at the possibility of trying to stay inside of the parks at Grand Canyon and Yosemite. You will pay more, but Oakhurst and Williams both mean you'll be looking at about an hour of driving just to get to the parks. On a very busy schedule, I would rather have the time if you can make it work.

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