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  1. Default Nov. 9-14: SF to Death Valley to Phoenix

    I've spent a long time combing the related threads on here so far; they're very helpful! Wanted to start my own, though, to see if I could get specific advice.

    I'm traveling from SF to Death Valley to Phoenix next week. Taking off from SF on the 9th, need to be in Phoenix by the 14th. My ideal route is this: SF to Route 395 via the Tioga Pass, camp one night along 395; enter Death Valley from the west, camp there for two nights; drive through Vegas (just a pit stop) and find a good Arizona destination for one night (campsite, if possible); and then do the final leg to Phoenix.

    I'm aware that Tioga may be closed, so I'm wondering if anybody knows if Route 50 is a viable way to get onto Route 395. I very specifically want to do this kind of trip rather than a coastal one, so I'm hoping that this would be an okay back-up (with possibility of spending a little time in Tahoe!).

    Here are my other queries:
    —Any recommendations for a place to camp that first night, somewhere along 395? We're ready to take on a very ambitious Day #1, and don't plan on really stopping through Yosemite save for a few quick photo opps.
    —Is this a high volume time of year for campsite reservations? Ideally we'd camp one night at Stovepipe Wells and one night at Furnace Creek. I'm a little worried about the first-come, first-served reservation situation.
    —Any ideas for a place to go, post-Vegas, en route to Phoenix? Obviously it'd be great to see the Grand Canyon, but we only have a day and Death Valley is really our main attraction. Plus, I've heard that GC has a lot of add-on costs compared to other national parks.

    Any advice on these matters would be greatly appreciated.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default US50 is an option..

    ... and a good one. Another (further north) would be I80. As you go north from CA120 (Tioga pass) the passes become lower, and therefore receive less snow. On the other hand, the farther north you go the greater the chance of precipitation.

    There looks to be maybe a small storm come through later this week, but it may not close Tioga at all (may slide north), and would only temporarily impact US50 and/or I80. The forecasts for 11/9 are looking good, but that's a ways out and things could change.

    Beyond that... it's still early in the season so you're probably OK; either over Tioga Pass or US50.

    I'll let someone else speak to the camping questions... wife likes indoor plumbing.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default What add on costs ?

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    I will keep my fingers crossed that Tioga remains open, it's a lovely drive and will save you a little time. I am not sure of the camping situation in DV, I would imagine it's OK but you could always phone ahead for info.

    The Grand canyon has no add on expenses, you pay the entrance fee as in all other parks and if you wish to camp that is extra, the same as all others. If you are thinking of Vegas as nothing more than a "pit stop" why not continue further towards the Canyon from Furnace creek and visit the South rim. Heading through the South entrance and out the East on 64 before heading to Flagstaff on 89 will reward you with some great viewpoints.

  4. Default

    Yes, looks like the plan to go via Tioga or Tahoe should work no matter what weather comes our way. Thanks!

    Any thoughts on places to stay right around Mammoth? I think I read somewhere that there are campgrounds in that National Forest area, but I can't find info on that... particularly in terms of early November camping (!)

    And yes, the Grand Canyon issue I had read about was regarding the West Rim/SkyWalk, which is, incidentally, super expensive! ($30 + Reservation Tax + Fuel charge + $30 to walk on Skywalk!) Maybe South Rim is a good solution instead.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default NFS Camping near Mammoth Lakes

    Camping information is listed on the National Forest website for both Inyo (generally to the south of Mammoth Lakes) and ElDorado (generally to the north) National Forests.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default GC National park.

    Maybe South Rim is a good solution instead.
    The Skywalk is on Indian lands at the West rim and gets mixed reviews. The South rim is part of the National park where you will witness the wonderful views you so often see in photographs for real. I am 99% sure the entrance fee is $25 and in my opinion worth every cent.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Oak Creek Canyon

    An alternative to going and camping at the South Rim (which deserves much more than a quick drive-by), would be Oak Creek Canyon just south of Flagstaff. A really beautiful area, any time of the year, and right on your way from Las Vegas to Phoenix.


  8. Default Thanks!

    This is all excellent feedback. Thanks. I'm thinking I will come back to the South Rim when I can really spend some time to hike and explore (ie, not this trip). Meanwhile, the Oak Creek Canyon looks like a nice option, and it's significantly more realistic given my time constraints.

    To my Arizona experts: thoughts on a place (that is, campsite) to stay over post-Vegas and pre-Flagstaff?

  9. #9


    It's only 250 miles or so from Vegas to Flagstaff if you're not planning on going to the GC which will take 4 or maybe 5 hours give or take. What is your updated itinerary and where exactly would you be looking to stay along that route?

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