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  1. Default Monument Valley - Bryce Canyon - Grand Canyon North - Zion in October

    Hello all,

    Long Post Alert - Beware!

    Last year my better half and I did a California loop type thing (San Francisco - Monterey - Big Sur - L.A. - Las Vegas - Death Valley - Yosemite - San Francisco) and had a really amazing time. I got some great suggestions and feedback from some of you guys on here that went a long way towards helping us sort out our itinerary. Many thanks, once again.

    Anyway, we're heading back to do a similar trip this year. There were a few things we missed out on last time as by the time we reached Death Valley there were some major storms that closed a whole lot of roads and meant, that in order to get to Yosemite from Lone Pine, we had to go down to Bakersfield and back up the interstate to enter from the west side, missing out on seeing the ghost town of Bodie and driving through the Tioga Pass.

    Well, this year, arrangements have been made with the powers that be that the California skies will be kept clear of storm clouds during the last week of September and first week of October in order that we may take in the sights that we missed out on last time.

    Now, bearing in mind that we did manage to take in a fair amount last year anyway, September's route is a little different and consequently here I am again looking for any opinions, ideas or suggestions relating to a couple of bits of it.

    The planned route is as follows;

    Day 1 - Direct flight to San Francisco, pick up hire car at 4.30pm, drive to Los Banos (100 Miles) and sleep
    Day 2 - Drive down I 5 and I 10 to Palm Springs. Stay 2 nights.
    Day 4 - Drive through Joshua Tree National Park, through 29 Palms and Kingman. Stay in Flagstaff.
    Day 5 - Drive to Monument Valley, Moki Dugway loop, Valley of the Gods, Monument Valley (Sunset). Stay in Page.
    Day 6 - Antelope Canyon, 89 to Jacob Lake, Grand Canyon North Rim, then back up to Bryce Canyon. Stay in Tropic.
    Day 7 - Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park. Drive to Las Vegas. Stay 3 nights
    Day 10 - Death Valley - Stay in Lone Pine.
    Day 11 - Drive to Bodie, then through Tioga Pass to Yosemite. Stay at Evergreen Lodge.
    Day 12 - Day in Yosemite, evening drive to San Francisco.
    Day 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 San Francisco

    Ok. The bits we're not sure of......

    From Flagstaff, assuming we're on the road by 10.00am, are we leaving enough time to see enough of Monument Valley, drive the Moki Dugway and take in the Valley of the Gods to reach Page at a reasonable hour to grab some grub before bedtime. If we are, might there be any other points of interest that we should look out for along the way?

    Likewise, from Page. We're aiming to do the 9.30 Antelope Canyon tour, before setting off to reach the Grand Canyon North Rim by mid afternoon-ish, then head off towards Bryce to reach Tropic for grub and sleep. Is this doable without busting a gut? If so, again, anyone have any ideas on sights or quick stop offs along the way?

    Also from Bryce to Zion. We're hoping that, with an early start, we can see a little of Bryce Canyon in the morning then make our way to Zion in the afternoon to catch one of the shuttles before heading off to reach Vegas later that night.

    I'm aware that we're looking at some hefty driving hours in all of this, but that's fine with me. I enjoy driving and I find it's a good way to soak up a little of the country. I'm also aware, with the benefit of last years experiences, that some distances, although not seeming that far on the map, can take considerably longer than anticipated due to the types of road. And finally, whilst in an ideal scenario, we would spend a lot longer at most of the various places we intend to visit, there's only so many days in a holiday, and as such, we're gluttons for taking as much in along the way as we can.

    Anyway, if you've read this far, I've probably taken up enough of your time already. So I'll leave it there for now.

    All ideas, suggestions, musings or offers of large bags of money gratefully accepted.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I personally would cut down some of the time spent in SF and LV, and possibly Palm Springs. Your plans are doable - barely. They don't give you any time to really see anything other than with a quick "drive-by". The stretch that particularly concerns me is between Page and Bryce Canyon, you won't have time to see anything at the North Rim. Another concern is you will be driving through a lot of open range, and I do not like driving there after dark. It's hard to see black cows out in the middle of the road.

    Leaving SF at 4:30pm is nasty, the traffic heading out is at its worst. I'd spend the night by the airport and pick up the car in the morning. You could still make Palm Springs in one day, I'd advise taking CA-58, US-395, and I-15 to I-10 to get around LA, you would be getting into afternoon rush if you try to take I-5 all the way to I-210 or I-10.

    Between 29 Palms and Kingman, it's worth going through Amboy and Oatman.

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

    Default A better balance.

    Hi, welcome back,

    I totally agree with glc with regards to balancing the time you have available and would spend maybe 3 nights in SF and take at least one from LV or Palm springs [or both] and you will have a much more balanced trip. I, as most of us here do love to drive as well but when you get to places like the Grand canyon, Zion etc you really need to take the time to enjoy them and as things are you just don't have that time to do so.

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

    Default Starting

    I completely agree with the above comments, especially in regards to the first day.

    Arriving after a flight from the UK, starting things off with a 100 mile drive is almost always a bad idea. Planning to do it when you're arriving at 430 pm, and thus getting out on the road in the teeth of rush hour traffic, is about the worst possible start I can think of for a trip like this.

    Before you've even picked up your rental car, you will have already spent a good 15 hours traveling (11 hour flight, 2 hours for security, 2 more for customs and to pick up rental car, plus whatever time it takes you to get to the airport from your home), then when your body will be thinking that its about 1am, you're going to head off on a drive, on the other side of the road, that could easily take 3 hours in very stressful conditions. That's not just a bad idea, that's russian roulette.

    Considering the amount of things you want to see and the time you have, I'd look into the possiblity of flying into LA and home from SF. The flight costs might not be much different, and often you can go from LA to SF without a one way drop fee, and will instantly save you a full day on the road.

    With the rest of your trip, you really are trying to do so much that I don't think you'll really see anything. Day 6, in particular is probably not even possible, but you certainly wouldn't have time to see anything and cover all of those miles. Day 7, really isn't much better as "seeing" Bryce and Zion will likely not be much more than a quick look out your car window. If it were me, I would spend at least 2 more days on this section, with less time in Palm Springs, Vegas, or San Francisco.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default I'll fourth that!!

    It was the leg from Page to Bryce via the North Rim, which struck me as virtually impossible. Having done exactly that trip, there is absolutely no way you will have time to see anything at the North Rim, which to my way of thinking is so much more enjoyable than the South Rim.

    You leave Page and head to the North Rim via Lake Powell and the Navajo Bridge. These are worth a stop, if only to learn some of the history of the area in which you stayed and through which you will be passing. Then there are the Vermillion Cliffs and Lees Ferry (though I think that is an unmade road and as such will be out-of-bounds in a rental car).

    At the North Rim there is the visitor centre, well worth checking out and learning a little of what you are about to see. Then there are the drives to Point Imperial, Walhalla Overlook and Cape Royal. Unlike the South Rim, you drive yourself around. No shuttle bus here, but parking is plentiful and the walks to the various points of interest are short. If nothing else, you have to do the walk to Bright Angel Point. And you really shouldn't miss seeing the Colorado River through Angels Window!

    And since it is now late, why not stay and watch the colours of the Canyon as the sun goes down?

    Kanab is a neat little place to stay the night. Next day you can do Bryce and Zion, but you will only get a wee peep at both if trying to do them in one day, and even less if you want to continue on to LV that night.

    Lifey agrees you really need to allocate more time there

  6. Default

    Thanks for the replies guys.

    The first day really isn't too much of a problem for me. We weren't thinking of doing the drive from San Francisco in the rush hour. More like pick up the car, chill, have a bite to eat then hit the road when things have calmed down a little. I'm aware it's a long flight. I lived in San Francisco for a while a few years back and have done the flight a fair few times in the past, so I'm aware of how I'll likely be feeling. I'm also fairly used to driving on the right, so I don't really regard that as an issue.

    Southwest Dave and Glc - Appreciate your suggestions regarding the time allocated to Palm Springs and Las Vegas. But this has been dictated by wanting to spend some time with friends and relatives who live in those cities and although not specifically planned as such, San Francisco may well turn out to be something similar. Perhaps I should have made clear that the flights in and out of San Francisco and most of the accomodation elsewhere has already been booked, and is not now alterable. (Alterable? Is that a word?) Glc - I like your idea of the route to circumnavigate the L.A. rush hour, so I'll probably take your advice on that one. The only other times I've had to get through rush hour L.A. have been when I when I was on a motorcycle and that was stupid enough. Likewise, passing through Amboy and Oatman on the way to Flagstaff seems like a good idea too.

    Midwest Michael and Lifemagician - Yep. I hear what you're saying regarding Day 6. That was the one that even I thought was maybe a little optimistic. I guess the reason for considering it was the thought of being so near to all this amazing stuff and not managing to at least get a glimpse of it. Bearing in mind what you both have to say about this leg we are now thinking of staying in Kanab instead of Tropic, figuring that this should knock an hour and a half or so off this days drive, which, as you suggest, might be better added on to our time at the North Rim.

    Also, considering that we may well be attempting to bite off more than we can sensibly digest, another question I might have would be that. if you were to have to choose which of Bryce or Zion you would place the emphasis on, which would get your vote and why?

    Oh... and I might as well sneak it in whilst I'm here... Has anyone done any of the S.F. to Napa or Sonoma wine tours? If so, what was your experience like and would you have any suggestions? Although not exactly wine buffs, we do feel sufficiently adult nowadays to want to at least have a bit of a nose around.

    Right. That's probably quite enough for now.

    Many thanks again for your input so far.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default I'd choose Zion

    Quote Originally Posted by pete719802 View Post
    Also, considering that we may well be attempting to bite off more than we can sensibly digest, another question I might have would be that. if you were to have to choose which of Bryce or Zion you would place the emphasis on, which would get your vote and why?
    My choice would be Zion, simply because it will involve fewer miles. If you have the opportunity to stay and watch the colours of the canyon as the sun goes down, it won't be an early night in Kanab. Next day you won't want to have to be up at the crack of dawn. And there would be time to enjoy Zion, maybe do the ever popular, and easily doable, River Walk.

    The rest of the trip to LV should then be able to be done at a relatively leisurely pace, in daylight. Parts of this road are too scenic to have to rush through after sundown.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Me too !

    I agree that Zion would make more sense and as they are both spectacular in different ways Zion is the one I would go with. I would also consider going from MV to Page and leaving the Moki dugway for another day [another tough choice] and doing an Antelope canyon visit same day. Then from Page you could visit the North rim and head for Springdale [nice town on the doorstep of Zion] and enjoy almost a full day there before heading to Vegas.

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