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  1. #1

    Default SF to Las Vegas return west coast - Clockwise or Anti-Clockwise best?


    I have been browsing this great site and have found most of what I was looking for already because of this very popular tour. Couple of unanswered things though all to do with my planning the California "loop" trip - San Francisco, Yosemite, Las Vega, West Coast.

    Question 1 is there any preference for clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. My thought was because you guys drive on the wrong side of the road (just joking!) it would be best to do route 1 coast first so take the anti-clock direction round. That way we would be driving on the coast side of the road. But I see from the post on this site that lots of people plan the clockwise route so I just wonder if there is a preference.

    Second question is best time of year? We could do either late May/early June or mid September. I read that fog can be an issue on the coast stretch in early summer and also the mountain passes can't be relied upon to be open. But possibly the snow scenery would be fantastic in early June if the passes have only just opened.

    Thanks in advance for what I know will be great answers


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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum - and thanks for doing your homework before asking your question!

    It seems like you actually have a very good grasp of things, and I don't think these responses will be at all a surprise to you.

    First, going down the coast first is probably your better bet, for the exact reason you talked about being closer to the ocean and you won't have to cross traffic to get into the turnouts. There is nothing wrong with going south to north, in fact that's how I've done the trip and I really don't feel like I missed anything, but if this is a loop, I'd go north to south along the coast since that's the one area where you could notice a difference in the direction you choose to travel.

    For time of year, I'd choose the fall. The Sierra Passes will be beautiful any time you travel them (and in September, you should start seeing some fall colors too!) but when you factor in the major detour that's involved if the passes are still closed in May/June, I'd go later. Again - if you could only do the trip in May/June, I wouldn't let that stop you from doing it, but if your options are equal, I'd go in September.

  3. #3

    Default Thanks

    Many thanks, sounds like good advice.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-04-2013 at 04:50 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Waterfalls.

    I really enjoy travelling in Sept/Oct when the crowds are dwindling away, the Fall colours come alive and the temps are generally ideal, [for me anyway!] but for one very special reason I hope to go back to Yosemite in May or June someday, and that is to see the waterfalls at full flow as the snow melts. These become pretty dry by the time Sept arrives but there are so many scenic wonders to keep you amazed !

    Gee, I know that's not much help but it is something you might want to consider in your final decision making.

  5. #5

    Default Crossing from Santa Barbara to Las Vegas

    Hi, I have read most of the many posts regarding the loop-trip I am planning from SF, Down the Big Sur, across to Las Vegas, back via Yosemite and Lake Taho on this excellent site, but I have a couple of specif questions.
    I understand its best not to drive to Las Vegas on a Friday evening - or indeed stay in LV over a weekend - unless you have to. I will travelling in September and reckon we will be around Santa Barbara on a Saturday. I have no desire to go anywhere near LA (been there, done it!) and I would like to reach LV on the Monday or Tuesday, 2 to 3 days later. I had selected to cross to Barstow (overnight stay) to split the journey but because I could add in the extra day, maybe there is a more scenic or interesting route. Suggestions would be most welcome.
    Secondly, I understand that apart from the stop-overs in LV and Yosemite, there is probably no need to book overnight stays in advance, so you gain some freedom. Do you think that in September we could say use "Best Western's" or similar - we need to keep to a budget (not LV!) of around $100 maximum per double room per night - without pre-booking?
    Looking forward to the responses,

    Mod note] Please keep all questions related to this trip in one thread. Thank-you.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 02-25-2013 at 09:04 AM. Reason: Merged threads.

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

    Default No 'Grander' than the Grand canyon !

    Have you considered driving to the South rim of Grand Canyon NP ? Sure it will add some miles but it would be a worthwhile treat with 3 days to spare. On the way back to Vegas you could even detour onto route 66 through the 66 town of Seligman and stop at the Hoover dam. Other options would include a trip into the Mojave National Preserve, or you coulddetour to Sequoia NP, and/or take a trip through the National Forest between Porterville and Kernville to Lake Isabella.

    You shouldn't have a problem finding decent lodgings for around $100 per night.

  7. #7


    Thanks for the response Dave. My wife adores "Helecopter Rides" and I promised her a trip out from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon (some also take you down to the canyon floor) so have left this off the road tour. She would kill me if I took the helicopter off the itinerary!
    I did wonder about taking the Angeles Crest highway (pictures look great) and also the Mojave National preserve but this looks a little bleak and I really wouldn't know where to stop-over for the night.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    A helicopter tour, especially one from Las Vegas, shouldn't mean that you cross the Grand Canyon off your list.

    First most Vegas-based Helicopters only go over the West Rim, which is on Indian Reservation lands and is not as deep or spectacular as the portion within the National Park. That is certainly true for the ones that go down in the Canyon, as below the rim flights are not allowed within the National Park.

    Second, the experience from the air is different from the one standing on the edge. They are both great, but it's not a case where just because you've seen the Canyon from the air, you don't need to see it from ground or vice-versa.

    If it were me, I'd think about driving to Grand Canyon National Park, and then look at some of the air tours based out of the Grand Canyon Airport.

    I will go back a bit to your previous post, I-15 can get quite busy between LA and Vegas on Friday, but it's not so bad you need to avoid it. Vegas is also a spot that is busy every day - weekend have tourists, but weekdays are filled with convention visitors. I've found some of my best travel bargins ever on weekends in Vegas. I certainly wouldn't rework my trip just to avoid being there on a weekend - although I would still recommend the drive out to the Grand Canyon.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Would have to agree.... there is no comparison.

    Richard, I would have to agree with Michael. There is no comparison between the West Rim and the National Park. Just as there is no comparison between a flight over (even landing in) the Grand Canyon, and standing on the Rim. If you want to give your wife a real treat (and the budget can take it), you could head straight for the Grand Canyon Airport for a flight, then visit the Grand Canyon on foot and if still interested, take the helicopter flight from LV. You'll have the best of all worlds and can compare for yourself.


  10. #10


    Many thanks Lifey and Michael - this sounds excellent advice and now re-working the route. As long as there is a helicopter in it somewhere then I will be forgiven the extra miles!

    Just one thing that has occurred to me. When I check distances between places on Google Maps it gives me a "Driving Time" as well as the mileage and if you do the math, mostly this works out at an average driving speed of over 60 MPH ! As I understand it, the USA has a national speed limit of 55 MPH and I would reckon that on standard highways - like 1-15 and 66 - it would be difficult to average more than say 40 MPH whilst actually driving and with the inevitable stops to take photos, coffee and stop at attractions, I'm guessing that 150 - 200 miles a day is the maximum one should allow to make it a holiday rather than a chore. Would this be a good target to aim at.


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