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  1. Default Last minute Road Trip - Another San Fran to Vegas thread

    Apologies in advance for posting another new thread and this already covered subject but the information on the trip from San Francisco to Las vegas is vast and a little overwhelming and given the short time we have to plan, I thought it advisable to create a thread for requesting advice while simultaneously reading through the reams of information on this excellent site. In that context, we are arriving in San Francisco (from the Cayman islands so no jet lag) on 31 July and are planning a road trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas, leaving Las Vegas on 15 August to fly to London. We have already booked some hotels but can perhaps be a little flexible if what we have booked is not really workable. What we are thinking:

    31 July to 5 August - San Francisco (we are staying at the Union Square Hotel)
    5 August to 7 August - Yosemite (we are staying at the Evergreen Lodge which we appreciate is not in the park but it is the only place with vancancies at this late stage)

    Between 7 August and 10 August we were thinking it would be great to drive some of the coastal road, maybe see Carmel and Monteray and also Death Valley on the way down to Grand Canyon but appreciate this is a bit of a zig zaggy route.

    10 August - 12 August - Grand Canyon?? (still looking for accomodation)
    12 August - !5 August - Las Vegas

    We havent even looked at Car hire yet but that will be the next step!

    Any and all advice will be gratefully received.

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


    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    You've got a decent amount of time here so you are have some options here, but it really doesn't make any sense to go from SF to Yosemite then back to the coast and then back the other way again to Death Valley. If you want to do the coast, then you really should do it before you go to Yosemite, or you're going to add a full days worth of driving backtracking.

    Otherwise, spending a day driving over Tioga Pass and heading towards Death Valley would be good, then you're looking at a full day drive on to the Grand Canyon. Lodging along the rim will be expensive, but cheaper options are plentiful about an hour away in Williams.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default It All Works, Except....

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    What you've got planned for San Francisco, Yosemite and Las Vegas all looks well and good. However the bit about going to Yosemite, then Big Sur, then Death Valley, then the Grand Canyon before finishing up in Las Vegas is more than "a bit...zig zaggy". Just to drive to those places in that order would chew up 4 of the 6 days you've scheduled. You can certainly do better than that. If you can, try to push your reservations at Yosemite back a day or two. But even if you can't it makes much more sense to see Monterey, Carmel and the Big Sur from San Francisco before heading over to Yosemite. Then after touring the park, head over Tioga Pass and down US-395, using CA-136/CA-190 to enter Death Valley from the west. Then leave the Valley via CA-178/CA-127 south to I-15 northbound and use Nipton Road (CA), NV-164, US-95 south, and NV-163/AZ-68 to cross the Colorado River at Laughlin/Bullhead City rather than coming through Las Vegas and waiting in line to cross Hoover Dam. Continue to Kingman and I-40/AZ-64 to the Grand Canyon. At this late date, your best chance for affordable accommodations near the Canyon are in Williams, AZ, but check with the National Park, you may get lucky. Then it's on to Las Vegas by way of Hoover Dam, having saved yourself a good half day's driving, not retracing your steps (a lot) and generally having an easier and more enjoyable time.


  4. Default

    Many thanks guys

    Really appreciate your input. It seems my geography could do with some work! Following a re-think, we are now thinking:

    San Francisco 31 July - 5 August
    Drive Big Sur to Carmel / Monteray 6 August (stay overnight)
    6 August - 8 August Yosemite
    8 August - make our way to Grand Canyon via death valley (places to stop along the way??)
    10 August - 12 August Grand Canyon
    12 August - 15 August Las Vegas

    Does the above make sense? Is it worth driving the coast road to Monterey ie beautiful drive? scenic? Is the Big Sur one of the roads you must see before the big trip planner in the sky calls time?

    Thanks again for all the help


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Another option.

    Driving the PCH around Big Sur is one of the top/most populat coastal drives in the world, so Yes, it would be a shame to miss it, especially as you have the time available. However I don't think you are allowing it enough time to enjoy it and would urge you to leave San Fran a day earlier. You could head to Monterey for the night and then drive around Big Sur to Cambria for another night before heading inland to Yosemite. From Yosemite you could stop prior to Death Valley around Bishop or Lone Pine or in the park which has lodging options at Panamint springs, Stovepipe Wells and Furnace creek. The one thing to keep in mind is that you will be driving quite a bit on day 6 and 8 leaving you limited time in Yosemite, although enough for an overview.

    To keep with your original booking in Yosemite it would be possible to head from Yosemite back to the coast, stopping in Carmel and then Cambria area and then head inland direct to the Grand canyon [with an overnight stop] and then Vegas. Death valley could then be visited as a day trip from Vegas as you are staying there for a few day's.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I agree with Dave, with all the time you have, I'd look at trying to even add one more day on the coast, although its not essential. You could even spend a day in the Monterey area and spend the night, and drive down through Big Sur the next day, and then head back up to Yosemite getting there in the evening.

    Between Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, I might stop one night around Lone Pine, spend most of the next day in Death Valley, spend that night in Laughlin, and finish up the trip to Grand Canyon the following day.

  7. Default

    Thanks for all the insight guys. As with all sensible people, we are going to take the advice of those more experienced and change our route. We are now looking to do:

    31 July - 5 August - San Francisco
    5 August (morning) - 6 August - we are going to drive the coastal road and stop overnight in the Monterey area.
    6 August - 8 August - We are going to drive to Yosemite arriving in the evening on the 6th.
    8 august - 10 August we are going to drive to Grand Canyon through the Tioga pass and death valley
    10 August - 12 August Grand Canyon
    12 August - 15 August Las Vegas

    Once again, thanks for all your help guys, much appreciated.

    any further advice / suggestions will be most welcome. Things not to miss along our route, great places to stay etc



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The only change I might make is spend the night of the 5th farther down the coast - San Simeon or Cambria. It's the stretch between Monterey and Cambria that's worth every minute. If you go inland from Monterey you will miss it. Trying to drive from Monterey to Cambria then to Yosemite in 1 day would be pushing it.

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