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  1. #1

    Default December road trip - advice sought on conditions and feasibiltiy

    Me and my husband have a taste for America - after recent trips to New York and Florida, and a taste for road trips after a 1000 mile tour of Italy last year

    We have worked quite hard preparing our 3 week trip and in the most part have booked hotels and have a midsized 4wd for the journey. Our main reason for posting on here is for the weather advice and any ideas on whether the optional trip across to monument valley is a possibility?

    27th November LA for two nights
    Then travel to Monterey via Topang Canyon to get an image form the Neil Young album cover, Cholame to take in the place where James Dean died and onto route 1 to see big sur hopefully to watch sunset on pfieffer beach
    29th November Monterey for two nights
    Drive to San Francisco
    1st December San Francisco for 3 nights
    Drive across route 80 to Virginia City
    4th December Virginia City for one night
    Travel down to death Valley via the 395 and onto 190, we need to arrange an overnighter somewhere her but aren't sure about the weather we can expect and where to stop and have a look around, we had thought about stopping in death valley but again not sure about the weather. We would be really interested in seeing any old wild west ghost towns on the route but have been told that the weather will mean this is not possible - any advice greatfully received
    We need to be in Vegas by the 6th
    6th December four nights in Vegas
    The four nights is planned but we would be happy to move on after just a couple, we are meeting friends there on 6th - we are considering leaving here on the 8th and heading to monument Valley, spending the night there then having two nights in Grand Canyon instead of one but again are unsure of the timings of travelling and the weather restricting this - we are really looking for advice on this more than anything else
    10th December one night Grand Canyon
    Then - yes we know it's not right but travelling back to Vegas to catch the Amir Khan fight that has just been announced - via the Hoover Dam
    11th December Vegas for one night
    Travel to Phoenix to catch an NFL game
    12th Phoenix
    Travel from phoenix to SanDiego
    13th december four nights in San Diego
    Day trip to Mexico planned driving across the border very early and travelling back the same day - any ideas surrounding this would be greatfully received
    17th December back to LA

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default modifications

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think there are a few things you should consider changing.

    First off, you might want to give yourself 2 days going up the coast to monterey. Its not impossible to do what you've listed in a day, but the coast is a slow going road and you could end up being a little rushed.

    I will say that its a shame that you're leaving out Yosemite National Park on your current plans, although visiting there, and continuing onto Death Valley is a little more tricky since Tioga Pass will be closed for the season, leaving you to have to go around via Lake Tahoe or Bakersfield.

    The one place on your trip you really won't have to worry about weather is Death Valley, which should be quite comfortable in December.

    Your plans for the Grand Canyon are what have me most puzzled.

    Certainly you could fit a trip to both the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, but how you've got things layed out right now just doesn't make any sense. Specifically, I don't know why you'd plan to go from Vegas, to the Grand Canyon, then back to Vegas before going to Phoenix. From the Grand Canyon, you're closer to Phoenix than Las Vegas, and the idea you laid out is going to require you to do an additional 8 hours or so of additional driving.

    If you want to do this, go from Vegas to the Grand Canyon, then Monument Valley, and work back down to Phoenix from there. I strongly suspect you've massively underestimated the size of this area. Just doing all of those things in the loop I listed will be 700-800 miles. Going from Vegas to MV/GC back to Vegas and then to Phoenix would be more than 1200 miles.

    Finally, I would strongly consider skipping your mexico daytrip. There is a major problem of drug violence, especially in border cities like Tijuana right now, as the police are basically at war with the cartels. The issue of safety is a major one, that you need to put a lot of thought into before you decide to move forward with this segment of your trip.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Mostly Just Fine

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Certainly such a trip is possible, with a few minor modifications, over three weeks in December. You will need to be on the road only about a third of the time, so there will be plenty of time to enjoy the sights en route. Places that you will need to give further consideration to include your plans for the 29th which a a bit ambitious. Just getting out of Los Angeles will consume a few hours and then you plan nearly 400 miles, often on smaller roads, and another stop. It's possible, but it will be hectic and your stops will be rushed if you are to get to Big Sur by sunset. Remember, this is winter and days will be shorter. The other problem area is your plan to cross over to Tijuana, Mexico. First of all, your rental contract will expressly forbid you from taking the car across the border, so you will be on foot. Secondly, border towns such as Tijuana are currently seeing widespread gang activity as the various drug cartels fight each other, the police, and even the Mexican army.

    Weather should not really be a concern anywhere. Daytime temps in Death Valley and other desert areas will actually be quite pleasant, although you can expect things to drop below freezing at night. Coastal areas will be mild throughout, but December is the start of their 'rainy season' with monthly averages of a couple of inches. The one real concern will be in northeastern Arizona (Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon) where you should be ready to encounter snow.

    AZBuck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    I'm in San Diego right now, and have been discussing Mexico with people in the know. At the present time, there is only one border town between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico that's safe for tourists - Algodones. This is near Yuma AZ and is easily visited on your way from Phoenix to San Diego. It's accessed from I-8 exit 166 in California. Park your car for $2 at the border and walk across.

  5. #5

    Default Thanks for the advice

    Thanks for the tips - I guess the trip up to Moneterey will have to be split up, we looked at bokking at hotel in Big Sur but they were ridiculously expensive, does anyone have any recommendations on where to break this up?

    The trouble with the Vegas - GC - Vegas issue is that we have plans to meet friends 6th and 7th in Vegas so this cannot be changed adn now we've found out that Amir Khan is fighting in Vegas on 11th and to be honest this is a once in a lifetime opportunity so although we estimate it's added around 300 miles on the trip going back up isn't an issue for us.

    Are the border towns too dangerous for day trippers on foot too?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Is Tijuana Safe?

    Here's a hint. Tijuana is off-limits to US Marines from nearby Camp Pendleton. According to the base's public information officer "The situation in Mexico is now more dangerous than usual...The intent is just to look out for the Marines' safety and well-being." Would I go? I live 70 miles from the border and wouldn't even consider it.

    AZBuck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    If the fight is in Vegas on the 11th, then I think you might want to skip the idea of going to Phoenix for a Cardinals game on the 12th. Between the 6+ hours of driving, the one hour time change, and dealing with parking/traffic, you're going to have to leave Vegas by 4am at the very latest - and really closer to 3am is probably needed.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    If you are looking for inexpensive hotels on CA-1, San Simeon is your best bet. There's a Motel 6 there, along with a few more chain and independent hotels. Rooms are as low as $45. There's essentially nothing to see or do in town though.

    Cambria is a lot nicer town, but rooms are more expensive - cheapest one I see is $69 and most are closer to $100.

  9. #9

    Default ouch I hadn't thought about time zones

    The cardinals tickets are all booked so I guess if we are serious about the fight - which to be fair is a dream of my husbands to see a title fight in Vegas - then we need to get out really early for the Sunday

    Says 300 miles on my route planner i thought if we left by 7 we'd make the game, being a sunday, I hadn't planned for the time difference and didn't realise the traffic would be so bad - I guess I could always just get an early night and pack my husband off to the fight on his own, so much for sharing the driving on that leg of the trip

    Thanks for all your help, i'm going to break up the leg to Monterey and will look at those towns you mention

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