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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    5

    Default California, Las Vegas and Grand Canyon for first timers

    Hi Roadtrip America,

    My husband and I are planning a 3-week driving holiday in February/March. We are starting out in LA and initial plans are to head south to San Diego and then to Las Vegas via the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. From Vegas we want to drive Highway 1 along the coast of California as far as we can get before having to return to LA.

    My questions are:
    1. What is the best route from San Diego to the Grand Canyon?
    2. And then from the Grand Canyon to Vegas?
    3. To start Highway 1 is it best to drive from Vegas back into LA or is there a way to bypass the chaos of LA?

    Any tips and advice is appreciated as it will be our first time to the US =)

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    San Diego to Grand Canyon can be done in a day by one of 2 routes - I-15 to I-40 or through Phoenix going I-8 to AZ-85 and up I-17. If you have more time you might look at traveling through Joshua Tree National Park.

    Going back to Vegas is easy, I-40 to US-93, taking you over the new Hoover Dam Bridge.

    To get to the Coast, you'd certainly would not want to go to LA, you'll want to go farther north. You could go through Death Valley, then head through Bakersfield and over to the Coast - or even head north to Sequoia, Yosemite, and/or Monterey-SF before heading back down towards LA.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    5

    Default

    Thanks for the advice!

    We had thought of heading north from Vegas through Yosemite and west to San Francisco... Just wondering if the roads through Yosemite will be ok with the colder weather???

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Yosemite valley.

    Some of the high Sierra passes in and around Yosemite will be closed at the time you travel, but will not be an issue if you head South around the Sierras via Bakersfield as Michael had suggested. You will not be able to get into Yosemite from the East of the Sierra mountains on CA120 [Tioga pass] near to Lee vining, altough you could continue North towards Tahoe and around the 'top'. Yosemite valley will be 'open', and is a wonderful place to visit.

    A lot depends on your personal preferences and the pace you wish to travel at, there is never a single "best route" to suit all. You should take a good look around the forums and road trip planning pages to find what suits you the best. For instance, from the Grand canyon you could head North towards Page and West towards I 15 and back South to Vegas. Some highlights [with short detours] on route could include Monument valley, Antelope canyon, Lake Powell, Bryce canyon NP, Zion NP and the 'Valley of Fire' state park.

    Once you have figured out some of the basics of your trip I am sure we can help to 'fine tune' it with you.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    5

    Default

    The time has come up on us quickly and we have 4 weeks until we leave.

    We plan to take your advice and head to the Grand Canyon from San Diego via Pheonix and Flastaff.A few questions... How far from the Grand Canyon is Monument Valley? And from there would the best route to Vegas mean we would have to backtrack or do we take the I-15?
    From Vegas I think we will just stick to the I-15 all the way to San Fran and then the coastal road back to LA... Do-able in 3-weeks??? And from that route what will be our longest leg? From looking at the map I would guess it will be the Vegas to San Fran leg.

    Any recomendations for places to rest overnight or interesting places to see along the way would be appreciated...

    Thanks!

    Btw - we do have a GPS with US maps... Fingers crossed it doesn't get us lost!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Won't be long now !

    From the Grand canyon village area to Monument valley is approx 175 miles and close to 4 hours of travel. If you haven't already driven along Desert view drive during your time at the GC allow longer for stops along the various viewpoints. [Desert view drive is AZ64 out of the East entrance]. At Cameron there is a large 'Trading post' and although a little touristy could be worth a stop for a stroll around.

    From Monument valley you can head through Page and to I15 for Vegas but you won't cross the Hoover dam. You will be close to Zion NP which is an amazing place but unless you have time to stop for the night, you will have very little time to look around.

    If you stick to I 15 all the way you will end up in San Diego, not San Francisco. If you are heading to San Fran I would recommend an overnight stop and detour through Death valley.

    GPS is a good 'back up' tool but make sure you get good paper maps and use them to work out where you want to go and how you want to get there, a GPS will often add miles upon miles to a journey and by pass all the great scenic routes, just to save a few minutes by taking the Interstate.

    You have plenty of time to do the trip and although we do not really recommend specific lodgings, it would help enormously if you were to post your full itinerary up and how long you wish to stay in each place and then we can help to 'fine tune' your trip.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    5

    Default

    Thank you fo your advice! This webste has been the best planning tool!

    We have a very rough itinerary which is pretty flexible...

    Day 1-3: Arrive in LA and stay for 3 nights
    LA to San Diego 2 hours without stops

    Day 4-6: San Diego for 2 nights
    San Diego to Pheonix 6-7 hours?

    Day 6-7: Pheonix, Arizona for 1 night
    Pheonix to GC 4 hours

    Day 7-9: Grand Canyon South Rim for 2 nights
    GC to MV 4 hours

    Day 10: Monument Valley - SHOULD WE STAY OVERNIGHT HERE OR SOMEWHERE ON THE WAY TO LV? AND WHAT IS THE DRIVE TIME FROM HERE?

    Day 11-13: Las Vegas with side trip to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead

    Day 14: Start drive to San Fran with overnight stop (Death Valley?)
    LV to SF 10 hours non stop?

    Day 15-18: San Fran for 3 or 4 nights
    SF to LA on HWY 101 8 hours non stop. IS IT BEST TO STAY SOMEWHERE OVERNIGHT HERE OR CAN THE DRIVE WITH SIGHT-SEEING BE DONE IN ONE FULL DAY?

    Day 18-20: Drive Highway 1 back to LA

    Day 21: Home time =(

    Good paper maps... Can we pick them up at service stations (gas stations)?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default CA 1 for the coast.

    I would allow 8 to 9 hours from MV to LV which you could shorten that by heading to Page which is close to 3 hours away from MV. It might give you a little time to take a small detour to Zion NP for a quick look on the way to Vegas.

    If you still want to 'hug' the coast around Big Sur, the road you want is CA 1 and you will need an overnight stop to make it possible.

    You will be able to pick up maps without any problem or order on-line before going.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    If you are a member of your local auto club, you can get free state road maps from our AAA.

    You can certainly get from SF to LA in 8 hours on US-101, but that's not what you should do - you should take CA-1 down the coast and make it a 2 or 3 day trip.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    5

    Default

    I am confused as to what route to take between Las Vegas and San Fran... We have to keep in mind that we may not be able to enter Yosemite NP due to the weather. And by this stage we may be a little short on time...

    From the very simple maps I have it looks like we could go LV - Barstow - Bakersfield - SF. However, if possible we would like to go through Death Valley.

    Can someone please list some recommended routes and what roads we would take?

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