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  1. Default San Francisco to Grand Canyon via scenic Highway 1

    Planning a trip from the Bay Area (specifically San Jose) to the Grand Canyon and possibly include Zion if time permits. We will probably leave mid-January, but have no specific time frame or route in mind. We're planning on a week to 10 days total. We're both Bay Area natives, but have never done a drive very far down the coast, Monterey is about as far as we've been. I figure since we're heading south, it might be a good opportunity for a nice leisurely drive down the coast. Big Sur and Hearst Castle are a couple of things we want to see and we'll make more stops along the way. At the end of day one, I figure we'll end up somewhere around Bakersfield. We're both unemployed right now, so we've got plenty of time, but limited funds for this excursion. I don't want to stay anywhere too pricy, so the Bakersfield vicinity will work.

    Looks like when heading back inland, the best route is Highway 46. We're both big city folks and hate the small narrow 2-lane highways where people like to pass and drive crazy. It doesn't help that that the first few links Google brought up when looking for information on this route were about several major multiple fatality accidents that have happened on this route in the recent past - most caused by people passing slower traffic. This will probably be towards the end of the day that we go this way and will both be tired. Are my concerns about this route justified, or am I just overly concerned? Another option would be to spend the night on the coast San Simeon/Cambria area and continue our trip the next day.

    This will just be a leisurely trip with the Grand Canyon or Zion as the end destination, a couple of planned stops along the coast, and whatever catches our attention along the way. If we make it to Zion, we'll probably make a stop in Vegas on the way back. Any suggestions for this trip or routes would be appreciated.

    Thanks!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Too far on day 1.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    I do think you are being overly concerned with regards to Highway 46, it is a popular route used by millions of motorists safely each year, Yes there are idiots on our roads just about anywhere but driving to your capabilities and road and weather conditions and you should be fine.

    Having said that, Bakersfield is too much on day 1 when hoping to enjoy the coast Rd. The furthest you should be considering is Cambria for the night. Kingman would make a good 'target' for night 2 and then on to the Grand canyon, where Williams or Flagstaff will offer the budget friendly lodging options. From GC you could leave by the East entrance to US 89 and up through Page and Kanab to Zion NP. Both will have lodging options as will Springdale which is right by the entrance to Zion NP. Back down I 15 to Vegas and then home via Bakersfield, if you have a night to spare after Vegas you could take a detour across the incredible landscape of Death valley.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    San Simeon has a few fairly reasonably priced hotels, including a Motel 6. During the week in January, a room for 2 is $45.99 plus tax. I don't see Bakersfield or anything else in between as being significantly cheaper. You also have to be careful in Bakersfield, the city has some pretty rough areas. In fact, Paso Robles is slightly more expensive. If you want to take a Hearst Castle tour, reservations are recommended.

    46 is really the best way to get across the coastal range - everything else is a winding mountain road unless you go almost all the way to LA and take 126. If you do that then you have to deal with the Pearblossom, which is REALLY a dangerous road - unless you backtrack all the way back to Mojave.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the replies. Bakersfield is/was just a rough guestimate of where we'll end up at the end of that first night. If we end up at the coast late, we'll just put it down for the night there. We are doing this on a budget, but I think we can avoid the Motel 6 as well. I realize that Hearst Castle reservations are recommended. We're not making reservations for anything though. Besides being on a very casual schedule, my trip mate has some health issues that could require us to detour to the nearest hospital at any time. If we make it in, great, it not, at least it will be a nice trip down the coast. That is if we make it. If its raining like it has been lately, we may just skip the coastal trip all together and head straight to GC. Since we both like to bowl, we'll probably spend a couple of nights at the Best Western at GC since they have a bowling alley. Maybe we'll do Zion, maybe we wont. Just depends on where we end up and when.

    Good tip for checking out Death Valley. Any other must see things while on the way? If we take 1, we definitely want to make it to Big Sur and Hearst - if we're able to do it without reservations and whatever else piques our interest along the way. If we skip the coast and just head straight to GC, there's not anything on the way that I've found worth stopping for. Sure there's Vegas, but we've both been there. I mentioned stopping in Vegas on way back from Zion, if we make it there, but that was more of a place to stop for the night and have a bit of fun, rather than 'seeing' Vegas. We'd like to go and come back via different routes, so at least we see and stop at different places along the way, rather than going the exact same route both ways. Thus why we figured to head down the coast then inland going and then to Zion and through Vegas coming back.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default A long day to GC.

    If you decide not to head down the coast, I wouldn't recommend heading direct to Grand canyon in a day. Yes it's possible but it will mean 11 to 12 hours on the road that would be tiring for someone in good health, Kingman would be the furthest I would head for. If you stopped here you would have time to take a detour on part of old route 66 through Seligman and it's quirkey memorabilia stores. If you stopped around Barstow you could explore parts of the Mojave National preserve. Yosemite and Sequoia National parks are both possible on an inland route but weather/snow conditions will play a part and you would need to carry chains.

    Near to Grand canyon is Walnut canyon and Sunset crater and depending on how time goes you could consider a detour to Monument valley and/or Bryce canyon on the way to Zion NP.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    I wouldn't necessarily avoid the Motel 6 simply due to its past reputation. They are in the process of "refreshing" their properties and they are not the dumps they used to be. The ones in San Simeon and Paso Robles have already been refreshed. Without local knowledge of specific independent motels, I'd put the refreshed properties near the top of budget hotels to stay at now.

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