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  1. Default Vegas to San Francisco via NP's in early October

    Hi there, I am not really sure where to post this as it is a humble request for info/advice on a few areas. I will break down and post individual legs in each specific forum. I also appreciate that many of these points have already been addressed in other threads, but my head is so awash with info I wanted somewhere to help consolidate my points.

    I have been reading these forums with earnest recently as we are planning a 2 week trip to the states at the end of Sept (we fly in on the 29th to be precise). We have booked flights (leaving Manchester on 29th Sept and leaving Vegas on the 13th Oct. We will be getting married in Vegas during the first week of our stay and are then planning to travel across to San Francisco during the second week, taking in death valley, Yosemite and part of the pacific coast along the way. Due to work commitments 2 weeks at this time of year is all we can fit into our schedules.

    As it is our first time in Vegas and we have friends who are flying over to share our wedding and a week in Vegas with us, we plan to spend the first 6 nights (29 Sept – 04 Oct) in Vegas and then pick up a hire car and head out on the 5th Oct. We will visit the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam etc from our base in Vegas. From there our idea is to travel to Death Valley and spend a night there (5 Oct in stovepipe) taking in as much as we can before heading onto Yosemite. Am I correct in thinking the Tioga Pass may well be closed in early October? If so we plan to drive south to Yosemite probably spending a night (6 Oct) half way at Lake Isabella. We then plan to spend 2 nights (7,8 Oct) at Yosemite (either in the park or using somewhere like Oakhurst as a base.

    From there we plan to head over to either Carmel/Monterey for a night (9 Oct) taking in the 17 mile drive before moving onto San Francisco for 2 nights (10,11 Oct). We will then drop off the hire car and fly back to Vegas for a final night (12 Oct) before flying back to the UK on the 13th Oct.

    My main questions are:

    • Does this seem like a good use of our limited time (6 days are the minimum we want to spend in Vegas with our friends)?

    • Is it worth spending a night in Carmel or Monterey or would we be better just passing through and tagging an extra night onto San Francisco?

    • Are we right to assume the Tioga pass will be closed when we travel?

    • Is breaking the journey from Death Valley to Yosemite up with a halfway stay a waste of a night on our limited schedule?


    We ideally want to get everything organised with hotel reservations asap.
    we will hold off booking Vegas hotels until much nearer the time in the hope of getting a better deal.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this and I welcome any input you experts may have!

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

    Default adjustments

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The first red flag is that the Grand Canyon really can't be done as a Las Vegas Daytrip. You're looking at 10-12 hours of driving round trip, which simply doesn't leave time to see any of the Canyon in one day.

    Tioga Pass actually should be open during your trip. There have only been a couple of times in history when it's been closed that early into October. Even the earliest closings over the past couple decades have been after October 15th.

    I wouldn't stay the night between DV and Yosemite, if you are planning to spend the night inside DV. However, what I would actually do more likely is to spend the night somewhere along US-395 like Lone Pine or Bishop, instead of inside DV. Death Valley is only a couple hour drive from Vegas, so you can see a nice bit of the park, and still get a few miles to the west in the same day.

  3. Default

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the prompt reply! Regarding Grand Canyon, we plan to see this via helicopter tour with a canyon floor landing and visit to a ranch.

    With regards to Tioga pass, we would love to take this route but were unsure if it will be open during our visit. As I mentioned earlier we did plan to make reservations at Stovepipe Wells, however now I am thinking a better approach might be to follow your advice of pushing through DV in one day and staying at Lone Pine and then the following day moving directly to Yosemite. This appears like a good place to stay as if Tioga Pass is indeed open we will have the pleasure of taking that route to Yosemite, if it is closed then the gamble would only put a few extra hours onto driving the long way around heading south on the 395.

    The gamble would free up a day for an extra night in San Francisco and potentially allow us to travel the Tiago pass which does seem like a gamble worth taking for the risk of 3-4 hours driving should the pass close.

    Does this sound like a workable plan?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    You should be aware that helicopter trips from Vegas (and any tour that goes to the canyon floor) do not go over Grand Canyon National Park. They will go over the West Rim, which is Indian Land that also includes the Skywalk area. There's nothing wrong with this, but it also isn't the same as really seeing the Grand Canyon. You should also be aware that "Grand Canyon Ranch" also does not have any access to the canyon, except for having a Heliport. From there you'd be almost an hour drive away to the Skywalk.

    As mentioned, it would be extremely unlikely for Tioga to be closed for the season - if you were to see a closure it would almost certainly be a temporary one because a specific storm that hadn't been plowed out yet.

    In any case, you should easily be able to find that information before you leave Vegas, so there would be no real gamble about your options.

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

    Default Fingers crossed for Tioga.

    Hi and congratulations on your upcoming ceremony.

    Hi there, I am not really sure where to post this as it is a humble request for info/advice on a few areas. I will break down and post individual legs in each specific forum.
    Your thread is in the right place, and we ask that all questions to be asked about this trip be kept in this one thread, thanks.

    I agree with Michael with regards to the GC but it looks as though the Heli tour could be your only option with your schedule. Tioga should be open and I hope it is for you as it is spectacular, although like here in the UK the weather is totally unpredictable and can throw up the odd surprise. If your budget can manage it, I would lodge inside Yosmite, not only is it an amazing [and romantic] place it will save you the extra journey time, back and forth. Make sure you drive up to Glacier point and take the short walk to the viewpoint over the valley, it is spectacular.

    If you are heading to Monterey then I think it would be worth staying a night prior to San Fran as it'll keep things relaxed. While in SF I would recommend an Alcatraz tour, it's a great experience. You can pre book tickets if you wanted to as it is very popular and can get extremely busy at the ticket office or sell out. This is the National park site and the only place you can book official tickets without having tour operators selling you other tours with the tickets.

  6. Default

    Hi, Thank you for the link, a visit to Alcatraz is top our our 'things to do in san Francisco list' and I have bookmarked the link.
    Our thoughts about the stay over in Monterey are the same as yours, we were just unsure if it would be worth sacrificing it for an extra night in SF. However Michaels suggestion of skipping the stay over around Lake Isabella and moving our Stovepipe stay over to around the Lone Pine area would free up that extra night for SF anyway.
    Our fingers will be firmly crossed that the TP will be open but we will be able to assess this before we head out from LV.
    We will look to stay in YP itself as we can justify the extra expense as both a time saver and because the trip is our honeymoon (although doing this at every stop soon adds up! :oP)
    I take your point about keeping all my questions to one thread, I understand the need to keep the forums tidy and focussed.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Just so you know, I was in Yosemite this past fall on October 4 - and Tioga was temporarily closed! It happens - it was only closed for 24 hours or so but that didn't help me!

    Where do you plan on staying in Yosemite? The Ahwanee is frightfully expensive. If the weather is decent, the tent cabins in Curry Village are quite inexpensive. It was raining when we were there, so we headed out to El Portal and paid $110 for a room at the Cedar Lodge.

  8. Default

    Unlucky on Tioga, I think we will follow the advice above and make reservations around the Lone Pine area instead of Stovepipe, that way we will have the option of the longer route south on the 395 should Tioga close and free up the extra night for SF.

    With regards to Yosemite lodgings I think Ahwanee looks amazing but is definately out of our budget! I think my fiance was liking the idea of some kind of period accommodation or log cabin if we can stretch to it. We have only just started looking into this aspect so any tips or recommendations are welcome.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Yosemite lodging.

    You can find the lodging options in Yosemite here. Yosemite lodge is located right in the centre of things. I am not sure whether 'rustic' falls into the category of 'Period' or not, but I have seen good reports about the charm of Yosemite bug just outside of Yosemite.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    The 2 lodges I'm aware of in El Portal are far from being "period" or "rustic" - they are just big motels. They are useful for getting a room close to the park but they have no charm that I can find. I think you would really like the Bug, but it's 25 miles from Yosemite Valley on a winding 2 lane road. Check out the other in-park lodging that Dave has provided a link for.

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