We are planning to drive from San Francisco to Las Vegas via the Big Sur and Death Valley in 5 days.
Our plan is to hire a car in SF and drive south as far as San Simeon or Cambria on Day 1. My husband has done this part of the trip before so even though it will be a long drive, I feel pretty confident that we can make it in one day.
On Day 2 we intend to visit Hearst castle in the morning (we will book in advance for the earliest time slot) and then we will drive east towards Bakerfield and Ridgecrest en route to Death Valley. Our plan is to get as close as we can to DV on Day 2 and spend the night.
My first question is how far can we expect to travel east once we leave the coast road? It seems to me that all of the main roads head north/south so we will be travelling on smaller roads. As we are from Australia we are not very familiar with the US roads and therefore I am not sure how fast we can travel on the roads connecting the coast with Bakerfield and Ridgecrest. We will not stop for any sightseeing after leaving Hearst Castle. We are used to long road trips and my husband and I can share the driving so a long drive is not a problem for us.
We will be travelling in December so weather is also going to be an issue. I chose this route as I hope to avoid going over any very high mountain passes, but is this the case?
I like to book accomodation in advance but I am not sure how far we will get by the end of Day 2.
Once we get to Day 3 we can relax our pace a bit and take a bit more time travelling through DV and then on to Las Vegas. My main concern at the moment is to get some help with finding the best route from Hearst Castle to Death Valley in December. Many thanks in advance for all of your wonderful advice!