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  1. Default California Trip - LA to San Fran via Vegas and national!


    Just wanted to get some advice on a road trip plan my friend and I are doing in June. We are 25, coming from London, UK and we have 15 days to do it in.

    We are essentially starting in LA and finishing in San Fran and would like around 4 days in each city. We would also like to do a few detours as well as driving up Highway 1!

    We are wanting to drive from LA to Vegas and would like to stay for 1 night.
    We would quite like to go through Palm Springs and see the Joshua Tree - do you think this could be a day trip from LA or done en route to Vegas?

    We would like to stay 1 night in vegas and have a day there too.

    Then from Vegas, we would like to go to the Grand canyon and Death Valley - do you know how long we should allow for these 2 trips, and whether it would be less stressful to stay at both places, or can we do it in a day and then stay at DV?

    We would then head back to the Coast and drive up Highway 1 to San fran ( I believe this PCH road isn't a very long drive and can be done in a couple of days?)

    We may possibly break off the highway and go to yosemite park before heading to San Fran. Do you know how long this could take? would we need to stay?

    We would love to hear your views on this idea and if you think it's possible, or any advice you have for us!

    Thanks so much

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default More efficient routing

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Your trip at the moment has you going back and forth a bit and adds unnecessary miles. What I would plan on doing is going from LA to Palm Springs to Grand canyon to Vegas to Death valley. Grand canyon is not an enjoyable day trip from Vegas [10 hours driving] nor one we would recommend, and adding DV would be impossible. The PCH is a slow going and spectacular coastal drive but possible in a couple of days. You will need to keep an eye on the situation there as part of the Highway has recently slid into the Ocean and is currently closed to all traffic around Big Sur area. It should be open when you travel but it might only be one lane that could lead to significant delays.

    Yes, you would need an overnight stop for Yosemite and I would highly recommend it, it is truly amazing !!

    If your flights etc are not booked I would consider completing the loop and finish back in LA. Doing so will mean that you can take the spectacular Tioga pass into Yosemite from Death valley and drive part of the coast back to LA.

    To balance the trip out a little better when allowing for travel time, I would consider 3 days in each City and have more time to enjoy what the rest has to offer, you won't be disappointed !

    You will find much info throughout RTA by searching around but to get you started take a look here.

  3. Default

    Thank you so much for your advice.

    It does seem like a lot to fit in, but w don't mind driving too much.
    We will spend 3 or 4 days in LA and 4 in San Fran. Vegas isn't somewhere we want to spend too much time, but we really want to experience it so would like a night and a bit of daytime there.

    The Coast is very attractive for us, so permitting it's repaired and all ok, we would like to take our time driving up with a couple of stop overs.

    We may have to consider whether we can fit everything in and if it's all neccessary!!

  4. Default

    As an afterthought,

    I think it may be better to drive straight from LA to Las Vegas
    Then from Vegas to the Grand Canyon (North Rim - i hear it's less crowded) and then back through joshua Tree to the coast.

    Does anyone have any advice on this? We will be staying at Joshua Tree for a night....
    Im totally lost and unsure realistically how much time I should allow to get from Vegas to GC and where would be good to stop on the way back towards the Coast - or can I do it in a day?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default "Better" ?

    If you prefer the thought of visiting the quieter North rim then it is "better", but wouldn't save any time over going direct to the South rim from LA and then to Vegas.

    I would have also thought it better to visit Joshua tree on the way to either rim and not have to go so far South again to get to the coast saving miles and the need to go back through the urban sprawl of LA. It will take you around 5.5 hours to get to the North rim from Vegas and about 10/11 hours back to Joshua tree. To get from the North rim to the coast in a day would be too much really, and if you still wanted to visit Death valley it would make a perfectly good overnight stop between the two.

  6. Default

    Thank you.

    We are going to cut out a couple of things, as we feel we are trying to fit too much in!

    So - LA - Palm Springs/Joshua Tree - Grand Canyon - Las Vegas - Back to the Coast (Santa Barbara?) - drive up PCH to San Fran. Does this sound more realistic?
    I imagibe we would need to stop over for a night between Johua Tree and Grand Canyon?
    Could we do Vegas back to the coast without stopping? I assume this could be fairly straightforward to drive...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Joshua Tree to GC could be done in 1 day of dedicated driving - it's about 400 miles. It would be reasonable to figure LA to GC via Joshua Tree can be done in 2 full days.

    I don't think I'd go as far south as Santa Barbara to get to the coast - I'd probably take I-15 to CA-58 to Bakersfield, then CA-46 to Cambria. This can be done in 1 full day. However, if you also wanted to include Death Valley I think I'd plan on 2 days.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    You could drive to the Grand canyon same day if you wanted to, I would estimate around 8 hours to the South rim and about 10 hours to the North rim. It would be a comfortable drive from LV to the coast but an overnight stop would leave you time for a detour across Death valley.

  9. Default

    Thank you for the advice. i think Death Valley - although a definite visit destination, may have to be saved for next time! We were originally just driving Highway 1 - and we keep adding things, so need to not get carried away!
    We want to drive up Highway 1 to San Fran, so thought Santa Barbara would be a good starting point after Vegas...
    I think we may need to stop on the way to GC, as 10 hours is a lot of driving. We thought Needles?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    As I said, Cambria would be a better starting point. To get to Santa Barbara, you would have to deal with LA traffic, and you can't drive up the coast from there to SF in one day. There isn't all that much coast that you can drive up between Santa Barbara and Cambria. You could split off 46 onto 41 through Atascadero to Morro Bay and start there.

    I would much rather stay in Kingman or Lake Havasu than Needles.

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