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  1. Default La-vegas-g.canyon-death-valley-yosemite-sf-sdiego- december 11/2011

    Hi!New in the forum!
    I was planning to start out my trip in LA in December 11 (coming from overseas); pick up a rental and drop off in same LA in Dec 30. We are two adults and one 10 year old boy.
    Im not sure which way to go. At first I though of driving all the way through but got concerned becuase of the snow.

    My ideia was, at first, to go from LA straight to Williams/Grand Canyon on the 12 to avoid snow (the earlier in Dec, the better - I guess). Stay for a night or two and return to Vegas (drive or not to drive from Williams to G.Canyon - snow concern?).

    After my stay in Vegas for 4/5 days, go to Death Valley and Yosemite (one day at each location).
    Next stay would be in S. Francisco area (4/5 days).

    After that, move down to La and San Diego.

    Those were plans, but after reading postings Im worried about the snow (Ive never driven with chains and in the snow although Ive driven sevral times in US).
    Should I give up Death Valley and Yosemite (snowwise)?

    I would really aprreciate all the help I can get.


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

    Default Don't give up.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Travelling during winter Months will always come with the risk of winter storms/snow and the weather as unpredictable as it is makes it impossible to say what will or will not be occurring in December. The good thing about travelling out of season is that you should be able to find lodgings without the need to book everywhere so you could keep your itinerary open to change.

    The area you are most likely to require chains is around the Sierras [Yosemite and Sequoia] but both are magnificent and I wouldn't give up on them just yet. The high ground will be closed off for traffic but it is quite possible that the lower foothills and Yosemite valley roads will be clear. The roads to Grand canyon South rim and through Death valley are all paved and shouldn't present any problems, but like I said it's unpredictable. The good news is you have a nice amount of time and you can allow some 'wiggle room' for any disruption you may come across.

  3. Default

    Thanks Moderator for the encouregement!

    Would you, by any chance, know if a SUV would be more recommended than other cars such as Ford Fusion or Grand Caravan in such roads?

    Rgds Ricik

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Not necessarily IMO.

    If you keep up to date with road and weather conditions as you travel you should be able to avoid getting caught out in a bad storm where an SUV/4WD could become handy if you were stuck. However, if conditions are bad enough that a 2WD vehicle can't cope, then you shouldn't be out on the road with a 4WD. Sure it might help get you out of a difficult situation, but it is far better to avoid that situation in the first place. Some people think of a 4WD vehicle as a go anywhere and I will be safe vehicle which can give a false sense of security and potentially put them in a more dangerous situation. They are certainly not a substitute for experience and not 'fool proof'. So Yes, it is an option, but not one I would particularly recommend over a more cost effective rental car that will do the job with a little common sense.

    Hope that helps.

    To save going through LA's heavy traffic more than need be, have you considered going from LA to San Diego and then to GC etc and finish down the coast to LA ?

  5. Default

    Thanks Moderator for the suggetion about the car!
    As for heading off to San Diego (as soon as got to LA in Dec 11), I thought that it would delay me about 3 days and this would increase my chances of running into bad weather where such chances are higher (Williams/Grand Canyon).
    Also, Id avoid spending the weekend in Vegas (leaving on the Dec 17-saturday) - less crowded, isnt?

    Looking forward to hearing y/ comments.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    3 days simply isn't long enough to significantly change your odds of seeing better or worse weather. In fact, the 3 weeks of your entire trip isn't really long enough to change your odds. The reality is that the answer will lie with specific storms and weather patterns, which are impossible to predict more than a couple days out.

    Similarly, Vegas isn't that easy to judge weekday vs. weekend because you've got a case where as soon as weekend tourists leave, the weekday convention crowd follows right behind. However, in your case, as long as you are leaving there by the 17th you should be fine. Early December is the slowest point in the travel year, however once you get into and past the weekend of 17th, you are now a week before christmas, and you'll start to see the holiday traffic pick up.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Either way will work.

    I understand your thoughts and they could be right or they could be wrong, we won't know until near the time. As you know the weather doesn't always follow our 'thought pattern' and sometimes December can be nicer than November so a few days won't make a lot of difference until you have that current forecast. Vegas is pretty much a 24/7 City and although it can be busier at the weekends depending on events/shows, I am not sure it would make a noticeable difference. [one of our LV locals might advise you best on that]

    Either way is possible but it was just a thought to share.

  8. Default

    Thanks Southwest Dave and Midwest Michael. Hope you dont mind me bothering you wirh another question.

    The other alterantive it would be flying over to Vegas as soon as landed in LA (11), staying a week there. During a week I would take a helicpter tour (expensive) to G.Canyon and maybe go to Death Valley. On The 17, catch a flight to San Franc. On my last day in SF Id get a rental and drive over to LA and San Diego.
    This way I would skip Yosemite.
    Is it more doable? In your shoes, which alternative would you take?

    In case, you choose the previous alternative, would drive from Williams to GC or take some tour or train?

    Rgds Ricik

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    You're posting on a roadtrip forum, so I don't think its hard to guess that the opinions here will be against flying from point to point.

    A flight over GC is not nearly the experience of standing on the rim. Its not a bad experience, but its something that I would do in addition to visiting the park, not instead of. On top of that, most helicopter tours from Vegas just go over the West Rim, which is also not the same experience as seeing the actual canyon at the National Park. The train from Williams is an option worth looking at, although you have to look at the schedule and decide if just spending an afternoon there is enough, or if you want to actually book a night at a lodge in the national park.

    I'd also say that skipping Yosemite just would be a huge downside, not an advantage of doing the flight option.

  10. Default

    Midwest Michael:
    In case I decide to go to Yosemite from Las Vegas, which way should I go (I guess 395 is not an alterntive, once I dont drive with chains, isnt it?)
    Rgds Ricik

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