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  1. Default Quick drive from SF to Vegas

    Hi all,

    I have been searching through the forum but cannot find an answer that relates directly to my question, so please forgive me if I have missed anything and am repeating here...unfortunately, this trip is all very last minute, so apologies if it all sounds a little haphazard!

    My wife and I are arriving in San Fran from the UK on the 14th May. We are spending a few days there before picking up our hire car and driving to Vegas. We need to arrive in Vegas the day after we set off from SF. We would obviously like to drive through beautiful scenery, but are aware that our time restrictions will dictate what we can do.

    So, a couple of questions, which is the best route to set off from SF one morning and arrive in Vegas the following evening? Where would be best location to stay over for the night of the road trip? Are we likely to be able to just turn up at a hotel/motel/etc and get a room or should I be calling them all now?

    Extra info: my wife would really like to see Yosemite. I would prefer to see Death Valley, but am happy to go with either depending on the time restrictions above. I have also never driven with snow chains (if they would still be required in the middle of May).

    Any advice would be much appreciated.
    Kind regards,
    Dave

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

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    With just one overnight, you really have to make a choice between Yosemite or Death Valley. Tioga Pass will almost certainly still be closed at the time of your travel, so your only option will be to go around via Bakersfield, which just means it too far to try to do both.

    Either are perfectly acceptable (there is rarely a "best" on a roadtrip, and this is certainly the case here), so you just have to decide which you'll end up doing. If you do Yosemite, you'd be best off spending your night either in the park or just outside in Oakhurst or Mariposa. The plan to spend the next day driving to Vegas. If you go to DV, then you could make it either too the park, or just short of it (perhaps Ridgecrest), tour DV on day 2, before finishing the short drive to Vegas.

    Of course, you could make it easier on yourself by simply giving yourself another day to do both. Another option would be to take a day in Vegas and make a daytrip to Death Valley. That would mean some extra miles of driving rather than hitting it on the way to Vegas, but if you have to be in Vegas on a specific day, and you won't change your plans in SF, it is a possibility.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Yes and no

    No question that if you really want to spend any quality time in either Yosemite or Death Valley you'll need an extra day. But there is a way to see postcard-like view of both if you don't mind a very long day of driving. I just did this... (You'll need to leave San Francisco by 7:00 am)

    San Francisco to California State Route 120 to Big Oak Flat Road into the park. As soon as you reach the junction of State Route 140, take the road to the park exit (this will be on state route 41) as you approach the top of the hill, stop at the Tunnel View parking area -- this is the more amazing views of Yosemite. I really like State Route 41 as a way to leave Yosemite, but in this Two National Parks Speed run, you should reverse your route, back down the hill and take the Valley loop road to the first cross over -- OMG -- the Dogwoods may be in bloom when you are there -- swing back towards the west passing El Capitan catching more glimpses of Yosemite Falls and Bridal Veil falls before heading back to the valley on state route 140 along the Merced River. Watch the cliffs --dozens and dozens of waterfalls. There is one section that is one-way, due to a massive slide -- but the wait is rarely longer than 20 minutes.

    Take SR 140 all of the way to SR 199 and head south to SR-58 (there is a great German bakery in the town of Tehachapi -- Kohnen's Germany Bakery!

    North on SR-14 to US-395 (you could approach Death Valley from Ridgecrest -- another favored road, but since this you first first visit --I'd do the whole entrance approach) and so stay on US-395 until you reach Olanche and head east on SR-190 into Death Valley and then follow this local's route to Las Vegas. (Look at the orange paddles).

    If you're on the road by 7:00 am, and don't take too long marveling at the flowers and waterfalls and the extraordinary "exposed geology" of Death Valley, you'll reach Las Vegas about 10:00 pm. But this will a very long day -- with lots of challenging driving. If you can spend an extra day, it will be worth it!

    ***Oh, I mis-read your post. You have a night to stop on the way? Do the preceeding route, but stop for the night in one of the towns along US-99. I like Delano -- nice friendly farming town. If you'd like more of a Sierra-type experience -- Nice lodging can be found in either Oakhurst or Mariposa (and your route can adjust accordingly).

    Mark

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
    There is one section that is one-way, due to a massive slide -- but the wait is rarely longer than 20 minutes.
    Mark, I am surprised to hear that that is still there. In 2007 it had been there for a long time, and I was told by my then host, that it was expected to be fixed 'soon'.

    Do you think it will ever be fixed?

    Lifey

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    It looks like they are still trying to decide which permanent repair they are going to do. For now, it's still using the temporary one-lane Bailey bridges.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default The bridges work well

    When I passed through there a couple of weeks ago, there is more heavy equipment on-site, but short of moving the entire mountain, I can't really see a solution to the issue!

    George -- that's a great link you found! Good work.

    Mark

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

    Default

    They are either going to have to build a tunnel or replace the Bailey bridges with permanent multi-lane bridges and put the road on the other side of the river permanently.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Yeah, that was sorta my point

    California really doesn't have the road funds to do either project, but even though the tunnel would cost more it might be a better investment -- the slopes of the mountains on the temporary side aren't that secure either.

    Mark

  9. Default Tioga Pass?

    Hi guys!

    Thanks so much for the responses. A quick question, in Mark's itinery, are any of those roads the Tioga Pass? Apologies for my ignorance.


    Thanks
    Davey

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

    Default

    No, the Tioga pass will still be closed. This is CA120 that crosses the Sierra Nevada.

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