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  1. Default SF-Yosemite-Death Valley-Las Vegas in Dec

    Planning to travel in RV on this route in Dec. Will there be any trouble with road closures due snow etc at this time of year? Are the parks at Yosemite and Death Valley open for RV's in Dec?
    Scheduling 2 weeks for the trip. Is this sufficient? No finer itinerary details as yet? Any suggestions for itineries welcome. Traveling with 2 boys 11 and 13.
    Aussies T and M

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

    Default Mountain passes.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Whereas we can't predict the weather and how it may cause trouble with road closures, the one thing for sure is that the mountain passes that cross the Sierra's will be closed. This won't cause you trouble as such, you simply have to go around the mountains via Bakersfield between Yosemite and Death valley or north towards Lake Tahoe. There are year round campgrounds and you can find info on the NPS site with Lot's of info about visiting in the winter and climate, like here at Yosemite. In Yosemite valley, I would recommend the Upper Pines campground, but you will need to check conditions and carry snow chains and know how to use them and that your rental company will permit the use of them.

    You have plenty of time for the trip and could consider adding places like Sequoia NP [weather permitting] and the Grand canyon. You would need to discuss with the rental company about their policy on 'Winterising an RV' as many empty all the tanks of water and although you might be able to use them, you could become responsible for any damage caused through frozen pipes. Of course you can empty and re-fill tanks as needed but it is something else to keep in mind when renting an RV, that and the cold nights of course.

    You will find a lot of info by searching the forums [you will see similar threads at the bottom of this page] and searching the planning tools in the green tool bar above. These are some of our favourites covering the area to help get you started. Once you have got some finer details worked out and have new questions, just ask.

    Are you ending the trip in Vegas or returning to San Fran?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Go and Enjoy What You Can

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The only problem are you should have is in the Sierra Nevada, specifically Yosemite. And even here you should be able to thoroughly enjoy your time, assuming your RV is properly winterized. Yosemite is open 365 days a year, but certain high elevation roads close in the Fall and do not open again until well into Spring (or even Summer some years). These roads include Tioga Pass (CA-120) and Glacier Point Roads. Yosemite proper has 10 campgrounds that will accommodate RVs, but note that none of them provide hookups. You will have to provide your own heat, and generators are generally forbidden in national parks after early evening. For further hints on things to see and do in the general area you'll be traveling through, have a read through the discussions linked to here.


  4. Default

    Good advice to carry chains, don't count on cross-Sierra roads being open, and call to check on Yosemite National Park roads. Although YNP website posts if roads are open and any delays, closed or call, my suggestion is to call.

    Road Status
    Call 209/372-0200 (press 1 then 1) for the most up-to-date conditions (

  5. Default

    A weather front passed through California on Wednesday 10/06/2011 and it is reportedly the earliest California winter storm in 28 years. The California Department of Transportation has posted that State Route 120 is closed from the Tuolumne/Mono County Line to 4 miles west of the junction of US 395. The road might open if the weather warms up or the Sierra Nevada might get more snow and the road could be closed for the season.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Highly unlikely.

    Although it is unlikely that the road will still be open in December when the OP travels, [although possible early in the month] it would be a real shock if this early storm were to close it for the season. It's quite normal to have temporary closures from this time onwards, until it shuts permanantly, but it would break all records since 1980 to have closed already.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Right now, the usual passes are closed (Tioga, Sonora, Ebbetts, Monitor) and some other roads have chain restrictions (including I-80) but I'm pretty confident this is just temporary.

  8. Default Rv trip Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley in December

    We are planning an RV trip starting and finishing in Vegas, in December. We are 2 adults and 2 boys 11 and 13 from Australia. We are finding it very difficult to find info on the web that is specific to what we need to know. Such as:
    We have 7 days in the RV. The 'must sees' are Grand Canyon and Monument Valley. What would be a comfortable 7 day journey which includes these 2 sights? Is Arches NP possible in this time frame? Are these NP's even open in Dec? Is it possible to 'hook up" (I think is the term used)? Will it be necessary for the RV company to winterise the RV for these locations, and if so is a winterised RV an inconvenience?(not sure exactly what impact a winterised RV has on day to day life in an RV). Are the roads in these parks paved and accessible to an RV in winter?
    Any itinerary ideas would be appreciated. Thinking 2-3 hrs driving per day.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 11-28-2011 at 11:07 AM. Reason: Merged threads.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default From One Aussie to Another.

    Hi Todd, and Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    Not ever having driven in the US in winter, let alone in an RV, I do not have any experience to answer your questions. What I do know is there is a lot of information about RVing on this site. You might like to start with these articles.

    Even though holidaying in an RV is a great novelty, it may not be your best choice in December. The areas you plan to visit are at very high altitudes - much higher than anything you will find at home - and hence night time temperatures can - and often do - fall below freezing point. If you have chosen the RV as a budget option, you could find that car and motel are often cheaper. This might be more so in winter when you will want to have the heating on everyday.

    To go to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Zion in the time you have, would be doable. Including Arches and Canyonlands as well may not leave you much time to enjoy any of them. All depends on your style of travelling. Some like to linger, orthers pass right on by.

    You might also like to check out the similar threads at the bottom of this page, for further information.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I have to agree with Lifey here - a RV in that area in December is not a good choice. With the cost of campgrounds, the cost of fuel to drive the beast, and the cost to rent it, you won't save any money over renting a standard car and hotel rooms. A RV for such a short period of time is really only a lifestyle choice, and with the need to winterize it you will lose a lot of the benefits (no water, no toilet!). Being off-season, hotel rooms will be plentiful and cheaper than they would be in the summer. It's also a lot easier driving a car in snowy and icy conditions than it is a RV.

    All the parks in that area ARE open in the winter except the Grand Canyon North Rim and Cedar Breaks.

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