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  1. Default Vegas to SF itinerary feedback

    I was hoping to get some advice on a trip my husband and I plan on taking in May/June of 2012. Unfortunately we have just recently decided on a basic itinerary. Im afraid that we are already a little bit behind in booking our accommodations, so Im hoping to get a basic itinerary sketched out asap!

    To give you a little bit of background, we are in our early 30s and have no kids.
    We visited Yellowstone in 2010 and absolutely fell in love with it, so much so that we actually repeated the trip again this year! While we would love to go again in 2012 (or every year for that matter), we decided that we should probably explore some new places! We did a road trip type of vacation in 2007 where we visited Vegas, Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon and Sedona, and we are hoping this trip will have a similar mix of city and national parks with scenic drives along the way.

    Our plan is to arrive the evening of May 25th in Vegas and depart on June 6th from San Francisco. Unfortunately my husband cant be gone from work any longer than this, so we will only have 13 days/12 nights (including our travel days) to work with.

    Ive been researching these areas and have come up with an initial itinerary:

    Friday, May 25th Leave Columbus after work and fly to Vegas (unfortunately we have to work this day, so we wont be able to leave until after 5pm Eastern time, but can fly direct and arrive by 8:30)
    Saturday, May 26th All day in Vegas
    Sunday, May 27th Leave Vegas early, drive to and explore Death Valley, spend the night either at Furnace Creek Ranch or Stovepipe Wells
    Monday, May 28th Drive up 395, stopping at sites along the way, spend the night somewhere outside of the east entrance to Yosemite (Mammoth Lakes looks nice)
    Tuesday, May 29th Option A (if Tioga Pass is open), travel into Yosemite via Tioga pass, evening in Yosemite OR Option B (if Tioga pass is closed), continue north on 395, take Sonora pass (looking at the data from the last 7 years, it looks like its always open by this date), evening in Yosemite
    Wednesday, May 30th All day in Yosemite
    Thursday, May 31st All day in Yosemite
    Friday, June 1st Leave for Napa Valley area, evening in Napa Valley
    Saturday, June 2nd Leave Napa, drive to San Francisco, evening in SF
    Sunday, June 3rd San Francisco
    Monday, Jun 4th San Francisco
    Tuesday, June 5th San Francisco
    Wednesday, June 6th Fly home

    Any suggestions on how this itinerary can be improved? Does our time at any place need shortened or lengthened? Originally I had hoped to include some of the PCH and/or King Canyon/Sequoia NP in our trip, but Im pretty sure that including them would make the trip too rushed, is that a correct assumption?
    Also, I know that lodging books up quickly for this time of year, particularly Yosemite. As soon as we started to plan this trip I booked what accommodations I could inside the park. Right now I have a tent booked at Curry Village for the 29th, 30th, and 31st. I also booked a standard room at Stoneman, but they only had one available for the 29th and the 31st. I will continue to check daily for cancellations, but if nothing opens up would it be better to rough it in the tent at Curry all 3 days and not have to worry about moving around or stay in the standard room on the 29th, stay at Wawona on the 30th, and then go back to the standard room on the 31st?

    Thanks for your help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Looking Good

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    If only everyone took as much care in their planning as you do. Your general itinerary looks well paced, but ultimately the choice of where to spend your limited days can only be made by you. I would recommend that you pretty much assume that Tioga Pass will be closed, particularly if it affects where you will spend some given night when/where you will need a confirmed reservation. The chances of it being open even in late May are slim enough that you shouldn't count on it. And even if 'open' you won't get much of the feel for the road since you will spend much of your time in a narrow lane with snow piled above your windows on both sides of the road. You may want to check on heating availability in your 'tent' at Curry as lows can still reach freezing at that time of year. Finally, given your enjoyment of the outdoors, you might want to enjoy some of the great nature sites near San Francisco, including Point Reyes National Seashore, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Halfmoon Bay, and Big Basin Redwoods State Park.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    You could consider leaving an 'open window' for the night between DV and Yosemite and consider heading around the southern end of the mountains and into Sequoia NP if Tioga is closed. At this stage it really is a 50/50 chance of it being open.

  4. Default Thank you!

    Thank you both for your feedback on my itinerary!

    Im definitely a planner, so the unpredictability of the weather and road openings near Yosemite really bothers me ;) I would really like to take the route north on 395 from Death Valley if at all possible. Ive read a lot of great things on the forums about the wonderful scenery along this route, especially when compared with the alternative of going through Bakersfield. Worse case scenario, if Tioga and Sonora pass are both closed, would we still be able to reach Yosemite Valley in a days drive if we spend the night near Lee Vining? Would the drive on 395 still be worth it if there are huge snow piles?

    AZBuck thanks for the ideas of places to visit near San Francisco. I had no idea that there were so many cool places nearby. Now I wish we had more time in the area!!! And we did book the heated tent at Curry. Figured it was worth the extra $, just in case!

    Thanks again for your time!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    From Lee Vining to Yosemite Valley is an all-day drive if you have to go north to get to an open pass - if Tioga and Sonora are both closed, Ebbetts (4) will most likely be closed too. Carson (88) is maintained year-round as is Johnson (US-50). Monitor (89) usually opens before any of the others (normally sometime in April) and this is a shortcut to 88. If it's closed you have to go all the way to Dresslerville to get to 88 or US-50.

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