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  1. Default Anyone offer advice please on road trip this December?

    Hi All,

    We're making a road trip and are travelling from Las Vegas starting on 27th December. We are at Death VAlley staying at Beatty for the first night, then at Mammoth Lakes. As it now the middle of winter, can anyone advise if we should attempt to then get to Lake Tahoe or across the Senora Pass and stay in Yosemite Village before then making our way to San Francisco the following day. We have hired a Ford Escape 4 x 4. Will we need snow chains or will the 4 wheel drive be sufficient?

    From San Francisco we then drive along Highway 1 to Monteray for one night and then onto Morro Bay for one night.

    From Morro Bay we hope to travel to Lake Mead, but are having problems trying to find suitable accommation that doesn't break the bank!

    We would be grateful for any advice or suggestions!

    Merry Christmas!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    While it is virtually impossible to predict what the weather and conditions will be like 2+ weeks from now, there remains a few predictable things:

    1) Passes across the Sierras generally close by mid-December. You may have to go "around" the Sierras on the south end, via Bakersfield, or up to Lake Tahoe and then take I-80 into San Francisco. (Even the latter can be a crap-shoot at this time of the year. I'm sure others here will chime in, though, who have more knowledge of that area.

    2) I'm a little confused -- are you trying to find a reasonably priced hotel in the Lake Mead area? If so, are you trying to stay on the lake's edge? I'd personally try either Boulder City or Henderson for reasonable accommodation prices. Use either the accommodation finder on this website, or do your own research.

    Merry Christmas to you, too!!!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Too Late

    Sonora Pass (CA-108) is already closed for the season. You will have to go all the way north to Lake Tahoe and cross the Sierras on either US-50 or I-80 (recommended).


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Carson Pass (CA-88) should be open - it's maintained year round. However, the CA-89 "shortcut" from US-395 over Monitor Pass will be closed.

    The 4x4 should be sufficient, but you may have to have chains in your possession to use certain roads depending on conditions. When California puts up the chains signs, 4x4's are not exempt. In fact, you may need chains to get to Mammoth Lakes.

  5. Default

    Many thanks all for your comments. We were thinking of upgrading from the Ford Escape to a Grand Cherokee. What are your thoughts?

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

    Default reason

    What reason are you thinking about for upgrading? How many people will be in your group?

    Keep in mind with a rental, you aren't promised a specific model, just something within the same class. The escape will likely be cheaper, use less fuel, and could be easier to drive, especially in poor weather. The escape is primarily a front wheel drive vehicle where the rear wheels engage when it detects slipping, while the Jeep is primarily a rear wheel drive vehicle where I'm pretty sure you have to manually (button or shifter) put it into 4x4 mode.

    But if you need more size, then the larger vehicle could be worth it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Doesn't Matter to Me

    You should pick whatever vehicle fits most comfortably with your plans and budget, and into which you and your company will fit most comfortably. My preferences are immaterial to your enjoyment. However, do not make the mistake of thinking that your choice of vehicle will make any significant difference in where you can go or what roads you can use or what conditions you can travel under. Those are 99% determined by your driving skills and experience. Relying on equipment to get you through will only result in disappointment.


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