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  1. Default Bay Area to AZ to LA - Road trip around around New Yr - Need your suggestions!!

    Hi RTA members,

    I am planning a 6 day road trip from South Bay Area to AZ to LA with a few of my friends and I need your help.

    I searched around on the Winter Road trip forums and chanced upon this trip advice.

    "Two of our all-time favorite places for warm winter roadtrip locations are in the SW. The first is a loop around the SE corner of Arizona. The Cave Creek drainage of the Chiricahua Mtns and the Chiricahau National Monument near Wilcox, AZ, with stops in Tombstone, Benson (visit the world's largest public access cave system at Kartchner Caverns), Bisbee and Douglas, AZ".

    Could someone please provide more info on this ( based on their travel experiences)?

    This is our tentative plan.

    Sunnyvale to AZ to LA (for new year) and then back to Sunnyvale.

    Sunnyvale to AZ: 12 hrs
    AZ to LA: 7 hrs
    LA to Sunnyvale: 7 hrs

    We have 6 days to cover this - Dec 28,29,30,31, Jan 1,2

    We have some idea abt the stretch between LA and Sunnyvale but need some help/suggestions on the Sunnyvale to AZ and AZ to LA legs.

    Will appreciate your help!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Odd Timing

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    I'm not sure where you're getting you travel time estimates from, but they seem to be almost random. Los Angeles to Sunnyvale shouldn't take a full seven hours. On the other hand, there's simply no way that you can get from Sunnyvale to, say, Tucson in a day, let alone 13 hours. So, you should plan on taking two full days to get to southeastern Arizona. On the way you could spend some time at Carrizo Plain National Monument and/or Joshua Tree National Park. You would then have a full day to check out the sights (that you have time for) in that area. I would recommend Kartchner Caverns south of Benson and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum just west of Tucson for sure an possibly Saguaro National Park, and then Tombstone and Bisbee if you have time (doubtful). Tucson to Los Angeles is a full day's drive. That leaves you a day and a half in Los Angeles and the better part of your last day to get home.


  3. Default

    Thanks AZBuck for the suggestions!

    Sorry, I didn't have the exact time estimates ( it was rough)... for AZ, I had taken Phoenix as the reference point where one of my friends live. The google map time estimates looked like this !!

    I will chart out the day-by-day details based on your suggestions and come back in case I need any further help.

    Much thanks,

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    My parents used to go between Phoenix and Oakland often. It is definitely a TWO DAY drive, about 450 miles per day. They always took I-10 to I-15, took a 2-lane around LA (to avoid the traffic) and then I-5 up.

    Phoenix to LA is about 6-1/2 to 7 hours; from Tucson, make it 8-1/2 to 9-1/2. (To avoid Phoenix traffic, take I-10 to I-8. Then at Gila Bend, head north on AZ 85 up to I-10 west.) In Phoenix, I-10 on the west side is still under some construction and is a big headache just waiting to be avoided!


  5. Default

    Thanks Donna for the heads up!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Los Angeles to Sunnyvale shouldn't take a full seven hours.
    It all depends on exactly where in the LA area you are leaving from, what route you take, and what time of what day you are leaving. From downtown via I-5, CA-152 (Pacheco Pass), and US-101 it's 350 miles. For planning purposes, 7 hours would actually be a good number. It's 400 miles via US-101 all the way.

    Sunnyvale to Phoenix via the following suggested route is 740 miles. This is just a bit much for one day unless there are at least 3 drivers and you drive/navigate in shifts. Taking 2 days and spending some time in Joshua Tree may be a better way to do this.


    If you do want to go to Joshua Tree, you could get off US-395 in Adelanto and take CA-18/CA-247 to Yucca Valley, then CA-62 into 29 Palms - which has several hotels.

  7. Default

    thanks glc for the suggestion! yeah we are planning to drive through Joshua National Park ( CA 62 ->Park Blvd) ... and then in Southeast AZ visit the places suggested by AZBuck! let's see how it goes!

    thanks again for all the help!

  8. Default

    I am from San Jose and have done this drive going to Texas several times. I am not sure what the weather is like right now but let me start from most of my experiences from Cali. The 101 freeway is not nice while passing through Bakersfield and San Luis Obispo. It bottlenecks a lot and is very narrow. Once in January there was even a flurry of snow which most Cali drivers aren't used to. Once it opens up again around LA, it is manageable.
    Arizona terrain on I40 is okay because it is an interstate but it does run through mountain land. The thing I hated was the snow on the mountains. Be sure you are with someone comfortable going up and downhill in those conditions. It isn't very windy, but there are lots of trucks and it can get crowded.
    If you stay on I40 near the Rt 66 which is the main way there, NEw Mexico is a nice flat drive mostly but it is snowing at this time of year. Everytime I drove through there during holidays it was heavy windy snow and we even got delayed on highways for up to 2 hours with no movement. Tread lightly.
    Once you cross Texas, if you go that way, I think staying on the main highways are best. I have done both the back highways and the interstates. The "shortcuts" are not what they seem. They have very little stops and lots of animals and snow. I cannot stress to you enough that unless you are in some large vehicle that it isn't a route you want to take. Stay on the main roads, finding gas there if you are unfamiliar is a pain.
    That is about as far as I've got and I hope that helps. The Cali part seems short but don't underestimate it. Remember that passing through the desert means stops are scarce.
    Good Luck, Im going on a long ride as well.

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