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  1. Default LA - SFO - Mammoth Lakes - Death Valley - Zion - Monument Valley - South Rim - LV

    Hello all.. Another newbie planning a trip!!

    We are a family of 4 from Merewether Australia who are planning to do a road trip in Sept/Oct next year. I am just after your thoughts on the following itinerary.

    Day 1
    Santa Monica drive north. Want to do the coast road to San Fran and husband is a keen surfer. Was thinking of stopping halfway but not entirely sure where would be best. Tossing up San Simeon, Pismo Beach, Santa Barbra?

    Day 2
    Drive on to San Fran

    Day 3
    San Fran to Mammoth Lakes
    travelling via the Tioga Rd?? Is this the best route?

    Day 4
    Mammoth Lakes to Death Valley
    Ideas on where to stay and routes would be appreciated

    Day 5
    Death Valley to LV
    I had wanted to drive straight across to Zion and by pass LV as we are ending up there for 2 nights but cant seem to find any ideas on routes?

    Day 6
    Lv to Zion
    Not sure where to stay here?

    (this is where I get a bit stuck on the itineary. I have a vague idea of what i want to see but not entirely sure so if anyone has any suggestions Im more than open to them)

    Day 7
    Monument Valley
    I know I want to see Monument Valley but again not sure where I want to stay?

    Day 8
    was thinking of the south rim but not sure if its worth driving around the whole of the Grand Canyon or if its better to concentrate on the northern parts???

    Day 9
    back to LV

    So I know its very vague but I would really appreciate any help you could give me on my plan?

    I think weather wise we should be right that time of year?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default From One Aussie to Another.

    Hi, Welcome to the The Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    My initial thoughts are that you are trying to do a bit much in the time you have available.

    Have you thought of flying into (instead of out of) LV?

    You are planning on visiting some of the most magnificent sites in North America, but at the rate your initial itenary is set out, you won't get to see much of it.

    It is a full two day's driving from LA to SF, via the PCH.

    And you will not want to drive from SF to Mammoth Lakes in one day. For one thing, you will be driving through one of the world's greatest National Parks. To do it justice, and really see anything worthwhile of this spectacular natural wonder you will want to spend at least one full day in the park. And then I suspect you will regret not having alotted more time.

    But before I go any further, I highly recommend that you get a good large (wall size) map of the US to help you plan this trip. My prefernce if for the National Geographics Map, which has the roads, urban centres as well as all the National and State Parks marked on it. (Available from Map World and online.) There is nothing like getting a complete overview, and seeing just how big some of these places are, and how much time they deserve.... and take. Even to drive straight through Yosemite would leave you short of Mammoth Lakes.

    And if this trip is for just nine days, you could make it to Monument Valley (and the North Rim), but you will only be driving through them without any quality time anywhere.

    Lifey in Melbourne

  3. Default

    Thanks for the input. I realise we are covering a fair amount of ground in short amount of time but we're not unused to driving long distances. We have commitments in LA prior to starting this trip and then following this we have commitments in Las Vegas following and then following Las Vegas we are going to Hawaii for a fortnight for my husbands 40th. So the actual period of time I've got to fit this itinerary in is limited to 9 days and the itinerary is pretty much set around this. At a stretch i can move my arrangements in LA by a day and maybe squeeze in an extra day to the itinerary.

    Im not afraid of the drive from LA to SFO as I've done that years ago in 2 days. Yes it was long but we were on the scenic route so didnt mind. Its the other distances and stops that I need advice on. I have friends that did San Fran Mammoth Lakes Vegas last year in 2 days! But I'd like to do it in 3 and have added DV in.

    On the other hand we arent ones to like going to every single tourist trap on the menu, either. I'd prefer to pick out a few key destinations and enjoy the drives in between.

    After thinking about it I think I will forget the south rim but not sure where to slot this extra day in.

    If you were to drive from LV out to Monument Valley and do this loop which way would you come back?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Distance not the problem.

    realise we are covering a fair amount of ground in short amount of time but we're not unused to driving long distances.
    The distances aren't really the issue, it's the time you will have at the destinations, or lack of it I should say. If that's of no concern to you, your trip is doable, but a couple of tweaks might help a little.

    You could consider stopping in Yosemite valley from SF and then drive over Tioga pass and straight through Death valley to Vegas. Death valley is a fascinating place, but it's one where driving through with a few short stops at viewpoints will give you a taste of it, but going to Mammoth from SF would give you no real time for Yosemite valley.

    With your current itinerary and with time to enjoy the PCH and get to Mammoth lakes, you have little time in SF other than for an evening meal and a stroll maybe and having to battle with the traffic as well. As much as I love the City, I would consider stopping in Monterey and head inland from there and skip SF as you have been before.

    If you are heading from Zion to Monument valley then I would ceertainly drive to the South rim of the Grand canyon and back to Vegas via 140 and the Hoover dam. There are lodgings in MV, such as Goulding lodge, or nearby Kayenta, Tuba City or the Cameron trading post, which is located nearest to the east entry kiosk of the south rim. Nice big stores, good food and lodgings make Cameron an interesting stop.

    The extra day would be a big help. I would spend a day exploring Yosemite, it's amazing ! You could then stop a night in Death valley from there. You could also go direct from Death valley [Furnace creek?] to Zion and stop in LV just the once at the end of your trip.

  5. Default

    Thank you so much Dave.

    I will definately take your tips into consideration. I am now thinking that I am going to skip Mammoth Lakes in favour of stopping somewhere else in Yosepmite.

    We have been to San Francisco before and were not actually going to stay in San Fran but thought this would be the logical place to spend the night but I like the idea of Monterey much better. I will look into the route to YHosemite from here.

    Are you suggesting not stopping in Death Valley? Also can you give me an idea of what the route is from Death Valley to Zion that avoids LV as I cant seem to work out which way to go without backtracking or driving right out the way????

    Thanks so much for your ideas. I'll keep you posted on how i get on with the itinerary as it "evolves" !

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


    I think stopping in Death Valley will be worth your while, but what Dave was saying is that if you only had time to stop at one for the day, you'd get more out of your time by spending that day in Yosemite - which you basically skipped in your original plan.

    From DV, there isn't a logical route to get to Zion without going through Vegas, but that doesn't mean you'd have to stop in Vegas. You could drive between DV and Zion pretty easily in a day.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Exactly.

    Michael has summed up my thoughts perfectly.

    I think that staying in Monterey will be far more relaxing and give you a little more breathing space, with around 3 hours less behind the wheel and more time out of the car to relax. An early[ish] start to Yosemite would give you time to head into the valley and perhaps up to the unbelievably spectacular viewpoint of Glacier point, before heading over Tioga pass next day.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    From DV to Zion, you could come out the east entrance on 190 to DV Junction, then take the "locals route" (State Line Road, Ash Meadows/Bell Vista) to Pahrump, then 160 to LV, jump on I-15 and head to Zion. Another option (never been this way, local info needed) would be to head out through Beatty, then US-95 to North Las Vegas, then either 215 or 573 across to I-15?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default It's all relative

    It's probably about 15 minutes faster to go through Beatty, (if one maintained highway speed, but there's lots to look at and places to explore along the way), if you were already in the northern parts of the park. But if leaving from Furnace Creek, the fastest route is still the local's route....


  10. Default

    Thanks so much guys. Love your ideas. Love this forum!

    Will post again soon how the plan is forming!

    Can anyone give me a rough guestimate of driving time between Monterey and Yosemite. I really want to stay at Awahnee.

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