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  1. Default Roadtrip USA-West in March

    Hello everyone from Europe, :-)

    With a friend and colleague I'll be in San Francisco in March until the 9th and we plan to attach another 8 days for a roadtrip.
    I've been studying the area for quite some time already and we know it's not a whole lot of time, but we planned the following stops:

    Day 1: SF to Groveland near Yosemite NP (we only have the afternoon, so we just want to drive close to Yosemite to explore it the next day)
    Day 2: Route through Yosemite, passing Fresno and sleeping in Bakersfield in the evening (we first planned to use the Tioga Pass Road, but I recently found out that it's closed in Winter. Thank god I switched the route planner to Mapquest, which told me so. ;-) )
    Day 3: Passing Red Rock Canyon and the scenic tour through Death Valley to Las Vegas, where we stay for 2 nights
    Day 4: Taking it easy, exploring the area around LV (i.e. Lake Mead, more tips are very welcome) and an evening in Vegas, staying the second night there
    Day 5: Checking out early to Grand Canyon via Kingman, Historic Route 66 to Seligman, Tusayan, Cameron and sleeping in Page
    Day 6: Not fully planned yet, but we wanted to check Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend, Monument Valley and wanted to stay in Cedar City for the night
    Day 7: Checking Bryce Canyon and Zion NP, staying in Cedar City the second night
    Day 8: Doing a hardcore drive only day through Nevada to Carson City, where we stay for the night
    Day 9: Enjoying the area around Lake Tahoe and ending the round trip in San Francisco

    1) I'm still having problems with day 6. I'm not sure we can make it to Monument Valley without the day becoming overly hectic.
    Also, I'm aware that day 8 is hardcore, but we can't leave the car in Las Vegas.

    2) I'd like to know more about the daylight time and weather conditions near our stops at that time. Yosemite and Lake Tahoe will be cold and snowy I guess, but what about the others. How warm will it roughly be in Bakersfield, Death Valley, LV, Page, Cedar City and the remaining way through Nevada on the 50?

    We're looking forward to your input.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    As far as your electronic map planner is concerned, please go back and add about 20% more time to what it tells you the drive time is. The mapping program is JUST driving -- you need to add in time for fuel stops, bathroom stops, meals, stretch breaks, etc.

    Realize that it is a 4 hour drive from Las Vegas to the south rim of the Grand Canyon (the only National Park rim open in winter). The west rim is owned by the Native American tribe. Then another 4 hour drive from the GC to Page. So you may want to rethink both Days 5 and 6. Monument Valley is quite a drive from there as well.

    Does the rental car company not allow dropping the car in Las Vegas, or is it the extra one-way drop off fee that is stopping you?

    As far as the daytime weather conditions in Yosemite and Lake Tahoe -- who knows, at this point! The weather was unseasonably warm up till recently, at both. Six weeks from now? Plan on cold and snowy. Bakersfield and Las Vegas should be comfortable, unless of course they are in the middle of a "cold" wave or rain!

    Hope this helps...


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default many more "hardcore" days

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'm sorry to tell you that I really don't think you are giving yourself nearly enough time. Driving time estimates from computers are typically optimistic, but I think the bigger thing is that you just aren't giving yourself enough time to actually see the National Parks you are planning to visit.

    Going from Groveland to Bakersfield means you'll only have at most a half day in Yosemite, which is a pretty rushed day for this big and amazing park.

    Bakersfield to Vegas via Death Valley is another pretty long day that doesn't leave a lot of time left for exploring DV, much less Red Rock Canyon.

    Your Grand Canyon day actually strikes me as being basically impossible. You'd actually have a good 9 hours just of driving, once you include the Route 66 detour. The Grand Canyon is a huge place, and I always recommend at least a full day there, but your plan barely gives you enough time to look over the edge.

    Oddly, if you are just planning to drive from Cedar City to Carson City in one day, without any additional major stops, then I'd actually say that's the least "hardcore" day of your entire trip!

    But the bigger question is, as Donna asked, why can't you drop the car in Vegas? SF to Vegas one way rentals are extremely common, so common in fact, that many times companies will even waive the typical drop fee.

  4. Default

    @Donna and Michael
    Thanks for your feedback! I already had a feeling this is going to be too hectic.
    As for the daylight times, I think we will have more time in the evening starting March 11th because of the time moving 1h forward. (

    You are right about the one-way car rental. At first I read something about a significant fee, but when entering the Las Vegas drop-off I got the same price. I'll have to discuss that option with my friend.

    As for not having enough time, we didn't really plan to spend a full day at Yosemite hiking and all, so half a day would be correct estimate and the other half driving. Considering that, would you think the Groveland-Bakersfield tour would be ok then? We expect to reach Bakersfield after sunset at maybe 8PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    You do get the sun out an hour later, but it also comes up and hour later, so you don't really have any more time to work with. You're only going to have about 12 hours of daylight each day, which means for many, if not most of the days listed, you will have to spend much of the time - including drives through parks and scenic areas in the dark. Daylight Saving Time just means you'll have to do more driving in the dark in the morning instead of the evening.

    Your Yosemite day can be done, but it will be very rushed. It takes a good hour just to get into and out of the Yosemite Valley. As with most of the days on your trip, you can certainly cover the ground, but I think you'll be so rushed that you simply won't have any time to enjoy it. I also think that you are so rushed on so many days means that not only will you not have time to appreciate the incredible and unique parks you are trying to visit, I think you'll finish your trip simply feeling exhausted instead of amazed.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Just from the car....

    Quote Originally Posted by Duplexius View Post
    As for not having enough time, we didn't really plan to spend a full day at Yosemite hiking and all, so half a day would be correct estimate and the other half driving.
    Even if you do not do any hiking, even if you do not get out of your car, just to see the place and get a few snapshots can take more than a full day.

    Twice I have been to Yosemite. Twice I have driven through Yosemite. No hiking, just frequent stops for photos, or to sit and absorb the atmosphere all around me. And I am yet to see every corner of this park... drive every road. (Though chances are that some roads will be closed in March.)

    I think that you have not comprehended just how large these National Parks are, and how much there is to see. In your time frame, I would choose to see fewer places, and really get to 'see' them.

    Sometimes less is more.


  7. Default

    Thanks for the reply Lifey, it's appreciated. We are well aware that we can't see everything at the stops we planned. But since we have never seen any of it, we would like to get a glimpse, then the coming years we will come back to what we liked most and explore it more deeply. That's kind of the plan.

    We've been spending the better part of this Sunday thinking about the idea whether to fly to Vegas from SFO and back and start the roadtrip there and we came to the conclusion that it's less fun for us to spend another day in the air and on airports (because practically that's what you do on the 9th and 17th then. And since we have a very long flight back after that, it will become a flight nightmare that we try to avoid.
    So we rather want to spend those days on the road, even if we can't do much hiking and wandering around. At least we enjoyed being on the road.

    As a solution to de-stress the trip especially after Las Vegas we thought it will be best to skip the second night in Las Vegas and use that day to cover some distance so that Day 5 and the following are not so hectic. We will also skip either Lake Powell or Monument Valley, so that those days will also be less of a rush.

    Can anybody recommend a hotel in Hotel on or near the strip where checkin and checkout is not such a long procedure (many say that about the huge strip hotels)? We have booked the Caesars for the 2 days for a good price, but I'm probably going to cancel it and find a place where the room is closer to the car. As it will only be one night, it makes no sense to book the Caesars.

    I'm looking forward to your valued input. ;-)


  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I understand not wanting to spend days in airports, but that still doesn't clear up why you couldn't do a one way trip from SFO to Vegas and then fly back from there.

    Adding a day after Vegas will help, somewhat, but I fear that you've still got a plan where in your hopes to get a taste of everything that you will end up seeing next to nothing.

    I don't have any information about the strip hotels, although they all pretty much have a garage right next to the hotel - I'm not sure that you'll find any place that's any different unless you are going to a non-casino hotel off the strip. You'd also have the option of valet parking. The nice thing about Ceasars is that it is near the middle of the strip, so if you are planning to look around just for one night it is in a good location.

  9. Default

    Hi again, I wanted to post an update about the decisions we've made after considering your feedback. ;)

    We are going to change the trip from a roundtrip to a San Francisco to Las Vegas trip with several trip. We decided to end the trip in Vegas, where we will return the car on the 16th, spend the afternoon and night there and the next day we will fly back to SF.
    We also will take more time for the Lake Powell area, where we want to do a day of kayaking.
    We think the trip is managable now and we are very much looking forward to it.

    Thanks again! ;)

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