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  1. Default (Another) LA-LV-SF-LA Road Trip

    Hi all. I have been lurking in these forum's for a while now and feel bad for asking for help on what is one of the most common routes on your forum. I tried to figure it all out by myself but the expertise you all show is too good to pass up would be greatly appreciated!

    My Wife and myself are planning a road trip from Fri 27th July to Sat 11th Aug. Those dates are fixed due to work and we already bought the flights. We land at LAX at 1pm and fly back out at 9:30pm. We have hired a convertible from Avis for the whole trip, we are both confident drivers who have driven abroad and on the other side of the road before.

    Background and what we like: This is a once in a lifetime trip due to the cost and we both have always wanted to do it. We are 29 and 30 and reasonably (though not especially!) fit and want to have an even split of seeing cities and all the wonderful scenery. We plan to do walking/hiking of which the most challenging one we are considering is Half Dome at Yosemite. I have heard there are some wonderful walks in Zion NP and would like to see Bryce Canyon and Death Valley. We plan to have a Helicopter trip from the south rim of GC and would like to see at least one sunrise and sunset (doesn't have to be on same day) between day 5 and 6.

    I have planned a draft route in Google maps (link I hope below) and have a couple of queries that I hope won't be too much hassle.

    1) Is there any glaring errors? (for example are Google road times way off?)
    2) we currently have a spare day and are not sure how to spend it. Options to spend another day in grand Canyon, or another day in Yosemite or on PCH or just somewhere to ease burden. ( I know this is a difficult one as it's probably down to our preference but there might be somewhere that we need two days and we've only got one e.g. Zion and Bryce). Not to bothered about adding it on to any of the cities. Would rather use it to see more scenery that we have listed or something that we are missing.
    3) A colleague at work told be that trying to do Bryce and Zion in 1 day would not allow us to enjoy it (Google says 5h of driving that day). I'm happy to use the spare day mentioned above or miss out Bryce and spend day 6 in Zion if we use the spare day somewhere else.

    Anway: here it is

    Day 01 (Fri 27): Land LAX at 13:00
    Day 02 (Sat 28): Day in LA
    Day 03 (Sun 29): Day in LA
    Day 04 (Mon 30): Travel to Williams via Joshua Tree NP, Amboy, Kingman (10h approx)
    Day 05 (Tue 31): 1.5h to south rim (sunrise) day in GC, 3h travel to sunset at Horseshoe (19:30), overnight in Kanab
    Day 06 (Wed 01): Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, Overnight near Zion (e.g Hurricane, spring dale) 5h driving
    Day 07 (Thu 02): travel to Fire Valley NP then to Vegas. Overnight in Vegas
    Day 08 (Fri 03): Overnight in Vegas
    Day 09 (Sat 04): THIS IS A SPARE DAY to be used anywhere
    Day 10 (Sun 05): Travel to Death valley (arrive around 14:00) then onto Mammoth Lakes, overnight somewhere near
    Day 11 (Mon 06): Day in Yosemite, overnight near Yosemite (the Yosemite bug?!)
    Day 12 (Tue 07): Travel to SF
    Day 13 (Wed 08): Day in SF
    Day 14 (Thu 09): day in SF
    Day 15 (Fri 10): Down PCH, afternoon in Monterey and Caramel, overnight Pismo Beach
    Day 16 (Sat 11): down PCH to LAX, drop car off at 19:30

    Thank you in advance. I'm sorry for the long message but any help would be welcomed!

    Here is the google URL to the map, never tried to link to it before so if it doesn't work let me know

    Ben

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think your trip is reasonably solid, but your first days are pretty brutal.

    LA to Williams via Joshua Tree is going to be a very long day, certainly more than 10 hours. Its doable, but then having to wake up about 3 hours before dawn to see the sunrise (factoring getting up/driving/into the park/to a viewpoint) the next day seems like too much to me.

    Williams to Kanab in a day doesn't leave you much time at the Grand Canyon. Again, not impossible, but if you want to do any hiking - and I'd strongly recommend at least a hike a short ways down into the Canyon - its probably not going to work.

    I think you could do a quick tour of bryce and zion in one day, but again, it wouldn't leave much if any time for hiking, and actually I don't think you need to. Instead, "day 6" at Bryce and do "day 7" at Zion. You could still leave Zion in late afternoon and head back to Vegas that night, probably skipping Valley of Fire. Plus, arriving in Vegas after dark is kind of neat - and you can be amazed at how far away you can see the lights, especially the Luxor's giant light beam.

    Day 12, I think you'll want to make most of that day in Yosemite, but you could still make it out to SF that evening.

    At the very end of your trip, I think you're a bit rushed getting from Pismo to LAX on the same day. Certainly doable, but you'll really have to be watching the clock, especially when you have to factor in the afternoon rush to get to LAX (rush, as in from noon to about 10 pm). I'd think about splitting up your 2 days in LA, and do one after your arrival and one just before your departure.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Not recommended in the dark.

    Not only won't Williams to Kanab leave you any quality time at the South Rim, but if you want to see the Sunset at Horseshoe Bend, you will be driving half your route in the dark. Not something which is recommended. Besides the danger of wildlife, this is open ranch country, and black cows are hard to see at night.

    Lifey

  4. Default Update

    thanks for the quick responses! That's really helpful. I see that I need to sort out the first leg and never considered driving in the dark could be problematic. Will take a second swing at that part a will come back to get a second opinion if that's ok?

    Also will move one of the LA days to the end. Heard horror stories about the traffic but never factored it in.

    Thanks again.

    Ben

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Bit more info?

    Quote Originally Posted by ben_l00 View Post
    ... we are both confident drivers who have driven abroad and on the other side of the road before.
    My curiosity has got the better of me.... fly into LAX from where?

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Its easy to forget about how bad LA traffic can be and how much time it could add to a trip. When I lived out there, I had to park in short term parking once just to make my flight because I sat basically parked on the 405 for more than an hour longer than I had anticipated. Thankfully it was just a weekend trip, because at $30 a day, it was an expensive mistake.

    But of course you are welcome to continue to ask questions and update us on the progress of your planning.

  7. Default Origin story!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    My curiosity has got the better of me.... fly into LAX from where?

    Lifey
    Scotland in the united kingdom. The flights for two cost us about £1700 which I think is about $2500 hence the reason why it's a once in a lifetime trip! Think we are 8 hours in front of california so we land in lax at the same time as we leave uk roughly but lose a day coming back.

  8. Default

    Ok, per your advice I have moved things around a little bit.

    1) moved the 3rd LA day to the end
    2) using the spare day in the Grand Canyon leg.
    3) think will have to keep the transit day from LA to Williams the same. Although it is long it gets us to a good base point for Grand Canyon. Plus The missus drives for work and will sometimes do 10h in a day with work in the middle and I will be sharing some of it. But to accommodate the fact we will be tired the next day perhaps missing a sunrise would be ok! And to allow time to hike in Grand Canyon we could leave horseshoe out and try a sunset nearer to the south rim

    He's a revised first few days with couple of questions.

    Day 01 (Fri 27): Land LAX at 13:00
    Day 02 (Sat 28): Day in LA
    Day 03 (Sun 29): Travel to Williams via Joshua Tree NP, Amboy, Kingman (10h approx)
    Day 04 (Mon 30): 1.5h to south rim day in GC, travel to overnight somewhere near Page.
    Day 05 (Tue 31): Bryce Canyon (3h from page) overnight between Bryce and Zion
    Day 06 (Wed 01): Day in Zion. Travel to Vegas, overnight in Vegas
    Day 07 (Thur 02): Overnight in Vegas
    Rest of the trip the same using the suggestion to stay in Yosemite in the morning before heading to SF (on day 12 now day 11).

    Questions: If this is more doable than the first plan,
    1) where would be best to stay near page on day 4? Or should we not even aim as far as that?
    2) where should we stay between Bryce and Zion on day 5?
    3) A third option if Page is to far from South Rim is to skip bryce. Stay somewhere near South Rim on day 4 after spending day in GC. Day 5 is travel to Zion. Then day 6 in Zion.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    2) using the spare day in the Grand Canyon leg.
    Day 04 (Mon 30): 1.5h to south rim day in GC, travel to overnight somewhere near Page.
    Sorry, but I'm not sure I'm following your plan here.

    I thought you said you are adding your extra day at the Grand Canyon, however, I'm not seeing how your plans have really changed. The only difference I see is that instead of driving to Kanab you are going to Page. That saves an hour and a half or so off of your drive, but its not very much of a change. You're still looking at about a 2 hour drive from the South Rim to Page.

    Its hard to answer your Bryce/Zion question, because of what appears to be a contradiction in your planning.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    1. Your only choices that I'm aware of are the Cameron Trading Post or in Page itself.
    2. Unless you cross the mountains to approach Zion from the west (which will increase your drive time considerably), there aren't any options that I'm aware of except around Bryce.

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