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  1. Default SF/Oakland to Phoenix in 4 days (sanity check)

    Hi All,

    First, I just want to thank the forum. I'm a newbie and have been spending the last weeks scouring archives of posts, and love the fact there has been so much help and activity. I'm looking forward to participating and sharing my experiences with the rest of your.

    So, my wife, one year old daughter and I are taking a road trip from Oakland to Phoenix this July for a family reunion. With work, and the reunion, we're stuck to a fairly specific travel time-frame. Which, unfortunately, for all that exists between these two locations makes it difficult to decide where to spend more/less time at.

    We can leave early Tuesday and need to be in Phoenix mid-day Friday. So that gives us a solid 3.5 days of driving/site seeing.

    My current thought for travel is this:
    Tues/Day1: On the road early, head into Yosemite. See the valley briefly (1-2 hours max), then head over Tioga Pass. With the kid, we'll have to make regular stops, which will be ideal since we'll want to stop throughout the park for brief picture opps.

    That night we'd bunk somewhere between Mammoth Lakes and Lone Pine ... depending on how motivated we are and how traffic/timing through the park does us.

    Wed/Day 2: Day 2 we do another early start to try and get into and through Death Valley and bunk in Vegas for the evening. Again, making regular stops, but nothing too time consuming in the way of hikes/adventures.

    Thurs/Day 3: Head up to Grand Canyon from Vegas - go to the SkyView overlook, and start heading toward Flagstaff for the night.

    Fri/ Day 4: Wrap up the trip and head into Phoenix.

    First things first:
    I know this is quick, and doesn't give us the ideal amount of time in any of these locations. The way I look at it, this is more of a scenic/get to see some cool stuff/long drive vs. a traditional road trip, and hoping this could be a more fun and rewarding trip than the direct route via I-5/I-10.

    That being said, here are my questions:
    - Is it too quick? Will we just regret this trip in the long run because we zip past everything?
    - Do you recommend an alternate route, where we perhaps focus on one major road trip destination vs the three (yosemite, death valley, grand canyon)? We live in Oakland, so Yosemite isn't too far for us to do on any given weekend. Perhaps hitting Sequoia instead and skipping Yosemite and Death Valley?
    - Is death valley stupid in July with a toddler? I know lots of people do it in July, and I wouldn't mind normally, but want to make sure I don't put her at risk.
    - Is Vegas out of the way? We have no intent on visiting Vegas, but I get free, great hotel room, so thought it would be a nice breather. But definitely not a necessity.

  2. Default

    Welcome,

    The answer depends on what you feel would be an enjoyable trip. If this is your first trip with your daughter, then you might want to consider how long she is happy sitting in car and how flexible she is about new things such as sleeping in new places. Also note Bishop as an option: it is lower in elevation than Mammoth and between Mammoth and Lone Pine.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default I'd skip Skywalk -- Go see the real thing!

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Grenier View Post
    Thurs/Day 3: Head up to Grand Canyon from Vegas - go to the SkyView overlook, and start heading toward Flagstaff for the night.
    As you probably already know, none of the regulars here are very keen on the Skywalk attraction. It's not really in the grand canyon being situated on what is called the west rim. Being as close as you are -- you really must take the time to drive to the South Rim for the awesome views.
    - Is it too quick? Will we just regret this trip in the long run because we zip past everything?
    Any day on a road trip is better than not being out there. Yes, you're going to spend most of your day driving -- and the temptation to stop and wander will be extreme, but such a trip can be done.
    - Do you recommend an alternate route, where we perhaps focus on one major road trip destination vs the three (yosemite, death valley, grand canyon)? We live in Oakland, so Yosemite isn't too far for us to do on any given weekend. Perhaps hitting Sequoia instead and skipping Yosemite and Death Valley?
    Yosemite is technically a day trip from Oakland, but I'd still recommend your identified route.
    - Is death valley stupid in July with a toddler? I know lots of people do it in July, and I wouldn't mind normally, but want to make sure I don't put her at risk.
    You're not going to be there long enough to hike, your car is air-conditioned, and as long as ALL of you drink plenty of WATER... you'll be fine.
    - Is Vegas out of the way? We have no intent on visiting Vegas, but I get free, great hotel room, so thought it would be a nice breather. But definitely not a necessity.
    Furnace Creek in Death Valley is three hours from the Strip. And again, I'd recommend it as a place to stay overnight.

    We could give you -- quite literally -- dozens of alternative routes and attractions, but given the parameters of your trip -- I think your choices are fine.

    Happy Planning!

    Mark

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Mammoth, Boulder, Flagstaff. [?]

    I wouldn't push too far on day 1, in July you will be able to spend more time out of the car in Yosemite than you will Death Valley. In fact if you were only 'bunking down' in Vegas, Mammoth Lakes is as far as I would go, and perhaps even stop in Lee Vining.

    From Death valley junction [190] you can take Aash Meadows/State Line/Bell Vista road in to Pahrump and 160 to south Las Vegas. It's known as the Locals route and will save you getting hooked up in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Vegas.

    As Mark mentioned, I would 100% recommend going to the South rim of the GC over the Skywalk, which is time consuming and much more expensive than the NP. Enter through Tusayan [64] and stop at the rim near the village area and then exit to the east on 64 along Desert view drive to 89 and then head to Flagstaff. That way you will be able 'bag' a few more viewpoints along Desert view, including the Old Watchtower.

    Actually, if you got to Mammoth Lakes you could perhaps make it to Henderson/Boulder City just out the other side of Vegas to allow more time at the GC. Although Furnace creek is a good choice for an overnight stop in Death Valley, I would disagree with Mark on this one, given your time constraints. I think it would leave you with too much to do the following day when including a trip to GC.

  5. Default

    Thanks CANative! We've done several shorter trips, and about 5 flights across the country with her already (a very well traveled baby). She's done well so far, so fingers crossed!

  6. Default

    Awesome - this is all really great feedback mark. Makes me feel better about the research I had already done :-) We're relatively new to the west coast, so looking forward to adventuring more and knowing the dozens of alternatives as time progresses!

  7. Default

    Thanks SWDave - love the alternate routes, and the suggestion to take more time in Yosemite than Death Valley. Getting excited to see more of the country every day!

  8. Default

    Very glad to hear you have family traveling experience with a seasoned little traveler. You'll have a great trip and many more in your future!

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