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  1. Default San Francisco to Bryce Canyon National Park in October

    Greetings to all,

    My wife and I are planning to fly back to the States in October for a reunion with relatives in Nebraska.
    We'll be flying into SFO on Oct. 2, and plan on getting up early on the 3rd (a weekday) and driving to Bryce Canyon. Is this doable in a day? I used to live in NorCal, so we wouldn't need to stop for sightseeing along the way.

    Since we're arriving in San Francisco in the afternoon of the 2nd, instead of heading straight to a hotel in the city, I'm wondering if it would be better to jump in the rental car and drive a few hours to get a leg up on the trip.

    Your thoughts would be much appreciated.

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

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    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'm sorry, but no, it really isn't possible to get from SFO to Bryce Canyon in a day. The shortest route makes this a 750 mile drive, which really is too much in the best circumstances all along freeways, and this certainly would not be that. The shortest route actually would take you through Yosemite and Tioga Pass, followed by hundreds of miles of 2 lanes roads across the desert. You could also use another pass like Sonora Pass, to avoid Yosemite, but it wouldn't change your travel time significantly.

    Going via freeways would mean going around via Las Vegas, which pushes the distance up to nearly 850 miles, although the travel time likely wouldn't change much. In any case, I'd expect the trip to take 15-16 hours, which is far too much for one day on the road.

    You didn't say exactly where you are flying in from, but we generally don't recommend long drives after long haul flights. If you are landing in the afternoon on a direct flight from Europe, you will have already been traveling for at least 14-15 hours by the time you get on the road. If its afternoon in SFO, then it is late night or even early in the morning, which is what time your body thinks it is. In any case, you'd have to cover a good 200 miles just to make the drive to Bryce possible the following day, which really is more than just a couple hours. Not to mention, leaving in the afternoon, also likely means trying to leave during rush hour.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Welcome!

    SFO to Bryce is over 800 miles, and will take at least a day and a half. Don't EVEN attempt to do this in one day, this could take as much as 16 hours.

    Go to Bakersfield via US-101/CA-152/I-5/CA-46/CA-99, then CA-58/I-15 through LV to Cedar City, UT-14 to US-89 to UT-12. On the first day, you would need to make it to Bakersfield to be able to comfortably get to Bryce on the second day. This will take about 4.5 hours, longer if you get caught in rush hour. I don't know if the San Mateo Bridge (CA-92)/I-880/I-238/I-580 to I-5 would be any better than 101 and 152, perhaps a local could advise here.

    HOWEVER - if you are arriving at SFO on an international flight, you need to plan on at least a couple of hours to collect luggage, clear customs, and get a rental car. If you have been crossing time zones, it may not be advisable to drive 5 hours right away!

  4. Default

    Many thanks for all the advice. Sure glad that I asked.

    Due to the unpredictability of traffic through Yosemite, I hadn't even considered that route even though it is the shortest (and most scenic). I guess we'll aim for LV instead on the first day. That way, we could still make the sunset at Bryce on the second day.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
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    SFO to LV is a FULL day's drive (about 10 hours) and I would NOT do that starting out in the afternoon!

    If you are spending the first night in the SF area (recommended) then that's no problem leaving in the morning. If you do that, you could even go through Zion on your way to Bryce the next day instead of taking UT-14 over the mountains.

    Another option is to take UT-14, then go up through Cedar Breaks to Panguitch.

  6. Default

    Just to clarify, I meant the day following our arrival. We'll take it easy in SF after flying in and head out the following morning.

    From my "research" over the past day, Zion NP does sound like a must-see. I suppose the advantage of going though LV is that we could easily pass through Zion on the way to Bryce.

    Oh, one more question. My wife recently injured her Achilles tendon, so she won't be able to do much walking. At Bryce Canyon, is it possible to drive to the main viewing areas (Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, etc)?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
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    At Bryce Canyon, is it possible to drive to the main viewing areas (Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, etc)?
    You bet! There are turnouts for all the viewpoints on the only road in and out. Go down to the end first, then all the turnouts will be on your side of the road on the way back out. Bryce is an extremely easy park to see with limited mobility.

    Zion is a different story. The road into Zion Canyon is closed to private vehicles from April 1 to November 1, and the only access to that part of the park is by (free) shuttle bus. To use the shuttle, you need to park in Springdale. Highway 9 *IS* open through the park to private vehicles, but parking in the park is extremely limited. Zion is not that great if you have limited mobility or limited time, you will be jumping on and off buses.

  8. Default

    Good to know, and thanks for the link.

    Well, since Zion is on the way, i guess we should give it a look even if that means just driving through on highway 9. I suppose if we leave LV early enough there might be enough time to even ride the shuttle and still make it up to the motel in Bryce Canyon.

    Still lots of planning to do...from Bryce to Moab...and then onward to Lawrence, KS.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Green County, Wisconsin
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    I don't know that the shuttle bus system would keep you from enjoying Zion. The buses are wheelchair accessable, and should have hydraulics to lower the bus for easier access if stairs are an issue. You'll have to decide how limited you will be, but I don't think getting on and off a shuttle bus would be any more difficult than getting in and out of a car.

  10. Default

    My wife is fine with stairs. In fact, walking short distances is fine, as long as it's under a few hundred yards.

    A lot of people seem to like that shuttle bus.

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