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  1. Default March Road Trip in the west. Which kind of car?

    Hi everyone,

    I'm a new member and before posting, I've read a lot of threads and I must say you all saved me a lot of time!!

    I'm planning a road trip in early March through California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and then come back to California. Actually, I've two questions:

    - What about National Parks in early March? I suppose some roads will still be closed because of snow?
    - What kind of car should I rent? A sedan seems good enough to do it but if roads aren't in a good condition, is a SUV a better choice? I'll just be by myself, I don't need a lot of cargo room but something comfortable regarding the huge amount of miles (around 2500)...

    Thanks for taking the time to answer me!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Pros and cons.

    I'm glad you have found the forums of help and don't forget to check out the planning resources in the tool bars above as well. Hello and welcome to RTA !

    Most parks are open year round but you are correct in thinking that there will be road closures in certain places. Yosemite and Kings canyon/Sequoia are 2 examples where you can expect closures, permanent to the high ground and possible temporary closures on other roads depending on conditions, plus possibly the need to use snow chains/cables. Use the NPS site to get an idea of what to expect. Click on a State and then select a park.

    As for the vehicle, a Sedan should be just fine, although a 4 wheel drive can get you out of a tricky spot, you should keep up to date with weather forecasts and road conditions and try to avoid 'tricky spots'. A 4 wheel drive can lead people into a false sense of security and end up getting them into more trouble than if they didn't have one, by going places that they really shouldn't have in the first place. A sedan will also be more budget friendly, but that's not to say a 4 wheel drive is not a good tool to have, it comes down to personal choice once you have weighed up the pros and cons.

  3. Default

    Thank you. Here's now my preliminary itinerary, all advices I can get here are good to me...

    D1: Flight CDG-SFO (more or less 12 hours). Landing at 1 pm.
    Pick up the rental car and have lunch somewhere in Bay area.
    It still leaves me a few hours before dark, empty space to fill up. Recommendations?
    Night in SF.

    D2: SFO to LA through US1 early morning.
    Don't know yet where to spend the night. Recommendation?
    D3: Second part of SFO-LA through US1.
    Arriving in LA late afternoon.
    Night in LA.
    D4: LA
    Night in LA.
    D5: LA- Death Valley early morning.
    Death Valley visit.
    Night in Furnace Creek.
    D6: Death Valley.
    Jeep rental at Farabee's to explore back roads.
    Death Valley- LV.
    Arriving LV early evening.
    Night in LV.
    D7: LV
    Night in LV.
    D8: LV- GC (south rim) early morning.
    Place to stay in Grand Canyon overnight?
    D9: GC- Zion Park late morning
    Place to stay in Zion Park overnight?
    D10: Zion Park
    Place to stay in Zion Park overnight?
    D11: Zion Park- Ely (NV) early morning.
    Night somewhere between Ely and Fallon. Recommendations?
    D12: Somewhere on US50- Lake Tahoe early morning.
    Night in Lake Tahoe.
    D13: Lake Tahoe-SF
    D14: Off
    Night in SF.
    D15: Flight back SFO-CDG

    This itinerary is just a first shoot and I'm expecting your advices. Actually, the most important thing to me is how to get from a point to another using scenic roads. Parks are important too but with 2 weeks, it just won't be possible to see everything, so I had to make choices.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO



    Night somewhere between Ely and Fallon. Recommendations?
    There is VERY little of anything out there, the only civilization (and even then it's not much) is Eureka and Austin. You shouldn't have to spend a night, it's only 250 miles and if the weather and road is good, it will take you less than 5 hours. The speed limit for the majority of that stretch is 70 mph. Fill your gas tank (and stomachs) in Ely.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Lodging.

    Have you considered collecting the car the morning you leave SF. Parking is expensive in SF and you won't need a car to get around the City. Most Hotels charge extra for car parking even if you are staying there. There are some exceptions and one I know of is the Buena Vista Motor Inn on Gough and Lombard street. It was nothing special when we were there, but it was good value, comfortable and clean. It's not too far from Fishermans Wharf [20min walk or so] and the cable cars into the City. An evening tour of Alcatraz would be time well spent [depending on how you feel after your arrival] and a nice stroll and evening meal on Pier 39 and surrounding area. Another option on arrival would be to get a free shuttle bus to an airport hotel and use the BART rail system to get downtown for the evening. The Best Western Grosvenor was a lovely hotel last time we were there.

    The Cambria area is quite a good mid way point between SF and LA allowing time to stop at scenic points along the coast.

    Other than staying in the park at GC, you have the options of Tusayan for the nearest lodgings to the south kiosk with Williams and Flagstaff being other alternatives which could prove more budget friendly. Out of the east entrance you will find the rather cool 'Cameron Trading Post'.

    For Zion NP you have the option of staying in the park, right outside is the wonderful little town of Springdale UT and a little further away with possibly cheaper options would be Hurricane. If you can get a deal in Springdale that's where I would recommend.

  6. Default

    Thanks guys for your answers.

    To glc:

    You're right, it seems to be a desolated area. The only thing is I don't really want to spend the full day driving till Fallon. The drive between Zion and Ely is already 4.5 hours plus stops. Unless there's absolutely nothing to see on US50??

    To Dave:

    Yes, I considered renting the car on day 2 but since I'll be leaving SF very early, not sure it would be the best solution. Thank you for Buena Vista Motor inn, that's where I'm going to stay. SF is a place I already know pretty much, the only reason why I'll spend the first day there is to recover from a 12 hours flight. Pier 39 sounds good.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Depends on your definition of 'nothing'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Patate View Post
    Unless there's absolutely nothing to see on US50??
    One often reads that there is nothing to see. For me, it was the most amazing desert scenery. True, it is desolate and empty, but that in itself created a beauty not seen anywhere else. I saw two other vehicles, the whole way - that was in 2001.

    It is one mountain range after another, with valleys in between. And each is unique. When you take some time to just sit to take in your surroundings, you see more and more.

    Driving The Loneliest Highway in America was for me an unusual experience. There are hardly any points of reference. No other traffic. No fences. No buildings. Nature pure and raw. Take time to experience it.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    It is possible to find lodging in Eureka, Austin, Cold Springs, and Middlegate. Austin is the halfway point and is an interesting modern day "ghost town". There are 3 motels in town, and from what I can find the Cozy Mountain Motel is probably the best of the 3 because it's been recently renovated. Don't expect too much, it's 3 trailer units in a "U" separated into about 15 small rooms and services in town are very limited.

    Eureka has an overpriced Best Western but that's way too soon to stop, and I believe the lodging in Cold Springs and Middlegate are just some trailer units in RV parks.

    Other than possibly wandering around town in Eureka and Austin, there really isn't anything organized to see along the route that you can't see out of the car windows. I ran that route back in January - I left Ely after an early breakfast and was in Fallon for a late lunch. Even if you took your time and stopped in Austin for lunch and a look-see, you should be able to make it into Fallon and get checked in to a hotel in time for dinner.

    Zion to Ely and Ely to Fallon are roughly the same length.

  9. Default

    Thanks Lifey. That's what I heard about this road and I must say that's exactly what I'm looking for.

    So, the best option would be to drive from Ely to Lake Tahoe on day 12 leaving early morning, supposing I'd miss out the scenery driving after sunset on day 11.

  10. Default

    To Glc:
    Where did you stay in Ely?

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