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  1. #1

    Default Vegas to Reno, San Francisco down the coast and back to Las Vegas

    Looking for some info on what to see and do and what routes to take. We are flying to Las Vegas and renting a car and want to travel to Reno, then on to San Francisco and down the coast and back to Las Vegas. If any one can give me info on what to see, where to stay and what are the best routes to take, it would really be appreciated! We have about 7 days to travel!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Depends so much on the purpose of the trip.

    Hi Karen, and Welcome to the Great American Road Trip forum.

    There are a fair selection of routes you could take, depending on your interests, and how long you wish to spend in each city. For instance, when leaving Las Vegas you could head straight up 95 to Reno, or you could drive through the spectacular Death Valley NP and take the scenic route 395 in eastern CA, to Reno. Each of your other legs would have similar types of choices you could make, depending on what you wish to see/do, and the purpose of the trip. You would need to allow two days for the Pacific Coast Highway south of San Francisco, to LA (or the turn off to LV).

    A good detailed map of CA would be a great place to start your planning.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default A few thoughts.

    As above really, you have many options. Have you 7 days for the whole trip including flying into Vegas, or does it start from when you leave Vegas ? Of course it might be one of the same if you are not intending to spend time in Vegas itself. With time to drive down the scenic section of coastline between Monterey and Cambria/Morro Bay, your whole journey will require 3 full days of driving, so your time will soon disappear.

    For example if you drove through Death Valley to Reno same day [a long but enjoyable drive] and had an evening there and the following morning/early pm you make your way to SF, perhaps via Napa Valley and over the Golden Gate bridge. You could then spend the following day and night in SF and make your way to Cambria via the coast for a night before heading inland to Vegas. So that's 5 days accounted of your 7 available, including a full day in San Fran. If you wish to spend time in LV you could easily use them up there, or if not, take time out for some natural wonders.

    One of my favourite places on earth is Yosemite NP which is a breathtaking natural wonder, especially at the high altitude locations. ;) lol If you broke the journey up to Reno and stopped overnight near Mammoth Lakes or Lee Vining after Death Valley, you could drive part of the spectacular Tioga Pass [CA120] to Tuolumne Meadows and Tenaya Lake and enjoy the high country. Yosemite valley is worth visiting, but it would only be possible [without too much driving] if you either dropped Reno from your plans, or if any time in Vegas is already accounted for or not wanted. I know I wouldn't want to be this close to Yosemite and not get a chance to see it ! How big a deal is Reno to you ? A more relaxed pace and scenic adventure would have you going through Death valley, over Tioga Pass to Yosemite and then to San Fran, back down the coast and inland to Vegas. That's my opinion anyway, but it's yours that counts.

    Another option would be to spend a bit of time around Lake Tahoe and break the journey between Reno and SF. Check out your options and when you have decided on where you would like to go we can help piece it together.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 03-22-2013 at 03:42 AM.

  4. #4


    Our time in Vegas is already accounted for, we have 7 days to travel and get back to Vegas to fly out. We would love to see Yosemite and possibly the Sequoias, I would love to see the Goldengate Bridge. Lake Tahoe is an option also, Reno is not the highlight! We are going in early June so I didn't know if Tioga Pass would be an option...thanks so much for your help!!!! As a matter of fact, an 8th day may be possible, just in case we need extra time!

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

    Default An extra day is worth it if you can !

    You would need to check the status of the Tioga Pass, but I think you have a good chance of it being open. Near the south entrance of Yosemite you will find Mariposa Grove which is home to the giant Sequoia trees. Not quite as big as some of those found in Sequoia NP, which is in fact home to the largest of them all, the 'General Sherman tree'. If you wanted to visit Sequoia NP, two options would be firstly to go from Vegas to the Lake Isabella area via Death valley and then go up the west side of the Sierras to Sequoia and Yosemite and then cross the Tioga Pass and head up towards Lake Tahoe/Reno from Lee Vining on 395 and then to San Fran. Alternatively you could drive to Sequoia NP from the coast near the end of your trip and overnight on the way back to Vegas.

    If you drive into SF via the GG bridge you would have the option to visit the Redwoods at Muir Woods. There are also nice views of the bridge with the city in the background to be found on either side of it before crossing on it. Leave time for an Alcatraz visit while in SF.

  6. #6


    Having a hard time trying to map a course on the site, but would definitely want to see Yosemite and the sequoias.

  7. #7


    I would like to do all of the above, we do plan to drive from vegas to reno/tahoe in a day and really want to see Yosemite!!!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default "Doing it all " with 8 days.

    Here is one possible scenario, based on getting to Reno in a day which is too far to include a visit to Yosemite on the way, but as mentioned previously you have many ways of going about it.

    Day 1] Las Vegas to Reno via US95.

    Day 2] Reno and Lake Tahoe to Yosemite via US395 to Mono Lake and Tioga Pass. [Or US50/CA49 if Tioga closed]

    Day 3] Yosemite.

    Day 4] Yosemite to San Fran either direct for more time in either Yosemite or SF, or drive through 'Gold country' on CA49[if you haven't had to drive it already because of Tioga] towards Sacramento and on to Napa and over GG bridge.

    Day 5] Explore San Francisco, travel to Monterey for the night.

    Day 6] Follow the coast [CA1] around Big Sur to Cambria and then CA46 to Paso Robles CA41 to Fresno. [Or Sequoia NP]

    Day 7] Fresno to 180 to Kings canyon entry kiosk to Sequoia NP. Drive through Sequoia NP on 198 [The Generals Highway] and exit the park to Three Rivers. From Three Rivers continue to Exeter and south on CA65 through Porterville to CA155 to Wofford Heights/Lake Isabella.

    Day 8] Lake Isabella to Vegas via Death valley. Head towards Ridgecrest where you can take US395 North before Ridgecrest or continue on and take the Trona Wildrose Road past Ballarat Ghost town to CA190 across DV. [If you take the Trona W/rose option you need to fork left onto Panamint Springs Road, as the road through Wildrose canyon is unmade in sections I believe.] Follow 190 all the way to Death valley junction and turn right and immediate left to Pahrump and then NV160 to Vegas.

    There would be a mixture of long days on the road [with lots to 'entertain' you,] and a little time 'to take a breath' along the way. With 8 days and wanting to do it all you will have to either keep on the go, or cut back. If you are happy to keep on the go, it's certainly doable.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Made? Paved?

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    If you take the Trona W/rose option you need to fork left onto Panamint Springs Road, as the road through Wildrose canyon is unmade in sections I believe.]
    The road is paved the entire way, but various underground springs have created LARGE potholes in the Wildrose road, so you have to slow down. (never drive this after sunset!) Beautiful road though.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You sure about that, Mark? The official park map shows about a 4 mile unpaved stretch from just inside the park boundary to the junction with Emigrant Canyon Road.

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