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  1. Default San Francisco, Zion, Grand Canyon, Painted Desert

    I'd like to drive from the SF Bay Area to Zion, and from there see the Grand Canyon and the Painted Desert. Assuming a first stop in Tahoe, is it best to break the journey from there to Zion, and if so where? And which rim of the Grand Canyon is best? What about stops after the Grand Canyon, especially if we're thinking of passing through Los Angeles on the return trip?

    Also, any suggestions for interesting and comfortable places to stay would be appreciated (they needn't be especially cheap).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    There are a few pretty important questions that will impact the answers for your trip.

    The two biggest are how much time do you have for this trip, and when will it take place.

    You could drive from Tahoe to Zion in a pretty long day, although it should be noted that Tahoe is not on the shortest/fastest route from SF to Zion. There would also be the potential to go through Yosemite and Death Valley on the way from SF to Zion.

    The "best" side of the Grand Canyon depends upon what you are looking for. The North Rim is quieter and more remote, but it has very little for services and closes during the winter months, and may not be open for your trip (which you've included in the spring forum). The South Rim is the more popular side, easier to get to, and has far more in the way of traveler services, lodging options, and the like.

    Between the Painted Desert and LA, you could head through Joshua Tree pretty easily, but again, it depends upon what you are looking for and how much time you have.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Also, you may want to go to LA first, so the scenic pullouts on the PCH are on your side of the road.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Details and Generalities

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    To answer your specific questions:

    I would definitely break up the drive from Tahoe to Zion. At around 600 miles, it is at the very top end of what we would consider a doable day's drive. But in this case, you'll be on two-lane highways rather than Interstates for the most part, and you'll be passing though and by some very scenic areas that you should take the opportunity to check out a bit, such as Mono Lake and the Desert National Wildlife Range. The problem is that there are not a lot of options between Tonopah NV and St. George UT. Probably your best bet is to aim for Overton NV on the north shore of Lake Mead. That would still have you doing 500 miles or so on the day you drive from Tahoe, but would give you a choice of a range of lodging options.

    The two rims of the Grand Canyon have distinctly different flavors. The North Rim is more isolated and rustic. There is a single road in and out so there is access to only one point along the rim. It is also at a slightly higher elevation. The South Rim has access point in the east near Cameron and in the west north of Williams with a 25 mile road along the rim allowing access at numerous viewpoints along the rim. It is more developed and sees many more tourists. Normally, I would probably lean towards the South Rim, but at the moment (and for the next year or so) US-89 between Page and Bitter Springs is closed due to a landslide. The best alternative for you would be Alt-US-89 down through Fredonia and Jacob Lake. But Jacob Lake is where the entrance road to the North Rim starts from, so as long as you're there already, I'd say just visit the North Rim, then double back out to Jacob Lake (you have no choice in that) and then back through Springdale (keep your receipt from Zion so that you can drive UT-9 without having to pay another entry fee to use the part of the road that uses the tunnel through the park) to I-15 south through Las Vegas to Los Angeles.

    As for other sights to see in the general area you'll be driving through, check out the discussions linked to here.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 05-15-2013 at 08:54 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    777

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    I'd suggest going out 50 with an overnight in Ely.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

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    I'd say just visit the North Rim, then double back out to Jacob Lake (you have no choice in that) and then back through Springdale (keep your receipt from Zion so that you can drive UT-9 without having to pay another entry fee to use the part of the road that uses the tunnel through the park) to I-15 south through Las Vegas to Los Angeles.
    If you have already been through Zion, you can take AZ-389 at Fredonia to UT-59 to Hurricane to UT-9 to I-15. This saves you about 16 miles and a bunch of time.

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