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  1. #1

    Default San Francisco to Grand Canyon questions

    Hi there. My wife and I are from Australia and had planned a trip to the USA in late Feb / early March. Our plan was to fly into San Francisco, spend a few days touring Sonoma / Napa. Then we planned to fly to Phoenix AZ, rent a car, drive to Sedona and stay the night, then drive to Tusayan (Grand Canyon), stay the night, then the next day drive back to Phoenix, and fly to New York (where we're spending a week with friends).
    However, a family issue came up and we are forced to move our trip to May. Well, for starters, the weather will probably be a lot nicer :) However, the flight schedules for Phoenix to New York are different, which is forcing us to change around our plans.
    One option we are considering is ditching Sonoma altogether, and renting a car in San Francisco instead, and then driving to the Grand Canyon (not sure how) and stay the night (in Tusayan?), then driving to Sedona (stay the night), then driving to Phoenix, and flying to New York (i.e. doing it in the reverse order).
    Has anyone done this road trip (SF to Grand Canyon)? Any ideas, suggestions or tips?
    Things we are trying to figure out (besides do we even want to do this) are, do we go through Nevada or through Arizona? And since it's quite a long drive, we'd probably have a night stayover, where would that be?
    Any tips appreciated! :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Lots and lots of options

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Trips that include San Francisco and the Grand Canyon are among the most popular on this forum, in large part because there are so many options.

    If you are only looking to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, then you'd want to take I-5 down towards Bakersfield, CA-58 across to Barstow, and then I-40 onto Williams, AZ before heading north to the Grand Canyon. You are correct, you would need at one overnight stop, even traveling this way. With an early start from SF, you could get as far as the CA/AZ border - Needles, Lake Havasu City, or perhaps Laughlin Nevada. If you wanted to break it up closer to halfway, then Barstow would be an option.

    Now, if you've got more time, you've got a lot of different things you could do. Depending upon when in May you are traveling, Going through Yosemite National Park, Death Valley, and Las Vegas would be a very popular option. Tioga Pass, which crosses the Sierra Nevada Mountains through Yosemite, typically opens up for the season sometime between mid-May and June depending upon the weather.

    Other options could include traveling down the California Coast as far as Cambria, and then heading east across to Bakersfield and onto the Grand Canyon. Heading to Lake Tahoe, and then down through Las Vegas is also a possibility.

    After the Grand Canyon, you might look at returning to Las Vegas for your flight to NY, instead of Phoenix. One way car rentals typically have a rather significant drop fee, however often that fee will be waived on trips from SF to Vegas, because it is such a popular route. Airfare might also be cheaper out of Las Vegas than Phoenix.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Public Holiday

    Just how many days do you actually have for the west coast section of your trip? I would endorse the routes Michael has laid out, however, as he says, they are only two of many you could choose. If you have the time, I would definitely traverse Yosemite (hopefully Tioga Pass will be open) and Death Valley, even if you do not have the time to thoroughly explore them. It will probably whet the appetite for future trips.

    For the Feb trip it probably would not have been important to book your accommodation. You do not say when in May you will be travelling. Just remember that the last weekend in May is a holiday weekend. So if you should be in a high tourist area around that time, I suggest that you book your accommodation early. You may also find that internal flights will be busy (and maybe more expensive) around that time.


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