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  1. #1

    Default Vancouver, BC - Las Vegas (West Coast down, ID back up)

    Hello all!

    So at the end of May I'll be embarking on my first big road trip. We'll be starting in Vancouver, BC. Through Portland OR, Weed CA, San Fran CA, Bakersfield CA then Vegas NV. On the way back up I'll be doing the drive by myself, so a straight shoot from Vegas to Boise, ID, then back home to Vancouver. The places in bold are overnight stops. So I have a few questions but I'll just quickly lay out our estimated itinerary.

    May 27 - Van - Portland (stopover at the incredible Powell's bookstore)
    - Portland to Weed (staying overnight)
    May 28 - Weed to Sa Francisco (stopping for lunch, a little looking around)
    - San Fran - Bakersfield (Staying overnight)
    May 29 - Bakersfield - Vegas (Staying 3 nights)

    June 1 - Vegas - Boise (staying overnight)
    June 2 - Boise to HOME!

    So questions
    1) Taking this route down we will go through the Cascade Mountains and even though it's late May I have heard of there being random snowstorms through there. I will obviously keep an eye on the weather as it gets closer to our departure date but just wondering if anyone had any experience?
    2) On my way back I was hoping to take the 93 all the way from Vegas to Boise as opposed to the 15. What are the advantages/ disadvantages? I had heard that there's a stretch around Yakima that is over 300MI without a gas station. My tank holds about 600-700km worth but I'd rather know going in when the last place I can get gas would be.

    The trip to Vegas itself is on par with the road trip part of our excitement; we want to see a little on the way down but are only planning the few stops to break up driving intervals (I drive stick, my friend does not, therefor I'll be doing all the driving) Is there anything else I should be aware of? This will be my first huge road trip, first time doing one through the states (I'm an Aussie national with Canadian PR) I'm excited but very aware that it's a long trip, especially my drudge home doing two 10 hr days.

    I am a member of an immigration forum that helped me get PR so I'm a huge fan of all things forums. They are the most underrated sources of information on the internet!

    Thanks guys!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    I too enjoy forums and sharing information. It sounds like you have some good ideas for a trip here, but there are a few things I'd like to caution you about.

    First, going from Vancouver, BC down to the Weed, CA area in one day. It's well over 660 miles, which is more than we usually recommend for a day's drive because it will take you more than 10 hours WITHOUT a stop at the bookstore that you're interested in. Ten hours is about what commercial drivers are allowed to drive in a day and then must go 8 hours without being behind the wheel. It will take you more time to maneuver yourself through Portland, find parking, and then find your way back to I-5. So be careful there, and consider stopping earlier than Weed.

    On the second day, you have a similar problem, but the mileage isn't the issue. It's 520 miles from Weed to Bakersfield WITHOUT a stop in San Francisco. To stop in the city for lunch, you will A) have to go at least 50 miles out of your way, B) Find very expensive place to park your vehicle which will probably NOT be right next to where you want to eat, and C) traverse a lot of traffic. If I planned something like this, my husband's first question to me would be, "Is this really worth it?" If it's worthwhile, then perhaps you could cut that day's drive a little shorter, too, because Bakersfield to Las Vegas is about a 5-6 hour drive (just short of 300 miles).

    Hopefully someone here will be able to answer your question about the service-less area you mentioned. It's not something familiar to me.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I agree with Donna about your plans for your drive down, and actually, I think you're really pushing it to try to drive back in 2 days as well. To get from Vegas to Boise via US-93 is about 630 miles. That's a long day on the road on the freeway, and you'll be on slower going 2 lane roads for most of the day. I can assure you it will take you far more than 10 hours. Its going to be a good 12-13 hours on the road, minimum. I-15 is about 100 miles longer, but the drive times will end up being fairly close because you can go faster, and stop less often on the freeway. Anyway you look at it, it really is too far to drive in one day, and expect to still have the energy another 11+ hours to Vancouver the following day.

    There is no place anywhere in the US where you'd be 300 miles between gas stations, and that's certainly not the case around Yakima, which is right along an Interstate highway. Having said that, US-93 is one of the most empty highways in the US, and that is a road where you will go long distances between opportunities to fill your tank. You should plan to fill up as you leave Vegas and make sure to fill up again in Ely, as you'll have very limited other options until you get to I-80 at Wells, NV.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Why exhaust yourself?

    What is the purpose of this trip? I just can't see the sense in exhausting yourself in back to back days of driving all day, with only minimal time for essential stops. It won't be a holiday. It won't be a break. It will be hard work all the way (especially with stick shift) and you will be exhausted at every destination and when you get home.

    Have you allowed time for the unexpected? Only today I was delayed for some two hours with a flat tyre.

    Unless it is an essential trip for a specific purpose (in which case try to find more time), I'd suggest you limit yourself to a destination closer to home, more achievable and with a greater degree of enjoyment and relaxation. Then it is more likely to be a trip you'll remember... for all the right reasons.


  5. #5


    All 3 answers are spot on. I have made many trips to Ca. I live a little south of Seattle, and make Redding, Ca. my overnight stop. And I'm more than ready by then. As far as weather, and Mtns. going down I 5 you don't go over the Cascades you go through the Siskiyous in the very southern Oregon-Northern Ca area. I would not be worried about snow by then. You "may" get some rain, but more than likely you'll see temps in 70's( degrees F.)

  6. #6

    Default Thanks!

    Thanks for all your answers, this is why I love forums! We knew it was going to be tight so taking your advice we're going to start a day earlier and spread it out. We'll cut SF completely, this was more looking for somewhere to see on the way but we can stick more to a direct route. This way we have a little more time for looking around too. We'll stop every 2-3 hours for stretch/ bathroom breaks. I'll fill my gas from about the half way tank and no less each time. This way we have actually been able to squeeze a little sight seeing of Multnomah Falls in and spend a night in Camas, WA instead of trying to push down to Weed all in one day. I think including all stops on the way down spaced out over 4 days our itin looks something like:

    Vancouver, BC
    Bellingham, WA
    Olympia, WA
    Portland, OR
    Camas, WA
    Multnomah Falls, OR
    Salem, OR
    Eugene, OR
    Grant's Pass, OR
    Weed, CA
    Red Bluffs, CA
    Modesto, CA
    Bakersfield, CA
    Barstow, CA
    Vegas, NV

    Vegas, NV
    Ely, NV
    Twin Falls, ID
    Boise, ID
    Pendleton, OR
    Ellensburg, WA
    Bellingham, WA

    I'm looking into extending my trip home by a day as well, just to break it up a little more but not super worried, the worst part will be the border line up trying to get back into Canada! Hahaha. We've always had hectic, exhausting trips but being 24 I'm built pretty well to handle it. We crushed a NOLA/ Mississippi trip in 4 days and it's still the best trip I've ever had in my life. I'll have a day off when I get home to just sit around and relax from all the driving too so I am not too worried about that.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    As for the border crossing coming home, would Sumas work for you? We found it better, 14 years ago, than the reported lines of people at Vancouver.


  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    As for the border crossing coming home, would Sumas work for you? We found it better, 14 years ago, than the reported lines of people at Vancouver.

    Haha! That's funny, that's our crossing as we live in the mountains of Mission. Sumas was the border I crossed to get my PR! It's definitely the best crossing but I made the mistake of landing as a PR on a Sunday morning when everyone was coming back home! At least I'll be driving back through on a Monday =D

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Quote Originally Posted by benjis_monikuss View Post
    I'll have a day off when I get home to just sit around and relax from all the driving too so I am not too worried about that.
    If that's the case, then the really is no reason to push your body to its physical limits by trying to drive back from Vegas in just 2 days. Being young does not may your body more able to handle fatigue, and frankly, no one is "built for" being on the road 12+ hours a day. Being young only means you are less likely to pay attention to the danger signs, and you'r brain will let you "think" you're just fine, even when you should not be on the road.

    Take 2 and a half days for the drive back. It will be much safer, much easier on your body, and you'll still have most of the day back at home to rest and recover.

  10. #10


    That is more than likely what I will end up doing. Depending on my exhaustion levels I'll probably book a hotel on the fly a few hours out from Canada so that I could get home before noon. Who wants to drive 10 hours then face the possibility of waiting in a border line up? Hahaha
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-23-2014 at 06:37 PM. Reason: in-line quote not needed here

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