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  1. #1

    Default Phoenix - GC - LV -Parks - San Fran (April '15)

    Hi All,

    I'm from Australia, planning a trip with three friends next year April. We have been to the US before but only LA, San Diego and West coast cites and are really keen to drive from Phoenix to San Fran via Vegas for the last 2 weeks of our trip.

    Proposed plan:
    April 1st: Fly into Phoenix 8am, drive straight to the Grand Canyon via Sedona/Flagstaff. Stay overnight in GC village?
    April 2nd: Wake Early Spend whole day in Canyon, leave for Vegas in evening. Stay Night in Vegas
    April 3rd - 5th: Vegas
    April 6th: Leave Vegas early morning drive towards Sequoia, stay the night somewhere close to the park (what would be the best route for this?)
    April 7th: Wake early Spend whole day in Sequoia, leave in the evening, drive towards Yosemite, stay somewhere close to Yosemite
    April 8th: Wake early Spend whole day in Yosemite, leave late evening, drive to San Fran, stay in San Fran
    April 9th - 11th: San Fran

    So the questions i have been researching: Where would be a good location to stay on the night of the 1st?; What route to take from GC to Vegas (would via Hoover Dam be ideal?);What would be the best route to take from Vegas to Sequoia, and would it be 'better' to replace Sequoia with Mammoth Lakes instead as it is closer to Yosemite? (we want to visit either one); Finally, is the proposed Vegas - San Fran leg even possible time-wise given the time of year and road closures?

    I know unfortunately there is not much time allocated to the Parks, we're trying to work with the time we have. I also can't cut time for the major cities (holidays with friends, have to make compromises!). Apologies for the long post, but thank you in advanced for any advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Less City time to make it fit.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums.

    The best place to spend the first night would be in, or close to Phoenix. To arrive on a long haul flight and try to drive to GC wouldn't be advisable. Just get a good rest, let your body clocks adjust and hit the road the following morning.

    Hoover dam is on the way to Vegas. You could take part of old route 66 through Seligman to Kingman on route.

    You will not be able to get from Mammoth to Yosemite as the mountain pass will still be closed due to winter snow. You could go direct to Seqouia via Three Rivers or detour through Death valley with an early start.

    You need another night in Yosemite, you can't see it in a full day never mind trying to drive to SF "in the evening". Stay nearby and make the drive early next day.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 11-20-2014 at 10:44 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,064

    Default a bit too much

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you've got a few spots where you're trying to fit in a bit too much for a day.

    I'd start with day 1. If you're flying into Phoenix from Australia, then I would strongly recommend you not try to drive to the Grand Canyon that day. It's just too risky to try to drive more than 4 hours after already traveling for well over 24 hours. If I were you, I'd look for a place to stay on the north end of the Phoenix area, where you can rest up, deal with the jetlag, and be better positioned to enjoy your trip, and really get out on the road on day 2.

    There are two other spots where you seem to be underestimating the drives: Day 2 from the Grand Canyon to Vegas, and day 8 from Yosemite to San Francisco. GC to Vegas is 5+ hours, and Yosemite to SF is at least 4 hours, and both are too far to do and spend "all day" at the parks. The direct route from GC to Vegas does go right past the Hoover Dam, but that would also add even more time to that leg.

    In April, visiting Mammoth Lakes isn't much of an option, because Tioga Pass which would take you from there onto Yosemite will still be closed for the season. Your only real option with your schedule would be to go from Vegas, down I-15 to Barstow, over CA-58 to Bakersfield, and then CA-99 back up towards Sequoia/Yosemite.

    If you really can't shave down any of the 6 days you've got planned in the cities, to make up for the less than 3 days you've got planned for the National Parks, then I'd probably skip Sequoia, as you can still see Giant Sequoia's inside of Yosemite. Just try to make sure you actually give yourself at least a full each day for the Grand Canyon and Yosemite - without half day drives tacked onto the end of both of those parks.

  4. #4

    Default

    Thank you for the advice Dave and Michael!

    My mistake, i should have noted that this is for the last two weeks of our overall trip, the week prior to this (ie. last week of March we will be in Texas for the week, flying in from Austin to Phoenix on the 1st).

    i will take your advice add in another night to the GC and we will skip sequoia/ Mammoth falls.

    So new plan:
    April 1st: Drive from Phoenix to GC. Stay night in/near canyon (is GC village or nearby the best place to stay?)
    April 2nd: stay another night in the Canyon if leaving for Vegas in the evening is not recommended
    April 3: Drive to Vegas stay until 5th (down 180, west on I-40, then the 93 to Vegas, correct?)
    April 6th: Leave Vegas drive towards Yosemite (where to stay? and will take route down I-15 to Barstow, over CA-58 to Bakersfield, and then CA-99 back up towards Yosemite as Michael mentioned, where would be the best point of entry?)
    April 7th: Yosemite
    April 8th: Yosemite (as it is not recommended to leave this evening to San Fran, we can leave morning 9th)
    April 9th- 11th: San Fran

    Does this seem OK? Will gladly welcome any other tips! Sorry for all the 21 questions, but is the GC village part of the South Rim? I ask because I've heard the south rim is what the photos show and that's what we definitely want to see.

    Thanks so much again for all the help, i will gladly repay the favor if you ever want to drive Aus!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Can't see much in the dark.

    It helps when we have the complete picture of your whole trip.

    Definitely give yourselves another night in each of the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. Driving for four or five hours after spending all day in the parks means you will be driving in the dark. That's no fun, and you'd miss so much there is to see along the way. In April the days will not be quite as long yet as in the summer. It will give you the opportunity to witness a sunset and sunrise, one of the highlights of visiting these national parks - especially the GC.

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Knowing that you flying in from Texas instead of Australia makes a big difference here. In that case, you should be able to make it from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, and have time to look around a bit that first day. That means heading to Vegas on the afternoon of day two isn't such a bad idea, because you'll still have had basically a full day there (the afternoon of day one, the morning of day two.)

    Yes, Grand Canyon Village is located on the South Rim.

    If you're willing to leave Yosemite on the morning of the 9th, I think that makes visiting Sequoia a lot easier. You could spend most of day 6 driving there, spend the 7th going through Sequoia and finishing the day near Yosemite. Spend the 8th in Yosemite, and then drive to SF on the 9th. Having said that, if you want to spend 2 days in Yosemite as your current plan lays out, that isn't a bad thing either, as there is plenty to see and do.

    CA-41 through Oakhurst would be the shortest way into the park from the south, and Oakhurst could be a place to look for a place to spend the night before heading into Yosemite.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    10,749

    Default Looks a lot better.

    If your budget can stretch to staying in Grand canyon village, then that's where I would stay. You can walk to the rim from there easily and is by far the best place to be, you can witness a sunset and stroll back to your lodgings after dark. From Phoenix carry on up US89 from Flagstaff and enter the NP via the east kiosk on 64 which becomes Desertview drive. Along here you will come across various viewpoints as you follow the direction of the Colorado river that carved it's way through. It saves any doubling back as well. The following day you an explore more around the village area and up to Hermits rest before leaving, you could spend night 2 in Williams which will be cheaper and is on route to Vegas.

    Oakhurst is a good location for an overnight before heading into Yosemite via the south entrance, which is close to Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia's. Lodging in Yosemite would be an obvious choice for this night, if not a budget friendly one. Somewhere like 'Yosemite lodge at the Falls'. If not there are options around Mariposa, El Portal and Groveland.

  8. #8

    Default

    Thank you all for the great advice!

    I think two nights for Yosemite will be the way to go, given we can also see the Giant Sequoia trees in Yosemite as well.

    My final question would be: On day 6 when we leave Vegas in the morning and drive to Oakhurst, (suggested route of down I-15 to Barstow, over CA-58 to Bakerfield, then up CA-99, then north on the CA- 41 towards Oakhurst), is this the only route that will be possible to take for this leg? Would it be possible to detour via more scenic route or is there anything we can see along the way?

    Will definitely be looking into the accommodation within the parks as soon as possible!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
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    6,936

    Default Best for the time frame.

    If you have a good look at some maps, rather than a computer monitor, you will see that there are many other routes.

    However, in your case and with your time frame, the route quoted is by far the most popular and the better one. There's a certain scenic beauty in virtually every route, and this one is no exception.

    If you want to stay west of Yosemite after visiting that park, check out Yosemite Bug.

    Lifey

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    10,749

    Default ...and for a long day.

    If you didn't party to hard in Vegas :-) and got an early start you could consider driving across Death valley on 190 and past Lake Isabella on 178. With a few brief stops you are most likely looking at a 11 to 12 hour day on the road but the Death valley landscape is something else. To get to 190 use the 'Locals route' which is 160 to north end of Pahrump and take W. Bell Vista Ave/Road/ State line Road to DV junction and turn right and immediate left onto 190. Maybe breakfast at Furnace Creek. You could also stop short around Fresno if you ran out of time and energy.

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