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  1. Default Utah to California via some canyons and desert national parks

    Hi Folks

    This forum was a huge help when I started planning this trip months and months ago and my plans have changed completely since then. The flights and convertible are now booked, I've booked rooms or tents in the national parks along the way and am looking for some final bits of advice if possible.

    We are doing 2,000 miles over around 12 days going to from Salt Lake to San Fran (flying from UK). The itinerary right now is...

    (June next year)

    Day 1 fly into Salt Lake City, crash out in airport hotel.
    Day 2 SLC to Moab long drive hopefully a bit of time at Arches
    Day 3 Moab to Monument Valley short drive staying on northern boundary of MV in tipi village (booked). Do a couple of guided tours etc.
    Day 4 MV to Page (short drive) via some more key MV locations and Antelope Canyon
    Day 5 Second day in Page for Colorado River Rafting
    Day 6 Page to Grand Canyon via Rim Drive (short drive) arrive lunchtime for time to explore, see sunset. Overnight on Rim (booked)
    Day 7 Grand Canyon to Las Vegas via historic Route 66 hackberry etc (long drive) Hoover dam late night arrival LV
    Day 8 LV to Death Valley (short drive) time to explore, overnight in DV (booked)
    Day 9 and 10 Two days driving Highway 395 into Yosemite over Tioga pass
    Day 11,12 full days in Yosemite (booked)
    Day 13 Yosemite to San Francisco over Golden Gate Bridge (medium length drive)
    Finishing with 4 days in SF

    So what do you think? Any hints or tips?

    I am wondering if it's worth trying to do DV to Yosemite in one long day? At the moment the plan is to find somewhere in Bishop/Mammoth/Mono Lake but maybe we should power through? Or maybe we should cancel overnight in DV and just drive through? I am really hoping to see clear, star filled skies during our desert nights. I really want to see the Milky Way.

    Also wondering what is most scenic route to Moab from Salt Lake (bearing in mind can't do Mokee cos it's a rental).

    All and any thoughts welcome. I've planned this just from Internet research including this forum so am hoping its a good plan!

    Thanks in advance :-)


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


    Welcome back to the RTA Forum!

    I think your plan looks pretty solid.

    You certainly could go from DV to Yosemite in a day, that's not too bad of a drive at all.

    The straightforward route from SLC to Moab is to head south on US-6/US-191 which will take you right there, and is a pretty scenic trip. BTW, I think you might find that Moab and Monument Valley are better for star-gazing. DV actually gets a bit of light pollution from Vegas, although there's still plenty of dark sky to enjoy.

    The Moki Dugway is south of Moab and would potentially be on your drive towards Monument Valley. Check with your rental company, since it's part of a state highway it actually might not be a problem to drive it. It is gravel, but it isn't a road that is difficult to drive in a car, but you'll have to check the specifics of your contract.

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


    What with DV being relatively close to Vegas you could consider exploring parts of the park and ending your day in Lone Pine or even Bishop and then drive direct to Yosemite. Whichever way you decide you should allow a good amount of time to drive along Tioga Pass as you will want to stop and take in the mountain air and wonderful views. Depending on the time you land in SLC and whether or not you have planned to pick up your car on arrival, you could consider driving south to the outskirts of the city to avoid possible congestion the following morning as you make your way to Moab.

  4. Default

    Thanks both - Thats potentially great news about Moki Dugway I will check with my rental company thanks.

    So you think the star gazing might actually be better in Moab than DV Mike? I had visions of me stood atop a sand dune watching the milky way all majestic and mind blowing - but you think Moab might be better even though it's a town? Does that mean that Lone Pine might be better for stars than DV as well, considering your suggestion Dave?

    Also if we did do 395 to Yosemite in the one full day would we have time to pull off, see some sites (methuselah etc)?

    Thanks again it's a real help


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Plenty of stars visible in and around DV

    I think the suggestion was for the areas away from the city -- so not in Moab per se. Actually, it is plenty dark in Death Valley. Lone Pine is a very cool place to stay overnight -- here is my #1 suggestion, (Dow Villa Historic Hotel - Lone Pine, California ) but there are too many lights in town for seeing stars.

    Lone Pine is actually a cuter town than Bishop

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 11-28-2014 at 07:59 AM. Reason: linked artiicle after published

  6. Default

    Ok great thanks Mark we will stick with overnight in Death Valley then but plan to stop off at Lone Pine for a bit of a mosey (had never heard of it until started this research).

    I've got to thinking now though based on the advice that DV to Yosemite over Tioga can be done in a day to do that, arrive in Yosemite a day earlier and leave a day earlier then head to San Simeon and overnight there before heading north on Big Sur and approaching San Fran from the south. I had planned to come in from the north over the Golden Gate Bridge but Big Sur holds such an allure (even though I live in an Island with lots of Coast).

    That sound like a good idea? San Simeon to San Fran (staying in Castro) sound doable? I need to get the rental car dropped off around 5pm (also in Castro).

    So excited!


  7. Default

    Ps it's either that or Napa overnight and into SF from the north over Golden Gate Bridge

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Mark is correct, I was talking about the Moab area - like within Arches or Canyonlands - rather than inside the town itself. And I'm not suggesting that DV is a bad place to look for stars, because it is still a very good spot, I just think you might find some spots in Utah to be even better.

    Personally, I think your plan to head to Big Sur is a very good one.

    An aside, regarding the Golden Gate Bridge, tolls in the Bay area are only charged heading West/towards San Francisco, and the Golden Gate uses a video toll system - so there is no chance to pay cash if you are driving into the city. Rental car companies tend to charge pretty steep fees when they pass the toll cost onto you, so might try to drive across the Golden Gate when leaving the city. I believe all of the other bridges in the area still have a cash option.

  9. Default

    Thanks Mike. We will dropping the car off as soon as we get to San Fran so if we don't drive in over it we will have to walk it on one the days which will be cool (just not as cool;-))

    Cheers it's been a big help and we've decided we are going to definitely get to Yosemite a day sooner and have an extra day between yosemite and San Fran. I might try and new thread on how to spend that day.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I might try and new thread on how to spend that day.
    Please keep it in this thread. Thank you.

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