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  1. #1

    Default The "really wish we could change our flights" CA/UT/CA road trip....

    Evening everyone,
    I have browsed this forum for previous road trips but need some advice for my upcoming trip please.

    Our flights were a last minute, spur-of-the-moment booking, so don't really make sense for where we've now decided our "must see" places are.

    We fly into San Fran on the 29th March, out from LAX on the evening of the 11th April.
    We've road tripped around the SW a few times, and tend to spend a few days on the coast then blast our way around some canyons and other national parks. And fly out of LAS, not LAX.

    The one place my husband wants to go is to revisit Monument Valley (we've been before, probably stay at the View again)
    And if we are going to go that far, I would like to spend a couple of nights in Moab for Arches/ Dead Horse/ Canyonlands as we've never been there.
    And possibly 2 nights (max) in Vegas as I have some freebie show tickets to use.
    Everything else is a bonus... we've been to Grand, Bryce, Zion, Canyon de Chelley, Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Death Valley, Yosemite, Kings, Seqoia... if any of these fit the route we'd be happy to revisit but we don't 'need' to. As we've done many of the 'major' parks we'd really like suggestions of ones that may not have the high profile but are well worth a visit.

    So any sage advice? I don't mind doing a very long day's drive to get us from the coast to Flagstaff-ish if that gives us more time to spend where we want to be.

    Sun 29th Mar- Arrive San Fran
    Mon 30th - SF
    Tues 31st - SF
    Weds 1st Apr- Travel to Monterey
    Thurs 2nd - Travel to Pismo
    Fri 3rd - blast our way inland - whole day driving via Bakersfield to Flagstaff area? Alternatively any suggestions for an interesting journey break spot?
    Sat 4th - ? (we could move rest of itinerary up 1 day if we do the coast/AZ leg in one day and poss add another park or another day at Moab?)
    Sun 5th - Monument Valley
    Mon 6th - Moab for Arches / Canyonlands
    Tues 7th - Moab for Arches / Canyonlands
    Weds 8th - (Bryce or Zion or somewhere new to break journey?)
    Thurs 9th - Vegas
    Fri 10th - Vegas, show and too much buffet food
    11th - day in Vegas then drive back to LAX for 8pm flight to London

    Basically HELP PLEASE! I can usually 'see' the shape of the holiday but I really can't work out whether I'm thinking the right way for this one.

    Nothing past Pismo is booked (and even that's cancellable), so if you can see a better way round please fire away!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Major and Minor

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The first thing to deal with here is the major routing, so let's do that. If you plan to include Moab, then the quickest way there from San Francisco is to head directly east on I-80 through Sacramento (Gold Rush country), Lake Tahoe, Reno (and historic Virginia City), and then follow the "Loneliest Highway" (US-50) to I-70 in central Utah. The big advantage of such a route is that you apparently haven't driven it before!

    Then from Monument Valley to Vegas you have a couple of choices, the easiest would be to head west using US-160/AZ-98/US-89/UT-9 to I-15 south into Vegas. This would take you past Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and through Zion National Park. Note that because UT-9 actually goes through Zion, you'd have to pay the entrance fee or have a National Parks Pass. An alternative route would be to drop south from Page on US-89 and then use Alt-US-89 north(west) to Fredonia and AZ-389/UT-59 through the "Colorado Strip" to Hurricane UT, UT-9, and I-15. This way would take you through Jacob Lake AZ and the road (AZ-67) into the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Finally, I-15 would provide a straight short from Las Vegas into the Los Angeles area when you're ready to complete your trip.

    Now, all of the above can be driven in around four days, leaving you eight full days to spend sight seeing, so there's no need for you to 'blast' through anywhere. Which brings us to the minor aspects of your trip. There is, of course, so much more to the American Southwest than 'just' the major national parks. Be sure to check out some of the national monuments, state parks, and national wildlife refuges as well. Besides the ones I've already listed above, some others that might interest you on or near this route include: Great Basin National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Goosenecks State Park, Valley of Fire State Park, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and Mojave National Preserve.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 02-11-2015 at 04:43 PM.

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

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    The fastest way from Pismo to Flagstaff is north on 101 to Atascadero, CA-41 to Cholame, CA-46 to CA-99 to CA-58 to I-40. This is about 625 miles and is kinda doubtful for a single day's drive, it would have you on the road for at least 12 hours. It's 475 miles to Kingman, which is a relatively easy day's drive. See what time it is and how you feel when you get there - the next lodging is in Williams, which is another 115 miles. It's another 35 miles from Williams to Flagstaff.

    Even if you stop in Kingman it's only about 325 miles from there to MV, which can be done in 6 hours or so.

    MV to Moab is about 140 miles - less than 3 hours.

    Both Bryce and Zion are spectacular, but you can get through Bryce a lot quicker. What you could do is take US-191 to I-70 to UT-24 through Hanksville, take a quick run through Capitol Reef, then take UT-12 (a spectacular drive) to Bryce. This will eat up the whole day. Spend the night in Tropic or at Ruby's right at the park entrance or in Panguitch and head through Bryce in the morning. Drive to the end, turn around, and then hit all the turnouts on the way back. If you have time you can watch a movie in the visitor's center. This can be done in half a day, then it's about 5 hours to LV via US-89/UT-14/I-15.

    You will be traveling on some high elevation mountain roads, be flexible if the weather doesn't cooperate! It's quite possible you will come across some snow and ice.

    In order to make an 8pm international flight at LAX, you better be on the road before noon. You will be heading right into the teeth of the LA rush hour and you have to cross the whole city. In fact, I'd get out of LV around 9am so you can get through before it really gets rough.

    EDIT:

    Buck got his post in before me - he's assuming you are not going to drive down the coast. However:

    An alternative route would be to drop south from Page on US-89 and then use Alt-US-89 north(west) to Fredonia and AZ-389/UT-59 through the "Colorado Strip" to Hurricane UT, UT-9, and I-15. This way would take you through Jacob Lake AZ and the road (AZ-67) into the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
    This is not really feasible for 2 reasons - the North Rim will probably still be closed for the winter, and US-89 is closed between Page and the Alt-89 junction. You would have to take US-89 to Kanab, then Alt-89 to Fredonia. Taking US-89T from Page to where it rejoins US-89 would involve a lot of backtracking to get to Alt-89.

    Another alternative from MV to LV is US-160 to US-89 to Flagstaff, then I-40 and US-93.

  4. #4

    Default

    Thank you so much for the welcome and detailed information AZBuck & glc.
    It's late here now so I will digest this properly in the morning - feeling a lot better about it already!

  5. #5

    Default

    Apologies for the radio silence - it's half term week here and I've been catching up on school work before doing the fun stuff!

    We did consider ditching the run down the coast to Monterey/Pismo, but my husband Matt has his heart set on going to Monterey Aquarium, so it seems a waste to then double back up to get to the I80 and go 'the top route'

    So plan now:
    Sun 29th Mar- Arrive San Fran
    Mon 30th - SF
    Tues 31st - SF
    Weds 1st Apr- Travel to Monterey
    Thurs 2nd - Travel to Pismo Beach
    Fri 3rd - Travel to Kingman/ Williams depending on how we feel.
    Sat 4th - Early start to Monument Valley!
    Sun 5th - To Moab for Arches/Canyonlands
    Mon 6th - Moab for Arches/Canyonlands
    Tues 7th - Drive to Bryce via I70/ UT24/UT12
    Weds 8th - Morning in Bryce then drive on to LV
    Thurs 9th - LV
    Fri 10th - Drive from LV ... to either a nat. park part way, or back to Cali coast -
    Sat 11th - Flight from LAX at 9.45pm - so possibly a day's shopping or sightseeing in LA

    Thanks for the suggestions with the routing.

    Are there any sections with particularly high elevations that could cause a problem snow and ice wise? It's been snowy on previous trips but the roads have been clear. We are in a standard 'compact' rental car.
    One last question - Matt hates drop aways (I know - why go touring around canyons? It's why he particularly like Monument Valley as he's at the bottom looking up rather than the other way round!) (The Moki Dugway is a serious no-no...). Are there any particularly hairy sections on the U12 or the rest of the route into/out of Bryce?

    thanks again,
    Gill

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

    Default Death Valley

    The day you leave LV you could drive through Death Valley. It will not be unbearable in April and it is an amazing landscape. Get a good map of Death Valley while in LV, and you could spend the most of the day there, before heading back to LA on the final day.

    The rest looked pretty good.

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    Are there any particularly hairy sections on the U12 or the rest of the route into/out of Bryce?
    Not really anything to be too concerned about although there is a section of UT12 that drives along a ridge with drops either side, but the road is paved and in good shape and we have driven it in a 30ft RV. [Mind you we done the Moki Dugway in it ] Capitol Reef NP is along UT24 and worth a little detour into the Orchads and Gifford Homestead.

    When visiting Bryce canyon I would recommend you drive to the far end of the canyon first and stop at the viewpoints on the way back up. That way all the scenic pull outs are on your side of the road and you won't have to pull across traffic. Pack some layered clothing as it is at high elevation and can get pretty cold.

    Love Somerset and visit at least a couple of times a year !

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Not hairy, just scenic.

    The worst part of UT12 is that it is so scenic with very informative turnouts, to tempt you and learn more about its origins. A route not to be missed.

    Lifey

  9. #9

    Default

    Ah brilliant - thanks Lifey and Dave.
    Death Valley is definitely a possibility - we've been before but drove in at night in a massive sandstorm (we always seem to get caught up in sandstorms...) that was so bad it actually broke a window of the the car in front, and then caused a power cut at the hotel we were staying in. So we were a little traumatised!
    It'd be a whistlestop tour as Matt has now found the Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino and we HAVE to stay therefor the last night.

    Dave - the countryside around where I live is indeed lovely. Sadly the town itself is er... more...functional... shall we say...

    Gill

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by gillyflower View Post
    Apologies for the radio silence - it's half term week here and I've been catching up on school work before doing the fun stuff!

    We did consider ditching the run down the coast to Monterey/Pismo, but my husband Matt has his heart set on going to Monterey Aquarium, so it seems a waste to then double back up to get to the I80 and go 'the top route'

    So plan now:
    Sun 29th Mar- Arrive San Fran
    Mon 30th - SF
    Tues 31st - SF
    Weds 1st Apr- Travel to Monterey
    Thurs 2nd - Travel to Pismo Beach
    Fri 3rd - Travel to Kingman/ Williams depending on how we feel.
    Sat 4th - Early start to Monument Valley!
    Sun 5th - To Moab for Arches/Canyonlands
    Mon 6th - Moab for Arches/Canyonlands
    Tues 7th - Drive to Bryce via I70/ UT24/UT12
    Weds 8th - Morning in Bryce then drive on to LV
    Thurs 9th - LV
    Fri 10th - Drive from LV ... to either a nat. park part way, or back to Cali coast -
    Sat 11th - Flight from LAX at 9.45pm - so possibly a day's shopping or sightseeing in LA

    Thanks for the suggestions with the routing.

    Are there any sections with particularly high elevations that could cause a problem snow and ice wise? It's been snowy on previous trips but the roads have been clear. We are in a standard 'compact' rental car.
    One last question - Matt hates drop aways (I know - why go touring around canyons? It's why he particularly like Monument Valley as he's at the bottom looking up rather than the other way round!) (The Moki Dugway is a serious no-no...). Are there any particularly hairy sections on the U12 or the rest of the route into/out of Bryce?

    thanks again,
    Gill
    There are 2 sections of Canyonlands( Island in Sky is accessed N of Moab) ... The Needles District is right on route from Monument Valley to Moab... be sure to check out the Cave Spring short hike, takes you on an easy hike you climb one ladder but I am scared of heights & it was easy. Old cowboy camp... we were there in Sept & not a soul to be seen, very peaceful & beautiful scenery.

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