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  1. Default March 23-29 SF-Grand Canyon help!

    I'm doing my first ever road trip and could use some help!

    I'm leaving from San Francisco and would like to visit the Grand Canyon. As of right now this is all I have planned:

    23: Leave SF --> Big Sur (2 hour drive), overnight in Big Sur.
    24: Leave Big Sur --> ??
    29: Back in SF

    Help me fill in my empty days! I'd love to try and do Yosemite or Death Valley or Sedona or Santa Barbara.... what would you all recommend??

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Tell a little more about your goals and preferences

    Quote Originally Posted by Jessica0133 View Post
    I'm doing my first ever road trip and could use some help!
    Jessica, welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! Are you traveling by yourself? Or going with friends? What sorts of things appeal to you the most? Scenic vistas, incredible hotels and inn, shopping, natural wonders --

    Where are you staying in Big Sur?

    You could make a large loop -- Down the coast to Santa Barbara -- East to Death Valley (maybe even Las Vegas) north to the eastern slope of the Sierras -- into Yosemite and then home. You could do the week you have -- but trying to include Grand Canyon in this trip will require that you drive at least 8 hours most days.


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

    Default I would keep it 'closer'.

    For an out and back trip you won't have time for both the coast and Yosemite. The main problem is that the natural path from Yosemite to Grand canyon via Death valley will be blocked by snow on the Tioga Pass, it typically opens in May. Even then you would be pushed for time. In all honesty I would travel south down the coast to Cambria and then head inland to Yosemite and back to SF, with a possible visit to Sequoia NP. This will give you more time to enjoy the natural beauty and breath it in. If GC is a must see for you then it will be mainly driving there and back with a couple of half days at the National park. If you can see another trip in your future, I would consider leaving the canyon until you have time to do it and the surrounding area more justice.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default An opposite approach.

    My approach would be the opposite to Dave's. If you have a week now to go to the GC, may as well see that now, and leave places closer to home when you have shorter breaks.

    Head down the coast to Cambria, then head inland to and through Bakersfield to Flagstaff, perhaps detouring over a short section of rte 66 between Seligman and Kingman. From Flagstaff, take 89 to 64 and enter the canyon with the river, via Desert View Drive. There are many pull outs and overlooks along this way. Take your time. Try to get accommodation within the NP if you possibly can. Then see if you can catch a sunset and or sunrise over the canyon. An unforgetable experience. Explore the canyon next day, and drive to Williams. From there you head home almost the way you came. If you have time you might like to look in on either LV, Sequoia NP, or Kings Canyon, but you won't have time for all of them.

    One warning, be aware of the times thrown up by computer mapping programs. They are pure fantasy and do not relate to experience in the real world.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Home?

    I was not considering SF as home but as a start and end point ?

  6. Default

    I'll be driving with my friend! We would prefer scenic vistas, natural wonders, etc! We have a tent and are good with camping but also would be good with staying at inns, airbnbs, etc.

    Our goal is just to see as much natural beauty as possible. I totally agree with what many of you are saying, that including Yosemite AND the Grand Canyon wouldn't be possible given the amount of time we have.

    If we JUST did the Grand Canyon, what stops along the way would you all suggest in terms of national parks or places worth seeing? (Santa Barbara, Sedona, Joshua Tree, etc.?)

    If we didn't do the Grand Canyon, what would be a good little northern CA roadtrip? Thinking along the lines of Lassen Park, Yosemite, etc.

    Is Yosemite at all accessible this time of year? I've been there only ever in the summer months but did not organize the trips so I'm a bit clueless.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I'm still confused about the issue that Dave brought up - is SF your home, or is it a place you are flying into to start your trip?

    If you're from SF, it changes things significantly, because you can save things closer to home, like the CA coast or Yosemite for when you have less time available.

    If you want to see the Grand Canyon and you've got a week available, then I'd take advantage of that to explore the Canyon and surrounding area. Skip the coast, and head directly towards Arizona, and check out places in that area, including GC, and perhaps Sedona, Monument Valley, Zion NP, and Vegas, before heading back. You can still go to the Coast or Yosemite on another trip, when you've only got a long weekend available.

    Yosemite is open all year, but Tioga Pass, which goes across the Sierras through the park closes for the winter, and will not be open in March. Lassen most interesting features are closed in March, and generally don't open up until the very end of June, at the earliest.

  8. Default

    SF is home! So you're right, I have a lot of access to the coastal spots, Yosemite, etc. all year around. The person I am going with is not from California and leaving to go back home to NYC in May, which is the main reason why a nice CA exploration trip was appealing.

    How possible would it be to do GC and Utah in a week, though? I'd LOVE to do Utah, I just didn't see it as a possibility.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Okay - if you are up to driving some long days, this would just be possible in 1 week:

    Day 1 - drive from SF to Paso Robles, via US-101/CA-156 to Castroville, CA-1 to Cambria, CA-46 to Paso Robles. You will need to leave SF before dawn to beat rush hour.

    Day 2 - Paso Robles to Williams AZ via CA-46/CA-99/CA-58/I-40.

    Day 3 - Grand Canyon, take the shuttle bus out to Hermit's Rest, get off at each viewpoint and grab the next bus till you get to the end. Take a bus back to the terminal, drive out Desert View Drive and stop at the viewpoints. Leave via the east entrance and prebook a room at the Cameron Trading Post.

    Day 4 - Cameron to Bryce Canyon via US-89/US-89T/US-89/UT-12, spend the afternoon in the park, spend the night at Bryce or in Panguitch. Stop at the visitor's center on the way in, watch the movie, drive down to the end and stop at the viewpoints on the way back out. I've done this in just over 4 hours.

    Day 5 - Bryce to Zion via US-89/UT-9. Spend the night in Springdale.

    Day 6 - Morning in Zion, drive to LV via UT-9/I-15, spend the night.

    Day 7 - LV to SF via I-15/CA-58/CA-99/CA-46/I-5/I-580.

    This will give you a good taste of the coast between Monterey and Cambria, and 3 national parks. If you anticipate visiting any more national parks in the next year, buy a $80 annual pass for all parks when you enter the GC.

  10. Default

    Thank you so much! This is extremely helpful!

    I'll have to do some good research into best bang for your buck in terms of Zion hiking! Any suggestions? Something not too strenuous, considering the time constraint.

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