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  1. #1

    Default 1st time in USA - Road trip from SFO - Yosemite - DV- Vegas-GC

    Dear Friends

    I am landing into SFO on 21st May afternoon . This is my first trip to West Coast, and i have never driven in USA. We drive on the opposite side in India. My friends have assured me that adjusting to the drive will take a few kms. I hope it is that easy. I am a bit hesitant to drive in the city though. will plan 3 days in city with local tours. My concerns are

    1. where can i get a good rental car on the outskirts so i can move onto highway straight away, onto Yosemite on 24th or 25th. i plan to stay there. Please suggest where i can stay in the price range 200-300$. Next day i plan to move down from Yosemite, onto Vegas. I believe i would be better placed driving down Tioga pass. What are the chances of that being open at the period. Further i will pass through DV, as suggested by previous threads. Next day i move onto Vegas. I may keep the car for 2 days or leave it ,( if rental rules allow, i dont mind paying extra for that)

    2. staying at the strip for 1 day, i want to move to GC with overnight stay there. will rental cars allow me to go all the way to GC, or can i park the car at the park somewhere and take shuttles inside). What the are lodging options i will have at GC. Next day, is it possible to go to Monument valley, or other Parks close by, and then maybe come back to Vegas either same day or next day to drop the car.

    3. From Vegas i plan to got to LA by flight and further to Diego by flight/ bus

    so the trip i have planned is

    21-24 SFO ( city)
    25th - Yosemite ( road)
    26th - DV ( road)
    27th - Vegas
    28th - GC (road)
    29th GC to nearby parks
    30th - Vegas ( drop car) either stay overnight or fly to LA

    31st LA - 3 days local trips
    2nd - DIego - 2 days ( flight)

    Do appreciate help

    Dr Amit Gupta

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Let me start by recommending you do one car for the whole trip. It will be easier and cheaper in the long run, especially because LA is a city where you really do need a car to get around. Also, flying to San Diego would actually be kind of silly. It would take you longer to fly there than to drive, once you factor in time for security.

    For a place to rent, if you're going to do a one way rental, you actually might have to get the car from the airport, however, even if you don't, that's not a bad place to look. My last trip to SFO, I rented a car from a location in South San Francisco that was near the airport, but on the airport property. Burlingame is also a suburb near the airport that would be a place to search. You might also consider the Oakland airport in your search.

    There are parking areas in the Grand Canyon Village area. From there, you can take a shuttle bus to other viewpoints and areas of the park.

    Again, with your route, I'd stick with renting just one car, and instead of driving from the GC back to Vegas, head from GC straight to San Diego, do your exploring there, and then go up to LA to finish your trip.

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


    I agree with MIchael, drive the whole route and go from GC to SD without back tracking to Vegas. You really don't need a car until you leave SF as the city is compact and parking is expensive. On the 26th I wouldn't look further than Bishop to spend a night to allow yourself a little more time in Yosemite. Its a comfortable drive from Bishop to LV via Death valley.

    You should have a good chance of Tioga pass being open but you should be prepared for if it isn't. I would leave this nights lodging open and then if the pass is closed you can head south to Bakersfield.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default You'll be fine.

    Amit, I would not get worried about driving in the US. It is the easiest country in the world in which to drive, even in the cities. If you can drive in India, you won't have any problems. I venture to bet that the traffic in San Francisco is a lot easier than anything to which you will be accustomed.

    As for the other side of the road, it will take you less than half an hour to get used to. After all, no one moves onto the other side of the road with oncoming traffic. The only time it ever happened to me was when I was the only one on the road, early in the morning in Alaska. There was nothing around to give me a sense of where I was, and which was the correct side on which to drive.

    Watch roundabouts, they are tricky. Twice I have gone round a roundabout the wrong way... but again, there was no other traffic in sight.

    will rental cars allow me to go all the way to GC
    This comment made me wonder if you have been looking at the SkyWalk at the Western Rim, which is not the Grand Canyon national park. Be aware of the difference. You cannot drive a car all the way to the SkyWalk, but you can drive into and around in the national park.

    And lastly..... Sorry we knocked you guys out of the ICC World Cup.


  5. #5


    Hey Lifey

    Love the comment about the world cup. the best guys and the guys with passion won, while the guys with work to do on tv advertisements lost. be that as it may

    Dear Michael and Dave - i am finding the highways pretty confusing, would appreciate some help with the highways to use. i find the suggestion to take the car from outskirts of SFO perfect, like i had in mind. any suggestion about which rental to use.

    If i have to go through Bakersfield, please suggest where i can stop for the night, and next day would i be able to reach vegas by evening via DV.

    Excellent suggestion about GC to San Diego. I will certainly do that.

    Lil bit about GC. some suggestions suggest East rim to enter. From Vegas, which would be the best entry. i may not have a huge amount of time, but i want to do the skywalk, and some photography. Please suggest the plan for GC, and where i can stay there

    In and around Yosemite, what would be a good place to stay, so i can see the park nicely.

    Thanks a ton guys.


  6. #6


    hi again

    some help regarding GC to San diego. How long is the trip. do we need overnight stay

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Please be aware.....

    The Skywalk is part of the west rim. It is nowhere near as spectacular as the national park. You will not be able to take a rental car all the way, as the road is not paved. It costs a hefty charge per person (last I heard it was about $80) to enter, and cameras are not allowed, neither are phones with cameras.

    The national parks is $20 for a car load, with free entry for the next week, and is that spectacular place you have seen in pictures and movies.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    You should simply search on-line and compare car rental costs as deals are changing all the time. To the right of this page you will find the RTA reservation centre where you can look at different classes of rental and quotes.

    Lake Isabella or Ridgecrest would be a comfortable drive and would leave you time for a drive with a little sight seeing through Death valley. Take CA41 south through Oakhurst to CA99 Fresno and CA178 towards Lake Isabella/Ridgecrest. You have the option of taking CA58/14 to Ridgecrest.

    If you want to do photography with not much time, stick to the National Park. There is no east rim as such, it's the east entrance to the South rim which is the best option imo. You would continue on I40 and then head north on US89 and west on AZ64 to Desertview drive and it's viewpoints all the way to the village where you can walk the rim and get a shuttle bus to Hermits rest. Then exit south on 64 through Tusayan and Williams on route to SD.

    The GC to SD is possible but would be a long day on the road, 10 hours plus. You could break the journey up by stopping around 29 Palms and perhaps visit Joshua Tree NP. Another option would be to leave GC early evening and drive as far as Williams or Kingman.

    With such limited time I would recommend you stay in Yosemite NP, Yosemite lodge at the Falls or a 'budget friendly' option is the Campy curry tent rooms. If not you would be looking at Mariposa, Groveland and El Portal.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You will not be able to take a rental car all the way, as the road is not paved.
    The road is now paved all the way. However, as stated, it costs $80 a person to visit the Skywalk and no photography permitted.

    To get to Yosemite from SF, go south on US-101 to CA-92, cross the bay on the San Mateo Bridge (toll). Go north on I-880 to I-238 to I-580. Take that to the I-580/I-205 split, take I-205 to I-5. Take that a very short distance to CA-120 and follow that to Yosemite. To stay on CA-120 soon after you get on it, you will have to take CA-99 north a short distance. It's about a 4 hour drive.

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