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  1. Default Best time to do LA > SF > Vegas?

    Hi all,

    I was hoping to get some advice on the following road trip me, and 2 friends have started planning.

    Here's the itinerary I've put together:

    Days 1-3: LA with Universal Studios visit
    Day 4: Drive to Santa Barbara
    Day 5: Drive up Big Sur on Coast
    Day 6: Carmel
    Day 7: Monterey Bay to go Whale Watching
    Days 8-10: SF with Napa Valley Tour
    Days 11-12: Yosemite
    Days 13-14: Death Valley
    Days 15-18: Las Vegas with Grand Canyon

    We're from the UK and have never been to California so I've put the above together with very basic information. We are currently looking at the 6th November but I'd like some advice on whether it would be better to go at another point during September to March (the timeframe we're playing with). Weather is obviously the biggest concern, but we don't mind it being milder if it means the crowds won't be as busy and things like that. My main concern perhaps was whether November was a good time to visit places like Napa Valley and Yosemite?

    Also, any advice on whether the trip is doable or if I'm missing anything out would be much appreciated! Oh, and finally, are there car rental issues with picking up and dropping off in different places?

    Thanks all!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You've got a very good start of a plan, although to do the trip as you have listed, you would be better off planning for September or Early October. Tioga Pass, across the Sierra Nevada Mountains through Yosemite, closes for the winter. The exact time when it closes and opens depends upon the weather, but typically it closes starting between mid-October and late-November and doesn't open again until May or Early June. The past couple years, it has stayed open later in the year and opened early, because of a lack of snow, but there's no guarantee that will happen again next year.

    If you do travel when the pass is closed, you can still make the trip, you just have to find another route across the Sierras - with going down to the Bakersfield area being the shortest.

    The only other issue with your trip: keep in mind, the Grand Canyon is not a daytrip from Las Vegas. It's a 5 hour drive and You should plan to spend at least one night near the Canyon.

    Car rental pickup/drop-off shouldn't be a problem, except that you will likely get hit with a one-way drop fee. Because LA-LV trips are very popular, it shouldn't be too expensive, and you might be able to get it waived. If it ends up costing a lot, you could go from Vegas to GC and then head directly back to LA.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    You could also look at reversing the direction of the trip so you will be driving south along the coast - that way the scenic pullouts will be on your side of the road. Remember, we drive on the right side of the road over here!

    I would look at a loop trip starting and ending in Las Vegas, going to DV, Yosemite, SF, LA, GC, and back to LV in that order. That would give you the best chance of Tioga Pass being open in the fall.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default

    We love travelling Sept into the start of October but even then you can see cold nights in the mountains. November is more risky with the weather . As mentioned, a loop that see's you heading south down the coast would work well. Plan on spending a night at the Grand canyon National park and note that most tours from Vegas go to the west rim which is not part of it and nowhere near as spectacular.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

  6. Default

    Thanks for the warm welcome and advice everyone!

    Definitely some food for thought there-doing the trip in reverse so the coast is on our right wouldn't have occurred to me! We chose to finish in Vegas rather than start so we didn't blow our budget in the first few days but no real reason why we couldn't do it in reverse.

    We'd actually planned to return our car on arriving in Vegas and do a Grand Canyon tour from Vegas via plane, rather than drive there. Is it worth making the trip by car to ensure we see it at its best?

    Also, regarding the pass you've all mentioned will likely be closed-how much time does this add to the drive? And how much different is Yosemite itself in November to early September?

    Cheers

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

    Default

    Personally I think it is a lot more rewarding to visit GC under your own steam and stay a night, you get to witness an amazing sunset and sunrise if you choose. As mentioned before, if you take a tour check that it goes to the south rim and not the west.

    Tioga pass can be open through November, there is just no way of knowing right up to the point that it does, plus there are temporary closures at any time the weather decides to turn. The diversion, heading south around the mountains via Bakersfield/Lake Isabella is not a big deal in itself, but Tioga is a spectacular drive I would not want to miss out on.

  8. Default

    Thanks Dave.

    We've narrowed it down to either being able to go for 2 weeks from October 9th or November 6th. Obviously the November date would be a gamble on whether the road would be open whereas we'd probably be ok with October date judging by previous years.

    However our flights would cost $150 more in October-would the extra expense be worth it?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Really, only you can decide what is worth it to you. If this will be your only opportunity to visit this part of the world, and the pass is closed, you very well might regret not spending that $150. However, the odds are at least 50/50 that the pass would still be open in early November, and if you're on a tight budget, it might be worth that gamble.

    I would say, that you might also want to compare other costs. Rental and hotel costs, for example, might also be cheaper in November, so the difference could end up being more than $150 dollars. On the other hand, they could be cheaper and balance out the extra money for flights.

  10. Default Choice of Car for Vegas to SF trip in November

    Hi,

    Myself and 2 mates are planning to go from Vegas to San Francisco on the 9th November over the course of a week with stops at Death Valley and Yosemite.

    We are looking at car hire and currently weighing up a Ford Cherokee or a Ford Mustang. Obviously the Mustang would be a lot more fun! But I'm conscious of the fact we are complete strangers to the area and wanted to know if we should be going with the Cherokee for practicality reasons?

    Thanks for your help

    Tom

    Moderator Note: Please keep all questions about the same trip in the same thread
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 09-16-2015 at 06:18 AM. Reason: Merged Threads

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