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  1. #1

    Default San Diego to Medford via the Grand Canyon

    Hi all :)

    I'm Serin and I'm from Australia. I have never been to America but I'm super excited to be going on a 3 week trip in September :D
    We have friends on the west coast but we're looking to do a road trip between them. San Diego is our starting point and Medford, OR is the destination. We want to go to the Grand Canyon (though not stay there any more than a day or so) and see as many national parks/nature sights as possible in between.
    We've organised car hire and will be leaving San diego on 4th and need to arrive in Medford on (or around) 8th. As we're still in the planning mode we can move things around if needed. I would like to limit driving to within daylight hours as much as possible and no more than 6-7hrs a day (though I would prefer 4-5)

    I would be very grateful for any tips, must see places/foods or a reality check if there won't be enough time in the 5 days (or there abouts).

    Thank you :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Not possible going that slowly.

    Hi Serin, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    You will not be able to do this trip the way you planned. It is a 1500 mile trip, going only via the Grand Canyon, although there are half a dozen or more national parks along your route. It is a long day's driving from San Diego to the Grand Canyon - that is more than 500 miles which will see you on the road for around 10 hours.

    Grand Canyon to Medford is another 1000 miles, most of it not on interstate highways. That will see you on the road for another two long days. A day at the Grand Canyon and just about all your time is gone.

    So if you want to spend only 6 - 7 hours on the road, you will need to add quite a bit of time. Doing a trip like this with just 4 - 5 hours driving per day, is virtually out of the question unless you have a LOT more time.

    If you have driven from Adelaide to Melbourne, that's nothing like the driving you will be doing in the US West. Driving in the US is nothing like driving almost anywhere in Oz, and besides the country through which you will be travelling is spectacular and will keep your interest all of the way. Leave early each day, and you will not be driving after dark..... it's no fun, especially in open range country. Black cows are rather hard to see at night. :)

    If you already have your dates, get onto the national park website and check for availability of accommodation in the Grand Canyon. Well worth it, and you will have the fantastic opportunity of experiencing a sunset and/or sunrise over the canyon. If you find all the accommodation booked up, keep checking back as cancellations do happen.Sometimes people's plans change.

    I would also recommend that if you have the opportunity to add more time to look at some of the other NPs along the route.

    Have a great trip.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default The rest of the story?

    As Lifey mentioned, getting from San Diego to Medford in 5 days, via the Grand Canyon, while only driving a maximum of 6-7 hours a day is possible, but it really doesn't leave any time for anything else.

    But at the start of your post, you say this will be a 3 week trip? Why are you limiting yourself to just 5 days and what are you planning to do with the other 2+ weeks of this trip? It's entirely possible there is a better way to approach this, where you'd have more time to see parks and natural wonders, without long driving days - but we can't know unless you tell us the rest of the story.

  4. #4


    Thanks for your comments.
    I thought we might be being a bit ambitious. We have plans in San Diego, Medford, Seattle and Canada as well as a day or 2 in LA. We have 5 days (and 4 nights) between stops in the south west but other than that we have time booked up with friends.
    We would love to go see the Grand Canyon and some other sights around (national parks if possible). Would it be an idea to fly to Vegas (not much interest in the city itself though) and do a 2-3 day trip from there and then fly to medford? Are there other bases we could fly into and hire a car from? we want to fit in as much as we can while we're there but want to balance the travel and the fun :)

  5. #5


    Ok, so after some changes I have worked out a way we can spend 6 days (5 nights) on the trip.

    Do you think 2 days from san deigo to the canyon (staying over night there, or somewhere close). Have an early start to check out some of the canyon sights (still not sure on what there is to actually do there) then we can take 3.5 days (3 different night stops on the way) to Medford.

    Is that more doable or am I still way off?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Other Way to Look at This

    Lifey and Michael have correctly pointed out that only driving 5-6 hours a day means that you'd have to be on the road each and every one of the days that you had originally allocated to this trip. But that doesn't necessarily mean that you wouldn't have time to see anything else along the way. There are, after all, the other 8-9 hours of awake time each day to fill. So, what I'd suggest is that you keep to your plan of limiting your daily driving but take the time now to see what you can use the 'other' time each day for. Just some examples: On Day 1 you could take a break at Joshua Tree National Park or take a short detour down into Lake Havasu City and back to see the London Bridge. On Day 2 you could arrive at the Grand Canyon, visit the many different pull-outs along the Rim Trail, maybe even hike along the rim for a bit and at least stay until the sun is low in the sky, then head for your night's lodging. On Day 3, if you leave the park to the east and then head north, you could spend a few hours at Zion National Park. The point is, you will have time to see other stuff along the way and actually taking the time to stop, get out of the car, hike a bit, and enjoy the country you'll be driving through, will make your 6 hours or so behind the wheel a whole lot easier and the entire journey a whole lot more enjoyable.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 07-07-2015 at 10:26 AM.

  7. #7

    Default June Lake to Yuba City route advice needed please

    Hello :)

    I'm from Australia and am planning my first trip to America.

    We are planning a short road trip from San Diego to Medford over 6 days (5 night stops) and I have planned night stops in June Lake (which looks amazingly beautiful) and Yuba city. The only problem is that there are a number of routes I could take between them and I would love some advice on which might be the best.

    We are looking to do around 5 hours of driving throughout the day (I'd prefer to limit the amount of night driving) and we would like to be able to take some time to have lots of breaks and see some amazing sights if we can. We will be leaving June Lake early in the morning and don't mind arriving in Yuba City around dinner time.

    From what I can find we have a couple of routes that would work but I don't know if it would be best. I would imagine the more southern route through Yosemite (CA-120 W I think) would be beautiful but so would the more northern option that goes around Lake Tahoe.

    Can anyone offer some advice on how we can get from June Lake to Yuba City with some nice rest stops and beautiful scenery? Any tips or spots to avoid would also be great. This leg of the trip should be taken on 8th Sept this year.

    Thank you in advance

    Mod note] Please keep all questions about this trip in one thread so that other members can follow and see the 'big' picture.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 07-09-2015 at 02:05 AM. Reason: Merged

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


    Whereas there is no single 'best' route, just lots of great options, I would drive across Tioga Pass [CA120] into Yosemite. However, that will mean a lot more than 5 hours driving so it may not be 'best' for you. To be honest you are really missing out by not visiting Yosemite NP as it is one of the gems of the NP system and to be so close and have no time....... If I were you on your time line, I would actually consider leaving the Grand canyon and visit it at another time when you don't have other commitments or you have more time. You would have a more relaxed trip taking a more direct route from SD to June Lakes and spending a couple of nights in Yosemite. Of course that's up to you, but trying to visit friends and places you want to see doesn't always work out for the best.

    There might be some misunderstanding earlier in your posts though, or there might not be ? If you only want to be TRAVELLING for 6 hours a day that is a problem, if you only want to be DRIVING 6 hours a day and adding on time to visit places then that's a bit different. An example would be leaving point 'A' at 9am and arriving at point B at '6pm', 9 hours in total but limiting the actual driving to 6 hours. [?] That's a big difference, but you still won't have heaps of time remaining.

  9. #9


    I am also one that will suggest you skip the Grand Canyon. You are eating up lots of your time to see one park.
    My suggestion would be to see Joshua Tree NP then add some of these parks instead Yosemite National Park, Sequoia NP, Kings Canyon NP, Lassen Volcanic NP, Whiskey Town NP. Or you might divert to the Redwood National Park.

    I figure that your friends will be showing you Crater Lake in Oregon.

    On the way to Seattle, plan a day for Mt St Helens.

    All of these parks have a lot of diverse features. These would work for your driving time frame.

    In Medford area: Buttercloud Bakery, Harry and David.

    Portland: VooDoo Donuts is just weird (but I love the donuts), Cacao for chocolate,

    edited to add: Be aware that Oregon, California, and Washington have all be hotter then normal this year. This means there will be brush and forest fires that can change plans along your trip. Hopefully, they will not be in the area you wish to visit.
    Have fun.

  10. #10


    Thanks for the tips. Unfortunately this is a once in a lifetime trip and I doubt we'll every have the chance to get back to the states. This means the Grand Canyon is a non-negotionable destination as its on my partners bucket list. It's also why we're trying to see as much as possible even if we can't stay too long in each place.

    Sorry if I wasn't clear with the driving vs travelling thing. I want us to be behind the wheel for 5ish hours a day so we can spend the other hours stopping at interesting places and enjoying the places we do take rest stops without being rushed.

    I think I might go the lake Tahoe route as the Yosemite one seems to be more freeway and city driving once you get out of the NP when the lake Tahoe way seems to go through fewer of the large cities.

    the San Diego to Medford part is the only driving section of our plans. We're catching planes, trains or lifts with friends for the rest of the trip.

    Thanks again

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