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  1. Default California and Utah Road Trip in November - 7 days

    Hi everyone.

    I'm from Europe, and planning a trip to Las Vegas for a birthday in the final week of November, 21 to 28 Nov (which I think is Thanksgiving week). It will just be me in the car. I love driving so don't mind spending a few long stretches at the wheel. I do regular 8 hour+ trips across the UK and Europe.

    I'd like to take the opportunity to do the Big Sur (a drive before you die) and also see the Grand Canyon. I've come up with the following rough itinerary:

    Saturday mid afternoon - arrive LAX, drive to Santa Barbara. Overnight in SB.
    Sunday 22 Nov - Drive Big Sur from Santa Barbara to Carmel or Monterey via Big Sur. Overnight in Carmel or Monterey.
    Monday 23 Nov - Drive from Monterey to Las Vegas (a long haul this one, I realise). Overnight in LV.
    Tuesday 24 Nov - Las Vegas. Overnight in LV.
    Wednesday 25 Nov - Drive to Grand Canyon am. PM and overnight South Rim GCNP.
    Thursday 26 Nov - AM at Grand Canyon, drive to Lake Havasu City. Overnight LHC.
    Friday 27 Nov - Drive to LA. Overnight in LA.
    Saturday 28 Nov - Fly from LAX early pm.

    My main question relates to the return route from the Grand Canyon to LA. Are there anyrecommendations fo avoidg the I-15 slog which I guess could also be busy with holiday traffic? Possibly north via Grand Sequoia or south via joshua Tree?

    Thanks for any advice!


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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you've got a solid plan. I would only urge you to make 1 change. Santa Barbara is really too far to drive after a long transatlantic flight, especially when you'll be arriving in the afternoon, which means you'll be fighting traffic to do so. I'd look for a place much closer to LAX, and then get out early on Sunday.

    For your trip back from the Grand Canyon, going via Joshua Tree would be a very workable option. Sequoia would be a huge detour that would not, work however - and if that's a place you wanted to visit, you should look at including it between Monterey and Vegas. I wouldn't think I-15 would be too back going to LA on a Friday, as Friday isn't a huge travel day of the holiday, and I'd expect more of the traffic would be heading towards Vegas. (If you were driving on Sunday, I-15 would be pretty bad.)

    Just for your knowledge, the day after Thanksgiving is typically one of the biggest shopping days of the year in the US, so any drives near malls could be crowded (although, even there, many of the big sales are being pushed into Thursday night, so that's not as bad as it was a few years ago.)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I was thinking that you might want to reverse your trip, so that the coastal drive will be southbound. It would put all the scenic pullouts on the right side of the road, so you wouldn't have to cross traffic to go into one or when leaving.

    If you did the trip the way you've laid it out, you will definitely see some traffic for what is known here as "Black Friday" (the day after Thanksgiving).


  4. Default

    Hi Michael and Donna, thanks very much for your helpful replies, especially the warning about Black Friday.

    I'm planning the visit to SB mainly to visit relatives for the Saturday evening, and then head S to N on the Big Sur. I'm doing it that way round mainly because the dates in LV and GCNP later in the week are fixed. I've done the plane trip a few times so hopefully should be able to get some decent rest on the journey there before the 3 hours or so to SB, with rest stops as needed.

    One alternative for the return from Grand Canyon that has been suggested to me relates to the loop via Zion. Would it be possible to leave Grand Canyon on Thursday midday, drive from Grand Ganyon South Rim to Zion, stay in Zion Thursday night, then drive to LAX over Friday and Saturday morning? I'd like to spend at least an afternoon or morning exploring Zion if I could.
    I have a feeling this may be over-ambitious...

    If it's too much, I'll think I'll stick to the straightforward "southern" return to LA, probably after going through Joshua Tree, and staying just outside LA on Friday to avoid Black Friday...


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    If you want to add Zion, then it would make more sense to go from Vegas to Zion first, and then head onto the Grand Canyon, and onto LA.

    But if your dates at GC are fixed, I'd skip Zion this time. I think you'd end up being too rushed for it to be worthwhile. You would get there late on Thursday, and wouldn't have any time to see Zion until Friday. With a flight out on Saturday, I wouldn't want to risk it.

  6. Default

    Thanks, I'll save Zion till next time then!

    Cheers for all the advice.

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