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  1. Default Itinerary advise SF to Grand Canyon (incl. Yosemite, Death Valley, Pacific Highway)

    Hi - We are a family of 4 with 2 boys (10 & 8) travelling from Europe. We fly in and out of San Francisco (May 1 - May 13, 2016). We would like to spend 2-3 days in San Francisco and then would like to visit the following: Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Death Valley, Pacific Highway. What is the best way to organize this itinerary?
    We were thinking of using the Pacific Highway for the 1st part to include Big Sur and beyond and then head through Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim (understand North Rim will be closed in the 1st half of May). We thought we would spend 2-3 days in the Grand Canyon and then drive back through Yosemite. Is this too much to fit in? What would be the best places to stop and places to visit along the way?
    Many thanks for your help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Good Choice

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The areas you'll be traveling through are some of the most popular destinations in America. So as a first step you should probably check out the many bits of advice given over the years on these forums. There are also one or two specifics you should be aware of. Your plan to drive down the coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles puts the ocean on 'your' side of the highway, thus making getting on and off the road at various scenic pull-outs that much easier. But your intention to drive from Las Vegas back to San Francisco "through Yosemite" may be more difficult. If you are planning on going from Las Vegas north on US-395 and then across Tioga Pass (CA-120) into Yosemite, you need to be aware that the pass closes for the winter due to snow and may not be open by your May travel time. You will need to check this on the park service web site shortly before you set out. If the pass is still closed you'll need to head south first on I-15, then west through Bakersfield, and finally north along the west side of the Sierra Nevada to get to Yosemite.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    One minor change I'd recommend - go from the coast to the GC, then go through LV on your way back west. Then go from LV through DV, then if Tioga Pass is open take US-395 north. If Tioga is closed, take US-395 south to CA-14 to CA-178 to Bakersfield, then north on CA-99 to Fresno and CA-41 into Yosemite.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    As you are limited for time and haven't mentioned LA, I would head inland towards the Grand canyon from Cambria and stay out of the LA basin. You would need to break the journey with an overnight stop and continue to the Canyon next day, Kingman AZ would be an option. Then, as mentioned, you would go to Vegas, through Death valley and onto Yosemite which could well mean heading around the south of the mountains. Another possibility from Death valley would be to take CA178 via Lake Isabella towards Bakersfield.

  5. #5


    With young kids, especially energetic young boys, that is a lot of driving. With the kids you might need to take several stops along the way so limiting the trip to California could be considered.

    If you arrive to San Francisco on May 1 and stay for a couple of days, you'd be hitting the highway around May 3rd or 4th. If flying out of San Francisco, you will likely want to be back in town somewhere near the airport (or accessible by BART/transit system) on May 12th, as traffic in and out of the Bay area can become very congested. That would leave about one week outside of San Francisco. The Big Sur coastal trip south could easily be spread over 3 days and likewise for Yosemite.

    The kids would probably love the Monterey aquarium, a good half day minimum, plus many other possibilities in Monterey.

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