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  1. #1

    Default Aussies need a little help Grand Canyon to Yosemite, please.

    Hi all,

    as newbie forum travellers from Aus, I have seen various posts about parts of our questions elsewhere, but can someone in the know please help us with items of note to do on the following route we have planned out. We are in a hire car and using hotelling/cabins etc, travelling in early June.

    We have spent ages (I need a holiday just from doing that!!) mostly mapping our route but have slightly variable times b/n main bookings. We are fit and able bodied late 50s, but given that we want to see a fair bit we are limiting our walking to maybe one hour or so trails at most. Unless someone can tell us of something a bit longer that is well worth it!

    All advice gratefully accepted.

    1). Jacob Lake to Vegas. We will be leaving Jacob Lake on a Saturday morning. Can arrive in Vegas at the latest early afternoon Tues, but preferable late Monday, due to more time on point 2). Planning on going the Bryce--Escalante--Torrey areas to as high as perhaps Fishlake, but trying to see most of the best spots in this area. This is where we are floundering a bit, as there is so much info out there. Hidden gems, things not to miss, rough time scale etc please.

    2). Leaving Vegas either Wednesday or Thursday depending on arrival (2 nights only..we're not really into the Vegas sort of thing), then we are heading to Yosemite, getting there on the Monday to avoid the weekend crowds (??!!). Planned route "east side" Death Valley--Lee Vining--Lake Tahoe at least. Then maybe a bit further north, but regardless then coming back down the west side, to join up to heading east again on either route 4 or 108, so that we "enter" Yosemite westwards via Tioga Rd. Which is better? 4 or 108? Or perhaps something else? We are willing to do a small run backwards of a road already travelled on the east side, as we consider Tioga entry a must, unless someone says otherwise.

    3). We are spending a few days at Yosemite, then heading over to Fort Bragg via Williams fairly quickly for a coast run down to San Fran. Is it worth going through Sacramento to have a quick look, or are there better sights going north or south of the city?

    4). Is there some sort of "go in all the parks" pass we can buy? It seems we are going to be encountering lots of park passes along the way and this will make it easier.

    Thanks in advance.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    I don't have the answers to all of your questions, so let me answer the one I DO know, #4. There is an annual pass, $80, that will let you in most of the parks for a year. Not included in that pass will be camping, showers, lodging, or food of course.

    You didn't really say when this trip will take place, other than "summer". Tioga Pass is usually open by the 1st of June, but has been known to close for a summer snowstorm for a day or three. (I remember my dad being sooooo disappointed when we were there in June one year, and it was closed!) So keep an eye on things if you are coming in June.


  3. #3


    Thanks Donna,

    will check that pass out. Yep, hidden away in first para...early June. I know how easy it is to miss that stuff in posts!! And yes, we know Tioga "might" be a problem but here's hoping it's open ok.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If Tioga Pass is open, leave Death Valley on US-395 north to CA-120 west over Tioga Pass. Leave Yosemite via CA-120 west to CA-49 north, take CA-88 east back over the Sierras to CA-89 to US-50 into South Lake Tahoe.

    To get to Williams from Lake Tahoe, go north on either CA-89 or CA-267 to I-80, take that west to CA-20 west.

    If Tioga is closed, you will have to go to Yosemite via Bakersfield and enter from the west on CA-41 or CA-140. CA-88, US-50, and I-80 do not close for the winter, CA-120, CA-4, and CA-108 all do. I prefer CA-88 because it's relatively lightly traveled and is quite scenic.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Some good maps will help yhou.... even at this stage.

    Hi John. Are you using actual maps, or are you trying to do all this on an electronic device.. If the latter, I will highly recommend that you purchase a Rand McNally road atlas. You have around 10 weeks or so before you travel. If you order it NOW, you will have it in a couple of weeks. It will be invaluable while you are trying to plan the trip, and essential when you are on the road. Don't be tempted to rely solely on your electronics.

    When you get your atlas, follow the advice in this paragraph:

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck
    Start with maps. Not GPS, not software, not Google, but real honest-to-god paper maps that show you your entire route, that you can mark up (and erase), that you can stick pins in, and that show something about the land you'll be driving through. Those are your essential tool in any RoadTrip planning process. Start by marking all the places you know you want to visit. Then connect the dots. Then look for more places of interest and scenic routes along the lines connecting the dots. Repeat until you've got as many sites and roads as you think you want.
    The maps will show you all the parks along any given route. As well they will show you just how many choices you have of routes. None of this one road in and the same road out, like at home in the outback. The maps show the roads graded from superfast highways to secondary highways, backroads and scenic roads (which are the ones I choose at every opportunity). All the towns for your options of accommodation will also be shown. Cabins can sometimes be found in the State parks as well. Worth looking for them.

    Furthermore, take your RACV membership with you. It will give you access to free tourism information from AAA offices anywhere in the US.

    Donna mentioned the annual pass for the National Parks. Note that it will not give you access to State parks. These are a separate charge for entry.

    For your sake I hope Tioga Pass will be open, but be sure to have a plan B in that area, just in case. It has been known to be closed till later in June.

    Where are you flying into? Do you have fixed commitments in LV or other places. If not, I wonder if you could reverse your trip and put the LV / Yosemite / Death Valley (which will be very very hot) and Tioga Pass towards the end of your trip when it is more likely to be open.

    I know you want your hotels and all booked, but it pays to stay a bit flexible for these types of situation. On the other hand, if you want to stay within the NPs, you have no choice but to book in early. At this point they could well all be booked out for June.

    From the North Rim - Jacob Lake - you would be best going to Zion, that is a lovely place for great short walks, Then Bryce where you can walk among the hoodoos. In Bryce you drive right to the end, and stop at all the view points on your way back. Several have hikes down into the canyon. After Bryce, I wouldn't head all the way to Torrey, especially if you want to go to Fishlake NF. It is really immaterial which way round you do Bryce and Zion.

    For cabins near Bryce, check out Kodachrome SP, which would also allow you to travel a short way on UT12 through spectacular red rock country. If you head out from Bryce north on scenic US 89, and work your way back to LV from there. This will take you through a collection of forests and parks, all of which have nice walks - long or short. You will see it all when you get the atlas.


  6. #6


    Thanks all so far,
    we have been working off a huge variety of maps including Rand, combining all their info into working out our best route pretty much the method mentioned, and it is now fairly fixed due to time specific places. Some places we have booked for the reason you mention, Lifey, due to wanting to be sure to be in at that spot which will be booked out in no time.

    But we still have the variables on the run after the canyon and after LV. And also keeping in mind that Tioga might be closed. But we are countering that by being on the west side before heading east to come back via Tioga, so if it is closed we just go straight in to Yosemite from the west.

    Your suggestions for Bryce etc are just what we need, Lifey. We were thinking on doing all of what you say, but doing the Torrey run and going up 24 to join to 70 to then head to LV on 15. But are you saying that this will be a bit too long? And we wouldn't want to miss what sounds like a good run up 89. Perhaps some small comments about this please. Could we perhaps do a clockwise loop going up 89, across to 24 via Angle, then back down via Excalante and back to the freeway 15 via Dixie? Worth it? Time?


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Attractions closer by.

    There is just so much to see and do it can make you dizzy, but sometimes less is more. So yes you can do loops and try to get lots of places in or you can take the time to enjoy fewer places, the choice is yours. If your preference is to be in Vegas Monday then I would go from Jacob lake to Bryce canyon and spend the night there after exploring the canyon. You could detour to Coral Pink sand dunes SP on the way. Sunday morning head to Zion NP via the Mt Carmel tunnel where you could easily spend the rest of the day and the following morning exploring it's many trails. On route you could stop at Red canyon and/or detour through Cedar Breaks NM and when you leave Zion towards Vegas you have the option to detour through the Valley of Fire. It's a spectacular area, but having some quality time out of the car enjoying the fresh air and soaking up the atmosphere might turn out to be more rewarding than adding loads of miles heading to Torrey and Fishlake. Just a thought.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default More and Less.

    John, to be able to enjoy the places you all ready have, and the great scenic routes you will be driving, I honestly think you will not miss anything this time, by not stretching it to Torrey. If you choose the option to go to Kodachrome SP you will be driving through some spectacular country and experience Escalante NM where the SP is located. A nice walk there as well, to the chimney (I think it is called).

    As Dave said, sometimes you need to cut back to really enjoy the places you are at. I recall well driving to Torrey....... on my sixth trip to the US.


  9. #9


    Thanks both Dave and Lifey,

    You've both pretty much reinforced our thinking in that whilst we don't mind driving, we do want to be enjoying ourselves and endless miles can be "undesirable", especially in an area that looks like there will be lots to stop at and appreciate. So we'll be dropping the Torrey bit. We're going to base at Bryce for the two nights, cruise out from there as desired, likely get another sore bum from a mule ride (which looks great), and then head to Vegas via the nice spots mentioned along the way on the Monday.

    And thanks for taking the time to read my posts, absorb the info, and write your replies. All very much appreciated.



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