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  1. Default Santa Barbara to Grand Canyon in June - route options?


    I've been browsing this forum and got lots of helpful tips. I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on the last leg of our 22 day trip, where we head from Santa Barbara to Grand Canyon.

    Relevant info:

    Fri 17th : Santa Barbara
    Sat 18th: Palm Springs? (but depends on route we go for!)
    Sun 19th: Yavapai Lodge, grand canyon (accommodation booked)
    Mon 20th: Las Vegas (accomm booked but free cancellation)
    Tues 21st: Las vegas
    Weds 22: fly midday

    Prior to this we'll have been from Las Vegas> Death Valley> Mammoth Lakes> Tioga Pass> Yosemite (staying el portal)> San francisco> big sur.

    We are from the UK and there are two of us, couple in our thirties. First time for me in America. I've been trying to keep the drives to max four hours (according to google!) knowing that means we can add a couple of hours for stops etc. I was interested in visiting Palm Springs because I liked the look of mid century architecture without having to deal with LA. And being near Joshua Tree. However Palm Springs to Yavapai Lodge is 6-7 hours according to maps and of course we could add on a couple of hours with stops. By this point we will be used to longer drives (I hope!).

    So here's my question: I'm gathering that it's not the most interesting drive? Are we giving ourselves an unnecessarily long day, should we drive further the day before and if so where to stop? Or should we stay at 29 palms instead of palm springs to save ourselves time on the journey? That would mean I still get to look at mid century modernist desert architecture before maybe catching sunset in Joshua tree.

    Also from grand canyon to las vegas: I don't think we have enough time to go up to Page etc. The plan would be to spend entire day at Canyon Monday then head back to Vegas that evening. Unless anyone would suggest another option?

    Would be interested in opinions!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    If you've been lurking around for a bit, you might find that one of our usual comments is "don't believe Google". Google is very nice for the exact mileage. But that's all. Take the mileage and divide it by 55-60 (for interstate travel) or 50 (for 2-lane highway travel). That will give you drive time average that would include stops for fuel, food, and restroom breaks. Add even more time for sightseeing stops.

    That said.....allow 5 hours for the trip from Grand Canyon's south rim up to Las Vegas.

    If you drive through Joshua Tree NP, you are probably going to want to stop more than you think. Add a lot of extra time. JTNP is very interesting, and "desert beautiful".


  3. Default

    Hi Donna,

    Thanks! yes I'd guessed that google maps are guidelines...the 55mph guideline is a good one.

    Just in case anyone else is looking at how to square the circle on this, I looked again at the route bearing that in mind and decided that staying in 29 Palms was the better option. It only saves us 60 or so miles, but means that we can do a little sunset viewing in joshua tree the night before (thinking of driving down to the Boyscout trailhead which is 6 miles from where we're staying). We can stop in Palm Springs on the way over and perhaps enjoy the (air conditioned) art gallery. And 60 miles is an hour less journey time if we're thinking of 50-55mph as a guide!

    Google gives us a potential route of heading up to Amboy and part of the old route 66, before joining the I-40 to Needles. Depending on what time we're making we have the option of coming off onto the old route 66 again at Kingman. That gives us mileage of roughly 358 miles, which is about as long a drive as travelling from where I live in the UK to visit my relatives in the south west :) so that feels much more manageable.

    As you might be able to tell, I'm not really the 'see where the road takes us' kind of traveller :D

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    South Central Orange County


    You will be able to save some time if you forego Palm Springs. Taking the Amboy cutoff and driving along Route 66 has a great appeal to those of us who suffer from chronic nostalgia of pre-1980s road trips, but it may not be your cup of tea. As far as mid-century architecture goes, there's the famous Roy's gas station/store/motel in Amboy. Before you get that far you may want to pull off I-10 at Exit 106 to see the concrete dinosaurs (as seen in Pee Wee's Great Adventure). I think the Wagon Wheel Inn diner is still closed, though.

    You can find more mid-century commercial architecture in the drive ins, gas stations, and restaurants along Route 66 (e.g. in Seligman, AZ) on the way to Grand Canyon.

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