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  1. Default San Francisco to Phoenix advice

    Hi My wife and myself are looking to plan a trip for next May. We ideally would like to fly into and out of SF, for 2 weeks.

    We did a similar trip in 2013 so already know some of the places we would like to go back to and where not!

    Obviously SF but also

    Las Vegas

    Zion NP

    Yosemite NP

    Grand Canyon are places we really want to go back to but we really need a route!

    In 2013 we did a max of 320 miles a day and as we only stayed in most places for 1 night that distance was enough.

    any ideas would be great.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Good maps have all that information.

    Hi Neil and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    I am assuming that you are flying in from overseas. Did you bring home any maps last year/ and or a road atlas? They would be invaluable to you right now, to see the myriad of routes available to you from high speed interstates to old highways, local roads and scenic routes. You will never see all those on a small screen.

    If you do not have any maps, may I suggest that you purchase a Rand McNally road atlas (there is none better), available from the RTA store via the link at the bottom of this page. With all the features these maps have you will soon see just how many other attractions there are along your chosen route. Good detailed maps are invaluable during the planning stage and essential when on the road. If you are from outside of the US, you will have it within a couple of weeks of ordering.

    Of all the roads and routes in the southwest, it is hard to start and suggest any - since at a mere 320 miles per day, you have the choiice of many scenic routes.

    As to the order in which you would do this trip you could start by heading down the Pacific Coast Highway via Monterey and Big Sur to Cambria, head inland and straight to the Grand Canyon. Then either back to Vegas and onto Zion, or take the east entrance out of the Grand Canyon and head for Zion via Cameron Trading Post US89 and Kanab. Then to Las Vegas after Zion.

    Finally be sure to drive through Death Valley on your way to Yosemite. It is an absolutely stunning landscape, with a few highlights to visit.

    One important fact to take on board is that in May there is a great chance that Tioga Pass, the east entry into Yosemite will not be open. That will mean you will have to go south around the Sierras via Bakersfield, to the west entrance of Yosemite.

    If your plan is to stay within the national parks you will need to book accommodation a.s.a.p., as it books up very quickly. Check the national parks website for booking dates.


  3. Default

    Hi Lifey

    Thanks for the info.
    Yes we are coming in from the UK, we didnt bring any maps back with us as we relied on our Sat Nav to get us about.
    Death Valley we did visited last time, staying at Furnace Creek and we enjoyed that so not adverse to returning, we also went through Kanab and stayed a few hours there which was fantastic! Cambria has been mentioned before but is that worth an overnight stay or is it just a mid-point to getting somewhere else?
    In August 2013 Tioga pass was closed for us due to the forest fire so we know all to well about the diversion, as we are planning mid May would the pass be open by that time, looking at the recent history it seems it opens early May, but I guess nobody can second guess the weather!
    thanks again


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Might be pushing it for a May opening.

    It is not recommended that you rely on a sat nav. Many have done so at their peril - some fatal! Your best tool on the road is a real map, with all the details and alternatives to choose from at one time.

    The Pacific Coast Highway is a spectacular road, with many scenic overlooks etc to pull into. Cambria is about a day's drive out of SF. The complete route to LA is a two day journey. Head out of Cambria to the Bakersfield / Barstow area, and then onto the Grand Canyon. It is your most efficient way of making that part of your trip.

    When you receive your maps, you will see just how much there is to see along all those routes. What a pity that Tioga Pass was closed for you in August. The opening of course all depends on the snow accumulation, which none of us will know for months yet. You might like to take part in our Tioga Pass guessing game, where you can pick when you think it might open. A great price awaits you if you are spot on. One of your own countrymen is the adjudicator, so if you are unhappy with the result, take it up with him. LOL

    Still, I would not hold my breath for a May opening.


  5. Default

    Great info. I shall order some real maps and start planing!!

    Will have a go at the Tioga pass opening game, UK is pretty small so I probably know the adjudicator!! ;)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I'd say the odds of Tioga Pass being open are probably less than 50/50. The recent history of it opening in early May came during a couple years of severe drought. With an El Nino weather pattern this year, California has seen more snow and rain, and that means snowpack in the Sierras is much closer to normal. Historically, Tioga Pass doesn't open until mid-May at the earliest, and openings in mid to late June aren't that uncommon.

    The most common route for what you're planning to do would SF, down the coast through Big Sur to Cambria, across to Grand Canyon, up to Zion, back over to Vegas, and then back through Yosemite on the way to SF. With just 2 weeks, I'm going to guess you're probably going to need a couple driving days that are more than 300 miles. To make everything fit, I'd guess you'll probably want to go from the coast to the Grand Canyon in a long day on the road, and then probably from Vegas to Yosemite in a day - especially if Tioga is Closed and you're not planning to visit Death Valley.

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


    You have a reasonable chance of the Tioga Pass being open towards the end of your trip but there has been quite a lot of snow this year. From Grand canyon to Zion via Page you would have options such as Monument valley, Antelope canyon and Bryce canyon to name a few. If Tioga pass wasn't open you could go via the north and perhaps stop at Lake Tahoe, or to the south you could detour into Sequoia NP.

    The Adjudicator. :-)

  8. Default San Francisco to Phoenix advice


    My wife and I are planning on a trip from SanFrancisco to Phoenix in June 2017. We have the following route planned but would appreciate any feedback and or tips, TIA

    San Fran - 2 nights
    Yosemitie NP - 2 nights
    Sequoia - 1 Night
    Death Valley - 1 night
    Las Vegas - 2 nights
    Zion NP - 2 nights
    Grand Canyon Village (south rim) - 2 nights
    Sedona - 1 night

    We shall be hiring a car for the trip

    Not sure why admin have tagged this to an older post of ours, different trip!!
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 07-10-2016 at 10:23 AM. Reason: Merged Threads

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I wasn't sure if you pushed this trip back a year, or if you were always planning for 2017. In any case, we prefer one thread per trip, and since all of the previous information really still applies, I've merged your theads together.

    Your current plan is generally fine, with the note that there is no direct route from sequoia to death valley, so you may want to do sequoia before Yosemite. Also, by changing this to a one way trip, you may find your costs for airfare and car rental increase significantly.

  10. Default

    Thanks, yes the journey from Sequoia is the longest (307miles) but wasn't sure if it made sense to go the way you suggested or not as it seems we would backtrack quite a distance.

    The air fares are very expensive for two single fares but we found if we book "open jaw" the price is almost identical as a return fare into SF, the only cost we are potentially looking at is one-way car rental.

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