California/Nevada Roadtrip HELP!
We are planning a roadtrip in California in September and have NO driving experience in America and pretty much ZERO knowledge of distances, where to go etc. I would be hugely grateful for any help. Our rough itinerary is night 1 - outskirts of san fran, nights 2, 3, 4 - yosemite, night 5 - on the road to vegas, night 6 - outskirts vegas, nights 7, 8 grand canyon, nights 9, 10 - las vegas, night 11 - palm springs, night 12, 13 - san diego (day trip to tijuana perhaps?), night 14 - LA, night 15 - 23 - road to san francisco - and then staying in SF for a few days... Is this possible? Are these driving distances/times feasible? Any help would be much appreciated (esp must sees and recommended routes)...
I didn't run the actual mileages, but based on my own experiences with these roads, I think your schedule is reasonable. You're spending some time in a few of the really great places (Yosemite in particular) so that's good. So many people only have the time to drive through on their way to somewhere -- the experience can be so much better if you have time to linger.
To give you an idea of the normal driving distances possible -- on a trip this past week I drove 525 miles in an almost "nothing but driving" day (got a late start about 10:00 and drove until 20:00, adjusted for time changes, between Phoenix and Chama, NM) -- and on other days as little as 200-300 miles when I was looking, driving slower graveled back roads, and stopping EVERYWHERE to take photos (and eat). (I like nothing better than eating).
Coming home on Saturday, I left Dolores, CO at about 08:00, and averaged 64 mph to Phoenix, arriving at 14:30. I was driving a bit faster than 64 to get this average, and that is not always possible (nor adviseable). More than 52-53 mph is unusual and difficult to maintain for an average pace -- the first day was more typical as I averaged about 52 mph. It's been my experience that 52 is about normal, for an average pace, including your normal stops. Bob
Miles and Times
SFO to Yosemite Valley is 190 miles and will take 4 - 4 1/2 hours depending on the the commute traffic in the SF Bay Area.
Not sure what route you were taking leaving Yosemite, but I would recommend Tioga Pass (Hwy 120) then Hwy 6 to Tonopah, NV and 95 down into Las Vegas. This route is 420 miles and takes about 6 hours to drive. I would highly suggest two nights in Yosemite to give yourself a chance to see it and then just drive all the way to Las Vegas and skip the night on the road.
Las Vegas to Grand Canyon is 280 miles and about 5 hours of driving time.
I'm not sure why you are doubling back to Las Vegas at this point. You can save yourself 120 miles and 2 hours of driving time by just going straight to Palm Springs. It's 560 miles and about 7 hours of driving. If you want to spend a night on the road then I recommend either Kingman, AZ or Lake Havasu, AZ instead of Las Vegas.
Palm Springs to San Diego is 265 miles and about 2 1/2 hours of driving.
San Diego to L.A. is 125 miles and about 2 hours of driving.
No sure which route you were going to take from L.A. to S.F. The coast is a lot slower driving but much more scenic than Interstate 5. With 8 nights to do this part of the trip, you really could afford a second night in Yosemite. It's well worth it!
All driving times could be longer if you run into traffic in the cities.