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  1. #1
    Jolanie Guest

    Default Phoenix to California?

    This is my first time on your site and I find it VERY informative - thank you.

    We are from Cape Town South Africa and this trip would be our first to Arizona. Tucson is our first stay from 27 - 1 Jan '6, then Sedona from 1 - 8 Jan. Ideally, we would use Sedona as base to explore Grand Canyon, Monument Valley etc... We are traveling with our 3 children, ages 3, 8 & 12yrs.
    My husbands favourite past-time is photography and we would love to stop at most scenic & safe spots. My questions are as follow:
    1. Most scenic route from Phoenix towards SF with 1 or 2 stopovers?
    2. Which is better to travel; PHX to San Diego or PHX to SF?
    3. Alternatively, Sedona to SF or back to PHX to either SD or LA?
    (I have a weather concern, please suggest best routes, eliminating snow/narrow passes - we are not experienced snow/tyre chain drivers.)
    ...and regarding the safety aspect; in my country we have the most beautiful scenic places, but you always have to be on high alert for murderers and robbers. You can't even stop at some places to enjoy a picnic or go walking in nature. There are exceptions to the rule - in more secured areas like National Parks and Reserves, but even there sometimes you feel unsafe.)
    4. I would love to travel south along the scenic Pacific Coast to Santa Cruz and the Monterey Bay.
    5. We have traveling time from 8 - 20 Jan.
    6. What is the weather difference from AZ to CA?

    I really appreciate your input and time to answer my questions. If it wasn't for forums like yours I would get lost.

    Sincerely
    J

  2. #2
    Jolanie Guest

    Default

    Alternatively, take the Amtrak to SF, rent a car and explore around that region?
    Will I miss out alot that time of year?

  3. #3
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default

    Greetings,
    Welcome to RTA and the United States of America as well. Being a resident of Arizona myself, I hope I can shed some light on to your questions. As far as weather goes, the Western United States is really hit-and-miss. Some times there is not any problems, other times the roads are far to dangerous for even the most seasoned winter drivers.
    Some of the areas you are looking to visit in Arizona, such as Grand Canyon, Sedona, and Monument Valley can be very dangerous if we get as much snow and ice in those regions as we did this last year. I work for the American equivilent to South Africa's A.A. club, and our contractors in the region found themselves staying off the roads for many nights because it was just too dangerous around Sedona, Flagstaff, and the Grand Canyon due to snow. All I can say is watch the weather reports closely. If anyone mentions snow, especially in the remote areas such as Grand Canyon NP and Monument Valley (more so in Monument Valley), you may want to avoid those areas. Services are fairly adequate in Grand Canyon NP and the area is fairly well patrolled, but Monument Valley is in the Navajo Indian Reservation, and is a very sparsly populated are of that reservation, and so depending on where you are it could be a while before someone comes along.
    As far as safety (in regards to murderers and robbers), it is very very very rare that you will encounter anyone remotely matching those motives. It does happen though, but a little prevention will keep you away from those sort of situations. Mainly just keep common sense about you- be aware of your surroundings, don't put yourself in a situation where you are cut off from the public eye, and if someone asks you for help but you feel leary abou it, offer to contact the local police. I would say though that 97% of requests for help by strangers are ligit, as I have yet to encounter a situation where there were alterior motives, so don't think that everyone asking for help with a flat tire is up to no good.
    As far as routes, I would suggest US 93 from Wickenburg, AZ (northwest of Phoenix) to Los Vegas via Hoover Dam as one leg. The scenery is some very nice desert landscaping, plus you have the added bonus of Hoover Dam. However, if you want to 'Cruise the Coast', it may be your best bet to zip over to the LA area on I-10 and take US 101 north to the destinations you've mentioned.

    And lastly, I'd like to try and answer your last question, about weather difference between AZ and CA. Considering there are GREAT weather differences within Arizona alone (everyone thinks we're just one big hot sunny sandpit) with the warm winter temps in the south and Snow in the north and mid-section. California is the same, but the temperatures are cooler. Expect to see more in the way of rain in southern california and mild to cool temps along the coast. It will be colder inland, but not usually to the point of snowing. Now, this is just for the areas near SD and LA. The farther north you venture, the cooler and the more chances for snow you get. San Francisco will have cooler temps and most likely some more rain (it's been a long time since I lived in the Bay Area), but no snow. If you get into the Redwoods and up into the Lower Cascade Range near Redding, Yreka, Eureka and points north near Oregon, you look at getting into more chances for snow. This also applies to all along the Sierra Nevadas (which if I recall from spanish class, it's spanish for Snowy Mountains). You might encounter some snow in spots of Nevada during the winter as well. Again, it's hit-and-miss, some areas that see heavy snowfall could get none, or there could be quite the doozy of a storm and have roads ice over.

    You mentioned the train, and I say this is a GREAT way to see the country. Personally, I would like to take the train more often. You don't have to drive so you do get to look out the window more often, but the flip side is that you aren't in control, so if you see something interesting, you can't go explore more like you can in your own car.

    Other than the Sierra Nevadas and the areas of Arizona I mentioned, I don't see winter weather causing too many problems on your trip (except some rain). Again, just keep an eye on the forecasts!

    -Brad M.

  4. #4
    Jolanie Guest

    Default

    Thank you Brad M for taking the time to answer my questions.

    After doing some more in-depth reading I have come to a t-junction. Either spend less time getting from PhX to SF (fly,train) and spend more time doing the trip between SF to LA along the coast; or more time on the road from PHX to SF and less doing the coastal. My husband already shrugs at the possibility of being trapped somewhere in a snow storm. My logic tells me to be more prepared and avoid any possibilities in delaying time, but then again I could be wrong and miss most of the beautiful parts of the AZ country. Correct me if I'm wrong please?

    J

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Weather and Safety

    Quote Originally Posted by Jolanie
    After doing some more in-depth reading I have come to a t-junction. Either spend less time getting from PhX to SF (fly,train) and spend more time doing the trip between SF to LA along the coast; or more time on the road from PHX to SF and less doing the coastal. My husband already shrugs at the possibility of being trapped somewhere in a snow storm.
    Welcome to the Forum!

    The liklihood of getting caught in a snowstorm in January along your chosen routes is pretty low. Even if such a storm were to arise, the delay would be a couple of hours at most. Getting "trapped" by such a weather event, as long as you are on major roads, is extremely unlikely.

    That being said, the most likely weather event in January in all locations is rain. The west had a near biblical amount of rain in January last year and the prospects for more of the same seem likely.

    Safety issues: I have driven a couple million miles in recent years -- America is one of the safest places in the world to travel -- you have no need for worry. Common sense is the only requirement.
    6. What is the weather difference from AZ to CA?
    More rain is likely in California, since the heaviest rainfall in Arizona occurs in the summer months.

    One of the best guides to Pacific Coast Highway is this one and we recommend it to anyone seeking those little known treasures found along the coast.
    2. Which is better to travel; PHX to San Diego or PHX to SF?
    3. Alternatively, Sedona to SF or back to PHX to either SD or LA?
    I would recommend the route from Phoenix to San Francisco via Hoover Dam, I-15 to Barstow and then CA-58 and CA-99 up to the gold country and Yosemite and over to San Francisco. Look at this thread for a recent post on such a trip.

    Have fun, it is going to be an adventure!

    Mark

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