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  1. #1

    Default Our first road trip

    Firstly, Id just like to say hello to everyone here and say how impressed I am with all the available resources and friendly advice on offer here. Its been very helpful in planning our road trip.

    Secondly, Id like to ask for some advice on a proposed trip my wife and I are planning. Were from the UK, but have visited the USA before and hired a car to get us around so were comfortable with driving in the USA but would like to extend this to full driving holiday. However, this would be our first full driving holiday and we would appreciate any help and advice.

    Our proposed route is:

    Fly from London to San Francisco
    Stay for 3 nights

    San Francisco - Yosemite (202.7 Miles, 3 hours, 45 mins)
    Stay for 2 nights

    Yosemite - Death Valley (298.1 Miles, 6 hours 15 mins)
    Stay for 1 night

    Death Valley - Zion (325.5 miles, 6 hours 11 mins)
    Stay for 1 night

    Zion - Bryce Canyon (110.6 miles, 2 hours, 37 mins)
    Stay for 2 nights

    Bryce Canyon - Grand Canyon (299.6 miles, 7 hours, 26 mins)
    Stay for 2 nights

    Grand Canyon - Las Vegas (219.4 miles. 5 hours 29 mins)
    Stay for 3 nights

    (The distances and times were taken from Map Point from the centre of each location)


    We appreciate that only staying for a night in Death Valley & Zion could make for a tiring couple of days and give us very little time in these places :o(. Is this current route feasible or are we being unrealistic and should really allow more money in our budget to stay a bit longer in these places?

    We were also thinking of traveling early May 2006 with the possibility of hiring a convertible. Would this be wasted with little or no opportunity for making use of the convertible? We were thinking that the driving distances and temperatures may make a cheaper car with A/C a more reasonable rental?

    If anyone has any other advice about this trip then please feel free to add it!

    Thank you for all your help,


    Andy & Hannah

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default I like it

    Welcome to the RTA Forum

    I'd say your trip looks pretty well thought out to me. You seem to have given yourself a pretty good balance between driving and time to explore.

    The one concern I'd have is potentially your Yosemite to Death Valley leg. If Tioga Pass through Yosemite is still closed for the season, you'll have to go all the way down to Bakersfield before you can cross the Sierras. That will add at least a couple hours drive to your trip. I believe May is the average time for the Passes to start reopening, so its hit or miss which route you'll have to take.

    As far as the convertable, I'd say go for it. There will probably be times where its too cold or too hot to ride with the top down comfortably, but I think in May you'll find plenty of chances to make use of a convertable.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Different Roads = different speeds

    Quote Originally Posted by BERT
    Firstly, Id just like to say hello to everyone here and say how impressed I am with all the available resources and friendly advice on offer here. Its been very helpful in planning our road trip.
    Thank you's are always nice to receive. Thanks for noticing the care we allocate to this site.

    Your times for the travel distances are pretty much spot-on, but I would add the caveat that mountain driving will certainly affect your relative speed and on all of those trip legs, there will be places you will want (or at least I would be) to stop and check out as you go. For that reason, I would add at least 90 minutes to each of the daily travel stages.
    Fly from London to San Francisco
    Stay for 3 nights
    Go to the Marin Headlands (take the road up the hill on the north side of the Golden Gate bridge for some of the most amazing views of the San Francisco Bay you will ever find.
    Yosemite - Death Valley (298.1 Miles, 6 hours 15 mins)
    Stay for 1 night
    Michael has already mentioned this, but since the pass will probably be closed this leg of the trip could easily take 10 hours.
    Death Valley - Zion (325.5 miles, 6 hours 11 mins)
    Stay for 1 night
    Were you planning on doing this by way of Las Vegas or another route?
    Zion - Bryce Canyon (110.6 miles, 2 hours, 37 mins)
    Stay for 2 nights
    You are going to love Bryce!
    Bryce Canyon - Grand Canyon (299.6 miles, 7 hours, 26 mins)
    Stay for 2 nights
    What route were you intending to use for this leg?
    Grand Canyon - Las Vegas (219.4 miles. 5 hours 29 mins)
    Stay for 3 nights
    If you are planning to stay in Las Vegas, I would re-structure the route somewhat -- Use Las Vegas as the hub for Bryce & Zion and the Grand Canyon -- otherwise you are going to go past it twice... For some of our insider tips about Las Vegas click here.
    We appreciate that only staying for a night in Death Valley & Zion could make for a tiring couple of days and give us very little time in these places :o(. Is this current route feasible or are we being unrealistic and should really allow more money in our budget to stay a bit longer in these places?
    Are you staying at the Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley? If so, I would try for two nights -- very relaxing. On the other hand, the cabins at Zion are wonderful (albeit a bit spartan).
    We were also thinking of traveling early May 2006 with the possibility of hiring a convertible. Would this be wasted with little or no opportunity for making use of the convertible?
    Just put on sweaters and a good hat!
    We were thinking that the driving distances and temperatures may make a cheaper car with A/C a more reasonable rental?
    Well, that is true, it would be more reasonable...

    Mark

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael
    Welcome to the RTA Forum
    I'd say your trip looks pretty well thought out to me. You seem to have given yourself a pretty good balance between driving and time to explore.
    Thank you. That's good to know. It's really difficult to get a concept of distances sometimes looking at maps and it's good to get some information from people who actually have experience of road tripping.
    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael
    The one concern I'd have is potentially your Yosemite to Death Valley leg.
    Hmmm, this would cause one of the longer routes to be longer still! Thanks for the head's up on that!
    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    Your times for the travel distances are pretty much spot-on, but I would add the caveat that mountain driving will certainly affect your relative speed and on all of those trip legs, there will be places you will want (or at least I would be) to stop and check out as you go. For that reason, I would add at least 90 minutes to each of the daily travel stages.
    That sounds like some good advice. I was thinking that the estimated driving times were nice, but as you say don't really account for stopping off for a sight see or a bite to eat.
    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    Go to the Marin Headlands (take the road up the hill on the north side of the Golden Gate bridge for some of the most amazing views of the San Francisco Bay you will ever find.
    Thank you! That sounds great. It's tips like these that are invaluable to help really make a holiday.
    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    Were you planning on doing this by way of Las Vegas or another route?
    Getting from Death Valley to Zion was one of my main problems. The route given by Map Point takes you by Vegas and looking on Google Earth I haven't been able to pick out another route. I've currently got a couple of paper based maps on order to help plan the route as although the Internet is great I find it easier to skim a larger area with a paper map. Is there an alternative route as it seems that Nellis Air Force base & Desert Wildlife range seem to get in the way :) I imagine there might be roads (tracks?) along here, but would I be wanting to venture along them?
    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    You are going to love Bryce!
    My wife saw one picture of Bryce and fell in love with it. It was decided we had to go there! Looking at all of the pictures and reading more about Bryce does sound amazing and we're really looking forward to seeing what sounds like a fantastic, almost other worldly, place.
    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    What route were you intending to use for this leg?
    The route I had seen from Bryce to the Grand Canyon was to leave Bryce and travel down to join the 89, pass by Page, thru the Navajo indian reservation, onto the 64 and finally to the Grand Canyon. I believe my original output from Mappoint was incorrect as I had specified the wrong part of the Grand Canyon, as choosing the South Rim gives a route of 227.9 Miles, 5 hours, 1 min, which shaves some journey time off!
    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    If you are planning to stay in Las Vegas, I would re-structure the route somewhat -- Use Las Vegas as the hub for Bryce & Zion and the Grand Canyon -- otherwise you are going to go past it twice... For some of our insider tips about Las Vegas click here.
    This could be a good alternative plan and something I'll certainly look into as a lot of our trip revolves around places in this area it could be a better idea.
    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    Are you staying at the Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley? If so, I would try for two nights -- very relaxing. On the other hand, the cabins at Zion are wonderful (albeit a bit spartan).
    I'm not really too sure exactly where we'll be staying yet. We've been scouring the travel brochures and Internet for hotels and rates and compiling them all together to help draw up our budget. Furnace Creek Inn seems to feature heavily and appears to be THE (if not only) place to stay around Death Valley and it does look very relaxing.

    Thank you all for all of your helpful advice, I'm going to put it all to good use and plan some more of our trip. I'll keep you posted on how it's going.
    Last edited by BERT; 02-03-2006 at 04:23 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default A Few More Pointers

    Quote Originally Posted by BERT
    That sounds like some good advice. I was thinking that the estimated driving times were nice, but as you say don't really account for stopping off for a site see or a bite to eat.
    The yardstick we use for estimating driving time is 53 mph (it is true that much of the distances can be driven at or near 70 mph) but 53 mph is about the fastest average speed you can maintain when including stops for petrol and food.
    Getting from Death Valley to Zion was one of my main problems. The route given by Map Point takes you by Vegas and looking on Google Earth I haven't been able to pick out another route. Is there an alternative route as it seems that Nellis Air Force base & Desert Wildlife range seem to get in the way :) I imagine there might be roads (tracks?) along here, but would I be wanting to venture along them?
    For all intents and purposes, there are no routes through either Nellis or the Sheep Mountain range for tourists. The Sheep Mountains are awesome and little-visited, but all roads require high-clearance and some require 4-wd experience.

    Since Tioga Pass will be closed, I would suggest the southern route with an over-night stay in Ridgecrest or you could push onto Death Valley that night. There are three motels/hotels in Death Valley -- Furnace Creek Inn is a true four-star establishment and the prices match that level of hotel. The motels at both Furnace Creek Ranch and Stovepipe Wells are much more economical.
    Lodging is also available at Panamint Springs, Pahrump and Beatty.

    I would still counsel staying over-night at Las Vegas between Death Valley and Zion. It is on the way. Of course, if you would prefer to zig-zag back and forth, that is OK too. If you are sticking to the plan of Death Valley to Zion, this is the way I would do it: From Furnace Creek use SR-190 to Death Valley Junction and then proceed north on SR-127 which becomes NV-SR-373 to US-95 and then south on US-95 and then east on County 215 (Las Vegas Beltway) to I-15 and then about three hours north to Zion NP.

    If you wanted to go to Las Vegas from Death Valley Junction (this is the way the locals go) turn left (east) on State Line Road (which turns into Ash Meadows Road) and then south on SR-160 through Pahrump and (over the hump) to I-15 and Las Vegas.

    My wife saw one picture of Bryce and fell in love with it.

    Cedar Breaks is another amazing place. Here is a field report from the area you may find useful.
    The route I had seen from Bryce to the Grand Canyon was to leave Bryce and travel down to join the 89, pass by Page, thru the Navajo indian reservation, onto the 64 and finally to the Grand Canyon. I believe my original output from Mappoint was incorrect as I had specified the wrong part of the Grand Canyon, as choosing the South Rim gives a route of 227.9 Miles, 5 hours, 1 min, which shaves some journey time off!
    I would love to meet the driver that can go from Bryce to the south rim in under seven hours!

    The route you have chosen is fine, but I would choose Alt-89 at Kanab and cross Marble Canyon on the way. You can still go back up to Page, but you could also just proceed down to SR-64 and into the Park.

    Enjoy your planning!

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 02-02-2006 at 01:24 PM. Reason: fixed a typo

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    For all intents and purposes, there are no routes through either Nellis or the Sheep Mountain range for tourists. The Sheep Mountains are awesome and little-visited, but all roads require high-clearance and some require 4-wd experience.
    It'd be fantastic to do some exploring like that and see some sights off the beaten track, but perhaps a little bit too much for my first trip :) Look's like I'll be taking the long route for now.
    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    Since Tioga Pass will be closed, I would suggest the southern route with an over-night stay in Ridgecrest or you could push onto Death Valley that night.
    OK. I'll look into that and reroute. I think a stop off on the way sounds like a good idea to break the journey up.
    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    If you are sticking to the plan of Death Valley to Zion, this is the way I would do it: From Furnace Creek use SR-190 to Death Valley Junction and then proceed north on SR-127 which becomes NV-SR-373 to US-95 and then south on US-95 and then east on County 215 (Las Vegas Beltway) to I-15 and then about three hours north to Zion NP.
    Thank you for the route tips from Death Valley to Zion and Vegas, and from Bryce to the Grand Canyon. I'm sure they'll be invaluable in planning our route - it's great to have advice from someone who's been there and done it. It's hugely appreciated.
    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    Cedar Breaks is another amazing place. Here is a field report from the area you may find useful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    The route you have chosen is fine, but I would choose Alt-89 at Kanab and cross Marble Canyon on the way. You can still go back up to Page, but you could also just proceed down to SR-64 and into the Park.
    They both look like great places to see. It would be a shame to pass them by and if they can incorporated into routes then even better!
    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    Enjoy your planning!
    Mark
    I think this weekend will be used for a lot of planning! Once again thanks for all your help and advice.

  7. #7

    Default Convertible

    A convertible is a great idea, I have a Sebring Convertible which is a common rental car, while not having impressive power it is very comfortable and roomy. The great thing is that in Yosemite and Zion particularly you will see so much more than the average driver, a lot of what there is to see is above you and difficult to see from a regular car.

    You didn't say how many people would be in the car (just you and SWMBO?), if there are rear passengers a convertible may not be so good, the Sebring is very windy for the back seat but great for the front.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by killer
    A convertible is a great idea, I have a Sebring Convertible which is a common rental car,
    The Sebring is the example given by the rental company that we are looking at. I know it isn't 100% that this would be the car we would get, but how is the Sebring for luggage space? The rental company says 2 small bags, but is there enough room for 2 people's stuff for 2 weeks in the boot\trunk? I know this varies as it depends on how much junk the average person takes with them, but as a rough idea it would be nice to know.
    Quote Originally Posted by killer
    You didn't say how many people would be in the car (just you and SWMBO?), if there are rear passengers a convertible may not be so good, the Sebring is very windy for the back seat but great for the front.
    I had to look SWMBO up, I hadn't heard of that one before :) I like it. Yeah, just me and the wife in the car so no one else to consider

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