I know 2008 seems a lifetime away but I'm looking into the feasibility of undertaking a trip from San Francisco across to Las Vegas and then onto the Grand Canyon and Phoenix or Tucson.

Background: I'm from the UK and next year is my 40th Birthday and my fathers 60th, so the plan at present is for me, him and my two brothers to do this trip as a 'birthday' one off.

Ideally on the SF-LV leg I'd like to take in Death Valley, have a couple of nights in Vegas and then drive down stopping off at the Grand Canyon and Wilmslow before ending up in Phoenix. If time allows we might venture down to Tucson and Tombstone.

So my questions....

How long should you allow for a trip like this. I know you can drive from SF-LV in 12 hours but is 2-3 days with a stop-off about right?

How safe/Dangerous is Death Valley in summer? I'm guessing we'd be making this trip sometime in late May or June.

Any thoughts on the type of vehicle best suited? The car rental sites for US cars only talk about ‘intermediate’, ‘large’, etc. Not knowing much about US car models it’s a bit difficult to assess if a Chrysler Turbo Fandango or whatever it’s called is going to be any good with 4 adults in for x days?

And finally, any particular routes I should look at? I've driven from Phoenix to Tucson and Phoenix to Flagstaff and Williams before so know that part of the trip. The California aspect is the new bit I have no idea on.

All suggestions and thoughts welcomed.