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  1. Default Las Vegas to San Diego on a Sunday arvo

    Hi guys, Just found your site and have been reading as much as I can while I should be doing the housework - uh oh!!

    My family (husband, 15 year old son, 12 year old son and 11 year old daughter) will be arriving in San Francisco in early January (we have booked our flights so I guess we are on our way, yeh) for three weeks holiday. We are about to sign off on the travel agent's itinery but I have been trying to research a few options particularly driving through the dessert (OMG) (Grizwald style probably) from Las Vegas to San Diego!

    So far, our itiniery including tentatively booked hotels is as follows:
    San Francisco for three nights,
    Fly to Las Vegas (didn't drive cause I kinda hate driving at the best of times and research suggests that I'd be driving over mountains in winter and the roads are closed and ewww decided to give Yosemite a miss)
    Stay four nights in Vegas and somehow get to the Grand Canyon on one of those days
    Five nights in San Diego with a tour into Mexico
    Two nights at Santa Monica
    and hopefully saving the best for last Anaheim for six nights.

    Getting to the point - friends have said that one of the best experiences they had was driving through the dessert from San Diego to Las Vegas. We were contemplating this and then the agent came up with the Lux Bus option from LV to San Diego. We had pretty much decided on this cause we thought that at least we get to experience the dirt and cacti but not have to worry about wrong side of road, getting lost, kids twitching and probably divorce court. BUT then we find out that Lux bus doesn't leave until 3.30 from Las Vegas and arrives at 9.30 at night in San Diego essentially in our opinion losing a day. Don't know why we didn't ask before but we just think that after four nights the last thing we want to do is hang around till 3.30 waiting to get a ride to San Diego. So then we though bugger it, don't want to waste another day in LV so we'll do the car thing after all - leaving early morning, see the sights on the way, (are there any? what is all the fuss about?) BUT AGAIN ALAS I Also found a site today of a family telling how they thought they would do the same drive in a day but they left on a Sunday and told their PAINFUL story of 50 mile long traffic queues, heaps of traffic, 12 hour trip, having to stay overnight in the dessert etc. cause EVERYBODY leaves Las Vegas Sunday!!

    SO, I would really appreciate some advice on the above. I guess, the question is whether the "dessert" has lots of stops along the way that would be a worthwhile experience and as it is a Sunday we are leaving are we asking for trouble with all the traffic?

    Cheers and best wishes from Sydney

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default traffic etc

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    A 12 hour trip from Las Vegas to San Diego would be very unusual. It would require some sort of major crash or something similar to cause that much of a back up. Its usually about a 6 hour drive completely on I-15, a major freeway, but traffic will be a little heavier on Sunday, so you adding and extra hour to the drive wouldn't be out of the question.

    Of course, the amount of time it takes you to drive isn't going to be that much different than what it would take a bus driver to make the trip, so I don't think that you really are going to be gaining or losing any ground either way.

  3. Default Driving from Las Vegas to San Diego

    Hi Michael, Thank you very much for your reply and for clarifying the time for travel. We have pretty much decided that we will hire a car and drive mainly so that we can get going earlier in the day rather than wait around to arrive in San Diego at 10pm. Could you suggest a couple of places to stop on the way or is this something that will be obvious to us. Is it easy to get off the freeway and more importantly back on, if we see somewhere to stop?

    Cheers and thanks again

  4. Default Dessert Stops..

    Yeah, I can understand the problems someone had coming from Las Vegas to San Diego -- but 12 hours is like 2x as long as the drive should take. Lots of folks spend time at Laughlin or Vegas or the high dessert on the weekend, since its a 5 hour drive or so from LA. And then they all head back Sunday afternoon... so you can run into traffic problems particularly between Barstow and the Cajon Pass north of San Bernandino. They've also been doing road work on the route there to widen the road over the past couple of years, so they may have run into something with that as well.

    If you can, don't take that section of the route on Sunday afternoon, and you should be fine.

    There are lots of things to see in the dessert, although the interstate route may not have a bunch of them along side the road. I'm going to suggest a day long, alternative route that you may find interesting.

    From Las Vegas start out on I-15 towards LA. But then head south through the Mojave National Preserve to Cima, and continue south to the I-40 freeway. The Mojave National Preserve has some very diverse natural scenes including mountains, dry lakes, volcanic cones and lava flows, and forests of Joshua Tree cactuses. The roads through it are in good shape (2 lane paved roads with pretty good maintenance), but there aren't a lot of services in the preserve. Cima is the headquarters of MNP, and I understand they are putting in a new visitor's center there, although I haven't been by in a couple of years.

    From the I-40 you can head west again to the I-15, or you can continue south through the dessert on similar roads, passing over the old Route 66 near Amboy, and passing near Amboy crater (very recent historical volcanic crater and lava flow). Again, not manyof services along the road, but pretty good quality roads. If you go this way, you'll continue south to 29 Palms (home of a major USMC training base), and then south through Joshua Tree National Park, to come out east of Palm Springs near Chiraco Summit. Gen Patton trained the US armored forces for WWII near Chiraco Summit and there's a musuem about him at the Summit.

    From here you'll probably want to swing west on the I-10 past Palm Springs to the 215 (another superhighway which takes you south to the I-15). and then into San Diego. There are a number of other places to stop south of here, along the Salton Sea and dessert/ mountain escarpment just west of it, but they would probably be a bit much for a day's drive.

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