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  1. Default Thanksgiving roadtrip-San Francisco to Grand Canyon

    My friends and I have planned a 4-day road trip for Thanksgiving next week. There are 7 of us and we've rented a minivan for the trip.

    We plan to start early Thursday morning and get to Las Vegas that evening (a couple of us have never visited here and thought it was a good opportunity). We will spend the evening in Las Vegas and leave early next morning for Grand Canyon (we are going near the Skywalk at the south rim),
    hoping to see the Hoover Dam on the way. We then intend to spend the rest of the time at Grand Canyon, then drive straight back to San Francisco on Sunday (not going through Vegas this time).

    This being my second long road trip (the first being one out of necessity- I was moving across states), I would love any and all advice, thoughts etc on this trip. We would love to pass through unknown but interesting small towns (especially on the way there) and have a memorable trip. Also any advice on what to do when we get to Vegas and to Grand Canyon would be great. My husband and I are foodies and would love to know where to eat in Las Vegas, which I hear is pretty up there foodwise. (have I heard right?). I know my friends plan to hit the casino but I would love to look around the Strip. Also my husband and quite a few of my friends are avid photographers. Any tips there would be useful too.

    Thanks in advance for any advice (or pointing me in direction of previous posts)!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Long Hard Days

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Are you sure you want to do this? The days surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday are some of the most heavily traveled of the year. At over 570 miles, it is a very long (but doable) drive between San Francisco and Las Vegas. You almost assuredly cannot drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon and back in one day AND have any time to appreciate the Canyon. It's 280 miles one way or 560 miles round trip, and while the route will allow (indeed force) you to see Hoover Dam, that engineering marvel will be a traffic bottleneck, and again, you would be hard pressed to find the time to take the tour through the facility. The Skywalk is not at the South Rim (the National Park) but on the West Rim (in the Hualapai Indian Reservation). You cannot drive to it as there is no paved road. You must take the bus tour run by the Hualapai ($50) and pay an additional $25 to walk out on the Skywalk for a total of $525 for the 7 of you to see it. And again with the time spent on busses, and waiting in line, you could not make this as a day trip from Las Vegas. I really don't see where you all are going to do much more on this trip than spend a lot of time in a crowded van in a lot of traffic for maybe a few hours at a casino (if you're old enough) and a brief view of a world wonder that deserves much, much more.


  3. Default

    Thanks very much AZ for your reply. You've given me some food for thought.
    We are forced to undertake this trip at the time we are taking it as the seven of us cannot work out any other time. I guess we'll have to deal with the traffic.
    We intend to only spend one night in Vegas and spend the other two nights at the Canyon. We will not be driving back and forth.
    Thanks for telling me about the Skywalk and access to it. I had no idea about this one. I guess it will have to be seen another time.
    Thanks again for your advice!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Long Hard Days II

    Sometimes, you just gotta do what you have to do. Sorry it didn't register that you weren't returning through Las Vegas. Still, It's just about 800 miles back from the Canyon to San Francisco, so you'll need to get started back around or just after lunch on the third day (Saturday?). That would give you all an evening in Las Vegas, a drive-by of the Hoover Dam, and an evening and morning at the Grand Canyon. On the way back, depending on when you get started and how well you're progressing, a short detour to Lake Havasu City and the London Bridge might be in order. As far as food in Las Vegas goes, you can find almost anything. At the high end are name eateries such as Spago, and you do like chocolate don't you? My tastes tend to lean more towards a certain taste of home, but my wife and I really did enjoy a lunch we had at Bellagio's overlooking the fountains.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 11-16-2007 at 12:50 PM.

  5. Default

    Thanks for the tips AZ. I love chocolate (so do several of my pals) and wiil definitely check out Ethel M.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default The scenic route


    If you really want to take the scenic route (leaving SF well before sunrise) you could cross the Sierras by going through Sonora, over to Hwy 395, then south through Bishop and Lone Pine, through Death Valley to Las Vegas. It will add about 3 hours to your drive, but it will be memorable and give you the small town aspect you asked about.

    When you get to the Canyon, they will give you lots of materials about things to see and do. We were just there last week and hiked down Bright Angel Trail for an hour or so. The highlight, besides the views of the canyon, was a fly-over by a California Condor (only about 300 in the wild). There are several in the area and your chances of seeing one or more are pretty good.

    One note of warning, the park service has been doing prescribed burns on the north rim so you may see what looks like smog. They don't want another major forest fire there, so these burns are necessary but not always attractive.

    That said, the walks along the rim are wonderful and the hikes into the canyon can be breathtaking, literally. Take water and take it slow. And keep in mind that it takes almost twice as long to hike up as it takes to hike down!

    Have a great trip,

    Craig Sheumaker
    co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years

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