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  1. #1

    Default Route advice/timing please

    Hey chaps/chapets,

    Just a few questions regarding routes and estimated travelling times that if somebody could help us out with would be great. I've read alot of previous posts stating google maps aren't to be relied too heavily upon as they aren't very realistic and as we're trying to roughly plan where we'll be at a certain date so we can book campgrounds/motels, a couple days lost due to 'Smokey' here thinking he can do a two day drive in 4 hours wouldn't be ideal, so if anyone has done these drives we'd appreciate any info, pro's/con's, routes to take etc etc. My main concerns are from:-

    a) Santa Cruz-Death Valley
    Google maps- roughly 7 hours??

    b) Death Valley-Zion
    Google maps-5 hours??

    c) Monument Valley-Grand Canyon
    Google maps-3 hours??
    (I was told by a chap in the pub that it was actually a days drive to and from so am especially interested in this one. Is he accurate or had he had one too many shandys that aternoon?)

    d) Las Vegas-Yellowstone
    Google maps-12 hours??

    Unfortuanately i'll be the only driver and will power through when I can but am under no illusions that there'll only be so much driving I can do during the day which i'm trying to take into account, so a 12 hour google map drive might, in reality take me 1-2 days? What say yous?? Fact is I dont want to break my back trying to get from point A to point B and be a constant mardy arse, though with a 6 week timescale to get from San Fran, do the Gran Canyon loop, upto Yellowstone, over to Minnesota and onto New York we want to make sure we have enough time at each place so as to enjoy ourselves and not be constantly battling against the clock. Any help anyone can offer us would be superb. All replies welcomed.

    P.S, struggling with the fuel cost calculator also. Not too sure if i'm adding the correct input. If anyone can help, it'd be appreciated. Roughly 4,500 miles, in a chevrolet uplander (or similar). Unsure of the engine size of these rascals and wondering roughly how much money is going to be needed for fuel? Thanks once again.

    Matt & Dave

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

    Default huge generalities

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I don't really know enough about your entire trip here to answer your questions with a great deal of certainty.

    For example, you said Google gave you a 7 hour estimate from Santa Cruz to Death Valley. When I put those two points into google, I got a 9 hour estimate, using the most direct route. I'd say 9 hours is about right, but that is assuming you aren't planning to drive the Pacific Coast Highway or going through Yosemite - and it would almost seem to be a bit of a shame to not visit at least one of them.

    You'd also have to be doing a big curly q loop, going through Vegas twice, on a plan to go from DV to Zion, MV, GC, and back to Vegas. MV to GC will be more than 3 hours, but it shouldn't be all day either. Of course, if you plan to make a lot of stops along the way, it could easily take you a full day, it just depends upon your personal pace.

    As far as the fuel cost calculator goes, there is a link near the bottom of that page that will give you the estimated mileage for pretty much every car in the US. Using that link I found the uplander gets about 20 mpg, so if you actually drive 4500 miles (you did include extra miles for driving in towns and cities, not just your point to point mileage, right?) divided by 20 mpg, and you didn't say when you were traveling, so lets assume it is this summer and fuel prices are at around $4 per gallon, that would work out to about $900 for fuel alone.

  3. #3

    Default Missing out on Yosemite/Sonora Pass/Sierra??

    We're also planning on driving from San Fran to Death Valley via a bit of the pacifc coast and cutting in from Santa Cruz and i've read hundreds of posts about Yosemite and the scenic drive to get to Death Valley which sounds and looks incredible, but would like to do part of the Big Sur as have been to Yosemite on a previous occasion, so can anyone tell me what the drive from Santa Cruz-Death Valley is like? Are there any nice/scenic routes?? Would anybody recommend a certain route over another. Not planning on stopping anywhere in between so its just basically the best route for scenary which we're interested in, or is it a fairly dull trail compared to the route from Yosemite and nothing to get worked up about? Thanks in advance for any info you can ofer.

    Last edited by Matt_UK; 03-09-2008 at 10:08 AM. Reason: i'm stupid

  4. #4

    Default Sorry about the unspecifics

    Thanks for the quick reply. I just didn't want to go too in depth and have people falling asleep on me? Travelling mid July-mid August. I'll give a rough plan on where we're planning to go.

    San Fran-Santa Cruz down Pacific Coast Highway
    Santa Cruz-Death Valley
    Death Valley-Zion
    Bryce-Monument Valley
    Monument Valley-Gran Canyon
    Gran Canyon-Vegas
    Minnesota-New York

    The reason for going the big curly q loop round, as stupid and insane as this will sound, is because I want to end up at the Gran Canyon last, as opposed to it being one of our first points to hit and then going around?? Would you say thats just crazy and a complete inconvienience or does it not really matter? I know it might add a few extra days to the journey though so might have to think that one through. I just like the idea of the big GC last. It must be the romantic in me?!

    I would drive the entire Big Sur if possible but the timescale wont allow it. In a nutshell, i'm thinking two weeks from San Fran to the entire Gran Canyon loop. I'd like to hit Minnesota around the mid-third week, and arrive in New York by the 5th week so as to have a good week in the Big Apple.

    When I figure out the exact plan knowing the timescale from each place to place then I intend to post up a specific itinery which I fully expect i'll get slaughtered for but for now its still very much early stages and open to change. Thanks again though for any help. I'll try the fuel calculator again (and no, I hadn't planned for driving in towns and cities... not your first time helping out a completely clueless novice is it Sir?!)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default I don't get it

    Every trip has to take into account individual tastes, but I'm just not following your logic.

    First off, why did you pick Santa Cruz as your stopping point? If there's not a specific reason, then you could probably make it down the Big Sur stretch in one day.

    I'll have to admit, I still don't understand your Grand Canyon logic. You want to stop there last, but no matter how you route it, you would be stopping there in the middle of your trip? I'm also assuming that you have been talking about going to the South Rim, If you want to focus on Zion, Bryce, and Monument Valley, you might consider going to the North Rim instead since it would be closer to most of those other attractions.

    Or you could do both! If you went DV to Vegas then to Grand Canyon (south rim), Monument Valley, GC North Rim, Zion, then Bryce, you'd be a few hundred miles closer to Yellowstone than if you did a route as you described. And I don't think the option I laid out would take you any more time because you'd be looking at fewer miles.

    With 4 weeks to get across country, you've got a pretty good amount of time to see lots of things along the way. You might be a rare case of overestimating how much time you'll need to see things. I think you could pretty easily fit in everything you've talked about, without making cuts. However, I also wouldn't take the approach of I can't see Big Sur because I don't have time, and then say I want to add a couple hundred miles so I see other things in a specific order. But that's just me, I'd rather see more things, if you are willing to sacrifice seeing a few amazing things because you'd like to see Grand Canyon after some other attractions, there isn't any thing wrong with that. Its your trip afterall!
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 03-09-2008 at 12:03 PM. Reason: grammer

  6. #6

    Default No specific reason

    To be honest, there was no main reason why Santa Cruz was our stopping point. I just saw that as the 1st main city and wasn't too sure how long it'd take to get there from San Fran, plus I didn't want to go to far down to come back up (ironic that given I hold no reservations in adding an extra few hundred miles on my journey just so I can "see the Gran Canyon last"!) but if you say you could possibly do the Big Sur in one day then i'll definately re-think that. How far does the Big Sur go down? What about to Santa Barbara then across to DV? I also see your point about Gran Canyon and it does make a whole lot more sense, plus I was torn about north or south rim so to combine them both would be a nice compromise indeed! As I say i'm still chopping and changing routes and destinations so your advice and help is greatly appreciated. I'm still in two minds whether to go to Yellowstone or not. I might pass that up to allow more time in and around Gran Canyon and Minnesota where I want to spend a good few days with friends. Thanks again. Any advice on decent routes to Death Valley would be great.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Hope you're not on overload

    Because, instead of answering your questions directly, I'm going to give you some links to discussions here that should give you a lot of good tips to consider. This discussions are a great list of the beaches along the coast and things to see/do there, San Francisco-Yosemite-Death Valley-Las Vegas info, and tips on routes into Death Valley worth considering. But a search will yield much more. This is definitely one of the most popular trips that gets discussed here.

    Well, Yellowstone is pretty cool and there isn't another place like it in the entire world, as far as I know. It would be a shame to miss it. And the route from Yellowstone to Minnesota takes you through some spectacular country. You'll go right through South Dakota which really offers many things worth seeing. Here's a report by Peter Thody on his trip through that area. It's a fun read. You could enjoy Yellowstone and then head to Minnesota via this amazing state. You might enjoy this post with some more information about Yellowstone.

    Keep asking questions and let us help you continue tweaking your trip. You're going to have a great time no matter how you do this but let us help you make it even better. :)

  8. #8

    Default Overload?? I'm in bloody meltdown!

    Thanks alot Judy. Will read through all those links when I get a minute. I agree it will be a shame to miss out on Yellowstone as its the main place I originally wanted to visit, but the more and more I read posts the more I found myself saying "ooh gotta go there" and "ooh that sounds great" adding more time on to the trip, mostly im the Arizona region, but i'm sure it'll all be fine. Thanks again for the help, and the reassuring words of comfort!


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Yellowstone is worth the detour

    I just read on another travel website I was on the other day that Yellowstone was the #1 pick and the Grand Canyon was only #4 in a poll they had. Yosemite was #2 and I don't recall what #3 was.

    So I really think you should find a way to schedule a stop there. I'm a bit unclear of your time-frame but I think it's feasible. With the tweaks people have suggested regarding moving your visit to the GC around, etc. what are you thinking of doing from San Francisco to Minnesota (and what time frame are you doing it in?).

  10. #10

    Default Don't drop Yellowstone

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt_UK View Post
    I'm still in two minds whether to go to Yellowstone or not. I might pass that up to allow more time in and around Gran Canyon ...
    Matt, if I can offer one piece of advice it's this: don't drop Yellowstone from your route. You can get the wow factor of the Grand Canyon in a day; you could spend a month in Yellowstone and still find something new and amazing the next time you visit.


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