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  1. Default la to las vegas to san fransicso back to la

    Hi all
    my family( my husband and a 18mth old) and I are flying into LA on the 6th of December and looking to hire a rv and drive to Las Vegas then to San Francicso. On the 19th of december to 26th of december we will be flying out to the snow. When we return we then will travel from san francicso to LA. We then will be flying out of LA on the 2nd Jan.

    What are the roads like at this time of year?
    What is the best way to travel?
    What are the best things to see on the way?

    I'm open to all ideas.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Hi, from one Oz to another.

    Not ever having driven the roads in winter, I will leave that to other members to comment on. However, when driving from SF to LA by far the best road to travel, and you have lots of time in which to do it, is the Pacific Coast Highway. This road is every bit as great as the Great Ocean Road, albeit in a different way.

    I must say you are courageous doing this trip with an 18 month old - not something I would have attempted.

    Lifey travelling on the east coast right now

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Microclimates

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    It is possible that you will see everything from 80°F in sunshine to 10°F in a snowstorm, California has a large variety of climate zones with differences depending on latitude, elevation, and which side of a mountain range you're on among other factors. So just pay attention to local weather reports. For the most part, roads will be open and dry, but those across the Sierra Nevada will be snowbound and closed the entire winter (November through May) and you'll just have to skirt them to the south, through Bakersfield and Barstow, to get from Las Vegas to San Francisco. As for some of the most popular things to see, check out the various discussions linked to here.


  4. #4


    You pretty much only have a few choices at that time of the year, make your trip to Vegas, which is desert, so no issues traveling at that time of year. It is a nice drive up 395 and cross Tioga pass to Yosemite, then to SF. The problem is Tioga pass is usually closed during the winter due to snow. I would suggest you come back and take the 5/101 to SF, then drive down HWY1, back to LA.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default The Sierra and Tehachapi Mountains

    Interstate 80 and US50 will be open, subject to occasional closures. These tend to be less than a day in length, and are not frequent, but do occur. Most other passes will undergo permanent closures at some point, so if you plan on going over the Sierras you need to plan on using one of these two, and be somewhat flexible.

    Going AROUND them is generally easier: CA58 over the Tehachapis (between Bakersfield and Barstow on the way to Las Vegas) is almost never closed.

    I5 over Tejon Pass (AKA The Grapevine) is, like I80, subject to infrequent closures during heavy storms, but it is an infrequent event.

    CA1, down the coast, doesn't get snow so barring something unlikely like a landslide, it should be open. Same deal for US101.

    That said; you CAN go from Las Vegas up 395 to Lake Tahoe/Reno, and generally should be able to get over the mountains OK. Here's the one caveat for this route: even it the road is open, it may be subject to chain control. You may hit a checkpoint that will require you to put on the tire chains you almost certainly don't have for that RV you're driving, at which point you'll have to turn around and wait for it to completely clear up. If I had to guess, I'd say probably 90% of the time in the month of December you won't need chains, 5% of the time you'll need chains, and 5% of the time the pass will be closed.

    From Reno/Tahoe to San Francisco on I80 is maybe a 4 hour drive, if you don't hit the end-of-weekend-skiers-returning-back-to-the-Bay-Area traffic jam.

    The other option is to go over CA58 and up I5 from Las Vegas (with a stop somewhere... too long to do in one day with an 18 month old).

    From SF to LA, the prefered route would be CA1. The only caveat here is it is a two-lane (one each way) road with some curves and steep drop-offs... in a RV you'll want to pay attention to your driving and not the view; pull over and gawk frequently, but keep your eyes on the road while driving.

    I guess my one question is: do you really want an RV? Camping in December seems a little iffy.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    The RV will certainly be the dearer option between that and renting a car and Motels, plus the fact you are visiting major city's and it's winter [although they are very well equipped] plus I am presuming you will need two rentals [one to SF and one from SF to LA] so I too wonder if the RV is the right choice but if that's what you want to do you might be better off considering dropping that in SF and when you return from your snow trip take a car down the coast back to LA. As already mentioned, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe plus many other options are open to you for the first leg of your journey, including Joshua tree, the Mojave preserve and a highlight that shouldn't be overlooked would be the Grand canyon South rim which you could travel to from LA and then back to Vegas. From Vegas a trip across Death valley is a great experience.
    Have a look around the forums, there are numerous threads covering the area that you can find easily enough using the search button.

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