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  1. Default Help needed! California-Arizona-Nevada


    Im getting ready for my first road trip. Route is gonna be LA-Phoenix-Grand Canyon South Rim-Quick stop at the Hoovers Dam-Las Vegas-Quick stop at Death Valley- Mammoth Lakes-Yosemite-San Fransisco- Big Sur-Los Angeles.

    I have few questions. How can I calculate to price for gas? I mean I dont need exact numbers, just somthing about. Its gonna be about 2200 miles.

    One day driving is gonna be leaving Las Vegas super early in the morning, stopping at Death Valley early in the morning and continue driving to Mammoth Lakes and camp there overnight. Is that even possible? In maps it looks like.. I heard Death Valley really is DEATHLY hot, so we just wanna stop by and see and keep going. What would be could place for small pit stop? :)

    Its gonna be my first time at camping. Is there something I should know about? Is it always nessessary to sleep in the tent or is it ok to sleep in the car anywhere? Few night gonna b just arriving there late and leaving early in the morning, so feels kinda stupid to put the tent up for few hours.

    What would be good place to stop in Yosemite? We gonna stay there just one day, because we wanna see as many different places as we can in a short time. Yea I know it might sound stupid, but thats our choice.

    How does the Grand Canyon works? We would like to see the sunset in south rim, camp at Mather Campground and see sunrise in the early morning. Is that possible?

    In general, I never been on the campsites. How does it work? Where do we leave our car while camping there overnight?

    Is there something special I should know about car? How does the putting gas in the car-thing works in US? How do I know which kind of gas I should put? Can I pay cash?

    Any good tips for cheap hotels in San Francisco? Cheapest I found was 70 bucks for one night, kinda expensive compering to other citites. Would like to stay close to Union square or Fisherman Whart.

    Any other budget advise?

    Should I be afraid of animals while camping? Spiders, lizards, snakes, bears, mountain lions...?

    And last, I was planning to bring my laptop with me. Is that a stupid idea considering the fact we are gonna spend some night at tent

    Thanks all, as u can see im totally new on this and trying to ask advices and google stuff I dont know...:)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default How much time ?

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Your trip looks in pretty good shape but you don't mention how long you have to do it in.

    To answer some of your questions; There is a fuel cost calculator at the left hand side of this page to help with fuel costs.
    Yes, you can travel from Vegas to Mammoth in one day but as you know it will be a full day. A popular route choice is to leave Vegas via 160 to Pahrump and then take the locals route to Death valley junction [Ash meadows/state line road] and then 190/136 to Lone pine. Furnace creek resort is a nice little "watering hole" while you are in Death valley and there are lots of small towns on 395 to Mammoth.

    You can't sleep in the car "anywhere" but if you arrive at a designated camp site late you should be fine sleeping in the car although it won't make for a good nights sleep and might leave you weary next day.

    As you are starting out from Mammoth I would stop in Yosemite valley campgrounds if possible [lower/middle/upper pines] but they might already be booked up. Get another early start and take your time enjoying the views over Tioga pass, explore the Valley floor and next morning a little more of the valley and a drive up to Tioga pass.

    Mather campground is well located and a short walk through the woods there will be a glorious sunrise waiting to greet you.

    Other than walk in sites [those you hike to] campgrounds have space for your car.

    You can pay for gas by credit card at the pump or you have to go inside and pay cash before you can pump. If you give them more than you can get in your vehicle they give you change.

    Tough to get cheap lodgings close to the city centre in SF and 70 bucks seems cheap. Check out Lombard street lodgings which are not to far from the Wharf area at the East end of the street [around Gough and Van ness].

    You shouldn't be afraid of animals, millions of people camp without problems each year. You must not leave any food wrappers, empty cans around your tent or anything on view in your car as it could attract bears. In Yosemite you are given metal storage containers to put such stuff in, check the website.

    I think you can find places to connect your lap top but in the city's you can find Internet cafes but someone else might be able to help you better with that.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 08-17-2009 at 11:54 PM. Reason: added link the fuel cost calculator

  3. Default From Vegas to Yosemite


    Part of my trip I haven't figure out yet. We are gonna leave Vegas early in the morning, wanna drive trough Death Valley and stop at Bishop for nite. Then next day continue to Yosemite. Everything is already booked, just wondering the "driving in Death Valley in August" -part. How hard is that gonna be? We are gonna leave early, meaning around 6:00 from Vegas so it wouldn't be SO HOT in Death Valley. Which is the best route? Or is just just stupid to even go there? I was thinking taking 160, then 190, 136 and 395. It should be like 280 miles and 7 hours + stops. I know its a long drive. Im just worry about the roads that goes in Death Valley...dont wanna get any car problems :S How difficult is it drive in there? I mean it's only 300 miles but takes 7 hours...

    I also appreciate any tips about places to see during that drive in Death Valley. Thank you!
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 08-17-2009 at 01:13 AM. Reason: Please keep all questions regarding this trip in one thread.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default sensible precautions.

    Sticking to the route you have laid out is a very straight forward drive on paved roads. It is on 2 lane roads and as you already know slow going but many 30-40 ft RV's go through without problems so no worries. Yes it will be hot but no one can predict exactly how hot. If you are travelling in a rental it will have air conditioning to keep the heat at bay but you will see some signs recommending you turn it off to stop your engine overheating at some up hill sections, but as long as you keep an eye on the temp gauge and it remains in the normal range you will be fine. [Mftrs quite often test there cars in the extremes of DV] Any car can suffer mechanical failure in any place so make sure you take plenty of water and some snacks but if you were to break down you wouldn't have long to wait before another traveller came by, do not wander away from the car looking for help under any circumstance. Make sure you have sunscreen and hats on for any short walks you might do. Some things on route would be Armogosa opera house, Zabriske point and furnace creek. A detour here would take you to Badwater, the lowest point in the USA. [You can see the highest a few hours later from Lone Pine, Mount Whitney. As you continue to Stovepipe wells you will see the sand dunes and Panamint springs is another resort you can get a cool drink etc. Actually this map will come in handy.

  5. Default Thanks!

    Thank you! One stupid question, what to do if I see that the car is overheating? Turn the AC off and open the windows? Can I keep driving? Should I stop? Gosh, hope I wont have any problems :( So would it actually be good idea to drive sometimes without AC just windows open if it's possible? My biggest worry is that something happens to the car and I have no idea what to do. Just in case, who should I call if car brokes in the middle of nowhere? :s

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Your car is not going to overheat

    Driving with the air off and the windows open will cause a higher fuel consumption because of wind drag -- If you were really overheating, you could always turn on the heater.... But seriously, it's a non-issue -- If you were parked and it was 110+ degrees and you ran the air conditioning for a couple of hours, you might be able to overheat the engine -- but if you're moving more than 20 mph -- no worries.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Relax and enjoy.

    Just for clarity and to ease your mind with any doubts you may have I agree with Mark, it is a non issue. What I was trying to say is to ignore the signs but don't ignore what your car is "telling you", but only in the same way as you subconsciously do in your every day drives, a car can overheat with snow on the ground ! Enjoy the ride, it's spectacular !

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The majority of cars these days have electric engine fans - even sitting still they won't overheat unless there's something wrong. The only vehicles I'd be concerned about are those that still have engine-driven fans.

  9. Default Thank you, again!

    Thank you guys, I feel lot better now! As u might see, this is gonna be my first roadtrip, first time driving in freeways in USA, first time being in dessert etc etc. Leaving this friday, hope everything goes great! Thank you!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Enjoy.

    I know you are ony in Yosemite a short while but if you can find the time to go up to Glacier point for the views it is worth it.

    Have a great trip and it would be great if you drop by and share some of your memory's with us.

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