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  1. Default San Fran to Vegas in!


    This is a throughly decent site indeed! I wondered if there is someone that may be able to help.

    We are flying from London to Toronto on the 3rd December 2009, then flying to San Francisco on the 9th December where we intend on driving to Las Vegas where I am best man at a wedding (on the 16th), but I need some inspiration, knowledge and advice. Here is the plan,

    3/12 - 8/12 - Toronto
    9/12 and 10/12 - San Francisco (pick up car, probably small SUV 4x4)
    11/12 - Big Sur because we would like to drive down the coast.
    12/12-15/12 - Need advice here
    15/12 - 19/12 - Las Vegas and surrounding area.

    The thing is we would like to see Death Valley and the Sequoia Trees. Is there a passable route between the two and take in Owens Lake?

    Any advice would be brilliant.
    Plus advice on where to stay!

    Thank you in advance,


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

    Default a problem

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Your biggest problem trying to see everything you want is likely going to be the weather/season.

    During summer, your best bet on your schedule would likely be to visit the Mariposa Grove of Sequoias in Yosemite, drive over Tioga Pass, then down through Owens Valley to Death Valley. The problem is that Tioga Pass is almost always closed for the season by early December. There is a very slim chance it would still be open, but not enough that you could count on at this point.

    Since thats not an option, you could fit both Sequoia National Park and Death Valley into your trip over 3 days. However, you have to go around the Sierras to the south via the Bakersfield area, and while you can go back up near Owens Lake to enter Death Valley, you probably will need to keep moving here for times sake.

  3. Default Hmmm...

    What are the chances the Tioga pass will be open? I can't find much about December driving in that part of the world!?

    Also, what car do you think I should hire? We were thinking Dodge Charger, but if there is likely to be snow about is a Jeep Liberty or Rav-4 a better option?

    I am sorry for all these questions! How long would it take to drive around the Sierras via Bakersfield area? Can it be done in a day? Is Big Sur worth the drive?

    Last one! Is there much to see in Death Valley? I think we looked at Stovepipe Wells, have you heard of it?

    Many thanks on taking time to reply, it is a real help.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default slim

    The average closing date for Tioga is about November first, and over the 40 years, its stayed open into December, about once every 10 years. However, even there, its closed by December 6th on all but one case - where it stayed open freakishly late until New Years Day - and even in that case, it was still closed for most of December.

    In other words, the odds of Tioga being open are virtually nill.

    I wouldn't bother with the SUV, as the only places you'll likely see snow are in the mountains - which means either if you go into Sequoia or Yosemite, but even there the roads will be plowed and snow won't likely be too big of a factor.

    Driving around the Sierra from Yosemite or Sequoia to Death Valley is a full day drive and you need to plan accordingly.

    Death Valley is one of the most popular places around here, and our British visitors seem to really enjoy it simply because it is so different from anywhere else.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Big(ish) Picture

    You really have four days, the 11th through the 15th of December, to see the California coast, some of the Sierra Nevada, Death Valley, and get to Las Vegas. You can accomplish all that while driving less than 250 miles a day on the general plan that Michael laid out, so that would be quite feasible. You can plan roughly a day to get from San Francisco down through Monterey onto the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH, CA-1) to around Cambria. The next day you could cut across to Sequoia National Park via CA-46/CA-41/CA-198. While there is likely to be snow in the park, it can be quit beautiful and enhance your experience. You may be required to have chains if the roads are snow covered, but you can check with the park's website on conditions and requirements, and chains can be purchased at most auto supply stores in the area. The chances of Tioga Pass being open that late into December are practically nil. After Sequoia, you'd come back south on CA-198 to take CA-65 to Bakersfield, then CA-58 east and CA-14 north to US-395 to the small crossroads town of Olancha where CA-190 would take you into Death Valley and Stovepipe Wells. For the drive into Las Vegas, we like to recommend the 'local route' continuing on CA-190, Ash Meadows Road, and Bell Vista Road into Parhump, NV and then using NV-160 from there.

    Despite the fact that you run some risk of seeing snow if you head up into Sequoia, I would not spend extra money to get a 4x4 or SUV. Most modern cars are front wheel drive and handle quite well in the snow if you just take it easy. I think you'd be much better off getting a car that suits your other 9-10 days of driving rather than the few hours you'll possibly be in snow.


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