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  1. Default Phoenix to San francisco and back (Brits).

    Hi everyone, I must start by saying what a wonderful forum this is!

    My girlfriend and I are planning a road trip in June from Phoenix to San Francisco and are hoping to stop along the way in Vegas for 2 nights, We are from England and although I have visited parts of the trip before it was a long time ago and by bus! The places we would like to tie into this trip are...

    Vegas 2 nights
    Grand Canyon
    Pacific coast highway up to San Francisco
    2 nights in San fran

    and then back to vegas.

    I am planning on buying a tent upon arrival and just putting it in the back of the rental (better to have and not need than need and not have.) but we would like to combine the trip with motels and a bit of camping in Yosemite hopefully. I am allowing 12 days all in but this includes 2 nights in LV and 2 Nights in SF.

    Here are my questions that I'm hoping someone can help me with.

    How long would the drive be from Vegas over to the PCH?

    How many days should I allow from Vegas to San Francisco considering we will be simply driving and stopping here and there for the views, beaches and whatever?

    My plan is to go to Yosemite from San Francisco on the way back to Phoenix. Is this the better option or should I go Vegas-Yosemite-San Fran- Down the PCH and back to Phoenix?

    Any recommendations for places to see or spend a night along the way?

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

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

    Default How I would go.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Starting out in Phoenix I would head for the Grand canyon, then Vegas, across Death valley and into Yosemite on the Tioga pass [CA120] to San Fran and down the PCH and then back to Phoenix direct. Heading South on the PCH will have the pull outs and Ocean on your side of the road. Take a couple of day's to travel down the coast to give yourself time to enjoy it.

  3. Default

    Thanks for your reply Dave, I had initially hoped for the route that you have suggested but was unsure if the Tioga pass would be open by the time of my trip.

    If I was to take this route, how long would the drive be to Yosemite from Vegas and could you recommend any camp sites?

    Is there a good alternative route to head for Yosemite from Vegas if Tioga pass is still closed by the time of my journey (mid June)?

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

    Default Fingers crossed.

    It looks as though the opening of the Tioga pass could be a late one this year, but if I were a gambling man I would put money on it being open by Mid-June.

    It would be possible to make it to Yosemite valley in a day, [9 hours or so] but personally I would take my time across Death valley and stay around Bishop/Mammoth lakes area for the first night. This will also give you time to take it slow and easy over Tioga and stop for short walks and photo ops. In Yosemite, one of the "Pines" [lower, middle or North] campgrounds are in a great location on the valley floor. You would be advised to check availability and book in advance [if it isn't too late] as it can get busy, and the same would apply to "Mather campground" at the Grand canyon. You can check them out here.

    If Tioga pass was closed you can go around the Southern end of the Sierra's via Bakersfield and Fresno, Sequoia NP could be an option depending on how you balance your time.

    With 12 days I would be looking at something like this Phoenix >GC South rim [1 night]>more of GC in the am and head for Vegas [night 2 and 3] >across Death valley to Mammoth lakes area [night 4]>into Yosemite NP [night 5/6] > San Fran [night 7/8] > Monterey/Carmel [night 9] > Morro bay/San Lous Obispo [night 10] > head back to Phoenix. If that leaves you a spare day I would use it at the Grand canyon and enjoy this wonder of the world. I would also recommend that you continue North from Flagstaff on 89 and enter the GC by the East entrance on 64, the Desert view drive. This has you entering the canyon with viewpoints along the rim edge as you follow the path of the Colorado. Your first stop would be at the old Watchtower just inside the entrance and offers wide open views of the river.

  5. #5


    I agree with Dave on the routing, but will add a few things you might consider. If you go up US-89 from Flagstaff to the east entrance to Grand Canyon, You might want to include the loop road through Sunset Crater and Wupatki Monument. It only takes you about 30 miles out of the way.

    Also, don't miss the Mariposa Grove Redwoods just west of Yosemite. Use the south exit to the town of Mariposa to see it. If you do miss it, you can still go to Muir Woods above SF in Marin County, another redwood grove.

    Take the PCH all the way to San Diego and then drive over I-8 to Phoenix instead of I-10 from Los Angeles. It is a much more interesting and scenic road.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default me being picky again....

    Actually, you may want to do both.....

    The Mariposa grove is Giant Sequoias, Muir is coast redwoods. Same general family, but very different triees.

    The Sequoias are truly massive beasts, the largest living things (by volume) on the planet. These exist in only a few small groves in the Sierras, the Mariposa grove being one (Calavaras Big Trees being another, and of course, Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Park).

    The coast redwoods are the tallest living things, but much slenderer than their mountain cousins. They exist in a broad band along the California coast from the Oregon border down to Big Sur State Park in Big Sur, on "PCH".

    (OK, another picky point.... Northern Californians will look at you oddly if you refer to CA1 up here as the "Pacific Coast Highway"... that terminology is more common to the LA/SoCal part of the state.)

    Enyoy your trip!

  7. #7

    Default Oops!

    Quote Originally Posted by CalOldBlue View Post
    The Mariposa grove is Giant Sequoias, Muir is coast redwoods. Same general family, but very different triees.
    Well, I keep on learning new things on this site. I didn't realize that the trees in Mariposa Grove weren't redwoods, but sequoias. I've been to both Muir Woods and Sequoia NP, and all I know is "those are some huge trees!" Thanks for setting me straight.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default comparison

    Here's a shot of some Giant Sequoias in Sequoia National Park (not the biggest by far, just some by the road):

    Photo: Don Casey

    and some coast redwoods on Avenue of the Giants:

    Photo: Don Casey

    Aside from the trunk size, the Sequoias are shaped more like Q-tips while the coast redwoods taper at the top. There are a few other trees mixed in with the Sequoias in the first shot (Mark may be able to identify some), but the thing on the right just past "The Beast" (my road trip Expedition) is a Sequoia.

    Here's the base of the General Sherman, one of the largest Giant Sequoias:

    Photo: Don Casey
    Last edited by CalOldBlue; 05-08-2010 at 05:37 PM. Reason: final edits/added General Sherman

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