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  1. Default San Francisco to Death Valley in January

    i would like to road trip to death valley from san francisco probably the first or second week of January for 5 days. i would like to go to one of their hot springs while we're there. is there one that is highly recommended but hopefully not too expensive? is there any other places we should go along the way? any recommendations for a 5 day itinerary? national parks? i would like to go to grand canyon but i'm afraid it will be too cold. i would like to go to the north rim but it will be closed during the winter. is the south rim worth a trip in the winter? an overnight mule right sounds great but we cannot afford the over $400 pp. we're also still pretty new to driving and recently got a toyota sienna minivan. will the minivan suffice for this trip or should we rent something better equipped for the road? should we be concerned with snow conditions and such? we've never driven in such conditions. we are on a strict budget and would be mostly looking to camp. since this will be our first big roadtrip we dont want to make the trip too strenuous for us but we also want to see the best attractions. any advice will be greatly appreciated. thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Within Limits

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forums!

    I'm afraid I don't know of any hot springs in Death Valley other than those at resorts, but there are saline springs in the national park - here is a report from several years ago. I'd ask at the visitors center for current information and any restrictions. You will have to go arund the Sierra Nevada, and I'd suggest doing it to the south. first heading down the coast through Monterey/Carmel to Big Sur and then turning inland south of Cambria on CA-46. Another great option for heading inland is county road G-16 inland through Carmel Valley. Either route brings you to CA-99, Bakersfield and CA-58 east, CA-14 north, US-395 north and CA-190 into the park. That will take the better part of two days, but is well worth it.

    With only 5 days, the Grand Canyon is probably out of the question. As you note, the North Rim is closed in winter, and the South Rim is also subject to snow and freezing weather. It is at 7,000 feet after all. But in any case the South Rim is not a day trip from Las Vegas, but requires two days round trip to do it any justice. There are a couple of state parks in the Las Vegas area that are worth checking out, Red Rock to the west and the Valley of Fire to the northeast.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    Your mini van will be well enough equipped for the road, if you are headed anywhere that it is snow covered or subject to a heavy winter storm that only a "better equipped" [aka 4X4] could tackle, then you should be turning around or getting off the road anyway.

    I don't think I would like to be thinking of camping at the Grand canyon in January, Brrrr ! The coast and DV would seem ideal for the time of year.

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