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  1. #1

    Default San Diego to Las Vegas

    Hello! I'm planning a long weekend driving from San Diego to Las Vegas.

    Thinking ...

    (FRIDAY) Leave 7AM drive to some natural beautiful place to have picnic lunch / hike
    -- Looks like Skywalk is a rip off & Grand Canyon is a lot farther away?
    -- Anything exciting along the route worth a detour? Looking at 15 all the way.
    -- Maybe Red Rock Canyon?
    -- Hotel in Vegas
    (SATURDAY) Vegas / See Family
    (SUNDAY) Leave after breakfast to head back to SoCal
    -- We took 15 to get here, and alternate routes / detours for the way back? We'd like to get home by dinner time, but visit at least one place / attraction on the way back.

    Any ideas welcome! Thanks!

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


    Hello and welcome to RTA !

    If you want to make both your travel days full days on the road you could head through Joshua Tree NP and/or the Mojave Preserve one way and going the other way, drive through Death Valley NP. Both options would be 10 hour [+] days of travel with a couple of stops.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA, nice to see another San Diegan here.

    Yes, Skywalk is a rip-off ... extremely expensive, and no pictures allowed. GCNP is much better, but it is quite a bit out of the way.

    I-15 is the main route between us and Vegas. It's why the traffic is going to be heavy all the way up and all the way back. You will probably get to the Riverside/San Bernardino area around 9 am.

    We found a couple of places around Barstow that were interesting to us, a few years back. Calico Ghost Town - kind of a rip-off, but fun for kids. Casa del Desierto - the old train station/Harvey House. Route 66 Mother Road Museum. Amboy Crater (there's about a 2 hour hike right there). The Calico Early Man Archaelogical Site, Yermo. (My husband loved this.)

    Another small detour you can take is to Death Valley. Drive from Vegas out to Pahrump. I'm sure others here have the "locals directions", so I'll leave that for someone else to guide you. I can say that this will be a lot longer than the 5-6 hours to San Diego.

    An alternative route to/from Las Vegas would involve taking the 8 out to Yuma and then US-95 from Yuma up to Las Vegas. There are two cautions I'd make: "the river" is a big draw for San Diegans, so you'd get a lot of traffic around Lake Havasu. But seeing the London Bridge there might be something you'd like to do. The other caution is that US-95 can be winding and somewhat dangerous, so do drive carefully. I will say that you are looking at about 480 miles going this route, so it is definitely adding 150 miles to the trip. Because the first 300 miles is on 2-lane road, it will take at least 8 hours just to reach Yuma. From there, it's 2-1/2 hours back to San Diego (depending on where in our fair county you live; I'm in north inland area).

    If this were me, I'd use I-15 going in both directions (we did, just this past summer). If you want to see something in both directions, pick something to see on the way out, and something on the way back. And allow a lot of time for the heavy traffic on the 15.


  4. #4


    Thanks! Those are all ideas to consider right up my alley -- I really appreciate the quick responses. I grew up on the East coast and have only been out in CA for 3 years so my knowledge is still growing.

    I live right near the 15 in Fallbrook / Bonsall near 76 so I am already pretty far north to start my journey ... it is so practical to take the 15 both ways but I hate to go the same way twice so I'll continue to consider options :)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Brooooke, I'm just a little south of you in the Escondido/Ramona/Poway area. Yes, you'll cut a bit of time because you live on the very north portion of the county.

    SWDave's idea to hit Joshua Tree NP is also a good one.

    Our summer 2015 trip up to Las Vegas is in this thread. Details about the traffic situation is included with Post #1 and Post #11 in that thread. Our sightseeing on that trip, off of the Strip, was north of Las Vegas and would be out of your way.


  6. #6


    how was everything?

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by erickclifford View Post
    how was everything?
    Everything went great! We ended up taking 215 to the 10 through Palm Springs past Joshua Tree Park to make our stop at Amoby Crater. It was really easy to find and a pretty easy hike out there. They had a great picnic / bathroom area in the parking lot (free) so we ate lunch there and headed to Vegas via the Mojave Desert Preserve. That road was a little rough with some parts dirt and lots of potholes with some minor construction delays but worth it for the views.

    On the way home we took 15 all the way and stopped for awhile at the CA/NV border. Buffalo Bills is a casino with a lot of retro character and we had fun just wandering around.

    Thanks for all the tips! :)

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