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  1. Default Planning a trip from Grand Canyon to Yosemite National ParK and then to Reno

    I am planning a trip with my husband and two boys (8 and 6 years old) as follows:

    Dec 19 to Dec 23, Grand Canyon. We plan to rent a car in Phoenix drive to Tusayan, stay there and visit the South Rim and Antelope Canyon.

    Dec 23 to Dec 26, Yosemite National Park. The idea is to drive from Tusayan to Yosemite National Park, I don't know if it would be wise to drive in 1 or 2 days.

    Dec 26 to Jan 4, South Lake Tahoe. Finally, we would drive from Yosemite National Park to Reno, where we would drop off the car and head to South Lake Tahoe by taxi or shuttle for our ski vacation.

    I have to say that we have never driven in this season. I have read that rental companies do not allow snow chains. That the only road open to get to Yosemite National Park is route 140. I would like to stay in a lodge inside the park but it seems I will need a car equipped with the snow chains. Any help regarding the following?

    Best routes?
    If you think we should not do the Grand Canyon drive to Yosemite National Park in one day, what halfmark stay would you recommend?
    Any comments or suggestions regarding our itinerary are welcome!

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

    Default GC to Yosemite is a 2 day drive. (Weather permitting)

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You should not drive from Tusayan to Yosemite in one shot, not even if it were summer with good conditions, it's just too far to do safely. Bakersfield would be a good target to overnight at but you will still be dependant on the weather to some degree. Tusayan is not really a good place to do a day visit to Antelope canyon either, it would be at least 6 hours of driving out and back but you would have to allow much more time if you had a tour booked to make sure you arrived on time. You would be better off driving direct to Page from Phoenix and overnight there for Antelope canyon and then head to the Grand canyon. ( I have no idea about the availability of tours for Antelope canyon tours during this time of year)

    Yes it's quite possible you will need chains to enter Yosemite NP whether you stay in the park or outside so you will have to check with rental companies for different policy's on using them. If you have no luck then you will be in the hands of the weather gods. An option would be to stay east of the Sierra Nevada and skip Yosemite then you could go from Phoenix to GC to Page and then possibly to Zion NP, Death valley and up to Reno via US395.

  3. Default

    First ,thanks for your quick response , i will take your suggestion regarding Bakersfield .
    Now ,i have been checking on the possible routes and so far the trip mock up could be going from the Grand canyon area/tours from Williams and the go to Bakersfield , via I40 and CA58W , next day continue to Mariposa , California find a place where to leave the car for a couple days and get into Yosemite NP using the YARTS bus , after that , the last leg of the road trip from Mariposa to Reno via Sacramento using the CA99N and the I80E, but the basic questions for me are: a) are the elevation of this routes snow prone in December? , b) can be done in this way?
    Thanks again!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    a) Yes. If conditions warrant, you will have to use chains on I-80, so be prepared to wait it out. If chains are required on I-80, they will almost always be required on the other year-round passes too (US-50, CA-88).

    b) Yes. You may not have to have chains to enter Yosemite, but if a storm comes up you would have to put chains on to get out. The NPS strongly recommends you have chains in the car at all times during the winter. The YARTS bus has several stops between Mariposa and Yosemite along CA-140 so you could get closer to the park.

    If the weather is good, I'd look at taking CA-49 instead of CA-99 to I-80, bypassing Sacramento. It's shorter and a lot more scenic.

  5. Default

    Well the trip... and the winter is coming.
    The final schedule end up like this
    From Phoenix to Reno , in December via Grand Canyon , Las Vegas and Yosemite
    Hi everyone, after reading a lot of forum threads our Road trip layout ended up like this
    December 19 , Phoenix to Grand Canyon south rim (El Tovar hotel)
    Google map suggested route : I-17N ,I-40W and AZ64N , 229 miles, 3 hours 30 min
    December 21, From Grand canyon south rim to Page , AZ
    Google map suggested route : AZ-64E and US 89N , 135 miles , 2 hours 28 min
    December 22, from Page ,AZ to Las Vegas ,NV
    Google maps suggested route: US-89 and I-15S , 273 miles , 4hours 15 min
    December 23, Las Vegas to Bakersfield CA,
    Google maps suggested route I-15S and CA-58W , 286 miles , 4 hours 20 min
    December 24 , Bakersfield to Yosemite , via Mariposa
    Google maps suggested route : CA-99N and CA-140E , 231 miles 4 hours 11 min
    December 27 , Yosemite to Reno
    Google maps suggested route : Stockton , Sacramento and the I-80E , 290 miles , 5 hours 26 min .
    Now , we still have some doubts I have never driven on this season (no snow in my country)
    -Any suggestions or comments regarding the routes ?
    -Which parts of this route are more likely to find snow?
    -Thanks a lot for your attention (again!)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Everything looks okay except for one thing: never, ever believe Google Maps travel times. For instance, Phoenix to the South Rim is going to be a good 4 to 4-1/2 hours, not 3-1/2. That route may be where you see snow for the first time, because Flagstaff and I-40 could get snow. So could the Grand Canyon's South Rim, for that matter. All of your other travel times have the same issue. Add 20% to the travel time OR, take the mileage and divide by 55 (interstate winter travel) or 50 (non-interstate travel). That 231 miles from Bakersfield to Yosemite, for instance, will be more like 5-1/2 to 6 hours. While CA-99 is freeway quality, CA-140 is not.

    Going back to the snow issue -- after the Grand Canyon, the next likelihood would be Yosemite. However, a freak snowstorm can happen anywhere. Always keep an eye on the weather, especially when traveling in the winter months here in the US.

    When you arrive in Phoenix or are going through Flagstaff, stop and pick up an atlas somewhere, if you haven't already done so. You *NEED* to carry paper maps and not rely on Google Maps. There is a Walmart off Happy Valley Road at exit 218 of I-17, which is north of Phoenix. You'll probably see it as you approach the exit, on your right (east of the freeway). Walmart will have an atlas, along with anything else you need. There are also a ton of places to eat located at that exit, if you didn't get a good meal on the plane.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    How much of this route is locked in? There are a few places where following the advice you were previously provided would still be a good idea.

    Are you visiting Vegas because you want to see it or because it's just a place to stop for the night. If it's just a place to stop for the night, it would be more efficient (and somewhat less likely to be impacted by snow) to go from Phx to Page to Grand Canyon and on towards Bakersfield.

    If you want to see Vegas and/or stick with the current route, you'd be going right past Zion National Park between Page and Vegas.

    Also, if you're stopping in Vegas, then you don't really need to stop in Bakersfield anymore. Vegas to Mariposa could be driven in one long day on the road. Alternatively, that could be a chance to add Death Valley into your trip.

    After Yosemite, I would encourage you to not rely just on Google maps and take another look at the route suggestion that GLC previously provided, which as mentioned is shorter and more scenic.

  8. Default

    Thanks! We really appreciate your help!!! Many valuable tips.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I think we have an idea now on what to expect. Thanks for taking your time to reply to us!!!!

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