SF to Grand Canyon without gift shops
I am about to jump in my car and take off from San Francisco, CA to the Grand Canyon. I am a younger, artsy type that gets really irritated by tourists and tourist shopts etc. I was curious to see if anyone had any advice on routes to take there, and then specific places to see the Grand Canyon that doesn't have anything close to "I went to the canyon and all I got was this t-shirt". Thank you very much.
One way to go from S.F. to the Canyon, would be to take 80 out of S.F. to 95 and take that all the way through Nevada through Las Vegas where it hooks up with 93. Some of the land you travel through is wide open spaces, but for me, it adds to the drive. Not having to battle the traffic on the main roads. Also, 95 passes on the east side of Death Valley. If you have time, take a tour of Death Valley. It's starting to warm up, but I understand the wildflowers are spectacular now. Another way to go would be to take 395 south throught the Sierra's. It's a longer way, but the scenery is great.
The north side of the canyon is probably closed this time of year, so for the most part, you're going to have to see the "tourist" side of the canyon, the south side. But, there is plenty to see there. Have you seen Lake Mead or Hoover Dam? The tour through the dam is great. I hope they still have it since 9/11. Just thoughts for your trip.
I agree with Robert about driving down thought Nevada instead of boring I-5! Just watch the weather. It does snow in Nevada!
I would like to mention that the N. Rim of the Grand Canyon is closed until mid-May so if you are going now, then you have to go to the S. Rim.
Once you get to the Grand Canyon, park your car and walk to the rim. You can either hike down into the canyon or along the west rim trail.