Winter Trip...Vegas to SF!
My boyfriend and I are driving from Las Vegas to San Francisco and have 3 full days to spend. This will be at the end of November so winter weather is expected. What drives are good scenic ones? And fun small towns to stop in and stay at along the way. Any advice on what we can do and expect is greatly appreciated! Thanks!
End of November is a wonderful time of the year for travel in the west. But some of the most scenic mountain routes are already closed for the season.
You will be unable to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the following roads: CA-Hwy 120 (Tioga Pass), CA-Hwy 108 (Sonora Pass); CA-89 (Monitor Pass) -- this one may be open by end of the month -- but right now there is too much snow. -- But, in case, the route over crest (Ebbetts Pass -- Route 4) is closed now.
There are a number of towns on the eastern slope of the Sierras, that offer great hiking and exploring (even in November -- if you don't mind a little snow -- Bishop, Mammoth Lakes,etc.
If CA-89 is open from US-395 you can reach CA-88 which is kept open to enable access to the ski areas and CA-88 is a very scenic route down to the Sutter Creek area and CA-49 <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/drives/ca49.htm">(Gold Rush Trail).<a/>
The other possibilities for the northern route are US-50 past Lake Tahoe and I-80 (both are subject to snow closures, but both are opened as fast as possible).
On the west side of the Sierras -- there are some really fun little towns, Depending how you get there -- I would certainly recommend Murphys and Sonora.
Going the southern route from Las Vegas -- consider visiting Death Valley (although access is still tough due to the flash flood damage.)
Update: 11-22-04: California Hwy 190 is still closed from Furnace Creek to Death Valley Jct (Hwy 127) -- so no vehicle access to Zabriskie Point or Dante's View.
Artist's Drive road and the Beatty Cuttoff Road are still closed. Just about all of the high country roads are either closed or requiring 4-WD and chains, but Death Valley is accessible from: Hwy US-95 to Hwy 267 or Hwy 178 from Shoshone or Hwy 190 from Lone Pine. And, of course, Hwy 178 from Ridgecrest.
The Trona Pinacles were the site of the most recent filming of the "Planet of the Apes". Randsburg is a living ghost town.
The two primary southern routes over the Sierras would be CA-Hwy 178 via Lake Isabella or CA-Hwy 58 over Tehachapi and then you can explore the Gold Country at your leisure.
If the road is still open -- try and make it to Mono Hot Springs -- the resort closes November 1, but the natural, undeveloped pools along the cliffs never close and offer some of the most amazing hot pool soaking views in the world.