February roadtrip - biting off more than we can chew?
We are 2 Londoners and have booked the last 2 weeks of February to travel around California.
Looking at this forum, our plan now looks overambitious, particularly given the time of year and the need to navigate the Sierra Nevada mountains. This is the rough plan so far: fly in LAX -> drive to Las Vegas -> drive to Mammouth -> onto Yosemite ->drive to San Fran -> take the coast road via Big Sur back to LAX.
I'd really appreciate some feedback as to whether or not this is viable.
Thanks in advance for any help,
Two weeks is enough
I think two weeks is plenty for a good trip in these areas. I'm assuming you've already looked at other posts about winter road closures between Las Vegas and Yosemite, but if not, you'll need to do that (search using the phrase "Tioga Pass") and you'll no doubt come up with a lot of information about that. Then, keep in mind you'll never be more than a two day drive from LAX at any point along this route -- so if you begin to run short on time, you can get back without problems. Bob
LAX to Las Vegas is about five hours, so no problems there. The drive to Mammoth will have some challenges this time of year, but is probably still doable -- some of the passes between Las Vegas and the Owens Valley may have some icy and snowy conditions, but still OK. But there is no direct way you can get from Mammoth Lakes to Yosemite without a 500 mile detour, because the only passes that will be open will be Donner Pass (I-80) and Echo Summit on US-50 in the north.
It is still possible to visit Yosemite on your way back to San Francisco, but you will need to get around the Sierras on either the northern or southern end.
Pleased we asked...
Pleased we asked...
thanks Bob and Mark for your help.
An alternative to Mammoth for us is South Lake Tahoe - would this make the journey any easier (ie what roads will be open to enable us to traverse the Sierra Nevadas)?
I think you only have a couple of choices for trans-Sierra routes in snow season -- US50 is one of them. So whether you take US395 north to Mammoth or to Tahoe, or both, it'll work out about the same (since you'd still have to go north from Mammoth to get to US50 near S. Lk Tahoe).
Another possibility would be to take the southern route (from Las Vegas) through Bakersfield, and see Yosemite FIRST, then go north on SR49 to US50, and east to Tahoe from there. I think the other way (US395) is more spectacular (just my opinion), and I doubt this option would save you any time or mileage. But it's a possibility.
We did the trip from San Francisco via Yosemite to Death Valley, Vegas, LA and back to SF in around 10 days. The pass from Yosemite was closed so we ended up going a very long way via Fresno (don't go there!)
If you are thinking US highway 395....from Vegas to Tahoe....
Just a quickie note here. If you are interested in a really great drive, from Vegas to Tahoe, or Yosimite, then please consider getting the following small book called California's Highway 395 Windshield Adventures
By Russell & Kathlynn Spencer for a really fun and informative guide to ....well....everything along this one of Californias most dramatic highways. I have taken that route many, many times, and found things in this book that I never knew existed. Small towns, majestic mountain cliffs, waterfalls frozen in time, strange and unusual valley folklore, ghost towns, and the oldest living thing on earth,an earthquake that dropped the entire valley 7 feet in 15 seconds, The search for ET, and so much more can all be found along this route! Theres some real stories to take back to London with you. Cheerio!