Help me with a rough plan?
We are two young retirees heading back to Seattle area in a 4 wheel drive Bronco. Spent the winter in South Padre Island, TX, so have mostly lightweight clothing. Got coats, light gloves, earmuffs, no boots, just athletic shoes.
We are spending a couple nights in Big Bend National Park March 8-10 then heading back to Seattle. We have done the southern route and California corridor several times, and are thinking of visiting Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon, then perhaps heading over to San Francisco. Looks like the trip enroute from Big Bend to Zion would also take us right by the north rim of the Grand Canyon, but would the road be open?
We have never been in the inland western areas at this time of year. I am concerned about weather, closed roads, and passability in the whole Utah to California area in mid-March. Am I correct in thinking the road to the north rim of the Grand Canyon would be closed? Will Zion and Bryce be too snowed in to enjoy? Tioga Pass through Yosemite would be closed for sure?
We could conceivably skip San Francisco and head on north on Interstate 84 if the other roads, such as 50 would be too chancy.
We have seen some of the attractions in California, Arizona, and Nevada before, such as Yosemite, Death Valley, Reno, Virgina City, in different seasons.
Basically, we are looking for a different but not harrowing route home. I really would like to see the Utah parks and don't know when we will get back there. We are entirely flexible. We have things we sort of need to take care of in San Francisco, but could skip it. We don't need to do any in depth hiking or sightseeing, just sort of hit the high spots as they crop up on the couple week meander home.
Anybody got any doable ideas/routes/itineraries to suggest? Can you help me out with what to expect if we take Highway 50 from Zion to California?
Thanks in advance.
We are entirely flexible.
Change of plans already
Just got word that the San Francisco leg won't work out. And finally found an internet link which told me that Tioga Pass has never before opened before late April.
So, the questions remain - will we be able to enjoy anything in Zion and Bryce in early to mid March without off-road cold weather gear?
Starlight Dinner Theater
Editor Mark always recommends the Starlight Dinner theater at Terlingua, TX, just outside Big Bend Natl Park. So if you find it open, I'm absolutely sure it is worth your time!
The GC North Rim highway will not normally be open until mid-May at least. Other than that and Tioga Pass, if you follow the most direct routes between your stated points, you probably won't have any trouble with road conditions.
The most likely place to run into snowy roads would be some localized places along the stretch between El Paso and Zion, I think – but you'd have a good chance on this route of not encountering much of anything except beautiful scenery. Of course, there'll be snow on the trans-Sierra route west of Reno – but I-80 and US50 will both be open and snow along the sides of the road doesn't necessarily mean there will be snow ON the road. Tioga is not likely to open until mid-June this year (lots of snowfall up there).
The Utah parks, in particular, will be beautiful this time of year, unless a storm is passing through. I think US50 across Nevada is also likely to be clear – so I don't think your route will be "harrowing" at all.
One last suggestion – this is going to be a beautiful year for desert wildflowers (I think). You might go across to Death Valley from Zion, then up US395 to the Reno area before picking up US50 if you think Death Valley would be worth seeing with desert blooms all over it (also the Owens Valley along 395)! (Then again, you'd probably see lots of them on the other route as well!) Bob
OK, then how about everything the same up through the Reno area, then a route that takes you across the desolate reaches of eastern Oregon? Take US395 north to Pendleton, then back into "Sealthe" in whatever way suits you from there!
Thanks, ModeratorBob! Will look to see if the dinner theater is open.
I had also read somewhere in my hurried research so far that this is supposed to be a great year for desert blooms. Once the San Francisco leg got cancelled, I figured we would just get on I-15 and I-84 and hightail it home, but I would always rather look around. I'll get back into my maps.
Thanks for your help and speedy reply.