SF -> Vegas -> Flagstaff -> Vegas -> LA -> SLO -> Monterey -> SF
Me and my brother are planning a road trip in June/July of this year and have built up an itinerary of places we wish to visit and was wondering if anyone had any comments about the feasibility of it.
Right here goes:
Land in SF on a Thursday afternoon. We then take the Friday and Saturday to go around SF.
On the Sunday we plan to drive towards Vegas - but stopping halfway in Bakersfield (is this a good idea?) and leaving early on the Monday for Vegas.
On the Tuesday taking a bus tour out to the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon - this i'm guessing will take up pretty much the whole day - but it'll give a little break from us doing the driving. Staying overnight in Vegas again.
Then we plan to drive to Flagstaff on Wednesday and hopefully see the Meteor Crater on the afternoon.
On Thursday - drive to Monument Valley and back to Flagstaff for the night.
Friday - head back to Vegas stay 2 nights.
Sunday - drive to LA - does anyone have any suggestions on places to stay here (only for 1 night) - was thinking somewhere like Santa Monica.
On Monday - drive from where we end up in LA to San Luis Obispo and again stay overnight. (Intending on taking the scenic route back up the coast).
Tuesday - head for a 1 night stay in Monterey / Santa Cruz/ Carmel area.
Wednesday - back into SF to drop the hire car off.
Thursday - fly home to the UK.
Thanks for any comments you make :)
Welcome to the forum!
Click here for a similar thread about traveling the California coast. All of my recommendations apply to your trip (Madonna Inn, Nepenthe Restaurant, etc.)
Although I have been there, I don't have much in the way of advice for Vegas or the Hoover Dam, other than I think you'll enjoy both. Judging by the intinerary you have set up for yourselves, you seem interested in nature. Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon are two places that are less touristy than the Grand Canyon, but no less awesome by any stretch of the imagination. Zion and Bryce are also easy to get to and are no farther from Las Vegas than the Grand Canyon.
Make sure you eat at In and Out Burger while you're in California!
Sounds like a great trip, but I would make one suggestion: drop the Bus trip to the Grand Canyon and drive there yourself.
Its a solid 5 hour drive each way to the canyon, plus with a stop at Hoover Dam the bus trip would be a 12 hour day minimum and even then you'd get hardly any time to spend at the canyon.
Since you're already planning to drive to Flagstaff, I'd suggest spending 3 days in Vegas, then drive to either Williams or the Grand Canyon and stay overnight. From there see the Canyon and head back to down to Flagstaff and see the sites you want to see in that area.
From there, drive straight from Flagstaff to LA via I-40 and I-15. Driving back through Vegas would add at least 2 if not 3 hours to your travel time.
I agree. Drive yourself to Grand Canyon. You could stay there a night if you want. Go to Monument Valley from there, then back to Vegas as a stopping point, before re-entering California.
A couple of suggestions
Given the other conditions of your trip, I would suggest driving to Las Vegas in one day. It is about eight hours -- not all the strenous.
Originally Posted by sia555
A bus tour that would attempt to deliver Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon in one day, boggles my mind. The bus tours to Hoover are OK, but they still tend to rush folks faster than necessary. The tours and talks by the docents are quite good and most tour participants only have time for one or two of the talks. Megan's article about Hoover Dam is here. We also produce a web site about Living in Las Vegas
I would suggest using the search utility on this page and look at threads dealing with San Francisco, Grand Canyon and Monument valley for some more ideas
Thanks for all the useful advice you've given us.
Looks like we are likely to drop the bus tour to Hoover + the Grand Canyon and instead drive ourselves to the dam on one day.
Then the following day drive out to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon have a look around and then carry on to Flagstaff.
I'm glad you decided to drop the bus tour. More than likely that tour only was to the West Rim. Now I haven't been to the west rim, but I've seen pictures and it's NOTHING like the S. Rim.
You will be so much better off driving yourself and having the time to do what you want.
I would check to see if Tioga Pass (Hwy 120) though Yosemite is open before you leave. If it is, then a much better route from SF to Las Vegas would be though Yosemite National Park over Tioga Pass, spend the night in Tonopah, NV and then take Hwy 95 to Las Vegas. Interstate 5 to Bakersfield is a pretty boring drive! Mileage wise it's about the same, but going though Yosemite will take a little longer to drive, but two days is plenty of time...I know we've done it.
On Thursday don't drive the 175 miles back to Flagstaff after Monument Valley. That's such a waste of good time. Instead drive the 130 miles to Page, AZ and see Lake Powell and spend the night there. The next day you can drive the 280 miles to Las Vegas by taking Hwy 89 to Mt. Carmel Jct. and then take Hwy 9 thought Zion National Park and then I-15 down to Las Vegas. This will be a much more scenic route and you won't have to double back over 400 of the same miles.
Stay at the La Cuesta Inn when you're in San Luis Obispo. Reasonably priced and very clean & comfortable, with a nice continental breakfast included. I second the In 'n Out Burger suggestion!
Never got round to posting a report on our trip but seeing kerrylula post yesterday and the reminder email that i'm still viewing this thread I thought i'd let you guys know what happened.
We started off in San Francisco (still as good as I remember) and stayed there for 2 nights. On the first day of the trip we collected the car from Dollar in downtown (a sebring convertible) then we headed on down towards Bakersfield and stayed the night.
Didn't find too much to do as we got there mid/late afternoon - but found some food at the outback steakhouse - and was very impressed with the friendliness of the staff there.
The day after we hit the road for Vegas. At one point (think it was around death valley) the temperature readout on the car was 46C - lovely and warm :)
The first night we had a look round, then in the morning headed out to hoover dam in the car - a nice little trip and amazing to see the dam in person.
We headed back to Vegas looked round the casinos some more, had food and then caught up on some sleep.
The following day we went to Flagstaff via the South Rim of the Grand Canyon - wow is all I will say - it's amazing how big it is in person - also felt the altitude in my body really strange.
After Flagstaff we headed on to Monument valley - with a quick stop in Tuba City for Lunch. Then after viewing the wonderful scenery we headed for Page, AZ - we were very impressed here - and the Glen Canyon dam was also a great bit of scenery.
Tried the Dam Bar and Grille in Page - the Dam Burger gets my thumbs up as the biggest and best burger on the trip :) And the quesadillas we're pretty special too.
After Page we headed back onto Vegas for one more day this time staying for one night at the Hard Rock Hotel - a little off the main strip but we found plenty to do there and also found the whole atmosphere a lot more relaxing.
Moving on from Vegas we headed to Santa Barbara. We had planned on stopping in LA to get some pictures of the Hollywood sign but ended up getting a little lost so carried on. The traffic in LA was pretty crazy but we got through without incident :)
Santa Barbara was another unexpected highlight with plenty of bars and restaurants to try and a short walk to the beach.
From Santa Barbara we headed on to Monterey for 2 days up the coast road. Came across a parking area with lots of cars and peoples - turns out there were lots of seals/sealions in the water and on the beach. Also noticed dozens of squirrels everywhere.
We took some photos then carried on the Monterey where we visited the aquarium and did the 17 mile drive. As for food we enjoyed the mexican restaurant that sort of sits almost in the sea.
After Monterey we headed back to San Francisco for the last few days of the trip.
So to summarize after 2424 sun filled roof down miles :
Santa Barbara (would have preferred 2 days here rather than Monterey), Page (peaceful, great scenery), Grand Canyon/Hoover Dam (speaks for itself).
Vegas (being more polluted than expected and hassled constantly by touts on every street corner), LA (the traffic and getting lost).
Just as a side note - we used mapopolis on an ipaq for navigation (along with paper maps) and found it to be a great solution for navigating even though it needed a prod to take us up the coast road from Santa Barbara :)
Essential tips: Take lots of water in the car if it's warm, and if you've got a soft top a hat and plenty of sunscreen.
Well that's all - thanks again everyone for the advice.