10 day trip to west coast
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Dec 3, 2012 9:16 AM Last Post By: kenko
Nov 29, 2012 10:35 PM
10 day trip to west coastHi,
My wife and I have some time-off in December and we are travelling to CA for 10 day trip. We will fly to SFO and will take a rental car for the complete trip.
I have never been to California and would like some advice on which route to take. We are interested in seeing Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Las vegas, Grand Canyon, LA, SFO.
I am not sure if we can do Tahoe/Yosemite because of the weather. We are planning to spend 2 nights in LV, 1 in GC, 1 in LA( Disney etc) and 2 in SFO.
Please suggest which parts to cover in Grand Canyon, Los Angeles( i am planning to goto Disney, please suggest some nice attractions).
Nov 30, 2012 3:32 AM
1Hmm ... ten days is a bit skinny to cover all you wish to see.
I would not include Yosemite NP this trip - wonderful as it is, it would take three days out of your ten to go there.
I would have 3 nights in SF, 1 night South Lake Tahoe, 1 in Las Vegas, 1 at the Grand Canyon, 1 somewhere between GCNP and LA, and then 2 nights LA to see Disneyland. So that is nine nights - is that what you have?
Warning: all sorts of people are going to come on here and give you scary oogoo-boogoo stories about ten feet of snow, vast road closures, and how to fit chains to your rental car ... don't pay no heed. Although I will concede that the Grand Canyon South Rim can get pretty cold - we had minus 8F there one 21 December.
Nov 30, 2012 4:24 AM
Nov 30, 2012 6:07 AM
3Yes, the Pineapple Express warm rains from Hawaii have been flooding Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, with snow at higher elevations these past few days. 20 inches of snow forecast for yesterday. Ian lives in Australia, not in California, so he does not live here full-time during our winters. Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon will probably be dry, but cold at night.
You could drive on Interstate-80 from San Francisco Bay to north Lake Tahoe (4 hours in good weather and no heavy traffic), then drive south alongside Lake Tahoe to south Tahoe and Highway #50. Spend one night along this route. Then turn west toward Sacramento and south to Merced and one popular entrance road into Yosemite Valley. Spend two nights in the Valley (make reservations as soon as possible). Drive out on the same road to Merced, then south through Bakersfield and east to Las Vegas. This will take one full day, so spend 1 night in Las Vegas. Drive to the Grand Canyon and spend one night. Drive back to Las Vegas and spend 1 night, then drive onward to Anaheim in Orange County -- Disneyland. Spend two nights there (make reservations as soon as possible). Drive along Highway #1 toward Los Angeles to Inglewood and LAX. (If you want to see Los Angeles, then spend only one night in Anaheim and the next night either in Hollywood or in Santa Monica Beach.)
Nov 30, 2012 8:50 AM
4You've told us nothing about your interests, so it's impossible to make suggestions.
Overall, your trip is absurdly rushed and involves a huge amount of driving. You'll spend at least 36 hours in the car, 5 full 7-hour days, not counting traffic, possible weather delays, or even simple rest and food stops. You'll spend FAR more time in the car than you will seeing or experiencing anything else. Some fun!
I would drop Tahoe. It's out of the way, subject to bad weather, and won't show you anything you won't see elsewhere.
Then fly from Vegas back to SF.
Driving all the way to LA for one day/night doesn't make much sense either...
Nov 30, 2012 10:10 AM
5Given your short timefream, I agree to skip Tahoe. It's beautiful, yes, but in winter it's a destination for skiing and will be too cold to enjoy the lake itself. You have to cross a 7,400' pass to get there, and if there's a storm (common in December) you'll be stuck in traffic putting chains on your car.
Nov 30, 2012 10:56 AM
Nov 30, 2012 12:45 PM
7Welcome to Thorn Tree.
OP, before you become too flippant about California Road Conditions in the mountains, especially around Lake Tahoe, Donnor Pass, and Tioga pass, you may want to check the road conditions. Tioga Pass is closed until spring and chain laws are presently in effect around Donnor Pass.
Do you understand the problem? San Francisco and Yosemite National Park are on the west side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Lake Tahoe is on the east side. This is not a problem in summer. In winter, some of the high passes close for the season - like Tioga. Some close unpredictably due to the weather. This can make crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains a long and tedious process. You simply don't have the time to accommodate the random winter road conditions. I would suggest foregoing either Lake Tahoe or Yosemite. I would further suggest that you can travel down the west side of the Sierra Nevadas, see Yosemite, then continue south and go around the southern edge of the Sierras to Las Vegas, and Grand Canyon.
Quick Geography Lesson: Las Vegas is in the state of Nevada, Grand Canyon National Park is in the state of Arizona, and Disneyland is in the city of Anaheim, CA.
Enjoy your trip.
Nov 30, 2012 1:24 PM
Nov 30, 2012 7:28 PM
9Warning: all sorts of people are going to come on here and give you scary oogoo-boogoo stories about ten feet of snow, vast road closures, and how to fit chains to your rental car ... don't pay no heed
That was pretty much my attitude until early April 2010, when I had a genuinely hairy experience on U.S. 395 between Mammoth Lakes and the Nevada border. I won't go through the story now, but it gave me religion about taking those snow closure signs seriously.
Dec 1, 2012 12:29 PM
Dec 1, 2012 1:46 PM
Dec 2, 2012 12:15 PM
Dec 2, 2012 12:55 PM
13raksam hasn't shown here again, so we may be wasting our time.
With this weather, I'd drive from SF to Yosemite via the Mariposa Merced River entrance.
It is lower elevation, the river will be roaring, and Yosemite Valley should have unseasonably beautiful waterfalls. You can probably find a room at Yosemite Lodge too.
Dec 3, 2012 2:55 AM
14The winter storm hammering Northern California has had winds clocked at 105 miler per hour at summits of Lake Tahoe and projected snowfall of 15 to 19 feet at Mount Shasta.
I guess you're making my point here ... and anyway it was only a half-hearted jibe at the doom merchants - not a really serious criticism. Does this winter storm affect our theoretical driver raksam? They are not driving to the summits of mountains (at Lake Tahoe or anywhere else), and they are not within a bull's roar of Mt Shasta either, so why mention it? What are we actually looking at?
There are six possible routes over the Sierras within the OP's field of vision: 108 (Closed), 4 (Closed), 120 Tioga Pass (Closed), 88 (Chains Required), I-80 (Open), Hwy 50 (Open). So there are two very accessible ways of reaching Lake Tahoe from the west. And similarly, there are a couple of ways to get from South Lake Tahoe to Las Vegas as well.
It seems to me (as a naïve Australian) that the point of responding to OP requests is to provide solutions not just problems. The storms that have been through required chains on I-80 and Hwy 50 yesterday (according to DOT California) - today they do not. They clear the majors very quickly.
The risk of multi-day serious delay in December is very small I think ... and we should encourage the OPs to have a great trip - the Sierras with lots of snow on them, and driveable roads, are pretty spectacular.
And I do agree with bzookaj - that an extra night between Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas / Grand Canyon offers a better return than a night between the Grand Canyon and LA - for sure.
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