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Driving San Francisco CA to Sedona AZ Christmas 2022

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Hwy 10
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Driving San Francisco CA to Sedona AZ Christmas 2022

Old May 14th, 2022, 01:58 PM
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Driving San Francisco CA to Sedona AZ Christmas 2022

Hello Forum,

This Christmas we'll be driving from San Francisco Bay Area to Sedona AZ. Spending two weeks in Sedona AZ for the last two weeks of December 2022.

Curious if any recommendations on driving - should we choose HWY 10 or HWY 40? Prefer wide, high standard roads versus "scenic roads" hanging on a cliff with snow. Is 89A as precarious (and beautiful) as it looks? Also want to split the drive into two days each way. Any recommendations on where to stay overnight? Maybe Joshua Tree?

We're in our 50's, are hikers, and take our lab-mix pup with us everywhere.

Thank you for your thoughts.

SassTraveler

Last edited by SassTraveler; May 14th, 2022 at 02:10 PM.
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Old May 14th, 2022, 03:57 PM
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Even splitting it into two days, that is quite a slog in winter -- 13 to 15 hours car time plus stops. So with a dog needing walks, and just gas/meal/rest stops you are probably looking at close to 20 hours in transit. 18 hours for sure. Your biggest problem may very well be the first third of the journey between SF and down I-5 to either Bakersfield or LA since the Central Valley often get killer tule fog in December. Really awful driving conditions. More than once over the years I've had to break the drive and stay overnight between Sacramento and LA/Orange County because between Sacramento and Bakersfield was socked in (I-5 in dense fog with hundreds of big rigs is not for the faint of heart). The trouble is you won't know if it is foggy until that day - or maybe the day. before. The only way to avoid the Central Valley is to go down 101 to LA, which would really only add maybe 3 hours to the total drive.

With the criteria you've laid out it is pretty much decided for you I-40 one way and I-10 via LA the other way.
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Old May 14th, 2022, 04:08 PM
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Thanks for your thoughts janisj. Very good point on the Tule fog I kinda forgot about including that. I've driven the 5 for many many years from SF to San Diego and LA, so I am very familiar with the complete lack of visibility that can occur. And agreed, now thinking three days drive might be better. Thinking to stop in LA and stay with family, then see Joshua Tree and overnight there.
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Old May 14th, 2022, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by SassTraveler
Thanks for your thoughts janisj. Very good point on the Tule fog I kinda forgot about including that. I've driven the 5 for many many years from SF to San Diego and LA, so I am very familiar with the complete lack of visibility that can occur. And agreed, now thinking three days drive might be better. Thinking to stop in LA and stay with family, then see Joshua Tree and overnight there.
That's a much better plan IMO. Down 101 to LA (assuming no gawd awful winter storms off the Pacific. Stop over for a night, then Joshua Tree and staying one night and then shooting straight over to Sedona.

Glad you are familiar with fog central - it is hard to explain to non locals how bad it can be.
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Old May 15th, 2022, 07:42 AM
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You should have fun in Sedona, the Day Hike Capital of America. In December daytime highs are 60 F and lows 34 F and it's generally sunny. A nice day trip would be to go to Prescott (a little over 1 hour southwest). =mediumIt has an attractive and vibrant downtown square with art galleries and restaurants. There are three museums including the Phippen Art Museum. Horseback riding is popular in the area and the town claims it has the oldest rodeo in the world. Matt’s Saloon is semi-famous. On the west side of town is a national forest with trails through towering ponderosa pines.
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Old May 15th, 2022, 08:57 AM
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With all due respect . . . Prescott Frontier Days (the rodeo) isn't all that relevant for the OP since it runs late June through July 4. Prescott is about 1,000 ft higher elevation than Sedona so hiking there might be fine but just watch the weather.
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Old May 15th, 2022, 02:27 PM
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We drive from Seattle to Palm Springs almost every year in December and I have developed a couple of preferences. At Sacramento, we always take 99 south to Bakersfield. Most of it is three lane now and it is more scenic and has nicer options for stopping for lunch and or overnight than off that stretch of I-5. From Bakersfield, we almost always take the road down through Tehachapi and Lancaster to the 215 then the 10 from there into PS. So if you wanted to stop in Joshua Tree you could go Tehachapi and then take the 247 down to Joshua Tree, although I confess I don't know that stretch off road so I would want info regarding winter driving weather. In general we prefer the drive to Palm Springs from Bakersfield via Tehachapi because we detest the Grapevine so it is a lot less annoying. You can get snow at the Tehachapi pass, but that is also true of Grapevine-if one has snow the other likely to also have snow.
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Old May 18th, 2022, 02:38 AM
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Since you are coming from San Francisco (not Sacramento) I would take 101 and not 99, obviously.

Joshua Tree to Sedona is still a pretty long drive. If you wanted to split it more evenly and take I-10, there is Blythe/Ehrenberg as a halfway location Just a spot to stay and cheaper gas.

I would book a hotel with free cancellation as the decent ones have been selling out. Lots of deferred travel.
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Old May 19th, 2022, 08:07 AM
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They said they are driving from the SF Bay area, not necessarily the city, so depending on where they start then I-5 or 99 might be closer to them than the 101. But IMO the choice may also depend on winter weather conditions.
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Old May 19th, 2022, 11:23 AM
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It appears the OP has opted extend the drive to 3 days and stop in LA en route. Didn't say specifically but sounds like they are leaning towards using 101.
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Old May 19th, 2022, 11:43 AM
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Yes, I read post #3 before I replied.
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Old Aug 27th, 2022, 02:16 PM
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Thank you all. Great ideas for us to consider. It is a long haul and we do need to consider the Tule fog. A real show stopper. Not super interested in stopping in LA though, or making it a 3-day trip. We'll have to discuss and decide on a plan. Thank you so much!
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Old Aug 28th, 2022, 08:13 AM
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ON HW89A From I-17 to Sedona. I don't think of it as scary but slow and it is a scenic drive. The issue is there has been a lot of road work on it the past couple years so check on that. https://www.az511.com/map

The alternate way to Sedona is HW180. On HW180 just north of Village of Oak Creek (VOC) there is a very scenic area with places to stop. There is also a visitor center before you get to VOC.

I recommend the Museum of Northern Arizona and Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.
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Old Aug 29th, 2022, 09:48 AM
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At some point in your 2 weeks in the Sedona area, try for an evening meal at the Manzanita restaurant in the small town of Cornville AZ. They have great German dishes and sometimes wild game is on the menu.
Another thing to see in Flagstaff is the Riordan mansion next to the NAU campus. The Riordan brothers were founders of the Arizona Lumber and Timber company and decided to build a two section mansion with a common area in between.
I suggest I-40 out of Barstow and then spend a night in Lake Havasu City and then take a walking tour of London Bridge and breakfast before heading to Sedona.

Last edited by tomfuller; Aug 29th, 2022 at 09:57 AM.
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