San Diego - Grand Canyon - Yosemite

Jan 31st, 2009, 10:59 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 2
San Diego - Grand Canyon - Yosemite


Am planning a road trip with my father in March 09 and looking for advice please on our proposed itinerary.

We are currently thinking of the following:

Flying into San Francisco for 3 nights.
Hire a car & travel the coast road down towards San Luis Obispo (overnight here) and on from there towards San Diego and spend one night here.

From here we have the following planned:

Drive from San Diego up towards Grand Canyon, try and do a canyon tour etc if possible & maybe do a day in Vegas (3 days total).

Then we hope to drive from Vegas through Death Valley and up towards Yosemite National Park (2 days).

From Yosemite we will drive to Daly city (2 days), stay overnight & then our flight home departs the next morning.

My questions are as follows:

Are we trying to fit too much into too little time? Is there anything we should cut back on to spend time elsewhere?

We have only booked accommodation for the San Fran stay, we're hoping to find accommodaton along the way for the rest of the trip. Is this realistic?

Also, for the 'off-road' travel between San Diego-Grand Canyon-Death Valley-Yosemite - are there many options along the way here for accommodation/food?

Do we need snow chains for Yosemite at this time of year?

Any suggestions/responses/advice would be greatly appreciated as we initally planned the trip for just the west coast but are now hoping to fit all the other destinations in also! Not sure if we are being too adventurous!!!

Thanks for reading & for any responses,
suibhne is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 12:07 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,488
If you're thinking of getting into Yosemite via Tioga Pass, it will be closed. From Death Valley, you'll need to head into California's San Joaquin Valley and head north on 99 and 41.

Do you have friends or family in Daly City? Otherwise, I'm not sure why you would to spend two nights there. I would add a day elsewhere.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 12:31 PM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,572
I am having considerable trouble with your plan.
Nr. 1 - you say "Are we trying to fit too much into too little time?" How much time do you have?

You seem to be planning for all-day driving without any time for sightseeing - this itinerary looks like the business trip from hell to me, not like a vacation.

You can make it from SFO to SLO if the weather allows, if the cost road PCH1 past Big Sur is passable, but you won't be able to stop and see much while the days are still short. Daylight saving starts March 8. There are many things along the way deserving of a stop - Santa Cruz, Monterey with the Aquarium and Cannery Row and the 17-mile drive to adjacent Carmel. Pfeiffer Park with Big Sur, Hearst Castle and Cambria, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach... But you'll race right on by.

Driving from SLO to SD will take the best part of a day, through LA, if you leave very early you can get there before 3PM when it really clogs up. But you miss lots and lots of good places if you just drive on through - the Santa Ynez valley and wine country, Solvang, Pacheco Pass on highway 154, Santa Barbara...

Then you spend only one night in San Diego before heading out again? By the time you find a hotel you'll have seen nothing, and the next morning you have to leave at 6AM to make your plan work. Why go in the first place? Stay a few days, explore San Diego, the region has a lot to offer.

The drive to the Grand Cayon village near Flagstaff takes - at normal times - a long day of about 9 hours without stops - and it gets dark early, AZ doesn't do daylight saving. Do it in two days instead.

In March there may well be snow, so all bets are off as to how long it will really take. Does not sound like fun to me.

The rest of your trip is also too hasty, somewhat unrealistic, and may not be possible in large parts due to weather, which nobody can predict right now. The back of Yosemite doesn't typically open that early.

I'd say get a good big map that shows realistic distances, and regroup. If San Diego is important to you, fly from SF this time and come do the coast in between at another time when you can give it a few days to get there.

Then fly to Phoenix or Flagstaff and drive up to the Grand Canyon (South Rim only in winter).

Research the Death Valley and Yosemite plans carefully re. feasibility. Maybe better fly from Vegas to San Jose, get wheels and drive up into the mountains from there, to the Sequoia + Kings Canyon natl Park, then over to Yosemite depending on conditions, rather than trying to enter from the higher ground on the backside that may be off limits.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 05:44 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 65,346
I'm afraid the plan is crazy and not entirely doable -

SF to SLO is a long haul if you want to stop and see anything enroute. And it is a REALLY loooooong haul if a pacific storm blows in. SLO to SD is another long haul. So you'll spend a night in SD w/o any time to see anything there. So why go there at all.

Then you want to drive from LV to Yosemite which will take you through Bakersfield and Fresno -- and if the VERY common valley fog blanket the route - it will be slow and not fun.

I'd tear up your plan and get back to the drawing board.
janisj is online now  
Jan 31st, 2009, 08:41 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 26,390
I live in San Diego but I wouldn't drive that far to spend a day here.

First, what type of vacation are you looking for? What do you want to see in SD? If you're looking for warmer weather and some decent hiking, come to Southern California LV and Grand Canyon. It will be cold at the canyon.

Think of California as Northern and Southern. It's a huge state.
LSky is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2009, 11:51 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 2
Thanks very much for all your replies & the valuable information you have given with them.

You have confirmed our suspicions that we were trying to pack too much in.

We are travelling just under 2 weeks in total...... So its back to the drawing board this weekend and will probably focus more on what there is to see on the West Coast & include the wine district. Either Yosemite or the Grand Canyon will be dropped from the itinerary by the looks of it.

A good excuse to plan another trip I guess......

Thanks again
suibhne is offline  
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