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San Francisco to Las Vegas by car – where to stop?

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Jan 9th, 2013, 05:34 PM
  #1
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San Francisco to Las Vegas by car – where to stop?

Hi everyone
We’re an Australian family (two young boys 8yrs and 10yrs) and planning a holiday to the West Coast USA
We’ll be spending a week in LA then driving to SanFrancisco, staying in the bay city for a few days and then heading to Las Vegas. We hope to do the San Francisco to Las Vegas trip over two days with lots of stops and a stay overnight -
would love to hear your thoughts & recommendations of where we should stop and whats the best town to stay overnight?
Also do you think we should visit Grand Canyon before we head to Las Vegas or should we do this as a side trip during our 4 day Las Vegas stay?

Thanks for your help
Anastasia
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Jan 9th, 2013, 08:11 PM
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Can't answer w/o knowing when the trip is. Makes a huge difference re where you can and can't drive.
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Jan 9th, 2013, 09:19 PM
  #3
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Oops sorry - we will be leaving Sanfrancisco at the end of Feb this year! dates not confirmed yet but around last week of Feb/early March.

Are some roads closed due to cold weather?
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Jan 10th, 2013, 06:59 AM
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If it was summertime, no question most of us would say Yosemite.
I doubt that you can get there in February.
How about driving south along the coast as far as Cambria?
Take route 46 east all the way to Rt. 99 then south into Bakersfield and Rt. 58 over Tehachipi Pass to get to Barstow and Interstate 15 to Las Vegas.
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Jan 10th, 2013, 09:19 AM
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Do as tomfuller suggests if you haven't already done the coast drive on the way up from LA. Otherwise, there isn't anywhere along the main routes to LV that are stopover worthy. You could loop over to Yosemite, take a peek,and continue south thru Fresno to Get back to Hwy 99, but it would depend on weather and finding accommodations. You may be better off just driving the 10 hours straight to LV.
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Jan 10th, 2013, 11:14 AM
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As MichelleY says (if you have already done the coast road) there is no advantage to stopping anywhere between SF and LV. None.

But where are you going after Vegas? Is that the end of your trip? If so, consider dropping your car in San Francisco and flying to Las Vegas. It will save you HOURS of tedious driving. Plus driving down the central Valley in Feb can be so foggy it is dangerous. There are cheap airfares SF on Southwest which is a terrific airline but doesn't show up on kayak/orbitz/etc.

Even IF you are using a car after LV, you might even consider dropping the first car in SF and collecting a 2nd rental when leaving LV.
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Jan 10th, 2013, 12:44 PM
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I agree with both janisj and MichelleY. If you have already traveled the coast, just go down I-5 and cross over to Rt. 99 wherever you want to to get on Rt. 58 at the south end of Bakersfield. If you are very tired, the only place I would stop for the night would be Primm Nevada at Exit 1. (42 miles from LV). Buffalo Bill's is not as nice as Las Vegas but it is better than getting lost in LV on your way to a hotel.
The other thing I just found is that Allegiant airline flies to LV from Monterey on Sunday Wednesday and Friday in the afternoon. http://www2.allegiantair.com/
The fares are cheap but they do charge for carry on baggage as well as the checked baggage.
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Jan 10th, 2013, 02:11 PM
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If you do decide to fly, car rentals in Vegas are pretty cheap, so are hotel rooms.

One less frequently used website I use is www.cheapovegas.com
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Jan 10th, 2013, 02:14 PM
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If you've done the coast and would like to see Yosemite, take I-80 out of the Bay area over to Placerville, wind your way down SR 49 through the Gold Rush country and take SR 120 into Yosemite, drive to the Valley, do a drive through then exit on SR 41 into Fresno. At that point you'll probably be ready to stop forthe night. Next day SR 99 to Bakersfield, SR 58 to Barstow and I-15 into LV.

But, if you haven't driven Highway 1 on the coast, do that instead as far as Cambria or Morro Bay before cutting inland.
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Jan 10th, 2013, 03:38 PM
  #10
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Just a comment. Any way you can start out in SF, then drive to LA? Las Vegas is only a 4 hour drive from LA, but to get there from SF you will have to drive south again after having driven north to SF and there is nowhere worth stopping unless you can get to Yosemite.
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Jan 10th, 2013, 03:48 PM
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Thanks for all your comments!! such a great forum!

I think we will organise to fly to Las Vegas instead. If it was warmer weather it would have been a lovely drive and chance to explore.
We are doing the LA to San Francisco coast drive before our stop in San Francisco so at least we'll get a chance to drive and see some smaller towns.
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Jan 28th, 2014, 05:03 AM
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Good day to everyone from Europe,
I'm about to do the same trip in other direction at the very beginning of April 2014. I decided not to fly because this is part of our 2 week car trip of exploring California and car will be full of camping stuff and other things.
I'm just wondering what would you tell me about my idea to travel from Las Vegas to Mammoth Lake following 395, stay there overnight and carry on next day across Yosemite on 120 towards San Francisco.
Is it feasable? What may be the weather like in Yosemite, please? Are there any dangers or so?
Many thanks
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Jan 28th, 2014, 05:22 AM
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pyetookh - you won't be able to do that - 120 closes for the winter and snow plowing isn't scheduled to even begin until April 15. Even with the warmer temps and lack of snow pack this year, historically Tioga Pass doesn't open until sometime in May. (Somebody with current updates, correct me if this is wrong.)

Here are a couple of links to give you some more on that:

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tiogaopen.htm

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tioga.htm
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Jan 28th, 2014, 04:44 PM
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You can find the Highway department website on the internet..Cal Trans and you can get current road conditions in CA.

We have had the equivalent of no snow this year, in fact the third driest year on record and may end up the driest, so the usual rules may not apply. This is not a "normal" year in the mountains.

Do keep in mind though, it is still winter, and it is possible for the weather pattern to change, although the long term for casts aren't looking for much.

There can be snow in April, but I'm not holding my breath this year.
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Jan 28th, 2014, 06:25 PM
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Even w/ no snow this year - 120 is closed and won't be open in Feb. (for the OP) or early April (for pyetookh)

The earliest Tioga Pass has ever opened is April 8 and that was extremely unusual - the drought year of 1977. And we are scheduled to have snow the next few days. So even w/ the VERY light snow pack and clear roads everywhere else - Tioga Pass almost certainly won't be open.
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Jan 29th, 2014, 01:30 AM
  #16
 
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Wow! People, you saved my holiday! Many thanks for all your replies.
That never came to my mind - closed road due to winter.
Back to the square one then.
I hoped that California is a very hot desert country. Would you mind to give me an idea what the temperatures will be like at the very end of March in SF, LA, LV and Grand Canyon, please? We will be doing a car round trip from 29.3.2014-12.4.2014 from LA to Grand Canyon (camping there for 2 nights in a tent), then Las Vegas. From Vegas to San Francisco as my above post and then back to Los Angeles. Pretty long trip for 2 weeks. But I have no clue what the weather will be like along the journey. We are pretty brave couple in mid thirties.
Or do I need to start a new post for getting a few more information from you kind people, please? ;-)
Thank you
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Jan 29th, 2014, 05:12 AM
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You'll do best to start a new thread; you'll get more replies and targeted information.

However - the areas you are asking about are far flung with diverse climates. California in particular has many different climate zones, everything from foggy coastline to snowy mountains to desert to vast farmland. In San Francisco you'll likely have cool rainy weather, Los Angeles probably warmer and more clear but not hot, and Vegas more desert. Grand Canyon is at altitude, so expect snow at the rim and cold. Altitude plays a major part in the temperatures you'll find.
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Jan 29th, 2014, 07:59 AM
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Thank you sludick.
OMG. So it looks we need to pack everything from swim suit to winter hats and gloves. That's gonna be funny.
Maybe it wasn't a great idea to book a tent pitch on the south rim of The Grand Canyon (
California is more on south compared to where we live in Europe so I hoped for average of 20 deg C for the whole 2 weeks trip at the beginning of April. Obviously knew it may be a bit colder in SF and warmer in Vegas. But snow??!! Not what we wanted ))
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Jan 29th, 2014, 08:50 AM
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The only place you are likely to need the swimsuit would be in a heated hotel pool.

When we've been to GC in April we have had trips where it was 15-20 in the day time, colder at night and also once when it snowed. The snow didn't last too long, but I would want to have a back up plan. There are lodges right on the south rim and also the hotel, el Tovar. If they are too pricey, then look at Cameron Trading Post (about a half hour east) or any of the motels in Tusayan (about 15 minutes south).
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Jan 29th, 2014, 09:15 AM
  #20
 
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emalloy, you mean 15-20F, right? Just to clarify..
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