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San Francisco to So. Cal Road Trip in Feb. 2013

San Francisco to So. Cal Road Trip in Feb. 2013

Aug 26th, 2012, 05:37 PM
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San Francisco to So. Cal Road Trip in Feb. 2013

We're considering a 2 to 3 week road trip from San Francisco hitting Carmel and Palm Springs for sure. We're thinking of trying to go to Las Vegas, Death Valley and maybe LA as well. Is the Grand Canyon crazy to put in the mix? Any itinerary ideas out there or advice on where to get some route ideas? Thanks!
reginaca is offline  
Aug 26th, 2012, 05:48 PM
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Look at a map, to get an idea of distances.
TravelingMan76 is offline  
Aug 26th, 2012, 06:08 PM
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Grand Canyon in February = snow.
DebitNM is offline  
Aug 26th, 2012, 06:14 PM
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With 3 weeks, you could do it with efficient planning and flying into SF and out of , say LV or LA. I assume you are flying into SF? I would still try to put the GC in the plans.
MichelleY is offline  
Aug 26th, 2012, 06:28 PM
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We're actually driving down from southern Oregon so we'll be driving back through SF on the way home (friends and family are there). We were at GC many, many years ago in Feb., camping, so we know there could be snow. This time though we'd stay at the lodge. It's more a matter of is it doable in the time we have allowed. And yes, we are looking at maps. Just thought I'd ask here in case anyone had already done a similar trip.
reginaca is offline  
Aug 26th, 2012, 06:46 PM
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Here is a link to a great trip report from several years ago. This family seemed to have a really good plan. Do a search here for trip reports to give you some ideas. Breaking the long drives will make you trip more enjoyable. If you are in LV, you may as well try to do the GC. Start Checking now to secure in park reservations. Keep checking daily.
MichelleY is offline  
Aug 26th, 2012, 06:47 PM
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Oops! Here is the link:

MichelleY is offline  
Aug 30th, 2012, 07:09 AM
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Thanks for the link - a great read! Any other input? Thanks!
reginaca is offline  
Aug 30th, 2012, 07:35 AM
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reginaca, I would recommend staying in Fresno at some point in your trip. If you plan on going from San Francisco to Death Valley, Las Vegas, Los Angeles then I can personally attest to it being very eerie once you get past Bakersfield on 99 because there will be no-one on the roads in February, and the terrain goes from dense forest near Sequoia National Forest to desert in an hour of driving time. I did the trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas in 10 days and it was great fun. I stopped at Yosemite, Fresno, Bakersfield, Death Valley and Las Vegas, each for a night or two. Yosemite will be snowy but I just checked and there are tons of cabins available. How long do you have to stay in Carmel and Palm Springs?
dshamritsky is offline  
Aug 30th, 2012, 08:19 AM
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dshamritsky - not sure what you're thinking of, but Hwy 99 is one of the major north-south California routes, and goes through the Central Valley from Sacramento to where it joins I5 just south of Bakersfield. It has lots of towns along it and plenty of traffic. It is NEVER deserted in my experience. And there is neither dense forest nor desert along it, that I've ever seen anyway. Are you thinking of somewhere else?

Also, I live in San Francisco, and have stayed in both Fresno and Bakersfield at various times due to necessity, but have never heard anyone suggest them as interesting places to stay for visitors. I would only stay in either town if I needed to spend the night as a rest stop in a long drive.

reginaca - so are you doing a round trip from Oregon and then back up? Could be a fun trip, but weather could of course be an issue in February. Rain at the lower elevations and snow in the mountains. Do you want to do a lot of sight-seeing on the way, or just drive directly to a few places and stay there? If you want a lot of sight-seeing, you could do a loop of some sort - go down via the coast and come back up a different way.

For instance drive from SF down Hwy 1 through Monterey, Carmel, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, to LA. Then over to Palm Springs and the Grand Canyon and Death Valley if you decide to include them, and then back up to Oregon. Not sure what would be the best route for the return. The central valley drive is usually considered boring, but sometimes in late February, if you hit good weather, parts of the drive along 99 is actually pretty, with almond orchards and golden mustard fields blooming and the snow-covered Sierras visible in the distance. Another possibility (maybe - not sure what the snow and chain requirements would be at that time of year) would be to drive up Hwy 395 along the east side of the Sierras and then join 80 in Reno, come back down into the valley and head north on 5 back to Oregon.
NorCalif is offline  
Aug 30th, 2012, 12:59 PM
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I was going to say, "Fresno?", but NorCal said it better. Nice enough place to live, but for a tourist, no way.
sf7307 is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2012, 01:15 PM
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We lived in the Bay Area for over 30 years and have been to Fresno and Bakersfield...
We are visiting family and friends in SF before beginning our trip i.e. the "start" in SF. NorCal, I like your itinerary - thank you! We'll check out Hwy 395 or we can simply go back to 5 further south.
reginaca is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2012, 05:34 PM
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I would bag Death Valley, and include here in San Diego for a couple of days - just a couple hours south of LA, and then it's 2 hours to Palm Springs - 4 hours or so to Vegas from PS and 5 more to the Grand Canyon.

From the Grand Canyon - you could drive back through Death Valley if you had to see it - and then on up 395 to Lake Tahoe for a night and then back to Southern Oregon.

BTW - where are you from in Southern Oregon?
Tomsd is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2012, 02:38 PM
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My mother lives in Southern Oregon. In February, I'd be more tempted to meet here in Death Valley than the Grand Canyon. Or Palm Springs.

I really dislike Vegas. I can't imagine why anyone would go to Fresno.
220volt is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2012, 06:48 PM
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If you think it is too risky to drive south on I-5 through Southern Oregon and Northern California in February, you can catch the Coast Starlight in either Eugene or Klamath Falls and be in Sacramento before 7AM. I have even figured out how to get from the Sacramento Amtrak station to the SMF airport for less than $5 per person to rent a car there.
I have several favorite places to stay in California. Fresno is not one of them.
tomfuller is offline  
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