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San Francisco to Vegas drive.

Discussion in 'Getting There & Getting Around' started by Thickskinnedalive, Sep 25, 2014.

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  1. Thickskinnedalive

    Thickskinnedalive Low-Roller

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    Need a little help from Cali and well traveled VMB members. Friend from the UK will be meeting me Vegas but first will be spending a few days in San Francisco. He wants to drive the journey from SF to Vegas and do it in 2 days at a leasurely pace so there will be one night where a hotel will be needed. Either a mid point or near multiple points of interest.

    1. Best route for scenery
    2. Car rental that lets you pick up in one city and drop off in another.
    3. Would Beverley Hills, Sunset Strip, Rodeo Dr. be doable in a day?

    Any help and tips would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. ken2v

    ken2v This Space For Rent

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    First things first, what time of year? Because the coolest route is closed in winter. Assuming non-winter:

    SF to Yosemite and over the Tioga Pass to 395, then overnight in Mammoth Lakes. Next day continue down 395 to Lone Pine then across the mountains and through Death Valley to Beatty and on to Vegas. Best without a doubt. This will take you by the tallest mountain in the lower 48, our coolest mountain range and through the lowest desert this side of the Near East. You get it all.

    An alt over-the-Sierra route that would be open in winter (well, the interstate does close at times but it is maintained) but not as scenic overall would be to just take the 80 to Reno and on down to Vegas from there.

    Now any time of year he could route southerly to LA, stay the night, and then drive up to Vegas. The trip to LA can be highly improved by going down to Monterey and Carmel, along Big Sur on Hwy 1, then on the 101 from SLO through Santa Barbara and on in to crazy LA. (I know LA is a potential target, but this route can be re-routed to skip LA and head across the coast range and Central Valley, on to the high desert and Vegas by heading east on the 46 from Cambria (coast) through Paso Robles to Bakersfield, then up the Tehachapis.)

    Most every major rental agency allows dead-head drops, for a price. Being a native CA-er, suggesting a maybe once-in-a-lifetime road trip of this nature, it would be Yosemite/Sierras/Death Valley all the way. LA bites. ;)
     
  3. Thickskinnedalive

    Thickskinnedalive Low-Roller

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    Thanks for the detailed route. Your first option sounds brilliant and worth re-booking my trip to meet him in SF for the drive. Never thought to mention time of year but it will be the last week in February. I have a mental picture of Cali always being sunny and warm year round.
     
  4. merlin

    merlin VIP Whale

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    Tell him it's like driving from London to Warsaw.
     
  5. Readingfanman

    Readingfanman Low-Roller

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    We have done the exact same drive and drove through Yosemite stopping in Bishop at the end of the first day.
     
    NFL Championship Weekend
  6. wigwam_salesman

    wigwam_salesman VIP Whale

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    Just an FYI - to an English person this is a very long drive. It's basically Edinburgh to London. To West Coast US residents it isn't considered particularly long (I'm told). Might be worth bearing in mind.
     
  7. ken2v

    ken2v This Space For Rent

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    You won't be going that way in winter -- Yosemite/Tioga Pass -- as the road is closed. You'll need to go around/through the Sierra, either via 80 to Reno or down south and through Bakersfield and up to Mojave (and of course all the way down to So Cal and back up to Vegas). You can do the 395 from Reno, which to me is the key part of the drive and one of the top 5 drives in the West, but you will face winter conditions. It is maintained and "open" but there are storm closures. The 190 over the next range and into Death Valley is maintained year 'round but can have storm-related closures. (And if that is the problem you can continue on the 395 and cut across the 58 to Barstow and the 15 to Vegas.)

    Highway 50 from Sacto to Tahoe is another option, and that would get you to Tahoe in winter. From Tahoe you have the two options -- 395 south or around and to the 95.

    Don't listen to Hyperbole Merlin, in miles/meters the route is half that London-to-Warsaw. It is, however, a good-sized drive and unless you choose the boring interstate route to the south not exactly tackled at 70 mph on straight road. California IS big, as is the West and the states. I think native Westerners tend to not get too worked up about time in the car since it's kinda instinctual to us. (For instance, if you got in a car at the Mexican border and drove highway speeds, you'd reach the Oregon border 12 hours later. We're not nearly as wide as we all tall.)

    Your/your friend's best bet is to keep an eye on weather and road conditions and decide route when leaving S.F. If it doesn't look feasible or timely to go over the top, then I say head down on the 1/101, and when you get to Cambria decide if you want to continue to L.A. or start cutting across to Vegas. The central California coast and Big Sur are not the Sierra, but it's also quite unlike other coastlines most anywhere.

    Also, if you plan to overnight in Tahoe or Mammoth -- make sure you have a reservation. (Mammoth is an awesome ski hill and lively in winter. Tahoe is Tahoe.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2014
  8. Thickskinnedalive

    Thickskinnedalive Low-Roller

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    He is well aware of this which is why he wants to stop overnight somewhere and do it in two parts instead of a straight shot.

    Can't thank you enough for your vast amounts of quality info Ken. It is greatly appreciated. It's members like you who make this place an invaluable pleasure to visit.
     
  9. wigwam_salesman

    wigwam_salesman VIP Whale

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    Just trying to be helpful. I'll go and shoot myself now. Sorry to disturb.
     
  10. ken2v

    ken2v This Space For Rent

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    Just a Californian who loves his state and the region, and who is happy to share. As you get nearer the big show drop me a line if you want to talk some greater detail.

    And don't worry about wig, he's a good guy though quit pissed the Scottish Rebellion was shot down this month. ;)
     
  11. wigwam_salesman

    wigwam_salesman VIP Whale

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    They should stick to sheep and throwing rocks.


    *I kid! Scotland is actually one of the most beautiful places in the world with some of the nicest people you'll ever meet.
     
  12. wigwam_salesman

    wigwam_salesman VIP Whale

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    Double post.
     
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