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Any hints and advice on my USA three week fly drive!

Littlehampton, UK
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Any hints and advice on my USA three week fly drive!

Hi guys! I am new to this forum thing but figured it would be a great idea to get some honest and helpful hints on my forthcoming trip to the South Western USA.

My wife, daughter and I are leaving mid June for a three week fly-drive holiday to California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. We start at San Francisco and stay for two nights in the Holiday Inn Express at Fishermans Wharf. We then pick up a Chevrolet Impala hire car and drive to Lake Tahoe and stay for one night in the Best Western Timber Cove Lodge. We then drive to Mammoth Lakes and stay for one night in the Shilo Inn. We then drive to Yosemite National Park where we stay in Yosemite View Lodge for two nights. Then we drive to Death Valley where we at the Furnace Creek Ranch Resort for one night. Then we drive to Las Vegas and stay in The Luxor for one night (don���t worry we are coming back to Vegas for a longer stay later in the holiday). Then we drive to the Grand Canyon and stay for one night in the Maswik Lodge close to the South Rim. Then we drive to Monument Valley and stay at Gouldings Post and Lodge for one night. Then we drive to Lake Powell where we stay for two nights at the Lake Powell Resort (previously known as Wahweap Lodge). Then we drive to Las Vegas and stay for four nights in the MGM Grand on the strip. I will arrive in Vegas on the 2nd July and leave on the 6th July, so are there for 4th July Independence Day celebrations! We then drive to Los Angeles and stay in the Renaissance Hollywood hotel.

Any hints, tips, advice, mileage/time indications, must-see attractions would be massively appreciated.

Thank you in advance.

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Santa Clarita...
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1. Re: Any hints and advice on my USA three week fly drive!

Since you will be going to Mammoth Lakes in the early part of your trip in mid-June, there may be a problem. Tioga Pass, Hwy 120, may not be open because of the heavy snowfall this past winter. When you get to Timber Cove Lodge, ask them to find out if the road is open. www.dot.ca.gov for information.

If it is closed, I would suggest staying at Timber Cove another night, and cancel your reservation at Shilo Inn at Mammoth Lakes. More than likely, Yosemite View Lodge will not be accommodate you a day early.

South of Lake Tahoe, Hwy 50, 88 or 4 will bring to Hwy 49 and into the park. These roads are slower, and curving. Just be aware and have some options ready.

Then, after your visit to Yosemite, you will have to drive Hwy 99 to Bakersfield. From there you can take Hwy 178 (slow and curvy in places). You may want to post another question for advice on Yosemite to DV a week before you leave.

We went with our family for many years to Mammoth Lakes, and enjoyed the lakes, hikes, and great scenery. Sorry to think you may have to miss it.

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2. Re: Any hints and advice on my USA three week fly drive!

As Mere points out you may have a problem with your trip from Mammoth to Yosemite. We have had an extrodinary amout of snow in the High Sierra this year, and as route 120 goes over a 9500 foot pass it may not be open in June this year. Usually they get it open by the end of May, but it will definitely be mid June this year. They usually won't predict a date until they are very close to the time.

Unless you are real into gambling, I think you will get very bored in Las Vegas with 4 nights there. It is definitely worth the visit, but after you've seen the lights and gone to show it gets old real fast. The temperature will be 100+, so you won't feel like doing much outside. 2 nights is plenty.

I suggest after lake Powell you spend a couple of days in Southern Utah, and see Bryce and Zion National parks.

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Littlehampton, UK
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3. Re: Any hints and advice on my USA three week fly drive!

Hi guys! Thanks so much for all your comments. I wonder if you could help with a couple of other queries. Firstly, my brother-in-law said he got arrested in USA because he did not have a machine readable passport. My passport is one of the new small red ones issued about four years ago and my wifes was issued 1997. Are we going to be OK? Secondly, I know from the movies that the speed limit in USA is 55mph, but does anybody actually do that? The driving times I have been given are, for example, Grand Canyon to Monument Valley 180 miles, four hours driving time! I can cover 180 miles in the UK in about 2.5 - 3 hours!

Thanks in advance again!

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4. Re: Any hints and advice on my USA three week fly drive!

Sorry, I can't help you with the passport issue. The Lonely Planet. com (Thorn Tree) board is a good place to ask that one. Passport and immigration questions pop up regularly on that site.

Speed limit - The 55 mph is a thing of the past. Signs are posted, and five miles above that is usually acceptable. It depends on the road, and some of them may be two lane out in Monument Valley, etc.., but normally, we "go with the flow" of traffic. I live in LA - sometimes 55 may be a good thing, but generally 70 is average where I live. Some areas in the desert are posted 70 - and everyone exceeds that. I think mapquest usually averages something 40 or 50 mph in their directions.

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5. Re: Any hints and advice on my USA three week fly drive!

Check with the US embassy in Britain about valid passports.

Most freeways in Californa are now posted at 65 in urban areas, and 70 in rural areas. Often this is reduced to 55 due to road conditions. In Arizona you will find similar.

I assume you are leaving the GC through the east gate to get to Mounument Valley. In figuring travel times, remember that inside GC park the speed limit is 35, so you can't make good time. also 160 across the Navajo reservation is two lane road, and you will often be stuck behind an RV or slow moving farm truck, so relax and enjoy the scenery, because it will take you 4 hours.....

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Littlehampton, UK
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6. Re: Any hints and advice on my USA three week fly drive!

Hi guys!

Thanks again for your advice.

More questions!!!!

I am absolutely fine with long driving distances, I have driven to Poland, Portugal and Italy from the UK, and regularly only sleep about four to five hours a night. Is there any of the driving in my itinerary you would say I could do at night and not miss any scenery and must-sees due to the dark?

Thanks (again) in advance.

Steve

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7. Re: Any hints and advice on my USA three week fly drive!

The southern route to Death Valley from Yosemite is not scenic (via Bakersfield), and either is the LV to LA route. These are desert areas, with very few places to stop or rest, and the only thing you see at night are the dotted lines. The most common accident at night and early morning along these roads is the single car rollover because of the drivers falling asleep (so says my SIL, a towing business owner).

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Littlehampton, UK
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8. Re: Any hints and advice on my USA three week fly drive!

Hello again!

Another question. Using the Mapquest web site it seems that because I am going from Lake Tahoe to Mammoth Lakes to Yosemite to Death Valley I might be doubling back on myself up to Lee Vining. Is this accurate? Am I better off switching my reservations to go from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite to Mammoth Lakes to Death Valley?

Any input much appreciated!

Steve

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9. Re: Any hints and advice on my USA three week fly drive!

Yes, you are doubling back. Lee Vining and Mammoth Lakes are about 40 minutes and 34 miles apart. Good idea!

(I ride with my husband up and down Hwy 395 about six times a year; so one time I kept track of the time between towns.)

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10. Re: Any hints and advice on my USA three week fly drive!

Yes it would be a more efficient trip to go to Yosemite first, although you still have the problem of 120 being closed, so you will still have to go further north to cross the Sierra.

The other option is to keep your trip planned the way it is and after Yosemite to go south on the western side of the Sierra on 99, to avoid crossing the sierra again. This however is a boring, less scenic drive than the east side, with a lot more traffic. So if you are able to change your reservations to go to Yosemite first, that would be a good idea.