Dear fellow Localytes, we're planning a 3-week road trip through the NPs in the southwest arriving in SF on May 29 and leaving SF on...

...June 20. Our plan is: SF city and surroundings (Point Reyes, Stinson Beach, Muir Woods...) – Yosemite – Mono Lake – Kings Canyon + Sequoia (is it possible to enter from the eastern 395 or can we only enter from the 99?) - Death Valley – Las Vegas – Hoover Dam – Lake Mead Dr. - Zion – Bryce – Arches – the 191 direct or the 550 via the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Silverton? - Mesa Verde – Monument Valley – Grand Canyon (North Rim – South Rim – and possibly Havasupai?) - the 40 direct via Mojave or the 10 via Sedona, Phoenix, Lake Havasu and Joshua Tree? - LA – the H1 with its sights back to SF. Now this is our ideal route but still we're worried to be taking too much of a bite. What's your personal experience? Thanks in advance for any tips, suggestions and not-to-be-missed!


Country: United States


I think it depends on how much time you are spending doing all of this. There are a lot of very cool places in your list. If you plan on hiking and backpacking you would need a lot of time to cover all this and splitting it into multiple trips would be my advice.

If your question is primarily about your route, others may have better advice. I have done most of this by road but not in one trip and some was a long time ago so I don't remember the details.
I think you are definitely taking too much of a bite. If you plan on keeping this schedule you will need to drive through the parks with out stopping.

My suggestion would be to do all the California NPs in 3 weeks and save Utah/Nevada/Arizona for another trip. Or you could change your flight to leave out of Arizona on June 20th instead of trying to head back through CA. From LA to SF it takes at least 12 hours driving up the coast. If you just took I5 which is really boring it takes 6 hours with out traffic.

I think if you stick with just CA you will have a great time and really get to enjoy the natural beauty the National Parks have to offer.

Hope this helps.
I'm more familiar with the California NPs as I live on the north end of Yosemite on Hwy 120. From Hwy 395 you can come into Yosemite on Hwy 120 (Tioga Pass). It's an awesome drive into the park and the snow is gone by then in most years (check a day ahead of time just in case of a freak snowstorm).

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