I need help deciding how to get from San Francisco to Las Vegas. I'll be in San Francisco for 5 days and then Vegas for 4 days. I was considering driving through Yesomite then Death Valley finally into Nevada but am getting cold feet now. Is it a safe route? Is it too long? Are there plenty of stops along the way? Has anyone driven from San Francisco to Vegas? Any advice would be welcome. I need the drive to be within the day - as in don't have time for overnight stops. HELP
Oh and I should mention it's just me and my husband. So only two of us for the 12 hour drive!!
we are pllaning same thing next summer. I will be watching this topic.
If > 12 hours is too long, the quickest way to Vegas from San Francisco would most likely be by getting the I-5 south, CA-58 and then onto the I-15 all the way to Vegas. (Google reckons this will take 9 hours and it's all good road).
I did a similar trip a couple of years ago but we had some extra time so did SF --> South Lake Tahoe (1 night) --> Yosemite (2 nights) --> Vegas --> (LA, Highway 1, SF)
I can't say for sure how long it would be exactly, but it did take us 12 hours to get from Yosemite to Vegas - granted we drove Tioga Pass and stopped in a few places in Death Valley (Badwater basin etc). If you want to stop and see any of Yosemite and/or Death Valley I honestly think this may be too much to get done in one day.
What time of year are you thinking of going?
From my own trip I can't think of anything that would be unsafe as long as you use normal common sense. Driving through Yosemite, the roads can get narrow, steep and winding in places but as long as you take your time you will be fine.
There are quite a few places to stop along the way until you get to Death Valley.
In the evening/early morning it can also get very cold in places - we went in September and it dropped below freezing at some of the higher altitude camp sites. I think some of the mountain roads begin to close in October but best to check the web sites for up to date info.
Obviously, the opposite is true for Death Valley, bring plenty of water, keep cool and take breaks. Driving in the desert can definitely tire you quite quickly. Expect to be pretty much exhausted when you do reach Vegas.
Rest assured there is a fine smooth road running the whole way through the park.
I hope this might help you a little bit, it really is a stunning drive and definitely worth it no matter how long it takes!
Thank you so much for the detailed response!! That's just about the most help I've been able to get all week while pondering this issue. The route sounds gorgeous, as I expected, but I think I need to leave it for another trip and do something similar to you where I spend some time in Yesomite. I must say I was a little shocked it gets so cold in September! I intend to go sometime in July or August, though. With my time constraints, I think I'm going to fly this time but feel inspired by your route and will plan to do it on my next visit. I had planned the same route you are mentioning through Tiago Pass, Yesomite.
Thanks again that was really so helpful
eroltoksoy, I'll let you know how the trip goes and pass on any tips!
No problem Ruqaya, I'm glad that helped a little.
With regards the temperature, it only got cold at the very high altititudes. At the lower levels and main camp sites in Yosemite (the ones that sell out very quick at this time!) the weather was beautiful. I'll be completely honest, we were nowhere near prepared for the cold temperature either, it was the last thing we were expecting!
I think your decision is wise, Yosemite and Death Valley, both beautiful in their own unique ways, deserve a little bit of time to relax in and and give you the chance to explore and take it all in.
Well, the route given in post #4 is is the fastest route, but also the least scenic. I suggest you take an extra 30 minutes and take Interstate 280 south from San Francisco to San Jose where you get on Highway 101 south to Paso Robles. Then don't take Highway 58 east from US Highway 101, take Highway 46. Highway 58 winds back and forth in this area so much you'll get seasick while still on land.
Once you get to Interstate 5, then go south one exit (11 miles) to Highway 58 east and take it over to Barstow as mentioned. Once you get to Barstow, you will need to get on Interstate 15 north for the final 2 hour trip to Las Vegas.
This trip can be done in about 9 1/2 to 10 hours or so using the directions I gave above. If you want to make a stop in Yosemite, use the directions given by DulSaSeans. If you just want to stop in Death Valley, follow my directions as far as Mojave (which is 50 miles west of Barstow), then go north on Highway 14 and east on Highway 190. Once you get to Highway 127, turn right and go 1/4 mile, then turn left on Ash Meadows Road which will take you to Pahrump, Nevada. In Pahrump, get on Highway 160 south (east) which will take you directly to Las Vegas. This will take an extra 2 to 3 hours.
[ Edit: . ]
Thanks Calcruzur! Really appreciate the directions- extremely handy. Scribbling the directions and route down right now as we speak...I've spent days looking at directions on google and they only managed to confuse me! Yours are crystal clear- cheers! Appreciate the help.
If you need help with Las Vegas, send me a PM.