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Yosemite to Utah National Parks

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
110 posts
16 reviews
Yosemite to Utah National Parks

Good Day,

My husband and I enjoyed a wonderful road trip in June/July this year with lots of help and itinerary ideas from trip advisors. A great big thank you for all your sharing.

We added on Colorado National Monument; Arches and Canyonlands National Parks to our itinerary, and were just bowled over by all those red cliffs.

We would love to return on 01 October 2019 and visit again. Most likely a 4 to 5 week trip.

We love mountains; scenery and driving on scenic byways. Don’t bother with dining out. Can manage small; easy hikes only.

We have only just decided, and this is the very early draft stage.

These are the places we’d like to visit, ( not necessarily in this order):

Yosemite National Park (drive the Tioga Pass before Winter closure and 395 also ) -3 nights

Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon NP - 3 nights

Death Valley NP - 2 nights

Grand Canyon South Rim - 2 nights

Monument Valley - 1 night

Grand Canyon North Rim ( aware that the lodge closes 15 October) - 2 nights

Zion National Park - 2 nights

Bryce NP - 2 nights

Capital Reef NP - 1 night

I see there are some breath taking National Monuments as well in Utah, and would love to fit some of these in.

We are thinking of hiring a car in San Francisco. ( a cursory search on some websites indicate same pricing for drop off in San Francisco and LA, so a one way route might be an option) OR we could start in LA and end in San Francisco. Or any other options as suggested by yourselves.

Is the itinerary doable in the time frame?

I would need to add on a night at the start of the trip in LA or SF, for a night to rest.

And perhaps 2 or 3 nights at point of departure. Whilst we are not city people, we do like to shop at outlets just prior to departure. So would welcome suggestions in this regard.

As we do not prefer to drive long distances ( not more than 350 km as husband has back problems) per day, we would need to add on some nights for stops. We have done greater distances and can do so if it needs to be done. However an average of 350km means we can admire the scenery; enjoy the route ; stop en route where there are items of interest; have a picnic etc.

I am seeking advice on start and end points, conscious of the onset of winter vis a vis road and lodging closures ( in Yosemite Valley and Grand Canyon North Rim); and aware that rental firms do not permit snow chains.

I still have loads of research to do, so please bear with my ignorance. I just need to know if I am on the right track in terms of time frame and distances.

Thanking you ever so much for all your time; patience and generosity.

13 replies to this topic
Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
72,901 posts
133 reviews
1. Re: Yosemite to Utah National Parks


For the beginning of your trip, I'll suggest SFO. No need for a car in SF and it's a nice city to visit, even if just for a night or two. Or stay near the airport.

As there is no access to jointly managed Sequoia - Kings Canyon (SeKi) from the east, start your road trip to SeKi from the western side. Then go north to Yosemite NP, east out Tioga Pass Entrance, south down Hwy 395, and on to Death Valley NP.


Consider an add-on of the Hwy 1 coastal drive, especially between Monterey & Cambria. (Big Sur) This would be after SF and before SeKi. But then you probably won't get to the North Rim of GCNP before its seasonal closure. Tough decisions!

As an overseas visitor, you can get a one way car rental.

Wylie, Texas
Level Contributor
5,262 posts
875 reviews
2. Re: Yosemite to Utah National Parks


You have a good itinerary. I agree that you could start from San Francisco. You could make reservations for hotels with free cancellation at national parks as soon as possible. North Rim is beautiful. The cabin at North Rim is excellent.

Edited: 20 October 2018, 23:05
Tacoma, Washington
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
11,915 posts
1 review
3. Re: Yosemite to Utah National Parks

Warning...going in October 2019 could see a govt shutdown and thus park closures. Do this in September.

Loop in and out of SF

Day 1-3 SF

Day 4 to Fresno

Day 5-6 SEKI

Day 7- to Yosemite

Dat 8-10 Yosemite, tioga pass to mammoth lakes

Day 11 to Death Valley

Day 12 to vegas

Day 13 to Zion

Day 14-15 Zion

Day 16 to north rim

Day 17 to Bryce

Day 18 to Torrey

Day 19 to mon valley

Dat 20 to page

Day 21 page

Dat 22 to south rim

Day 23 south rim

Day 24 to LA

Dat 25-26 LA

Day 27-29 coast to SF

Day 30 fly home

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
110 posts
16 reviews
4. Re: Yosemite to Utah National Parks

Good Day, thank you all for your tips.

@ Dan, I’m really shocked and don’t know whether to take you seriously about October 2019. Unfortunately we are unable to take leave in September and prior, due to work commitments. Thank you for your detailed itinerary.

Thank you Pacific for your suggestions on Highway 1, we had considered it but weren’t sure how to fit it in, but I see Dan’s route has offered this option.

I am going to sit again with Google maps with the above suggestions in mind.

Thank you all.

Newcastle, Australia
Level Contributor
499 posts
149 reviews
5. Re: Yosemite to Utah National Parks

Hi bookworm.

Dan offers a good route, however, the timing is important. We did Nth Rim early Oct one year and it was great weather, but on another year at the same time we experienced snow on the trip down to YNP via Tioga Pass. In regards to a shutdown, it depends on the political climate and timing. We were unlucky this year to experience a shutdown in January which meant no facilities were open in the NPs. Luckily the gates were not shut and we could experience Joshua Tree. I don't know what would happen if you were booked to stay in-park.

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
110 posts
16 reviews
6. Re: Yosemite to Utah National Parks

Thank you PBM, I guess I'm just going to keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best. Travel is so many times about embracing the unexpected and the unplanned.

Newcastle, Australia
Level Contributor
499 posts
149 reviews
7. Re: Yosemite to Utah National Parks

Could not agree more - but - always have a plan B, especially when travelling at higher attitudes.

Park City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah, Winter Sports
Level Contributor
21,463 posts
451 reviews
8. Re: Yosemite to Utah National Parks

Good advice so far. Yah, park closures based on governmental budget is always tricky but I would not make it a trip planning point. On your rental car, look at Australian brokers or the actual rental car company websites in Australia to seek a plan that includes both insurance coverages and drop fee.

Relative to the various national monuments in Utah, you will be going through the Grand Staircase-Escalante area between Bryce and Torrey. You could add a day in Escalante or Boulder. But you are pretty packed. I would not worry too much about others as you don't really have the time and you have a good overall plan.

Have fun.

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
110 posts
16 reviews
9. Re: Yosemite to Utah National Parks

Thank you, it’s a relief to hear. I was feeling rather overwhelmed and confused.

I cannot express my appreciation sufficiently to all the posters above.

Los Angeles...
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
14,863 posts
121 reviews
10. Re: Yosemite to Utah National Parks

Worrying about a government shut down a year in advance? Nah.

I would skip staying in Fresno and go on to Three Rivers (or all the way to your accommodation near SEKI). They really are two different parks. One has a lot of Sequoias (1800 acres or so) and one lodging, Wuksachi, but with some rustic places nearby (Montecito-Sequoia and Stoney Creek Lodge).

Grant Grove is the most trafficked place in the two parks, with a small grove of Sequoias and a couple of styles of (rustic) lodging. Down inside the Canyon is Cedar Grove (an amazing drive...no Sequoias but impressive red Cedars). So maybe Day 4 in Grant Grove, see Kings Canyon in the morning, then drive to Sequoia for 2 nights (1.5 days seeing Sequoia).

You could also do Page and Monument Valley after North Rim. You've got a lot of driving in any case. Then you'd go over to Torrey and down the Escalante Staircase to Bryce...

Putting Bryce earlier makes sense as well, though, because Bryce is at such high elevation. You'll be running up against the closing dates at North Rim if anything slows you down (like bad weather anywhere). Judging by this year, though, you'd be fine. You may not be able to stay there though - so don't put it down as a night. If you could get reservations for North Rim for Oct 14 (last available day). That day in October, it seems to me, becomes a point you can plan around.

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