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San Diego to Southern Rim

Australia
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San Diego to Southern Rim

We are driving from La Jolla SD to Southern Rim leaving on Sunday. We thought we would make the trip in two stages and Tet14 suggested we go via Kingman as the most direct route. The lodges at SR all appear available and we would like to stay for three nights and two full days. Any suggestions as to selection of lodge for access and walks? Also any recommendations for places to stay en route to SR?

kind regards, Jack.

South Jersey, USA
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1. Re: San Diego to Southern Rim

Out of the six lodges, four sit on the rim. El Tovar, Bright Angel Lodge, Kachina and Tunderbird.

Maswik and Yavapai are set back a ways, but still in walking distance.

Try not to think to hard about "which" lodge to book, just book one while they are still available!

There is a free shuttle system that runs thru the park. You will be able to use this after you park your car if you wish. IMO it's much easier getting around if you don't mind some short waits.

Enjoy

SJG

Uden, The...
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2. Re: San Diego to Southern Rim

Hi Jack, glad to see you here.

I'd pick one of the rim lodges as mentioned by SJG. Where to stay is personally. We liked Kachina (rimview room! and check in is at El Tovar.) Many love to stay in classic El Tovar but we have classic lodges in Europe galore so it's a personal choice. Opening the curtains at Kachina in the morning, deer on the lawn and looking at the canyon is just amazing. You won't have those views from El Tovar from the standard rooms. Thunderbird is much like Kachina. No elevators in the lodges.

From La Jolla you could head for I15 via 52 and 163. All motorways. Heading north I'd take 215, back to I15 and I40 near Barstow. Now it's time for something to eat and a drink at Bagdad Cafe in Newberry Springs (exit 18) where the movie Bagdad Cafe was filmed.

Kingman has ample lodging. Maybe have dinner Mr.D'z http://www.mrdzrt66diner.com/

From Kingman it's some 3 hours to get to GC Village and you can drive R66 between Kingman and Seligman (will take a bit longer then).

You mentioned Yuma and I8. That's not a bad drive over the beautiful mountains east of SD first and via Imperial Sanddunes. Sedona is on your way to GCNP now but you should count on at least 8 hours to drive from SD to Sedona via Phoenix. If you decide to take this route just tell us and I'll give you more details. Easiest still would be to take I15 and I40 though from La Jolla. And sunday prob less traffic in the LA area.

Tet

Cottonwood, Arizona
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3. Re: San Diego to Southern Rim

As suggested, I would also suggest you book something ASAP.

I think that three nights at GCNP is a little long, one night and two days would give you plenty of time to take it all in...

Also when making your final decision on which route to take (and I am not sure I-40 is the best way coming from SD...) look at the weather forecast and road conditions...

Edited: 08 December 2010, 02:05
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4. Re: San Diego to Southern Rim

Thank you SJG, Tet14 and DRBB. I'll go ahead and book two nights at Kachina. I'm still a bit unsure about the route. I thought we might try to drive most of the way and stay o/n at Willams perhaps so that we could drive in early to GC for our first day. Tet14 is beginning to make the Yuma route option tempting with his mention of those lovely hills. We sampled something like that, i think, today, going to Anza-Borrega np. Really liked the drive and the walks. Is there any reason, DRBB, that you would choose not to go on I-40? Jack.

Cottonwood, Arizona
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5. Re: San Diego to Southern Rim

Reason is potential snowy weather and from SD, not sure it is any shorter. If you were coming from LA, the perhaps...

Cottonwood, Arizona
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6. Re: San Diego to Southern Rim

8H40M on I-8 to Gila Bend through Phoenix to GC VS 8H15M if you take I-40. It really depends on the weather forecast as that 30 minute saving can become a day or more detour if it decided to snow!

Uden, The...
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7. Re: San Diego to Southern Rim

You probably went via Julian to Anza Borrego. Hope you've had an apple pie in Julian. Yes, great daytrip to AB. The "S" roads are awesome.

Don't count on the given traveltimes 8h15 and 8h40. Count on 9-10 hours with the stops, refilling and maybe roadworks. (I10 west of Phoenix)

Check weather for Arizona at www.az511.gov and keep in mind Arizona is one hour later the time you are coming. Williams to GC VIllage is one hour in good weather. Just see how far you can get.

Tet

Edited: 08 December 2010, 09:26
Australia
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8. Re: San Diego to Southern Rim

Thanks Tet14 and DRBb,

We came back a few minutes too late to catch an apple pie at Julians. I'll just have to do with my wife's apple pies which are pretty good.

For those who are travelling to AB I would strongly recommend stopping at Plum Canyon on the San Felipe valley road out of Julian before you get to Yaqui pass. The cactus vegetation is extraordinary and the absence of human markings (except for the track) gives the place a majestic isolation. Yaqui pass is a great way to approach Borrego springs. However, I digress.

Thanks for the reminders about the time and weather in Arizona. Being from outside the US I wouldn't have immediately thought about the time difference.

As you say, I 15 north sounds easiest although I presume you mean speediest. I like scenic trips although we do need to make good time. Where do you get off the I 15 to get onto 215? and where back to I -15?

If going the eastern route (via the Imperialdunes - sounds great) could you give me some more details? For instance do you bypass Phoenix and how from Sedona to Willams or do you go via Flagstaff?

We've booked our room at Kachina so that's taken care of.

Thanks again, Jack.

Cottonwood, Arizona
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9. Re: San Diego to Southern Rim

You can go Sedona/Williams a few different ways.

1- You can take I-40 to Flagstaff, then take 89A (which is a very scenic yet somewhat challenging drive with curves and only two lanes) to Sedona. (NOT recommended if it is not daylight.)

2- You can take I-40 to Ash Fork, then take 89 south to 89A, then head east over Mingus Mountain stop in Jerome, then through Cottonwood and onto Sedona. (This pass is at 7700'+ and can have snow, but no snow to speak of at this time, I can see the peak from my window!) Again, NOT recommended unless it is daylight.

3- You can take I-40 to I-17 South, then take 179 into Village of Oak Creek then into Sedona. (Not as scenic, mostly Interstate driving and the preferred route if driving at night)

4- Take the East exit out of GCNP, South on 89, then take the Wupatki Ruins/Sunset Crater loop, then onto 89A through Oak Creek Canyon into Sedona, that would be my preferred route but must be done during the day.

As for your other portion, to get to Imperial Dunes, you could go to Prescott, then to Wickenberg, onto Quatrzsite and head South to the dunes. Please feel free to correct this route as I am not that knolegable on that area. I know the Sedona, Cottonwood, Jerome, Clarkdale and Prescott areas very well along with Flagstaff and the GCNP; the South, not so well!

As for your other

Uden, The...
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10. Re: San Diego to Southern Rim

Well, it's a nice digress! We love AB. And yes, Yaqui pass on S3 is a great drive. Bit of a bummer to get to the huge roundabout in BS after that ;). Hope you didn't miss the excellent but well hidden visitor center. (don't know if it's open this time of year though). Your stories about Anza Borrego will make our local expert RamblinSal very happy.

For I215, can't miss, just follow 215 north and if you'll miss just stay on I15. Won't make much difference. They merge after a while.

As you like scenic and less traveled routes I'll give you another one but it definitely is not a one day drive from San Diego to GCNP.

Leave San Diego on I8 over the mountains till you get to exit 111 (Forrester Rd) and head north on ca111 more or less bypassing the busy El Centro/Imperial and Brawley area. Turn right at ca78 after some 15 miles. You'll be driving through farmland now (even places below sealevel) till you'll climb to Imperial Sanddunes. They are spectacular and many people with motorhomes and sandbuggies. You are not allowed to stop along this road in IS but there's a short climb on a paved road to Osborne Overlook parkinglot. Wow, you'll see a lot of buggies around you. Can be sandy though.

After that you'll be driving through rough desert land with many "dips" in the road. Beautiful in its own kind. Eventually you'll get to the flat and fertile grounds along Colorado River with some 90 deg turns (do stop here at the stop signs) before you get to Blythe. Blythe has ample lodging and a good supermarket with a Starbucks in it. You will like a cuppa after this drive.

Count on 5 hours for this drive with a stop.

Tet

Edited: 08 December 2010, 16:04