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Frisco Roadrunner - San Diego to Salt Lake City

Tasmania, Australia
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Frisco Roadrunner - San Diego to Salt Lake City

I've been reading the extraordinary helpful advice you've been giving to people on this area of the USA. I hadn't intended visiting DV when I posted a question about Barstow, but it would now seem a shame to miss it after all the interesting pointers you've given. I had planned to spend three nights on the way, Barstow, St George and then Cedar City (after driving through Zion). Please, how do you think I could include DV. If necessary I could bypass Zion. Why is Furnace Creek Inn closed in late September? which is when I'll be there.

Topanga, California
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1. Re: Frisco Roadrunner - San Diego to Salt Lake City

Why didn't you send this personal message to Frisco Roadrunner directly to FR, instead of posting it publicly?

Uden, The...
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2. Re: Frisco Roadrunner - San Diego to Salt Lake City

Yes, we are a bit disappointed-lol-

Ok, Furnace Creek Inn only opens in winter, you could try Furnace Creek Ranch or Stovepipe Wells.

Day 1: Start early and try to make it to Death Valley via Ridgecrest.

Day 2: Through DV to Las Vegas and to St. George.

Day 3: St. George-Zion NP-Cedar City.

Better:

Day 1: To Death Valley

Day 2: Stay Death Valley

Day 3: Drive from DV-LV to Springdale at the south entrance of Zion.

Day 4: Zion and on.

Hope this helps some...

Tet

Tasmania, Australia
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3. Re: Frisco Roadrunner - San Diego to Salt Lake City

Many thanks Tet. Didn't realise I could communicate personally with any TA members. Never occurred to me to do so.

Rob.

San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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4. Re: Frisco Roadrunner - San Diego to Salt Lake City

Rob, I don't think you should pass up Zion. To be honest, all of the Western national parks are stupendous, and the more of them you can see, the better. If you find a day someplace to add to your trip from San Diego to Salt Lake, you could be more flexible.

You won't have as much time as you want in each park, but definitely don't skip Zion to see Death Valley--but don't skip Death Valley to see Zion either. If you lived in Texas or Minnesota, I wouldn't be telling you this; I would tell you to focus on a couple of parks, then plan another trip later.But when people come from other continents and don't know if or when they'll be back, I think they should so as much as they can.

I think Tet's second idea is better. This will give you time to see a lot. DV is the largest national park in the lower 48 states--the size of Lebanon, Luxembourg, the Isle of Man, and Andorra combined. The distances between some of the visitor sites is long, but the scenery is magnificent.

I didn't see any mention of stopping in Las Vegas. That will help, because a lot of folks get sidetracked in Las Vegas and miss the really good stuff. And of course, you don't need to go to Barstow at all.

furnace Creek Inn is the more upscale resort. It closes early May-early October, in the hot months when (theoretically) fewer people are in the park. For a few years in the early 90s, they tried keeping it open, but I think it was too expensive to run two large resorts with less than a full house. It might also be that because it's a historic property, it's less efficient to air-condition it. You can still see it if you want. It's a lavish California Missios style with beautiful gardens.

I don't have any problem with people addressing questions to individuals on the forums. If the discussion is so specific that no one else would be interested, then it should be a private message. But putting it on the forum, maybe we can help someone else who is planning a similar trip.

Tasmania, Australia
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5. Re: Frisco Roadrunner - San Diego to Salt Lake City

Many thanks FR. You're quite right about seeing as much as we can. We've visited the US many times, but this is probably the first (and maybe the only) time we'll have the chance to tour these areas of California and Utah ([previously been to GC and LV). I appreciate your advice and expertise; we'll try and see both DV and Zion, as you suggest. I'm still apprehensive about driving from SD to Furnace Creek in one day though.

San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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6. Re: Frisco Roadrunner - San Diego to Salt Lake City

I don’t know where you are starting from in San Diego, but here are approximate distances so you can think about pacing the drive, where to stop for a rest or a bite, etc. I’m using I-15 and US 395 in, which gives you different landscapes and sights from the southern, more “typical” Mojave part of the park along the Badwater-to-Barstown route. The heaviest traffic will be in the San Diego and San Bernardino metro areas; most of this route is rural.

All mileages are approximate. From San Diego to Ridgecrest, about 230 (360-370 km); Ridgecrest to Stove Pipe Wells, another 100 (150 km); Stove Pipe to Furnace Creek, 25 (40 km).

All along I-15 from San Diego to the San Bernardino area, you’ll find plenty of visitor services. Where 395 splits off, the services become more scarce, so be sure then that you have whatever you need. You can find limited gas, food, and lodging at Kramer Junction (395 at SR 58), Johannesburg, then Ridgecrest. If you don’t need anything and have no other reason to go to Ridgecrest, there is a shortcut from Jo’burg to Trona. Trona is the last town before the park boundary and has limited services. For more scenic (and surprising) diversity, I suggest entering on Wildrose Road, which is mountainous and green.

If you get really fatigued, Stove Pipe Wells is a full-service resort. Even if you aren't staying over, it's a good place to get out and stretch and breathe some fresh desert air. It has a restaurant--3 meals Oct-May, breakfast and dinner (supper) only in summer, specific mealtimes. There's a saloon, general store, gift shop, gas station, and swimming pool. The pool and showers are open to non-guests for a small fee.

Total distance from San Diego to Furnace Creek, about 350 mi/560 km, not counting any detours or side trips. I can’t always know what kind of driving people from other countries are accustomed to, but Californians do these kinds of trips all the time. It's a plus that you'll be in sparsely populated areas for much of the way, because you can make good time and also enjoy the scenery without so much distraction.

San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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7. Re: Frisco Roadrunner - San Diego to Salt Lake City

* "You can find limited gas, food, and lodging at Kramer Junction (395 at SR 58), Johannesburg, then Ridgecrest." *

This is a bit misleading. I meant you could find limited traveler's services at Kramer Junction and Johannesburg. Ridgecrest is a regular city, with all services for visitors and residents, including shopping centers, auto dealers, and a hospital.

Uden, The...
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8. Re: Frisco Roadrunner - San Diego to Salt Lake City

I can vote for a stay at Stovepipe Wells too.

Stargazing is magnificent if you walk a short distance from the hotel. Ask for a room at the east side of the 49ers or Roadrunner buildings. Rooms come with a fridge and from the arcade you'll have great views on DV at sunset. Reservations are recommended and are via www.xanterra.com

Tet

Tasmania, Australia
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9. Re: Frisco Roadrunner - San Diego to Salt Lake City

Many thanks again.

Having absorbed all of your expert advice I've almost decided to give SD a miss. That would give me a couple of extra nights.

Because I won't be able to get away from LA until mid-afternoon I intend to stop the first night at Ridgecrest and then take the 190 across to Furnace Creek. I don't think I can drive Wildrose in a rental car.

After that I might detour up to Scotty's Castle and then down the 95 to LV. Might rest for a couple of nights outside LV (Henderson). Perhaps you could advise me here, could I bypass most of LV by taking the 160, otherwise the 95 leads me right through the centre of LV.

Thinking then I might spend the last couple of nights at Cedar Breaks Lodge before making the long trek north to SLC.

Tasmania, Australia
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10. Re: Frisco Roadrunner - San Diego to Salt Lake City

..... I'll stay a night at Furnace Creek Ranch.

Rob.