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Author Topic: Las Vegas to San Francisco  (Read 7963 times)

Jennifer

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Las Vegas to San Francisco
« on: January 18, 2013, 03:33:20 AM »
Hi everyone,

My husband and I are planning the above trip to commence 3rd May for the duration of 19 days.

We are just a little stuck on which route to take. It would be nice to see Yellowstone, Monument Valley and Lake Tahoe.

With your expertise, could you please recommend a pleasant route which incorporates lots of sights?

Many thanks in advance,

Jen

Tom

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2013, 04:24:46 AM »
Hi Jen, and welcome to The RV Forum.

Quote
Las Vegas to San Francisco .... It would be nice to see Yellowstone, Monument Valley and Lake Tahoe.

I'll let others fill in the details and make recommendations, but that's quite a lot of driving. Over 2,000 miles, which significantly reduces your actual "sightseeing" time. I assume you're renting an RV in LV and returning it to SFO (?) Are your arrival and departure days included in the 19 days total? If so, that would mean you really have 17 days (?)

Weather &/or residual snow could affect your route, total driving miles, and where you can visit at the beginning of May, but I'll let the respective locals fill in those details.

One example would be if, say, you drove directly from LV to Reno via Hwy 395 en route to Tahoe, a must-see place to visit would be Yosemite National Park; But Tioga Pass from Hwy 395 to Yosemite could still be closed due to snow - see here. There's an alternate route into Yosemite, but you'd miss a number of other places to visit along Hwy 395, such as Mono Lake, Mammoth Lakes, and Bodie (an old ghost town that's well worth a visit).

Visiting 'only' Monument Valley while in Utah would mean you'd be missing a number of wonderful national parks in that state, see here.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 04:55:02 AM by Tom »
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Jennifer

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2013, 06:41:37 AM »
You're correct about renting the RV in Vegas and returning it in SFO and also for the 17 days! I forgot to write off those 2 days.

Bodie looks great, We'd love to look at more old towns

SeilerBird

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2013, 07:38:26 AM »
I think you mean Yosemite instead of Yellowstone. I get the two confused all the time.

There is a problem visiting Yosemite. Campground reservations must be made 5 months in advance and there probably isn't a campsite available in Yosemite for May.

My suggestion would be to go from Las Vegas to  the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Then leave the canyon heading east and take 89 up through Monument Valley.

From Monument Valley head on over to Zion National Park.

Then up to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Then continue up to Salt Lake City and turn left on I-80 and head up to San Francisco.

You can detour and take a trip around Lake Tahoe on the way to Frisco.

Easily doable in 17 days and you will see some of the greatest scenery on the planet between Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, and Tahoe.
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Tom

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2013, 08:20:00 AM »
Aye, Yosemite vs Yellowstone would make a huge difference.
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Lou Schneider

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2013, 03:05:47 PM »
Campgrounds in Yosemite itself fill up fast, but there are private campgrounds outside the park.  Then you could catch the shuttle bus that runs around the valley floor to see the major sights.

In May you'll most likely have to get to Yosemite from the west - chances are good that Tioga Pass will still be closed by snow.  Even if it's not, it's a hard pull for a RV.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 03:07:39 PM by Lou Schneider »

ArdraF

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2013, 11:09:08 PM »
I agree with Seilerbird's proposed routing.  It will give you the "most bang for your buck" and be reasonable in terms of both driving and sightseeing.  People don't realize how big our western states are and plan too much in too little time.  Early May can be "iffy" weather too.  We've encountered snow on the north rim of the Grand Canyon and along I-15 about where I-70 intersects so you'll need to keep an eye on the weather.  The aforementioned Tioga Pass into Yosemite seldom opens before mid-June.

ArdraF
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Tom

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2013, 02:22:12 AM »
Quote from: Ardra
Tioga Pass into Yosemite seldom opens before mid-June.

That's what I what I would have said too Ardra, until I read this (link also posted in my earlier message).
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 06:15:47 AM by Tom »
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ArdraF

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2013, 03:34:29 PM »
So anytime between May 7th and July 1st!  Interesting list, Tom, which proves you can't depend on getting over Tioga Pass during May and June.

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Tom

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2013, 05:17:30 PM »
Agreed Ardra, and that's why I always warn folks if they plan on traveling that route too early in the year. Too bad, because I think there are a lot of neat places to visit along Hwy 395. Of course, being a fisherman, there are even more places of interest for me along Hwy 395. My favorite campground is Brown's Owens River Campground. A little off the beaten path, but a great campground alongside the Owens River. BTW the only directions are "from Hwy 395, turn at the little green church south of the Mammoth airport, drive approx 7 miles, cross the river and the CG is on your right"
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Jennifer

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2013, 05:36:13 AM »
Thank you so much for all the information!

I'm going to try and make a reservation, if not successful we'll just turn up and hope for the best haha.

Can anyone recommend a campsite in Yosemite?

DonTom

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2013, 07:36:25 AM »
Agreed Ardra, and that's why I always warn folks if they plan on traveling that route too early in the year. Too bad, because I think there are a lot of neat places to visit along Hwy 395. Of course, being a fisherman, there are even more places of interest for me along Hwy 395. My favorite campground is Brown's Owens River Campground. A little off the beaten path, but a great campground alongside the Owens River. BTW the only directions are "from Hwy 395, turn at the little green church south of the Mammoth airport, drive approx 7 miles, cross the river and the CG is on your right"
Hi Tom, it's been a while since we chatted.

Their website says:

"Location: Five miles east of U.S. 395 on Benton Crossing Road (exit at green church)"

So somebody is a couple of miles off. But I doubt we could get lost trying to find it. But just in case, ever mark the place on a GPS?

I am looking at my Topo map at around N37.656  W118.789 and I see that's close to 7,000 feet in elevation. Are they open all year, or just in the summer?  No RV Parks shown for that area on several different maps I tried that are on my computer.

I would like to check it out someday. I can tell you have been there a few times. I see a "Tom's Place" and a "Mt. Tom" (13,040 feet) near there. Must all be named after you!

-Don-  SSF, CA
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Tom

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2013, 07:55:38 AM »
Don, I think of you guys every time I'm on Hwy160 and pass the sign to Eddo's.

I'm probably the one who's off by a couple of miles. I was going by memory of something I read in a fishing magazine 30 years ago.

Yes, it is Benton Crossing, but I'm not sure I've seen a sign.

No need for a waypoint on a GPS; The small green church is a few (7?) country miles south of the Mammoth airport, and it's tough to miss (there's little else around there). I suppose they might paint it a different color one day, but you can also look for the sign to the animal shelter; It's also on Benton Crossing, a country mile east of Hwy 395. The shelter was built some time in the last 10 (20?) years. After the shelter, there's nowt else until you reach the small bridge across the river.

The first time I fished that location was in the early 80's, long before they put the RV park in. Tom's place was already on the map  ;D

One caveat - if you plan to fish there, they have special regulations that are different for the stretch adjacent to the campground, the stretch downstream (going to the lake), and the stretch upstream of the campground; IIRC 3 different sets of rules.

BTW there are numerous other places to fish within a few country miles. I believe I have a report or two on our Fishing board.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2013, 08:30:08 AM by Tom »
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DonTom

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2013, 08:44:51 AM »
Quote from: Tom link=topic=60522.msg55777
Don, I think of you guys every time I'm on Hwy160 and pass the sign to Eddo's. I'm probably the one who's off by a couple of miles. I was going by memory of something I read in a fishing magazine 30 years ago. Yes, it is Benton Crossing, but I'm not sure I've seen a sign. No need for a waypoint on a GPS; The small green church is a few (7?) country miles south of the Mammoth airport, and it's tough to miss (there's little else around there). I suppose they might paint it a different color one day, but you can also look for the sign to the animal shelter; It's also on Benton Crossing, a country mile east of Hwy 395.
Yeah, it sounds easy enough, but are they closed down this time of year?
The shelter was built some time in the last 10 (20?) years. After the shelter, there's nowt else until you reach the small bridge across the river. The first time I fished that location was in the early 80's, long before they put the RV park in. Tom's place was already on the map  ;D One caeat - if you plan to fish there, they have special regulations that are different for the stretch adjacent to the campground, the stretch downstream (going to the lake), and the stretch upstream of the campground; IIRC 3 different sets of rules. BTW there are numerous other places to fish within a few country miles. I believe I have a report or two on our Fishing board.
We have not bothered to get a fishing license for many years. But we could get back into it.  We have not been on Sherman Island for many years, but were thinking about taking a ride out there just a couple of weeks ago, but never made it. I guess Eddos is still there.

Now, about the RV park again . . .The more important stuff . . . . I assume there are places near by where the doggies can run around loose? I see a lot of trails in the area on my maps. Trixie (the doggy in my avatar here) is doing fine, she is now over 13 years old.

-Don-  SSF, CA
-Don-   AA6GA

2000 Fleetwood Tioga 24D, 7.4L

Auburn, CA or Cold Springs Valley, NV or  Reno, NV

Tom

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2013, 09:24:37 AM »
I suspect they're closed. I've seen YouTube videos of fishermen stomping around that area in snow shoes at this time of year, and I've seen reports of "acces by snowmobile only" on occasions.

The RV park web site says lots of hiking and biking trails, although my hikes have been limited to the river banks. It's a huge valley, and I'd expect there's plenty of places where you and the doggies can hike/run.
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Marsha/CA

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2013, 09:34:44 AM »
We have fished that area several times.  That stretch is called the "Upper Owens".  Browns Camp campground opens sometime around Memorial Day and closes the last day of September.  I think it is dry camping only, but I'm not positive of that. 

BTW, there is only one road into the Browns Camp campground, so you can't get lost getting to it.   Don't know about the dog issue because when we fly fish, we leave ours in the motor home so he doesn't jump into the water and scare my big 20" brown trout..... ;D

There is another campground about 4 miles north of Bishop right along the Owens River also.  It's BLM that I'm sure is dry camping only.   Both are covered with snow now.  When we fish that stretch, we usually camp at Highland RV Park in Bishop.

Marsha~
« Last Edit: January 20, 2013, 09:40:48 AM by Marsha/CA »
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GaryandAngela

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2013, 04:42:25 PM »
Hi, We did that trip the last 2 years if you need any tips(link in signature line).
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 06:35:50 PM by Tom »

Jennifer

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2013, 05:04:22 AM »
Thanks everyone. I think we'll go for SeilerBird's suggestion, but try and turn up to a Yosemite Campground early.

Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon.

Monument Valley.

Zion National Park.

Bryce Canyon National Park.

Salt Lake City

Lake Tahoe

Yosemite

San Francisco

Does this route seem OK?

Tom

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #18 on: February 11, 2013, 05:45:27 AM »
As has been mentioned, Yosemite will likely only be accessible from the California (west) side of the mountains. So you'd probably be taking Hwy 50 from South Lake Tahoe to Sacramento, and head south from there. If time permits, a day in Sacramento would be worthwhile; Lots of things to see, including an outstanding railroad museum and a paddlewheeler, both at Old Town Sacramento, the state capitol, an old fort, and an Indian museum.
 
I'll let others comment on the earlier parts of your trip.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2013, 06:18:23 AM by Tom »
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SeilerBird

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2013, 06:18:17 AM »
To go from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite you would leave Lake Tahoe at South Lake Tahoe on route 50. At Placerville turn south on Route 49 (named for the gold rush) then turn east on 129 and head into the park.

As far as showing up and hoping for a cancellation. It can be done, I have done it a few times, here is the drill. Arrive at the Campground Reservation office at 4 am. Seriously. Stand in the line, actually most bring a chair so they can sit in the line. At 8 am the office opens and one person at a time is admitted into the office. The first person in line gets their choice of all the available spots. Then the next person gets to enter and choose. Usually there are 50 people in line and about 8 or 10 spots, so 40 of those people will leave without a spot. Don't bother to show up at 5am, that will be way too late.

There is a campground that is pricey that is located in El Portal on route 140 just outside another entrance to Yosemite but I have never stayed there and so I have no idea what the campground is like or how hard it is to get in.

An great alternative would be to show up on a Sunday at Kings Canyon National Park, you should have no problem finding a campsite. It has two components. The western section has the General Grant Grove, which is an amazing Sequoia forest. It contains the General Sherman tree, by volume, it is the largest known living single stem tree on Earth. Then there is the eastern section which is virtually identical to Yosemite Valley, which is the next valley to the north. It doesn't have El Capitan or the falls, but it also doesn't have ten million tourists. Both sections have campgrounds and both sections are positively stunning. Kings Canyon boarders Sequoia National Park. So you could visit both places. There are some great caves that you can tour. Boyden Cave is located between the east and the west section of Kings Canyon and Crystal Cave is located in Sequoia.
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Jennifer

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2013, 05:21:38 AM »
Thank you both for all the useful information! I like the idea of Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Parks.

Do you think it would be wise to make reservations in campgrounds now? Any recommendations?

Thanks  ;D

SeilerBird

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2013, 02:07:22 PM »
Thank you both for all the useful information! I like the idea of Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Parks.

Do you think it would be wise to make reservations in campgrounds now? Any recommendations?
For Sequoia National Park you will need reservations. Make them soon. It gets crowded. The best campground IMHO to stay in would be Lodgepole. It is right in the middle of the park close to all the things you will want to see and do.

For Kings Canyon you can't make reservations and you won't need them anyway. Best thing is to show up there on a Sunday morning and you will have your choice of just about any spot you want. Sunset is my favorite campground in the west unit. It is a 3/4 mile walk through the woods on a nice trail to Grant's Grove, home of the General Sherman tree.

I would also recommend going down to Cedar Grove (the east unit of Kings Canyon) and camping a few days in Sheep Creek, they don't take reservations there either, but you will have no trouble getting in. The Cedar Grove area is a virtual clone of Yosemite Valley only without the people and the waterfalls.

Be prepared for shock and awe when you visit these two parks. They are among the most beautiful spots you have ever seen. The size of the trees is impossible to imagine. But try and picture this in your mind. General Sherman is among the tallest, widest and longest-lived of all trees on the planet. It is 275 feet high. It is 130 from the ground to the first branch, which is taller than just about every tree east of the Mississippi. That branch is 6 feet in diameter. Bring your camera.
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Jennifer

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #22 on: March 12, 2013, 11:02:21 AM »
Thanks again  ;D

We are wondering where to stay to break up the journey from Bryce Canyon to South Lake Tahoe. Any ideas?

Also recommendations for Campgrounds in South Lake Tahoe & San Francisco would be great.

Cheers,
Jennifer

Tom

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #23 on: March 12, 2013, 11:06:12 AM »
Quote
Also recommendations for Campgrounds in South Lake Tahoe & San Francisco would be great.

See this library file on San Francisco by RV.
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Lou Schneider

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #24 on: March 12, 2013, 11:45:58 AM »
We are wondering where to stay to break up the journey from Bryce Canyon to South Lake Tahoe. Any ideas?

An alternate to taking Interstate 80 west is US 50 - nicknamed the Loneliest Road in America by Life Magazine.  It's a very good 2 lane road through the heart of America's Outback.  Be sure to fill up before you leave the Interstate and have plenty of fuel to reach the next town, as there is literally nothing between one town and the next.  The mileage is almost identical to taking the interstate, but the driving time will be a bit longer due to a couple of mountain passes and the inevitable stops along the way.

Delta, Utah has a museum that preserves the memory of the nearby WWII Japanese internment camp.  The museum is in town, and you can also drive about 10 miles out of town to the site of the camp itself to experience it's true desolation.

Or take I-80 across the Salt Flats to Wendover and take US 93 Alt south to Ely and join US 50 there.

If you're skipping Salt Lake City and going directly to Lake Tahoe from Bryce Canyon, you can save a few miles by taking Utah 21 from I-15 until it joins US 50 near Baker, NV.

US 50 through Nevada originally part of the Lincoln Highway, America's first coast to coast route, even predating the famed Route 66 to the south.

Ely, Nevada is about at the mid-point of the journey and has a KOA and a couple of other RV parks.  At the west end of town is the Hotel Nevada, the state's first multistory fireproof hotel. It's still open and worth having lunch or dinner in it's coffee shop while you take in the ambiance.  East Ely is home of the Nevada Northern Railroad Museum which is a perfectly preserved shortline railroad that closed when Kendecott Copper shut down their copper mine and smelter.  They offer passenger train rides and tours of the facility.

Eureka and Austin are former silver mining boom towns that still have much of the flavor of their heydays.  West of Austin US 50 parallels the old Pony Express route and there are ruins of two Pony Express way stations, one right alongside the road, the other at Sand Mountain.  The Sand Mountain station was covered up by shifting sand then uncovered again about 10 years ago.

East of Fallon the highway passes right through the middle of the Fallon Naval Air Station practice bombing range.  It's the training ground for the Top Gun fighter jets, and they often buzz the highway while they're lining up their runs at the target at the south end of the valley (yes, there are warning signs so you aren't too surprised).
« Last Edit: March 12, 2013, 12:22:10 PM by Lou Schneider »

Ned

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #25 on: March 12, 2013, 12:16:51 PM »
Quote
US 50 was originally called the Lincoln Highway and was America's first coast to coast route, even predating the famed Route 66 to the south.

The Lincoln Highway was US30 across most of the US, except for the far western part.
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JCZ

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #26 on: March 12, 2013, 01:58:55 PM »
It looks like The Lincoln Highway has changed it's course a few times over the years.  There's a 1st generation, 2nd generation and 3rd generation routes......   http://www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org/map/

I don't know about the full length but here in Calif. and Nev. there's been a push to revive "Historic Lincoln Highway".  The California portion of the highway will take you along some incredably beautiful roads.  Here's a photo taken near Donner Lake and very, very close to the actual spot where the Donner party was forced to turn around and drop back down to the east end of the Donner Lake....that went down in history.

http://www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org/info/ca/rainbow_bridge.jpg 
« Last Edit: March 12, 2013, 02:02:34 PM by JCZ »
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SeilerBird

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #27 on: March 12, 2013, 02:15:17 PM »
If you are driving from Bryce to Tahoe on 50 (which is my recommendation) then I give my highest recommendation to stopping in at Great Basin National Park near the Nevada Utah border. The Lehman Caves are some of the best caves in the country. And it is a really beautiful park that no one knows about.
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braindead

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #28 on: March 12, 2013, 03:34:53 PM »
If you are driving from Bryce to Tahoe on 50 (which is my recommendation) then I give my highest recommendation to stopping in at Great Basin National Park near the Nevada Utah border. The Lehman Caves are some of the best caves in the country. And it is a really beautiful park that no one knows about.
Can you recommend a specific campground there? Sounds like a nice place and close to us.

SeilerBird

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Re: Las Vegas to San Francisco
« Reply #29 on: March 12, 2013, 03:59:29 PM »
Can you recommend a specific campground there? Sounds like a nice place and close to us.
There are several campgrounds inside the park, but they do not have hookups and they are not big rig friendly at all. The town of Baker is about 10 miles from the park and there are two places there with hookups. When I was there I stayed in the park at Baker Creek Campground and it was very nice and remote. If I were to stay in the park again without hookups it would be at Wheeler Peak Campground which is located at 10,000 feet. There are some great hikes starting from that campground including the one to Wheeler Peak, the second highest peak in Nevada at 13k feet. Must be hiked in summer time. The hike to Stella Lake and Lake Teresa is incredible.

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I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
Life list of birds:
https://goo.gl/photos/xuP9zPD2KP2swN1g8
2016 photos:
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My portfolio:
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