Destination Las Vegas & 7 nights camping en-route!
We picked ‘the beast’ up in San Francisco, our 6 birth 40ft Motorhome was to be our home for the next week , Our destination Las Vegas and 7 nights of camping en-route.
The RV, as they are known in America, was huge with a double bedroom to the rear, a dinette convertible bed and another one over the cab it could comfortably accommodate 6 people. All mod cons including air conditioning a microwave and WC with Shower assured us that we would want for nothing.
Travelling East from San Francisco along route 120 we entered Yosemite National Park approximately 4 hours later. The winding mountain passes made the journey exciting and in some instances quite frightening as the road would suddenly disappear around a bend and 40 ft of motorhome would swing round after it. The National Park is huge, covering 1170 square miles of breathtaking natural splendour, the highest peaks more than 13000 feet above sea level. Probably the most famous being Half Dome with its western face a sheer cliff of plutonic Granite. Hiking and walking are a must here, but if you drive through the Park you must stop for a while to take in the scenic waterfalls and ice cold streams, gain a sense of remoteness and breathe in clean fresh air.
Our campground for the night in the Yosemite Valley came complete with Bear proof bins and big warning signs everywhere. Black Bears are commonplace in the Park and although it is rare to run into trouble with them you are required to be ‘bear aware’. All food stuff must be out of sight, windows, doors and air vents closed, as the most inquisitive bears will sniff out or spot an empty food wrapper and do serious damage to an unattended vehicle. Even sunscreen and cosmetics are deemed too tempting so need to be hidden and if staying overnight you are required to place foodstuff into the Bear proof bins provided .Alas we didn’t spot any bears but the sheer exciting of ‘what if’ was tangible.
The Tioga Pass takes you through the Park to the Eastern exit at Lee Vining and the beautiful decent towards Mammoth Lakes, and along route 395 towards Death Valley .Because a hired RV cannot be recovered or towed from Death Valley it isn’t possible to take one through, so the only alternative was to skirt around it, a 4 day detour through the Mojave Desert. Quite possibly the hottest place on earth in the middle of summer, AC was not adequate for our needs. The journey however was fascinating. We followed the route and the heartrending tale of the Native Americans who were removed from their homeland and forced marched to Reservations in some of the most inhospitable landscapes on earth many dying on route without water or shade. Their story unfolding to us on huge information boards in lay-bys which soon became ‘must stop’ places of interest and poignant reminders of mans hostility to man.
Just east of Barstow is the Ghost Town of Calico, in searing temperature of the Mojave Desert and mostly restored to its former glory, it is worth a visit to appreciate the sheer endeavour the miners of the 1880’s must have endured to extract Silver from them there Hills.
The scenery was both amazing and repetitive, mile upon mile of seemingly endless road, sand and distant mountains, it felt at times like we would never reach our destination as the horizon stretched on forever. Our camp ground for one night was lakeside and another beside a typical ‘old west’ bar complete with pool table and cowboys, no two nights were the same.
However we eventually joined route 40 and after more miles of desert we detoured onto probably the most famous road in America, Route 66, for part of the journey. Passing gas stations and motels straight from the 1950’s Route 66 really is like stepping back in time.
Our journey into Grand Canyon National Park was reached through Williams on Route 65 as the park isn’t readily accessible. Very few roads lead to the Rim and the most awe inspiring view of the World’s largest Canyon. Camping here is scenic and fresh, the air clean and cooler than on previous nights. Having spent time exploring the many walkways and viewpoints we left Grand Canyon Village and began our journey into Las Vegas passing the incredible Hoover Dam on the way – stop and look over the edge of the Dam if you are ever in the vicinity!
It is important to plan and pre-book your campgrounds in the National Parks well in advance, many of them booking a year ahead. The journey distances can be immense so checking mileage and not trying to put too much into one day is sensible.
Our arrival into Las Vegas was timely. After 7 nights on the road in searing heat, inadequate AC, bone shaking roads and endless horizons we weren’t sorry to hand the Keys to the RV back. With the promise of a large bed, refreshing shower and cool room in our Las Vegas Hotel.
A long and sometimes arduous journey but the wonderful memories of what we saw and did will remain with us for a lifetime.