How long does a Thanksgiving drive from San Francisco to Phoenix take?

I am trying to decide if it is a bad idea to try and drive from San Francisco to Phoenix on the day before Thanksgiving. Google Maps says it will take 12 hours, which I am ok with. However, I have heard the traffic in LA is really bad. Will it be horrible and take much longer than the 12 hours if I try to make this drive on the day before Thanksgiving? Is there a route that won’t go straight through LA? Please share your tips!

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5 Responses to “How long does a Thanksgiving drive from San Francisco to Phoenix take?”

  1. Blankenship said:

    I usually drive from San Diego to Santa Barbara for Thanksgiving, but we usually drive on Thanksgiving day and the traffic isn’t too bad, but the day before it will probably be hell. Even though “rush hour” is 5 everywhere else, in LA it’s from like 10AM- 6PM…

  2. Flower said:

    You dont have to go into Los Angeles. Hwy 99 and down to Barstow and pick up I-40 to 17 South. At least the AZ roads are good. Google does not know the road conditions and the traffic. You have to check with the Cal Trans road conditions and cameras or check with the CSAA. I drove this on Thanksgiving before and it slowed down totally at Gorman because of the tule fog at the grapevine. The day before Thanksgiving is when everyone is driving on the highway.

    Click on Travel tab.

  3. Lisa H said:

    you actually don’t need to drive through LA at all to get from SF to Phoenix. You wold be better off going down I-5 and crossing over through barstow. avoiding LA all together. you would take 80 east to 580 east towards livermore. then catch I-5 south and eventually following signs to get to I-99 through bakersfield. Once in Bastow you would need to get to Needles and go south to Phoenix.

    that would be 781 miles and take about 11.8 hours. I would plan for all day driving.

  4. Lynda said:

    That would depend on the weather. Certain time of the year, Tule fog in the valley: If you are lucky with no fog in the valley and weather is dry and good in Phoenix, OK.

  5. Dances With Mops 2 - Mop Bucket Boogaloo said:

    Here’s a possible bypass for you: I-5 South to Highway 58 East to Barstow, to I-40 East to Kingman, AZ, to US-93 South to Phoenix. This may take about the same amount of time, depending upon your attitude toward speed limits.


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