Traveling from Tuscon to Pasadena
August 10, 2004 8:09 AM   Subscribe

i have a meeting in tucson, az, until friday 6pm, 22 oct. i need to be in pasadena, ca, by 9am next sunday (24th), so have the saturday free. i like travelling by bus/coach during the day (staring out of the window calms me ;o), but geyhound schedules seem to be overnight for tucson-pasadena. is there somewhere i could get to from tucson on friday evening, stay in a hotel there, and travel on to pasadena next day? i could fly, but would prefer to see something on the way, don't drive and know nothing about america... any other solutions? thanks.
posted by andrew cooke to Travel & Transportation (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"I'm your huckleberry, Ringo"
Tombstone, Arizona. Wild West silver mining town, site of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday's famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. "The town that eats a man for breakfast every morning." Now a tourist attraction, but many old buildings survive. There must be frequent shuttles from Tuscon, the nearest big city. Old Tuscon itself has some Wild West flava.
posted by planetkyoto at 8:54 AM on August 10, 2004

Response by poster: thanks, but that's made me realise i wasn't very clear in my question - what i'm trying to avoid is an overnight bus ride. i assume i'd need the same bus from tombstone to pasadena as from tucson, which doesn't run during the day. i may well be asking the impossible here - i don't really know how buses work there...
posted by andrew cooke at 9:00 AM on August 10, 2004

Andrew: The most direct route from Tucson to Pasadena (via Rt. 10) doesn't have much between the two cities except Phoenix, certainly not in terms of destinations (as opposed to just overnight stops). If your goal is getting partway and getting a hotel where you might see something interesting, then Palm Springs, which is about 2/3rds of the way to your destination is probably your best bet, but the thought of visiting that city might not be that thrilling, it means that most your drive will still be at night. The cities that are closer to the halfway point don't strike me as cities that would give you lots of options for bus service the next day.

Come to think of it, if you're looking for a short night-drive, a place where you won't feel stranded, basically on the way to Pasadena, with regular bus-service, then Phoenix is probably really your only option.

Is it that you don't drive, or you don't intend to be driving? Because if you did have a rental car, you'd probably have a lot more options (All of this part of America are really automobile-oriented).

On preview: given your qualifier, Phoenix really is your best bet. It'd probably be easier to get from Phoenix in the evening, and maybe you'd have better bus luck there. Actually, wait, no. I just checked Greyhound for that date, and the buses to Pasadena from Phoenix leave either after sunset or before sunrise. Looks like you may be out of luck.
posted by .kobayashi. at 9:07 AM on August 10, 2004

If you can get to Phoenix (116 miles away up Interstate 10), there is are 2 options. One bus (0403) leaves at 4:10 am and arrives in Pasadena at 12:30 pm. Another (1409) leaves at 4:20 am and arrives at 1:30 PM. See for more details.
posted by Irontom at 9:07 AM on August 10, 2004

Sunrise is about 6:40 for that date, and civil twilight is about 25 minutes or so before that, so by about 2 hours into your trip, you would be able to see what's going past the window.

What's going past the window winds up being a lot of desert. Some people like it, but I don't particularly care for it. Towards the end of your trip, things will be different.

Hope this helps.
posted by Irontom at 9:15 AM on August 10, 2004

Response by poster: hmmm. thanks. looks like amtrak runs out of phoenix, and has a station in pasadena, but when i ask for connections the web site gives me nothing. \me looks round pathetically and wrings hands...

(otherwise, maybe setting off at 4am isn't so bad. desert is good. :o)
posted by andrew cooke at 9:18 AM on August 10, 2004

Response by poster: hang on, tuscon is on an amtrak line. is their site foobared?
posted by andrew cooke at 9:23 AM on August 10, 2004

What about the train? The Amtrak website apparently hates Safari, but it's worth a look. More expensive, but views of something other than what's next to the freeway, though you may have to go into Los Angeles and back out to Pasadena. That takes you through Union Station, also known as the police station from Blade Runner, which is kinda cool.
posted by dame at 9:27 AM on August 10, 2004

Oooh. Take the Sunset Limited to LA. It's apparently a nice train. And it shouldn't be a big deal to get back to Pasadena. The commuter traind probably serve that.
posted by dame at 9:29 AM on August 10, 2004

You could take the Greyhound 0407 from Tucson to Yuma (departs 1PM, arrives 8:05PM), then from Yuma to Pasadena (departs 8:10PM, arrives 7:50AM on the 24th). You get the daytime ride through the desert for window-gazing, then sleep the rest of the way.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:30 AM on August 10, 2004

Response by poster: ok, got it working (amtrak). it's overnight too. but i could have a bed. but it would be one of two in a small cabin shared with a stranger. hmmm.

think this (on preview - yes, sunset limited) might be the best option folks. thanks.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:31 AM on August 10, 2004

The Sunset Limited stops here in Tucson, "limited" being the operative word. The westbound train is supposed to be here around 9pm on three days out of the week, one of which is Saturday. But it is often anywhere from 1 to 6 hours late.

On preview, if you really are planning to take this train, I hope you have a little flexibility in your schedule.
posted by mokujin at 9:44 AM on August 10, 2004

Response by poster: thanks for the warning - i'd be leaving friday (maybe it's not the limited then?) and have all the next day, so it can be as late as it likes
(hey mokujin, i'm called andrew james too. but i'm a boy. is your user page info reliable?!)
posted by andrew cooke at 9:50 AM on August 10, 2004

Response by poster: scratch that. i asked for the 22nd, but it gave me details for the 23rd (the saturday). back to 4am...
posted by andrew cooke at 10:02 AM on August 10, 2004

Given Amtrak prices, it might be way cheaper to spend a little time in PHX then hop over to Skyharbor for a quick flight to LA on Southwest. Greyhound from Tucson to Phoenix is about 2 hours and will give you plenty of desert to stare at. Also, you can catch the periodic Tucson to Phoenix-Skyharbor shuttle busses, which might provide a little bit more comfort than the bus for roughly the same price. Trust me when I say that you don't want to spend any time in Yuma.

Phoenix is a really, really weird city that needs to be flown over to be truly understood... (lots of straight roads and swimming pools)

'Course, if you're in Tucson and you want to see some cool stuff, let me know. I lived there for 5 years and get down there from time to time, although it's been a little while... there's actually a lot of neat things to do around that area, including an awesome zoo called "The Desert Museum", an airplane graveyard, and my favorite, the Titan Missle Museum, an old ICBM silo you can tour.
posted by ph00dz at 10:42 AM on August 10, 2004

Titan Missile Museum is THE BEST.
(hey andrew cooke, my name really is andrew james and i really am a girl. people tend to get confused by this, and rightly so.)
posted by mokujin at 10:51 AM on August 10, 2004

No no the Desert Museum is THE BEST.

The trip from Tucson to LA is pretty bleak though, the two outlet malls being the big draws along the route, and truly nothing is lost by sleeping through it. I've done the train and I liked it a lot. I closed my eyes and pretended the Indians were attacking when going through Yuma. Definitely more interesting than the real thing. (Apologies to Yuma afficionados, all 2 of you)
posted by dness2 at 11:41 AM on August 10, 2004

The trip from Tucson to LA is pretty bleak though, the two outlet malls being the big draws along the route, and truly nothing is lost by sleeping through it.

Except, of course, there's always the Cabazon Dinosaurs -- you know, the dinosaurs visited by both Pee-Wee in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, and Fred Savage & little bro' in The Wizard. Now that's some roadside Americana!
posted by .kobayashi. at 12:09 PM on August 10, 2004

.kobayashi., I stand corrected.
posted by dness2 at 12:27 PM on August 10, 2004

Response by poster: thanks for the recommendations :o) the meeting is our department's annual "retreat", so i guess i may get to see some of them as part of the bonding process :o(
(hey mokujin - if you're a boy, it's a very boring name to have, so in a weird way it's a kind of redempion for the name "andrew cooke" if it can have a bit of excitement/confusion with someone...)
posted by andrew cooke at 1:02 PM on August 10, 2004

If you wind up taking the train or bus to Union Station in L.A., it's quite easy to get to Pasadena from there. The Gold Line goes from Union Station to Pasadena very regularly. If you have time, I recommend stopping off at the Mission stop and wandering around South Pasadena for a bit.

I live about 1/2 mile from Union Station and am in South Pas and Pasadena all the time, so if you need things to do while you're there, let me know. :)
posted by bedhead at 12:11 AM on August 11, 2004

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