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Route/Itinerary Help Please

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Cranbury, New Jersey
posts: 30
reviews: 26
Route/Itinerary Help Please

We are taking a road trip through mostly central California. We will be driving from Yosemite to South Lake Tahoe, staying for 2 nights, before driving towards Napa Valley (worst case scenario, only 1 full day in South Lake Tahoe).

Can someone recommend the most scenic route and itinerary? We will be travelling wih 2 elderly handicapped ladies, so we are looking for scenic views and not any hiking.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

San Francisco Bay
posts: 2,881
reviews: 13
1. Re: Route/Itinerary Help Please

Here's a route that has spectacular scenery that ca be seen from a car window, plus a few stops to walk outside and view from the side of the road--

From the Yosemite Valley floor, you take the TIOGA RD up through Tuolumne Meadows, the high country of Yosemite Park. Much granite grandeur. Lovely Tenaya Lake. You go east out of the park to Lee Vining, and turn left to go up Hwy 395 to Reno. This is a high desert route, with mountains on the left, and high desert on the right. Before you get to Reno, which is not at all scenic, you turn off for South Lake Tahoe.

Also a trip around the whole Lake Tahoe is nice, although there is some road work on 89 (west side) which you may want to avoid altogether (not sure when your trip is, but they do road work in snowy areas only in the summer). Drive on the lake side for easier pullouts.

When you are ready to go to Napa, you should take the more scenic Hwy 50 down past the gold rush towns like Placerville --"Hangtown" they used to call it, through Sacramento, where you merge into the large freeway Interstate 80. Where you turn off Hwy 80 after Sacratomato depends on how high up in Napa County you are staying. There are a couple of smaller highways that can bring you out to the Rutherford/St. Helena area (see Hwy 128). Get yourself a nice big CA map

Napa, CA
Destination Expert
for Napa
posts: 5,135
reviews: 22
2. Re: Route/Itinerary Help Please

I would take CA 89 from US 395 and go over Monitor Pass, through Markleeville and into the Tahoe Basin at Meyers. This is a scenic drive but it is twisty so not best for those who get motion sickness.

Then you have a day at South Lake Tahoe (or North Shore, if you prefer). Both I-80 and Hwy 50 are scenic drives to get to Sacramento on your way to Napa. Which one you choose depends on what you do at Lake Tahoe.

I would avoid Hwy 128 to Rutherford. This is a backroad through a very hot climate and it has no services or really anything much of interest until you get close to Rutherford where there are some isolated wineries in Sage Canyon and overlooking Lake Hennessey. It's better to take I-80 to Fairfield, Hwy 12 to Napa, and then Hwy 29 north into the Napa Valley.

posts: 10,878
reviews: 12
3. Re: Route/Itinerary Help Please

80 currently has big road projects going on in both directions so I would use 50 to get from South lake Tahoe to Sacramento and Napa right now. I drove 50 east last Monday afternoon - boy was it enjoyable. So pretty. Then I drove from SLT to Homewood and what I wondered was why would anyone want to just drive around the lake. There just isn't enough views of the lake to make the drive worth it. I felt like that as a chiild when we would drive around the lake on summer days when the weather was rainy. Boring.

There are some scenic spots around the lake of course, like the east side south of Incline including Sand Harbor and on the south west side , Emerald Bay. Instead of being stuck in the car looking at mostly trees and buildings and not the lake find places to see and walk around like Tallac & Sugar Pine.

Edited: 10:39 pm, July 14, 2012
Near Yosemite...
posts: 3,304
reviews: 6
4. Re: Route/Itinerary Help Please

You don't say when you are planning this trip? I assume it will be soon-- before the snow comes and closes some of the passes. For sure the Tioga Pass is the way to go from Yosemite. Driving up 395 and heading to South Lake Tahoe, you really have three options.

You can take Hwy 89 just before Topaz Lake as Supercilious recommends. Monitor Pass has a lot of twist and turns and you pass through the small town of Markleeville. You will then travel on Hwy 88 to Hope Valley and pick up 89 again to the Tahoe Basin.

Option 2 is wind your way through Gardnerville and take Hwy 207 - Kingsbury Grade which brings you right near the stateline casinos.

Option 3 would be to continue on Hwy 395 to Carson City and take Hwy 50 to Lake Tahoe. This route is the longest, but the only one of the three that will give you vistas of the lake as you drive in.

San Francisco Bay
posts: 2,881
reviews: 13
5. Re: Route/Itinerary Help Please

Two elderly handicapped ladies will need stops that they will be able to participate in, so keep that in mind.

VacationRoRo, what are your thoughts?

When will you be doing this?

Cranbury, New Jersey
posts: 30
reviews: 26
6. Re: Route/Itinerary Help Please

Thanks so much to everyone for the recommendations; they are most welcome and very much appreciated!! We are actually on the vacation now, heading off to Sequoia/Kings Canyon/Yosemite for the next 6 days, then off to South Lake Tahoe afterwards. I'll take a more detailed look at a map and finalize that portion of the vacation.

Again, thanks so much!!

7. Re: Route/Itinerary Help Please

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