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las vegas to san francisco

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Lisburn, United...
posts: 9
reviews: 1
las vegas to san francisco

My husband and I are hoping to visit California for the first time in Sept. Would we be better to go from Las Vegas to San Francisco via Bakersfield or Death Valley/Yosemite? Would there be many tourists on latter route in Sept? Don't fancy a long drive through Death Valley on our own, if it's very quiet. Is it a safe route?

Would really appreciate some advice.

Many thanks,



San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 10,396
reviews: 41
1. Re: las vegas to san francisco

Go through Death Valley and Yosemite..Absolutely, no contest, not even close.

If you decide to go through Bakersfield and up the San Joaquin Valley, don't ever look at any pictures of Yosemite or Death Valley, or you will be kicking yourselves for the next 25 years,

There is a lot to see and do in both parks and in the towns along the way. There's Mt. Whitney and all the attractions around Lone Pine, bristlecone pines (some of the world's oldest plants), Mammoth Lakes, Mono Lake, and the scenic Tioga Pass. After Yosemite, if you want to see some of the California Gold Rush country, it's on the west side of the park. The alternate route has mile after mile of farmland, cities and towns that are OK for a quick lunch but have limited tourist activity, mountains only in the distance, and no views of snow, redwoods, or clear, blue, icy lakes.

The roads in Death Valley and Yosemite are safe and well traveled, and there are rangers and visitor services. Come to those forums and get into conversations with people who know and love these places. We know you'll have a fabulous time!.

Lisburn, United...
posts: 9
reviews: 1
2. Re: las vegas to san francisco

Thanks so much for your quick reply! I feel much happier and will go ahead and book hotels. If you ever come to Ireland, I hope I can help you!

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 10,396
reviews: 41
3. Re: las vegas to san francisco

I'll keep you in mind if I do!

Also, you should allow adequate time to enjoy everything. Don't try to get from Las Vegas to Yosemite in one day, because it is a long ride and there are lots of things to see. For instance, Lone Pine (population about 2,500) has a fine visitor center, Mt. Whitney (in September you can drive up the road to the base camp where the climb starts), the Alabama Hills where Hollywood has filmed many movies, a movie museum, a national historic site that was one of the U.S. internment camps for Americans of Japanese descent in WWII, and other natural and historic sites.

Staying a night in Death Valley will give you more time to spend there and see the sights. It is only a couple hours from Las Vegas, so you might feel it is too soon. If so, Lone Pine or Bishop would be a good choice.

If your itinerary has you approaching Tioga Pass in the afternoon, it is a good idea to stop over, maybe at Mammoth Lakes or Lee Vining, because Tioga Pass is westbound. You would be facing into the setting sun and driving on a narrow, twisty mountain road, and that could be a safety issue as well as a distraction. It's a beautiful, scenic ride with some definitely spectacular views.

Then plan on spending a night or two in Yosemite if you can. Afterward, from there to San Francisco is only about 4 hours (can vary with traffic), so you wouldn't need another stopover.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
posts: 36,892
reviews: 56
4. Re: las vegas to san francisco

Hi veronica

I agree with Frisco_Roadrunner and I had to laugh at the 'don't look at photos' part.

September is a fabulous time to visit. I hope you have several days available. This would be my idea of an ideal first visit:

Day 1 - leave Las Vegas really early. Drive thru DVNP and enjoy as much as possible, especially quick viewpoints. Continue out the Panamint Entrance, taking in views from that side.

Night 1 - Lone Pine

Day 2 - Eastern Sierra ... so many options. Read ideas here: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c182361

Night 2 - maybe Tuolumne Meadows lodge if you like tent cabins and if it's still open, or maybe Lee Vining or June Lakes

Day 3 - leisurely drive through Tuolumne Meadows, stopping for walks or hikes, stopping again at Olmsted Point for views. Continue to Yosemite Valley and spend some time. Drive up to Glacier Point for sunset.

Night 3 - Yosemite Valley

Day 4 - more time in Yosemite Valley, and then maybe a visit to nearby small Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias or larger further Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Drive 4+ hrs to San Francisco.


With an additional day, you could spend more time in Yosemite Valley & Glacier Point ... maybe a longer visit to a grove of Giant Sequoias.

With only 3 days & 2 nights, you could spend the first night in 'western' Lone Pine or Bishop and the second night in Yosemite Valley.

Lodging reservations for Yosemite are absolutely required. Read the Top Questions about Yosemite in the upper right of the Yosemite forum page for suggestions including the link for the official concessionaire and private property options.

Lisburn, United...
posts: 9
reviews: 1
5. Re: las vegas to san francisco

Thanks so much for all the info! It's very good of you to take the time and I appreciate all your advice. I'm really looking forward to going now!

6. Re: las vegas to san francisco

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