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DV to Yosemite in March

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
5 posts
48 reviews
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DV to Yosemite in March

We are driving from Death Valley to Yosemite from March 18. Would like 2 nights in DV and 2 nights in Yosemite. Where is the best overnight stop in between given the Tioga Pass will be closed. Not camping. Have 2 kids and interested in light hiking.

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Tioga Pass
Tioga Pass
997 Reviews
Yosemite National Park, CA
San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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16,055 posts
51 reviews
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1. Re: DV to Yosemite in March

In March, you'll have to go around the south end of the Sierra Nevada from Death Valley to Bakersfield, either on Hwy 58 (Tehachapi Pass) or Hwy 178 (Kern River Canyon). They are similar distances, but 178 will take maybe a half hour longer because it is not a freeway but a scenic rural road along the river. It is narrow and curvy in spots but entirely paved, and there are visitor services along the way. Hwy 58 is hilly but all freeway, not quite as diverse but scenic enough, with lots of greenery.

From Stovepipe Wells in DV to Yosemite Valley is about 400 miles/650 km. Most of us here presume, I think, that folks from Australia are accustomed to long drives. You may or may not want to do this trip in a day. If you were traveling in temperate weather and taking Hwy 395, we would all tell you to stop over two nights along the way, take your time, and enjoy everything because the Eastern Sierra Nevada is among the most beautiful parts of California.

TBPH, on the Bakersfield-Fresno route, there isn't a lot between Death Valley and Yosemite that's worth making an overnight stop. The Lake Isabella and Kern River route is pretty, but it's a bit soon to stop over. Bakersfeld is the midpoint and it is a fairly ordinary central California midsized city without a lot of tourist appeal. Fresno is about 150 km from Yosemite Valley, which puts you closer to Yosemite for the next day's ride. Fresno is (IMHO, which not everyone may agree with) nicer than Bakersfield, but still, it isn't a huge tourist attraction.

Bottom line: if you need the stopover, I'd pick Fresno. If you don't need it, go on to Yosemite or at least to the western outskirts (e.g. Oakhurst or Fish Camp) for the night, to maximize your time in Yosemite. Be sure to reserve your park lodgings in advance for both parks, because March is a popular visitor season and it is also Easter or spring break for many schools.

Distant second choice of routes: go up Hwy 395 to the Tahoe area and take Hwy 50 to Placerville, then Hwy 49 down the Gold Rush country to the west side of Yosemite, entering at Groveland. This is a very scenic historic route but is much longer, and you still have a good chance to encounter wintry weather.

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2. Re: DV to Yosemite in March

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