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San Jose via Death Valley and Yosemite from Las Vegas

Manila, Philippines
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San Jose via Death Valley and Yosemite from Las Vegas

Hi All, My wife and I are planning to drive back to San Jose from Las Vegas via Death Valley and Yosemite. We're in no real rush so I'd like to get your suggestions. Right now we're planning a night in DV and a night in Yosemite before proceeding to San Jose. I'm trying to look at Google Maps but I can't seem to get it to plot a route for me to DV from Las Vegas. Any suggested directions and itineraries would be most welcome.

Thank you.

Dublin, California
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1. Re: San Jose via Death Valley and Yosemite from Las Vegas

Go to the Death Valley NP web site. There is direction from Las Vegas:

www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/directions.htm

Tucson, Arizona
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2. Re: San Jose via Death Valley and Yosemite from Las Vegas

It is important for us to know when you are planning on doing this. While Death Valley is warm the mountains on the way to Yosemite can be snowy and closed!

ZB

Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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3. Re: San Jose via Death Valley and Yosemite from Las Vegas

I think the Shortest Route on this map makes sense: nps.gov/deva/…20Vegas.pdf You'd make the detour to Dante's View first.

Las Vegas to Yosemite (ONLY when Tioga Pass is open): tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c182361

Crossing the Sierra with historical data: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g61000-c158581

Manila, Philippines
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4. Re: San Jose via Death Valley and Yosemite from Las Vegas

Thank you all for the helpful suggestions. We are planning to do this in May, around the 3rd week or so. Sorry I didn't take into account the date we were doing this.

Would it be too hot to do Death Valley then?

How about Tioga Pass? Is it open then?

Thank you all again!

Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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5. Re: San Jose via Death Valley and Yosemite from Las Vegas

The target opening date for Tioga Pass is May 24, 2013. Read the "Crossing the Sierra" article for alternate route ideas.

Lodging reservations in Yosemite are always needed. This NP is especially popular in May with the full waterfalls. Check the Yosemite page, Top Questions.

Washington State
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6. Re: San Jose via Death Valley and Yosemite from Las Vegas

An earlier opening for Tioga Pass might happen. sierrawave.net/24345/tioga-pass-anticipated/ Keep an eye on road conditions on the NPS website.

San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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7. Re: San Jose via Death Valley and Yosemite from Las Vegas

The 3rd week of May is borderline for whether Tioga Pass will be open or not. We had unusually light snow in late winter, so it might be. But you cannot count on it for sure.

If you are in no rush to get from Las Vegas to San Jose, plan on spending more than just one night in each park. If you have the time, Death Valley is worth a couple of nights. From DV to Yosemite is about 6 hours' driving time, excluding sightseeing stops or detours, and that is if Tioga is open. There is a lot to see along Hwy 395 on the east side of the Sierra Nevada, including Mt. Whitney, Mammoth Lakes and Devil's Postpile, and Mono Lake. If you take your time to enjoy some of the sights, you will approach Yosemite in the afternoon and it is better not to start over Tioga Pass with the sun in your face, both for maximum enjoyment of the scenery and safety on the narrow mountain road.

Yosemite deserves a couple of nights. You can get more info about exploring and lodging there on that forum. If your trip is for this May, you might have a challenge finding vacancies at park resorts or lodgings in nearby communities. Yosemite is an extremely popular destination and some people reserve months in advance.

If Tioga is not open, you'll have to go around the south end of the Sierra Nevada from Death Valley to Bakersfield and Fresno. Unlike the trip on Hwy 395, I wouldn’t take time for an overnight stop until you get closer to Yosemite. The first part of the trip, along either Hwy 58 (Tehachapi Pass) or Hwy 178 (Kern River Canyon) will be scenic, but nothing even close to the eastern Sierra or Tioga Pass. Stop at Bakersfield if you need gas, snacks, etc., and continue to Fresno, the southeast “gateway” city for Yosemite. It ha a better selection of lodgings if you want to stop over, but it would be better if you could make it a bit farther (e.g. Oakhurst or Fish Camp), to be closer to the park the next day.

Is Death Valley too hot in May? That’s entirely up to you. I’m looking forward to going back again this summer to work there, but some folks prefer it less balmy. For some people, May is well into the summer season in Death Valley, but it isn’t extreme. The average daily high temperature for the month is 100ºF (38ºC). The historic high for May is 122ºF (50ºC), but that is not typical. Unless thunderstorms are developing (more common in late summer), the humidity is generally low. Most of our summer visitors are from overseas, a great many from northern latitudes like England, the Netherlands, and Germany, and they love Death Valley. Pace yourself, drink plenty of water, and follow the other advice on our thread about safe summer travel (see Top Questions in the upper right of the forum page). Check the weather section on the park website for historic climate data and weather records for each month and every day of the year.

www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/weather.htm

San Francisco
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8. Re: San Jose via Death Valley and Yosemite from Las Vegas

If you are going from Death Valley to Yosemite on 395, Mammoth Lakes or Lee Vining would be good places to stop over.

Lee Vining is the nearest town to the east entrance to Yosemite and is about 75 miles (120 km) from Yosemite Valley. It's a very small town with several motels and limited other services. It can get very busy since it is the only eastern "gateway" town to Yosemite as well as the only real town on Mono Lake. Whether or not you stay in Lee Vining, be sure to see Mono Lake, one of California's unique natural marvels.

Mammoth Lakes is a bigger town with more lodging, dining, and other services, about a half hour farther from Yosemite. A national park area called Devil's Postpile is there. The name comes from columnar basalt formations from volcanic activity millions of years ago, so long ago that the area has reforested. Much of the eastern Sierra is volcanic; in fact scientists consider it a dormant mega-volcano with Krakatoa potential, and it has hot springs, obsidian and pumice, and occasional earthquakes to remind us of its origins.

Another resort community, June Lakes, is between Lee Vining and Mammoth Lakes. I personally like the other two better, but don't let that influence your choice.

Manila, Philippines
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9. Re: San Jose via Death Valley and Yosemite from Las Vegas

Thank you all so much for your great advice! I have a lot to sort through but based on what you all have suggested, I can think I can make this work.

10. Re: San Jose via Death Valley and Yosemite from Las Vegas

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