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Advice please - Yosemite to Vegas, stop at DV?

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Derbyshire, Uk
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Advice please - Yosemite to Vegas, stop at DV?


We're looking to travel from Yosemite to Vegas on one leg of our journey. We know that we're going to have to stop en route as I believe its around an 8 hour drive. As we're going end of April, we also know that we'll have to drive south to Bakersfield rather than across the Tioga Pass. A couple of questions:

Where would be a convenient stop - would it be Bakersfield or Barstow or somewhere else?

Would it be unrealistic to stop somewhere en route from Yosemite to Vegas for one night and take in some of DV en route to Vegas the 2nd day (but not spend a 2nd night)?

Thanks again for all the wonderful advice I'm getting!

San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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1. Re: Advice please - Yosemite to Vegas, stop at DV?

Not having Tioga Pass will add a lot of distance to your trip, and you will not have the Sierra Nevada as a constant frame for the scenery. You will see a lot of the San Joaquin Valley, which is part of the vast central California region often called "America's salad bowl." In late April there may still be some wildflowers to see in Death Valley, depending on where you go.

You do not need to go to Barstow; in fact, if you do, you may miss most of the wildflowers and the sand dunes will not be on your direct route. From Yosemite Village to Bakersfield is about 260-270 mi/410 km.

From Bakersfield, take CA Hwy 58 east to Mojave, then CA 14 north to Ridgecrest. This stretch is about 110 mi/180 km.

From Ridgecrest, go to Trona, then to a junction where you can choose Hwy 190 (Panamint Valley Rd) or Wildrose Rd. Hwy 190 is more "classic" Mojave desert scenery, less green, more brown and sandy looking, with sweeping views of the Panamint Mtns. Wildrose is a mountain road, narrow and curvy in places, with lots of greenery. It does snow on Wildrose, but the chances are slight in April. Part of this road is graded gravel, suitable for regular cars--just take it easy. From Ridgecrest to Stove Pipe Wells resort in DV is about 95 mi/150 km. From SPW, it is about 25 miles to Furnace Creek resort; on the way you'll see a turnoff for Scotty's Castle. This is a long side trip, and you'll have to decide whether to include it.

Bakersfield, Mojave, Ridgecrest, Stove Pipe Wells, and Furnace Creek have restaurants, gas, and lodging. Trona has food and gas but no lodging, unless the burned-out motel at the north end of town has been revived.

Because Wildrose is up high, there might be some wildflowers, whereas they may be gone from lower, warmer elevations. Be aware that you may not see big fields of colorful flowers from the road; you often see them only by pulling off and getting out on foot.

Spend as much time in DV as you wish. Look through some of the other threads on this and the DV National Park forum for ideas about what to see in a short time.

All visitors want to see Badwater, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere; and Zabriskie Point and Dante's View, two of the best and most accessible vista spots. They are on two different roads, both of which could take you to Las Vegas. I suggest you go to Badwater and double back, seeing everything you wish on that road, e.g. Devil's Golf Course and Badwater on the way down, Artist Drive and Golden Canyon on the way back). Then turn right (east) on CA 190 which goes to Zabriskie and Dante's.

Afterward, stay on 190 east to Death Valley Junction, then follow the directions for Pahrump and Las Vegas. From 190 at the turnoff for Dante's View (your last sightseeing stop in the park) is about 110-120 mi/180 km to Las Vegas.

Late April is a popular time to visit these parks, so once you decide how you want to proceed, start checking into lodgings fairly soon.

This will be a big adventure. Whether you can do it with one overnight stop is up to you, your travel pace, how much you want to do in one day, and your endurance. I'd prefer two overnights, including at least one in the park so you can really savor the desert surroundings. As described here, excluding any side trips, you'll drive approximately 600 mi/1000 km. In comparison, if you could take Tioga Pass it would be closer to 400 mi/650 km.

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2. Re: Advice please - Yosemite to Vegas, stop at DV?

Frisco Roadrunner is the expert and his advice is the one worth taking.

I would only add that you shouldn't underestimate the drive into Death Valley. The number of miles doesn't tell the whole story. From the West side it is steep ascending and descending with lots of curves, some a little scary especially to a tired driver and his/her passengers. So allow plenty of time for the part from when you take HWY 190 if you go that way. I was in DV a week ago and it was a great experience.

I would certainly recommend a stay of at least one night in DV. If you want to stay another night before you get to DV then maybe think about Mojave and set off towards DV early morning.

Derbyshire, Uk
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3. Re: Advice please - Yosemite to Vegas, stop at DV?

Wow, thanks so much for the detailed information. It certainly is food for thought, will keep everyone posted of my plans!

Topanga, California
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4. Re: Advice please - Yosemite to Vegas, stop at DV?

Weather permitting, and it almost surely will be, I suggest taking 178 east from Bakersfield, rather than the 58/395 hustle.

The Kern River is scenic, as is Lake Isabella and the highway leaving the area to the east. I'll call it a Poor Man's Tioga Pass.

It takes longer, though it is shorter in miles.

5. Re: Advice please - Yosemite to Vegas, stop at DV?

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