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Las Vegas to Yosemite in March - the best route ?

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Sydney, Australia
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Las Vegas to Yosemite in March - the best route ?


My family of 5 (incl three kids aged 4, 5 & 7) is driving from Las Vegas to Yosemite in mid-March 2010, staying in or near Yosemite for 2-3 nights on our way to San Francisco. From all reports, the most scenic route via Tioga Pass will be closed. So I'd welcome advice on the following :

1. What would be the best (ie: quickest vs most scenic) route to get from LV to Yosemite at this time of year.

2. With 3 kids, I’m thinking a 1 night stopover might be required along the way - any suggestions for the best place to stop over and break up this drive ?

3. When we arrive, would you recommend staying inside the national park or just outside (eg: Oakhurst, El Portal) ?

Many thanks.


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1. Re: Las Vegas to Yosemite in March - the best route ?

There are basically two ways to go:

1. South - Las Vegas through Bakersfield up to Yosemite via Oakhurst

2. North- Up 395 and over the Sierras via either 108 (Sonora Pass) and into the town of Sonora, or through Tahoe and into Yosemite via Jackson and Sonora.

Option 2 would be by far the most scenic, but would probably be twice as long and need an overnight stay, if not two if you wanted to see Tahoe.

I highly recommend getting lodgings in YNP, so as to take advantage of the relatively short time you have there.

You have posted this on the Death Valley forum. Were you planning to visit there? You don't mention it in your post.

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2. Re: Las Vegas to Yosemite in March - the best route ?

No route is as scenic and beautiful as 395 and Tioga Pass. Sonora is my next choice, but unfortunately, in March, Sonora Pass will also be closed. It typically doesn't reopen until maybe May, sometimes a little ahead of Tioga since it's at a lower elevation. But March will be too early.

You still could go to Death Valley (see other threads for possible itineraries from Las Vegas), and exit Wildrose Road to Trona and Ridgecrest, then Bakersfield (via either Hwy 58, Tehachapi Pass; or Hwy 178, Kern River Canyon--slower but more scenic).

Or for a glimpse of the Sierra Nevada, you could leave Death Valley west on Hwy 190 to Lone Pine. This is where you can drive partway up the Mt. Whitney foothills. Many Western and adventure movies were filmed in the area. From Lone Pine, go south on 395 to either the 178 turnoff, or to Hwy 14 junction and then the Hwy 58 turnoff.

From Death Valley, the Wildrose and Tehachapi route is about 370 mi/600 km. If you take the Lone Pine route, it will be around 400 mi/645-650 km from Death Valley to Yosemite.

Depending on whether you choose 178 or 58 to get to Bakersfield, I would personally stay in the Lake Isabella area (Hwy 178) or Tehachapi (Hwy 58). Lake Isabella is a water recreation resort area. It isn't usually too busy in early spring, but be aware that many schools will be out for Easter break the week of the 22nd or 29th. Tehachapi is a mountain town with a small historic downtown and lots of lodging and restaurant choices. These places are not quite halfway from Death Valley to Yosemite; Bakersfield is about midway but it just isn't the most exciting or scenic place to stop over.

Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: Las Vegas to Yosemite in March - the best route ?

Thank you both for your advice - greatly appreciated. Would love to enter Yosemite from the east, but weather will obviously dictate we take a less scenic route.

Uden, The...
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4. Re: Las Vegas to Yosemite in March - the best route ?

If you don't mind a second days long drive I'd drive to Death Valley NP to explore a bit and stay Stovepipe Wells Village. Las Vegas-Stovepipe Wells directly is 3 hours so you have some time to explore places like Dante's View, Zabriskie Point, Devils Golf Course, Badwater, Artist Drive and SPW dunes. Then next day drive as far as you can get via Bakersfield, maybe to Fresno or to Oakhurst before entering Yosemite NP next day.


5. Re: Las Vegas to Yosemite in March - the best route ?

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