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Where to stop en route from Las Vegas to Yosemite

Leicester, United...
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Where to stop en route from Las Vegas to Yosemite

Hi

in mid July we are travelling from Las Vegas to Yosemite and we are ion need of an overniht stop between the two locations.

I would like to avoid Death Valley if possible as it will be so hot that it simply isnt worth the risk in July. However I find the idea of stopping somewhere like Lone Pine or Bishop very appealing due to the traditional 'Wild West' setting.

If it is impossible to stay above and avoid Death Valley is there anywhere on the other side which is nice to stop?

Pleaser note we are stopping at Oakhurst

Washington State
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1. Re: Where to stop en route from Las Vegas to Yosemite

I don't understand the risk of driving through Death Valley NP. Are you concerned that you'll be crowded out by other European tourists who love the desert heat? Will you be renting a 20 year old car and think it might break down? You don't actually have to get out of the car as you drive through this NP.

I'm glad you had time to read that Las Vegas to Yosemite Valley article. Lone Pine does sound like it would appeal to your travel group. If you want to stay in Lone Pine or at least to enjoy some of this town, then driving through DVNP just makes sense.

If you want to stay in Bishop, I think you'd be okay using Hwy 95 & Hwy 266 / 168. I haven't driven this route, but it appears to be do-able.

Perhaps you'd like to drive further north and stay in Mammoth Lake, June Lakes, or Lee Vining. You'd be closer to the Tioga Pass entrance for the next day.

Oakhurst is not in Yosemite NP, as you probably know. So after a long drive from Bishop along the eastern Sierra, skipping Mono Lake & Bodie State Historic Park (ghost town), enjoying Tuolumne Meadows, and getting a brief view at Olmsted Point, you'll arrive in Yosemite Valley. Then you have another 1.5 hours to drive to Oakhurst.

If at all possible, I'd recommend someplace closer to Yosemite Valley for your first night or maybe both nights. IMO, there are just two things that make an Oakhurst stay appealing: proximity to Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias (30 min away, but you just visit once) and lower motel costs than staying in Yosemite Valley.

Did you have a chance to read the Top Questions in the upper right? There are more lodging suggestions for visitors.

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2. Re: Where to stop en route from Las Vegas to Yosemite

How many nights in Yosemite? Lone Pine is very cool (but takes some time to absorb or even notice its "Wild West" feeling - you need to go outside of town to the various sites where Westerns are filmed to really get that feeling (Alabama Hills, Whitney Portal).

But, then, you're quite a ways from your next night's lodging. You'll definitely want to linger a bit around the Tuolumne area, maybe climb a dome, certainly see Olmsted Point, but from Lone Pine, you'd be rushing it. Even Bishop isn't that close.

If you're staying 3 nights in Oakhurst, you'll get to see Yosemite (two full days, broken up by a lot of driving back and forth - so while you'll see it, you'll have barely scratched the surface). That first day, driving in, you'll see almost nothing. Then, you'll have the two full days (easily taken up with a large variety of things to do) and then you'll be leaving for your next destination.

If you have fewer than 3 nights in Oakhurst, I'd rethink the plan somewhat.

Leicester, United...
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3. Re: Where to stop en route from Las Vegas to Yosemite

The plan at the moment is to enter Yosemite through the Tioga pass and have a scenic drive to our hotel in Oakhurst and spend the next day in the valley seeing the Mariposa Grove and making use of the free bus which I understand takes you round the valley, if we have time indulge in a bit of cycling, swimming and kayaking.

We are staying in Oakhurst due to cost implications of staying inside the park. We have a nice hotel booked which accommodates all 5 of us in the room

Washington State
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4. Re: Where to stop en route from Las Vegas to Yosemite

>> spend the next day in the valley seeing the Mariposa Grove and making use of the free bus which I understand takes you round the valley, if we have time indulge in a bit of cycling, swimming and kayaking <<

Drive to Mariposa Grove: 30 minutes. Walk up to the Grizzly Giant & California Tunnel Tree (tram is too expensive at $26 pp): 1.5 hrs.

Drive to Tunnel View for photos & a quick stop: 1 hr from the time you leave Mariposa Grove till you leave Tunnel View.

Bridalveil Fall: 30 min

... finally arrive in Yosemite Valley, about 3.5 hrs after you leave Oakhurst. Make an early start so you can get a parking place in the Valley.

Definitely use the free shuttle to get around the Valley. Expect shuttles to be stuffed full. Have a good plan in place before you arrive to maximize your limited time. A hike up the Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Fall will be crowded by this time of day; use the Happy Isles shuttle stop. Mirror Meadow (Lake in the spring) should be a nice flat walk. A wander around a meadow enjoying views could be nice. Lower Yosemite Fall is a path that is paved & wheelchair accessible; the water should still be running IF this is a good snowy winter.

If you want to rent bikes, go immediately to the bike rental kiosk at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. All the bikes may be gone by then so you'd need to wait for some to be returned.

No kayaking in the Park unless you bring your own boats, and I think Tenaya Lake is the only reasonable place to kayak.

Swimming is a possibility. Be sure you're in a safe place. The Merced River usually just warm enough by mid-July to swim.

At the end of the day, drive 1.5 hrs back to Oakhurst.

Note that you do not have time to go to Glacier Point or to walk up Sentinel Dome.

=================

Alternate plan ...

Go directly to Yosemite Valley for most of the day. Rent bikes first thing! Around 4:00, leave the Valley and drive 1 hr to Mariposa Grove. Usually by 5 pm most of the visitors are gone and you can find a parking place at the Grove. If you arrive any earlier, you probably can't drive up the Mariposa Grove road but must take the free shuttle to the parking lot. Arriving around 5:30 or 6:00 might be even better. Walk in the Grove. Watch for deer as they will be more active at this time of day. Enjoy your picnic dinner you brought with you or have a late dinner in Oakhurst.

Daylight hours www.SunriseSunset.com

Edited: 6:00 pm, January 18, 2013
Leicester, United...
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5. Re: Where to stop en route from Las Vegas to Yosemite

I must admit I am starting to wonder if Death Valley would be OK if we went through it in the morning rather than later in the day. After all it is only 20 miles across which shouldnt take too long. Perhaps we should decide when we get there.

At the moment we have 2 options:

1. stay overnight in Bishop and enter park through Tioga pass

2. Stay overnight in somewhere near Squoia/Kings Canyon (what is Bakersfield like?) and drive directly to Oakhurst

I believe that option 1 would be more scenic but option 2 would involve less driving

Washington State
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6. Re: Where to stop en route from Las Vegas to Yosemite

Option 2 devotes two vacation days to an un-scenic drive. I can't think of any reason to choose this. If you want to drive this route, just make one day of it.

Route A: Las Vegas to Bishop via Pahrump, Furnace Creek, Panamint = 280 miles, 5 hr 11 min

Route B: Las Vegas to Bishop via Hwy 95 = 270 miles, 4 hr 33 min

=============

If you select Route A, you can take a detour up to Dante's View ... maybe 45-60 minutes, great view. You can take a 5 minute drive through 20 Mule Team Canyon. You can stop for 10 minutes at Zabriskie Point. Badwater Detour: Drive down to Badwater at the lowest elevation in the US; don't get out if you're hot. On the way back north take the Artist Drive scenic drive. Total time for the Badwater Detour = 60 - 75 minutes. Details: nps.gov/deva/…furnacecreekarea.htm

Lunch at Furnace Creek or Stovepipe Wells. More scenic viewing out the window. Peek out the back windows as you head out Panamint. The elevation here is about 3,000' so you'll be cooler AND it's a great view. Head on to Lone Pine for a break. On to Bishop for the night.

Total time: 7.5 hrs + time for lunch If you leave Las Vegas at 8 am, you could be in Bishop by 5 pm.

==============

It appears that you're spending a lot of time figuring out how to get to a destination that is not scenic or desirable (Oakhurst.) Sure, if you drive from Las Vegas to Bakersfield and Bakersfield to Oakhurst, you won't travel many miles. But you also won't be visiting any of the places you have paid $$$$ (or ££££) to travel to California to see or experience.

If you want to avoid Death Valley (and you can definitely make that choice ... it's your trip and your travel style) then drive up Hwy 95 to Lee Vining or June Lakes for an overnight. Then you'll be closer to Yosemite NP for the next day's tourism.

Leicester, United...
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7. Re: Where to stop en route from Las Vegas to Yosemite

It looks like the Bishop route is best. I will probably wait until we are there before we decide whether we are going through Death Valley ie see how the family cope with the heat (LV should give some idea)

As to the stopover It could be anywhere out of Bishop, June Lake area or maybe Mammouth Lakes. Would I need to pre-book accommodation in that area or is there likely to be plenty available in the area on the day?

Washington State
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8. Re: Where to stop en route from Las Vegas to Yosemite

I don't have any idea about mid-July accommodation availability in the eastern Sierra.

San Francisco
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9. Re: Where to stop en route from Las Vegas to Yosemite

Folks shouldn't be afraid of Death Valley. Death Valley doesn't kill people; usually people take unnecessary risks through inadequate understanding of the kind of environment it is, lack of preparation, careless driving, or sometimes arrogance in thinking they can outsmart Mother Nature. For all those reasons, the Death Valley enthusiasts will help you make the most of your trip.

This is a totally unique place. There isn't anything like it anywhere in the world. NASA has used it to simulate operations on Mars because research showed that some of the landforms and conditions in Death Valley resemble those of Mars more than most other places on Earth (or at least, places where NASA could feasibly do testing).

Thousands of visitors come from around the world in summer to see Death Valley. Many are from northern climates like Germany, the Netherlands, England, and Canada. Many stay over a day or two so they can leisurely enjoy the landscapes, specific natural wonders, historic sites, and the amenities of the park resorts.

Start out in the Top Questions corner of the DV forum where there is a thread about summer travel. Most of the park is accessible then, although we suggest people avoid remote backcountry areas where there is a chance they could be stranded far from help. There is plenty to see on the main roads, enough to keep you interested for days.

The trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite is worth a couple of nights at least. If you stay one night in Death Valley, take your time meandering up the Eastern Sierra Nevada and stop again at Mammoth Lakes or Lee Vining. Even if you do not stop over in Death Valley, don’t just rush through, but take time to appreciate it, then stop at maybe Lone Pine or Bishop. Tioga Pass is very scenic and dramatic. If your itinerary has you approaching it in the afternoon, be aware that it runs directly west, and you will have the setting sun in your face as you drive over a narrow, curvy mountain road, which can be a distraction and a safety issue.

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10. Re: Where to stop en route from Las Vegas to Yosemite

Surely your rental car will be air conditioned? A drive across Death Valley in an air conditioned car should not cause anybody any discomfort, and it is a piece of desert you should see, if even from the car.

Also, Hwy 395 from Lone Pine north is one of the most beautiful drives there is as it runs along the foot of the Sierras, which appear to jump straight up from the valley floor for thousands of feet.