When? What do you like to do? Which entrance are you using and which exit? Where are you staying?
That's a long drive for just one night. You can figure on 6 hours of driving time from Los Angeles to Yosemite Valley, plus any time spent at stops along the way. Then your route from Yosemite Valley to Las Vegas will be even longer, and will depend on what time of year this trip is. The top question at right that ways, "What is a good route to travel to Yosemite from Las Vegas" explains the options that are possible for that drive. If you are going to drive from Yosemite Valley to Las Vegas all in one day, that's still a minimum of 8 hours of driving time, even by the shortest possible route. So you would not have time to see anything else that day. The only way to make it worth all this driving would be to stay 2 nights in Yosemite, giving you 1 full day for the park. To do that, of course, you would need to shorten your time in either LA or LV by one night.
We have only just decided to visit Yosemite so we are unsure of the different gates and what not... We would like to go bushwalking and just seeing as much as we can.
Are we best off doing our own thing or going on a tour?? What is the best route from LA??
Thanks for the info
From L.A. you will probably be using I-5 to Hwy 99 to Hwy 41 to the South Entrance. Are you visiting in winter when snow is a possibility?
If this drive is in summer or fall, you could exit by way of Tioga Pass and spend a night in Bishop or Lone Pine on the way to Las Vegas. tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c182361 In winter & spring you can't do this. But you said you have only 1 night for this huge drive!
The Top Questions in the upper right (lodging, trip reports, winter driving) might help you. We really need to know more before we can share relevant suggestions.
It will be at the start of November, we are just unsure of where to stay and what we can fit into our time
Okay, now that we know you're visiting when Tioga Pass is likely to be closed, when Tuolumne Meadows amenities are definitely closed, and Glacier Point Road is possibly closed, we can give you some realistic expectations.
The first day you'll be driving about 300 miles from L.A. to Yosemite Valley. Use Hwy 41 to enter. If you don't encounter much traffic and leave from a close part of L.A., this drive is probably 5 hours or 6 hours with stops. Go directly to the Valley. You might be able to check into your reserved lodging. Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is a basic motel-like place, but right in the Valley. Curry Village has a few cabins and mostly tent cabins. The heaters should be turned on by November, but it will be chilly at night.
Spend the remainder of the day following some of the One Day Itinerary ideas in the upper right. Maybe rent bikes at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls (if the rental shop is still open), maybe ride the shuttle to Happy Isles and walk up to Vernal Fall, maybe stroll up the Lower Yosemite Fall.
For Day 2, you'll probably just need to get on the road. I wish there was time for you to visit the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Maybe on your entrance day you can drive to the MG parking lot, but you don't have time to walk into the grove.
Anyway, it's about 500 miles from Yosemite Valley to Las Vegas. If you're lucky and Tioga Pass is open, use that route which is 'only' 425 miles. If Tioga Pass is closed, retrace your drive as far as Bakersfield and then head east. No time for Death Valley either.
Crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g61000-c158581 Includes historical data about closure of Tioga Pass and description of your two routes.
Las Vegas to Yosemite Valley: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c182361 Includes detailed description of this more scenic route.
We are thinking it might be a bit risky going out to Yosemite if its snowing we don't wanna book accomadation and have to cancel it.... If we don't go to Yosemite we are thinking about flying from Vegas to sanfransisco... Do you think we are crazy to miss Yosemite?? is there anywhere else that is just as scenic
In my opinion there is no equivalent to Yosemite Valley anywhere else. You should try to work in Yosemite to your trip in some way. But you need at least 2 nights in the park, giving you one full day in the park, to make it worth the time and effort to get there.
A possible solution would be for you to fly from Las Vegas to Merced, California, on Great Lakes Airlines. They have 3 flights a day and the flight is only 90 minutes long. From the Merced airport, you would take a YARTS bus into the park. See http://yarts.com for the Highway 140 schedule. Then you would use the free shuttle that runs around on the floor of Yosemite Valley to get to locations in the valley.
When you are ready to leave, you would take a YARTS bus again from Yosemite Valley down to Merced, but not to the airport, to the AMTRAK train station, and take an Amtrak train from there to San Francisco. The San Francisco station is actually in Emeryville, California, across the bay from San Francisco, but you can easily use BART transit system to get from the Emeryvile station to downtown San Francisco.
Doing all this would cost you more, but it would get you to Yosemite and back out, without having to rent a car and without having to do any driving of your own. It would also eliminate any worries you might have about mountain driving or driving in snowy or icy conditions.
Another alternative would be for you to fly from Las Vegas to San Francisco, as you are planning to do, then just get on an organized group tour from San Francisco to Yosemite and back to San Francisco, such as on a motor coach. If you do that I would get on one that has you staying at least 1 night in the park, preferably 2 nights. Those trips that go from San Francisco to Yosemite and back to San Francisco all in one day only give you a few hours in the park, and that's not nearly enough.
In November, the famous waterfalls of Yosemite Valley will not be at the same amount of flow that they are in the springtime. Most photos and video you see of Yosemite is taken in the spring when the waterfalls are at their best. In November they may be much lower, or even possibly bone dry, if there was no rain before your trip. Even without the waterfalls you can still enjoy the landscape and views.
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