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LA to Yosemite, Amtrak or 395? Places to stop?

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I'm in LA, and I'm taking my parents to Yosemite in early October. My parents are coming from Japan and they are in their 70's. I'm debating over taking Amtrak buses and train or driving up highway 395. I get stiff back from driving long distance, so Amtrak sounded like a good idea. However it takes like 9 hours and it just doesn't seem like a good use of time.

1. Is it worth driving up 395? I'm thinking of staying two nights and stopping at some sights if going this route; one somewhere on the way, and one close to Yosemite I suppose. Alabama Hills looks good. Any recommendations of a place/area to stay? Bodie ghost town looks interesting too, but it's a little north of Yosemite and I'm not sure if it's worth going the extra mile. Any other spots we should definitely hit? I'm thinking Death Valley would be too time consuming. I've never been to any of these places myself.

2. Anybody taken the Amtrak and would you recommend it?

How cold does it get in Yosemite in early October? I'm seeing the lowest temperature is 42F, does that sound about right?

I'd appreciate any ideas or suggestions. Thank you!

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