Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   United States (
-   -   Alt route (scenic not quickest) Yosemite-Vegas Oct 09 (

aussiedreamer Jan 19th, 2009 01:35 AM

Alt route (scenic not quickest) Yosemite-Vegas Oct 09
Ok, I’m doing my ‘homework’ and I will try not to ask too many repetitive questions.
A quick history...........
We have attempted to drive from Vegas to San Francisco via Yosemite across the Tioga pass once before. Have to admit we were very ‘green’ travellers then (10 years ago)and were led up the so called garden path by a very uninformed travel agent. It was March and needless to say we ended up driving via Bishop & Reno and missed Yosemite completely.
This time after converting to Fodors a few years ago and doing a lot of reading we are going to attempt it again.
BUT, as ‘luck’ would have it, it appears we will be departing Yosemite for Vegas around about the 30 Oct. I see by looking up previous dates it could go either way.My questions are,

<b>1/ If it’s closed</b>, what would be a scenic route to take to get to Vegas? Our time is very flexible, but would like to be in Vegas for Nov 3.

<i>We arrive LAX Oct 1, and head to NYC for 5 nights before picking up a car and driving ‘till the 15th Oct. Taking in as much scenic territory as possible. (I will start a new thread asking for ideas) Then we head back to LAX and pick up a car and drive as scenic a route as possible to San Francisco, then head to Yosemite, Vegas and depart LAX 11 Nov. We don’t need/want to spend any time in LA itself.</i>

<b>/2 If it’s still open</b> what would the driving conditions be like? Considering that it would be very close to closing. As much as we would love to go that way, the thought of a scary drive isn’t that appealing.

thanks as always

SoloNoMo Jan 19th, 2009 07:41 AM

Not much help, but I drove over Tioga Pass in early June back in 86 and they had just plowed the road. The snow was still over the top of my car! Hopefully it'll be open for you -- it's gorgeous!

Barbara Jan 19th, 2009 09:40 AM

If the Tioga Pass is closed, you could go from SF-Sonoma, Angels Camp(Gold Rush area)-Placerville-Lake Tahoe-Bishop-Death Valley-Las Vegas.

I'm no expert on that area and hopefully others will chime in with details like weather in the Lake Tahoe area at that time of year!

If you have time, you could go into Yosemite on the way, see the lower part of the Park(which is still pretty high up!) and leave by the same gate to continue on your way.

curmudgeon Jan 19th, 2009 06:59 PM

1) It's definitely more scenic (and rather slow) to drive north along highway 49 in the mountain foothills. This is the &quot;gold rush&quot; territory, and if you like the older western towns, you find them here. The next two cross-sierra highways north of Yosemite (highway 4 and 120) also close in the winter; probably at a similar time to Tioga Pass, though I don't follow the times.

2) If the pass is still open, driving conditions will be fine. The park service does not plow the road in the fall; they just close it as soon as there is significant snowfall.

aussiedreamer Jan 19th, 2009 07:07 PM


when you say they don't 'plow' does that mean we 'may' have to drive through some snow?

excuse the ignorance, we live in the driving in the snow, may be an issue!! ;-)

Barbara Jan 19th, 2009 07:49 PM

I meant to type Sonora, not Sonoma. Two different places! Sorry.

curmudgeon Jan 20th, 2009 08:19 AM

For most mountain roads, the highway crews will use a truck with a scraper in front (snowplow) to push the snow to the side after a snowstorm. They may also spread sand (or salt) on icy spots. In Yosemite, they will plow the main roads, which are lower in elevation and don't normally get snow until mid-winter; for Tioga pass, they don't &quot;plow&quot; it, they just close it for the season. If there's snow on the road, they won't let you on it.

I would not plan an early start leaving from Yosemite valley and driving across the pass. Even if there is no snow, it will tend to be cold; leaving at 9 or 10 will let the high country get a bit warmer so you can enjoy the viewpoints a bit more.

aussiedreamer Jan 20th, 2009 12:31 PM

Awsome, thanks so much. We will book Yosemite for the 27, 28, &amp; 29 Oct and depart on the 30th. Hopefully across the pass. We will be lead by advice we get at the time.

Just a side question. Taking into account the mountaines roads etc. roughly how long is the drive from Yosemite to Vegas? Just wondering if to do it in one go or stay somewhere overnight on the 30th.

Thanks as always.

boom_boom Jan 20th, 2009 06:52 PM

Yosemite to Vegas depends on time of year and route.
If Tioga Pass is open, figure 7-8 hours.
Pass not open and you go via 99 to 58 to 15, it would be about the same if traffic is flowing OK on 15.
Longer route is 99 to Bakersfield, 178 to Ridgecrest, then via Trona do Death Valley, Pahrump and LV. Probably at least an hour longer, maybe more.
Overnight is via Tioga Pass consider Lone Pine, several nice motels and a Western Movie Musuem.
Overnight via Bakersfield, best bet is Ridgecrest or Parhump.

aussiedreamer Jan 20th, 2009 08:55 PM

Thanks, as we are on no strict time table we will plan on an overnight somewhere.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:31 PM.