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Nikki_McLenahan Nov 16th, 2011 12:54 PM

Yosemite to Las Vegas Help
We are visiting from the UK and we will be looking at driving from Yosemite to Las Vegas in Mid May 2012. We are hoping to take in some highlights of Mammoth and Death Valley on the wayto make the journey nore fantastic but are stumped as to how to do it or the best way to see as much as we can in 1 full fay driving. I think if the Tiaoga Road will be closed , which looking at previous years it probably will be we will have to do a very long route!

We have driven from Vegas to LA a few times and from Yosemite to LA last year so have seen a few places but really fancy the highlights of Death Valley but would rather not stay over.

Can any seasoned travellers help?

happytrailstoyou Nov 16th, 2011 02:04 PM

It is quite enjoyable to stay overnight in Death Valley. We like Furnace Creek Ranch:

With Tiaoga Pass closed, you will need to drive to Yosemite via Bakersfield. Sequoia NP and Kings Canyon NY, south of Yosemite, are both beautiful places very much worth visiting and most roads there should be open by mid-May. You can enter from the south at Three Rivers and exit north at Cedar Grove on Highway 180 into Fresno:


qwovadis Nov 16th, 2011 02:22 PM best if pass is open via

Whitney portal Death Valley Vegas... Oakhurst S. Gate then around if

Tioga is closed...

Dow Villa Hotel(Ghost of John Wayne lives there supposedly)

Furnace Creek

Wawona if budget Ahwannee AWESOME if not

Oakhurst good personal experience with Shiloh Suites

$59 for me last... Have fun!

tomfuller Nov 16th, 2011 02:22 PM

Allegiant Airline has once daily flights between Las Vegas and Fresno. Rental cars are somewhat cheaper in Las Vegas than in California. Think about going to Las Vegas first to see Death Valley and Mammoth. Fly from LV to Fresno and rent a car there to visit Yosemite.

WhereAreWe Nov 16th, 2011 02:29 PM

Just to clarify - you want to drive from Yosemite to Las Vegas in one day, with stops at Mammoth and Death Valley?

If you want to do all that in one day you won't have much time to stop and see anything on the way, it's 8+ hours of driving without sightseeing stops. And if Tioga Pass is closed then Death Valley is out of the way so you can add several hours of driving just to get there and back from the main route.

Tomsd Nov 16th, 2011 03:37 PM

You can do it in a day - especially if you follow the best maxim for a long day's drive: Leave early - as early as you can - and then have morning coffee/snacks a couple of hours later.

I think the drive into Death Valley gives one a pretty good idea of the "scenery" - and you can also go to one of the main overlooks - and IMO - see what there is to see.

We did it easily in a day - and arrive in Vegas before dark, but we did go through Tioga Pass - and I am guessing in May - it's maybe 50-50 it will be open. So - add a couple more hours going the other way - but still doable in a long day, again, if you leave early.

happytrailstoyou Nov 16th, 2011 04:14 PM

Sorry, I missed the part that you want to do Mammoth Lakes and Death Valley in one day of driving from Yosemite to Las Vegas.

If Tioga Pass is open, this is a 500-mile (800 km) trip that will take 10 hours of driving without stops.

If Tioga Pass is closed, the drive Yosemite-Death Valley-Las Vegas is 615 miles, and Yosemite to Las Vegas (without the Death Valley detour) is 485 miles, which is about 9 hours of driving.

I don't recommend any of these options.

If you can go over Tioga Pass to Death Valley, that is a beautiful drive if about 300 miles and 6 hours of driving. Spend the night at Furnace Creek and, in the morning, drive to Las Vegas (120 miles and about 2 1/2 hours of driving). This is the way to do it.


utahtea Nov 16th, 2011 07:29 PM

IF Tioga Pass is open and IF it's not snowing. You better have a back up plan!


Tomsd Nov 17th, 2011 07:29 AM

Agree- it's 50-50ish as to whether or not the Tioga pass will be open at that time, and if it's not - you will miss Mammoth - and the June Lakes loops drive - but stuff happens eh?

As for the driving time/trip - yes - it would be a long drive/day to get all the way to Vegas - which is why I always want to start early - and have the gas tank full, and the water, other beverages and the picnic lunch/sandwiches packed before leaving.

Hey - there is nothing wrong with staying in Death Valley - but my preference would be to wind up seeing the lights of Vegas that night - and not having pack up your stuff and drive the next day.

Tomsd Nov 17th, 2011 07:33 AM

BTW - I think one can average close to 60 mph, or at least we did - so you can also factor that into your driving time estimtes. And that includes stopping every couple of hours for a quick potty break.

Now - if you really enjoy the scenery between Yo and Vegas (which I think is nothing special) - it will take longer, no Q.

Tomsd Nov 17th, 2011 07:34 AM

Oops. I mean the scenery isn't anything that memorable once you get outside of Yo, and up and over the Tiogas pass if you go that way - which is spectacular until you get over to 395.

happytrailstoyou Nov 17th, 2011 09:24 AM

The drive over Tioga Pass is considered a treat by many:

Highway 395 is a particularly beautiful drive in May when the roads are clear but the mountains are still snow covered.


Placename Nov 17th, 2011 11:11 AM

Tomsd evidently has never actually driven that eastern route from Yosemite to Las Vegas via Highway 395.

It is one of the most beautiful drives in the entire US.

Tomsd Nov 17th, 2011 01:12 PM

Au contraire Placename. Have diven it at least 10 times over the last 40 years - and yes, you can see the mountains in the distance to the West, but it's flat/gray on the other side.

My main point is - if you can drive out via the Tioga pass - super - and the section in YO to Toulomne Meadows I think is the most scenic - and then down along 395 is nice - but if you have to go the other way, don't lose any sleep over it and try to do it next time.

Chris_Brown Nov 17th, 2011 02:08 PM

To each his own but I find 395 SPECTACULAR!!!!! Mono Lake, June Lake, Devil's PostPile, Mammoth Lakes, Alabama Hills, Hwy 120 East to Benton, Topaz Lake, the White Mountains, Black Canyon, Bristle Cone pine trees (oldest living trees on earth) stellar jagged peaks rising 9,000 feet above you. It is a a great drive IMHO. 395 North of Reno is also quite lovely.

Chris_Brown Nov 17th, 2011 02:14 PM

If Tioga road is closed, one could take Hwy 49 north to Hwy 50 or Hwy 80 and over to 395 and then south from there. Maybe stop for the night in Tahoe or Reno or Topaz Lake or Lee Vining. I would prefer this drive over going through Bakersfield, Tehachapi, Mohave way.

Nikki_McLenahan Nov 18th, 2011 03:43 PM

Wow thanks to all for your advice ..

We will be leaving Yosemite early on the day in quesion and hoped to drive to Vegas in 1 day via the higlights, route depending of Mammouth and Death Valley.

We would love to see some of the best views possible, however if advice says that a stay over half way to appreciate it fully then that is doable .. Only question is where would be best?

We would love to do Tioga pass but I really do think it will be closed as it was this year when we were in YO. So the next best alternative route for scenery would be fine.

I will definatley have to look into the 395. I think my travel companions will want to do it in 1 day with no stay over unless I can sell it really well.

Thanks to all for your help so far.

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