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Help planning drive for honeymoon couple please!!

Wales
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Help planning drive for honeymoon couple please!!

Hi all

Had some really useful feedback so far so thanks for helping me put together this trip.

We have decided on the following

Day 1 - San Francisco - Yosemite, staying at the High Sierra B&B

Day 2 - Yosemite to Lone Pine, staying at the Dow Villa

Day 3 - Lone Pine to Death Valley, staying at Stove Pipe Wells

Day 4 - to Vegas!

Does this make a fairly good route? Will we see all the main areas this way?

What does everybody think of this itinerary ( I think its fairly standard?) and what are the 'not to miss' sights/experiences at each stop/en route? If anybody has ideas on times travelling between each area that would be great and any general advice?

We are hoping to leave San Francisco earlyish (approx 9am) on Day 1 so I believe we should reach Yosemite at about 1pm? Is it worth spending most of Day 2 in Yosemite too and travelling to Lone Pine later in the day? Is there much to be seen there? Its so hard to pack it all in with a fixed itinerary! Also how long will it take to get to Las Vegas from DV?

This is our Honeymoon so if anybody knows of any good romantic stops/restaurants on the route that would also be great.

Thanks to everybody in advance for their help.

San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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1. Re: Help planning drive for honeymoon couple please!!

You're right, with a fixed schedule, it's hard to see it all, and Yosemite and Death Valley are each worth more than a day. It would be great if you had a day to spend in between, but if your schedule is absolute, do the best you can in the time you have and plan another voyage over, maybe for your 10th anniversary!

First off, I don't recall when you were coming, so make sure Tioga Pass is open.

Distances and times are always approximate, as we can't foresee the details of weather, traffic, special events, or your sightseeing interests, culinary needs, etc.

S.F. to Yosemite is about 4 hours. It's good that you will get there midday, with time for some sightseeing and activities in the afternoon and evening.

From Yosemite Valley to Lee Vining via Tioga Pass is about 75 mi/120 km. It is a twisty mountain road, so you won't be going very fast. It's also beautiful and scenic, so you'll be stopping here and there. The descent down the east side is steep and you can really get moving! The views of Mono Lake on the way are stupendous. If you feel like eating, stop at the Tioga Gas Mart just before you reach Hwy 395; it is a gas station but the food is some of the best in Calfornia and would put many big-city chefs to shame and you can enjoy it outdoors with a view of the lake.

Mono Lake is unique; be sure to stop there. It isn't just any lake; you'll see mineral formations called Tufa that form from chemicals in the water, and there are many kinds of birds. There are two visitor centers in the town of Lee Vining, one right on main street and the other just north of town (with more spectacular views).

A small resort area called June Lakes is just south of Lee Vining. From Lee Vining to the next major community, Mammoth Lakes, is about 30 mi/50 km. You have to exit the highway to get to the town, a 4-season resort area with the emphasis on winter sports. There is a national park there called Devil's Postpile, consisting of basalt columns from volcanic activity.

Other towns along the way include Bishop, Independence, and Big Pine. They all have visitor services. They also have sightseeing or recreation opportunities; if you're interested, let us know and we can be more specific.

From Yosemite Valley to Lone Pine is about 200 mi/320 km. On your way out of Yosemite, be sure you have enough daylight to get over Tioga Pass and a good part of the way down 395, because the landscapes are so majestic you don't want to miss anything.

In Lone Pine, take a ride up to Whitney Portal and Alabama Hills. You might recognize some of the scenery from movies. Lone Pine was a big movie capital in the 1920s and 30s, and many performers stayed at the Dow Villa. I hope you picked a room in the historic hotel; it's so much more fun than a modern motel, and you still get to use the pool and spa. The lobby has a nice collection of movie memorabilia.

Lone Pine to Stove Pipe Wells is a bit under 2 hours. Again, we're talking about direct travel, not counting sightseeing detours.

Death Valley is a whole other subject. There are many threads here, so I'll presume you've visited some of them to get ideas. If you need any other info or details, let us know.

Since you're looking for special honeymoon ideas, I think nature itself is the ideal setting, so focus on the natural beauty around you, and look for dining opportunities that would be enhanced by nature. Maybe have dinner at the Ahwahnee in Yosemite if you can get a reservation. In Lee Vining, the place to go is the Mono Inn, north of town (a little out of your way). But they may still have dinner only and you'll probably miss it. Bishop has two notable places where you can get gourmet goodies for a picnic: Schat's Dutch Bakery and Meadow Farms Country Smokehouse. In Death Valley, enjoy the wonderful gardens at Furnace Creek Inn before or after dinner in the Inn dining room, where you have a panorama of the salt flats and the mountains. Be aware that Furnace Creek is past Stove Pipe Wells, on your way out toward Las Vegas, so plan accordingly. Also, the roads from there to LV are paved and not too steep or curvy so you can safely drive at night, just being watchful for wildlife or livestock.

Wales
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2. Re: Help planning drive for honeymoon couple please!!

Hi Frisco Roadrunner - thanks so much for your comprehensive answer!

We are heading over at the end of September so am hoping the Tioga Pass will be open. We haven't actually booked our accom yet so would you say this was a good plan? Do you think Furnace Creek would be a better stay for us? Any other recommendations which may be nice for a honeymoon couple?

Is the trip well balanced out in terms of journey times? I am particularly wondering between Yosemite and Death Valley, is there anywhere more central? 200 miles sounds like a long journey! If you are aware of a better place to stop, do you know of any hotel recommendations?

Sorry for the millions of questions and thanks again for your help.

Noname
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3. Re: Help planning drive for honeymoon couple please!!

Furnace Creek Inn is not open in September. I like Stovepipe Wells

San Francisco
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4. Re: Help planning drive for honeymoon couple please!!

Good news: Tioga Pass will be open in September. It closes after the first major snowfall, usually sometime in November.

Furnace Creek Inn closes for summer and reopens in October. Furnace Creek Ranch is open all year. It is DV's biggest and busiest resort and has all the amenities many people want, but to be honest, if this were my honeymoon, I'd pick Stove Pipe Wells over the Ranch. It isn't everyone's idea of a honeymoon spot, but it is smaller, quieter, more low key, with a nice rustic atmosphere and more personalized service. Every room has some sort of view of the Sand Dunes or mountains, from the windows and/or doors. The pool is nicer than Furnace Creek Ranch's pool, and Sept. will still be warm, 90s F/mid- 30s C, so you will want that.

As I said before, Yosemite Valley to Lone Pine is aroundt 200 miles--fairly ordinary for many Californians, but many people from other countries don't do it routinely. Lone Pine is a very nice town, but if you feel you want to stop sooner, Bishop is about 60 miles north. It is the largest town in the Eastern Sierra for about 300 miles, and has more services of all kinds than Lone Pine. This will make your next day's ride to Stove Pipe Wells around 170 miles.

If you do stop in Bishop, be sure to look around Lone Pine the next day. Take the ride to the Alabama Hills, and go into the Dow Villa and look at the movie memorabilia in the lobby.

BTW, all these towns I've mentioned have gas stations and restaurants, so you won't be stranded anywhere.

Hopefully you'll get a chance to do a lot of exploring in DV. When you're ready to leave the park and go to Las Vegas, my suggestion is to go south and then return north on Badwater Road, seeing (in this order for the best use of your time and least backtracking) Devil's Golf Course, Badwater, Artist's Drive. and Golden Canyon. At the Inn intersection, turn right on 190. See Zabriskie Point and then Dante's View, then continue east on 190 to Death Valley Junction, Pahrump, and Las Vegas. One of our regulars here, Tet, reported that the last time he was in DVJ, the Pahrump road sign was missing. If so, you want the eastbound road that forms a T intersection with Hwy 127, just south of the Amargosa Hotel. Staying on 127 to Shoshone will also get you there, but it's longer.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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5. Re: Help planning drive for honeymoon couple please!!

Just don't pass the Amargosa hotel completely. Stateline Road is a quick left after you've turned south on 127. At the CA/NV line, Stateline Road becomes Bell Vista ... same road, just a name change.

I would think that the solitude of Stovepipe Wells and it's views would be romantic enough for anyone.

RE: Yosemite ... take off earlier from SF. There's too much to see in the amount of time you've given yourself.

If Schat's bakery is open when you drive through Bishop on your way to Lone Pine, get some goodies for the next morning.

6. Re: Help planning drive for honeymoon couple please!!

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