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Best way through Death Valley (Vegas to Yosemite)

Gravesend, United...
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Best way through Death Valley (Vegas to Yosemite)

Hi,

I will be travelling from Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park in September, we want to do the journey via Death Valley and the Tioga Road into Yosemite, the journey will take around 8 hours but this is not a problem, the question I have is which is the best way through Death Valley, when I say best I mean most scenic route.

I can either leave Vegas via Highway 95 then do a left at Beatty and go through Death Valley from Beatty to Lone Pine then carry on as normal or leave Vegas via Highway 160 past Pahrump, Death Valley Junction and Furnace Creek then carry on along the 190 to Lone Pine

Which of the two do you recommended?

Many thanks

Washington State
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1. Re: Best way through Death Valley (Vegas to Yosemite)

The journey will take 8 hours if you don't stop. Ever. It will take a lot longer if you want to see something of your scenic route, need a restroom break, or stop for lunch.

Here are the routes from LV to DV: nps.gov/deva/…20Vegas.pdf Your second option described above is the better one.

If you allow an extra hour in Death Valley you'll be able to see some of the fabulous beauty. At the minimum I'd recommend 20 Mule Team Canyon (5 minutes), Zabriskie Point (10 minutes), and Artist's Drive (this one is a detour off your chosen route, so it will take more time.) Some folks might recommend the long detour to Dante's View instead.

Ipswich, United...
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2. Re: Best way through Death Valley (Vegas to Yosemite)

This thread might help

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28926-i29-k435986…

I agree your second option is the better one. I would also stop off at Furnace Creek visitor center.

Scotty's Castle is a worthwhile detour but would add time - maybe leave that for a later trip. If you did decide to see Scotty's Castle you may be best to drive up to the 627 to see it, then double back. Big Pine road to Grapevine has long dirt road stretches that demand a high clearance vehicle or 4x4 such as SUV or small truck.

I guess you are aware of the need to pay the park entrance fee and have the car pass (currently $20). We used an unattended machine to pay (with a credit card) though you can I believe also pay at the visitor center. If you show you ticket to a ranger at one of the checkpoints they will usually give you additional information leaflets/maps.

San Francisco
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3. Re: Best way through Death Valley (Vegas to Yosemite)

PNW is right. Going from Las Vegas through Death Valley to Yosemite in one day is less of a trip than a commute; you get from Point A to Point B with little more than windshield visits along the way.

An ideal trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite should have at least a couple of overnight stops, in Death Valley because it is a huge park (the size of Lebanon and Luxembourg combined) with so much to see; and if possible along the Eastern Sierra so you can enjoy the scenery in a leisurely way. If you can stay over only one night, Lone Pine would be a good place, so you could spend a day in Death Valley and be fresh in the morning to head to Yosemite. Especially coming from so far, take the opportunity to see and enjoy these places.

The Hwy 95 route via Beatty is far less scenic, because you'll be on Hwy 95 outside the park for 100 miles with fairly undramatic scenery. It's not unattractive, but you'll miss scads of magnificent landscapes and some of the most unique natural wonders in the park.

The more scenic way is from Pahrump to Death Valley Junction ghost town, and Hwy 190. This goes to Dante's View and Zabriskie Point, then to Badwater Road where in the first 17 miles after the junction you can see Devil's Golf Course, Badwater, Artist's Drive, and Golden Canyon. Returning to Hwy 190, continue to Furnace Creek and the visitor center, then stay on 190 for Devil's Cornfield, the Sand Dunes, Stovepipe Wells, and Mosaic Canyon.

After Panamint Springs resort, Hwy 190 will merge into Hwy 136 for Lone Pine. There you can see Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the U.S. outside Alaska. Along 190 on the way to Tioga Pass are the town of Bishop and the Laws Museum (old Western vlllage with trains), Mammoth Lakes, and Mono Lake.

All of the sights mentioned in Death Valley and along the Eastern Sierra are worth visiting. If you have at least one night to spend between Las Vegas and Yosemite, you'll be able to spend some time at some of them.

Gravesend, United...
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4. Re: Best way through Death Valley (Vegas to Yosemite)

Thanks guys, unfortunately I have now booked all the flights and accommodation so I cannot stay near Death Valley whilst I'm there only drive through it, what if we leave Vegas around 6am, this gives us a few more hours daylight where we might be able to stop, as long as there’s not a restricted check in time at Yosemite Park were not in a rush, the only rush would be to drive the Tioga Road into Yosemite during daylight hours for obvious reasons.

Thanks for the map link, looking at it the route I'm likely to take will now be the most scenic route, I'm going this way anyway so I will follow the guide and go through Tecopa and along Badwater Road instead of going through Pahrmp and Death Valley Junction as I originally intended.

Would you suggest the guides most scenic route is the best? also I know none of the roads mentioned are on the maintained dirt roads list but will the scenic route be ok for a normal car?

Also it was mentioned above you need to pay around $20 to drive through the park, is there a checkpoint along this route where I can pay or will I need to drop into the Furnace Creek visitor centre?

Thanks again

Gravesend, United...
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5. Re: Best way through Death Valley (Vegas to Yosemite)

P.S - I noticed there are a lot of cat pictures on the site, especially the California forum so though I should put my Siamese up :) (see left)

Washington State
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6. Re: Best way through Death Valley (Vegas to Yosemite)

I noticed that you have a new avatar. What's your kitty's name? Check out the Cabo San Lucas forum. Lots of people have kitty avatars in support of a member's daughter who is facing a health challenge (she wanted a kitty and her dad / TA member gave in! We think he's a great dad.) I think I'll change to another view of my daughter's kitties today.

There are pay kiosks (put in a credit card or your annual pass) along some of the entrances, but we couldn't get it to work when we visited. We finally paid on our 3rd day in Death Valley when we went to the visitor center.

Staying on the main roads will afford you some terrific views, especially if you take the one way loop around Artist Drive and if you stop at Badwater & perhaps the Sand Dunes. If you make time for one hike/walk, I'd suggest Mosaic Canyon just past Stovepipe Wells. It's a short drive on a gravel road to the trailhead, then you walk up the canyon as far as you'd like. Even spending 20 minutes walking up & back would be worthwhile.

Gravesend, United...
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7. Re: Best way through Death Valley (Vegas to Yosemite)

Oh right, I always wondered why there were a lot of cats on here, now I know why :) I have changed my display picture again to show both cats, names are Oliver & Henry, both Siamese (Seal Points) this is my favourite picture, was a perfect shot. I’ll take a look in the forum :)

Do you set your daughters cat up in different poses? Haha!

Ok cool, if we see a kiosk we will stop if not we will just go to the Furnace Creek visitor centre as it will be on the way.

If we leave early enough I'm sure we will be able to stop and walk for a bit, I can’t see it being a problem.

Uden, The...
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8. Re: Best way through Death Valley (Vegas to Yosemite)

Yes, I also love cats.....

Taking Tecopa Road (Old Spanish Trail) and 178 to Badwater won't save you time. From Shoshone it's is a winding slow road over a mountainpass first. The stretch from Zabriskie to Badwater is a much faster one and also a far better road. Just drive via DV Junction and make Dante's View your first stop (13 miles from 190 and same road back) but it's an iconic place for your first views on Death Valley.

Tet

Gravesend, United...
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9. Re: Best way through Death Valley (Vegas to Yosemite)

Hi Tet,

Im not doing the journey to save time, i will have plenty of time im taking that route as it is the more scenic out of the options.

Uden, The...
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10. Re: Best way through Death Valley (Vegas to Yosemite)

Actually we were not impressed bij Tecopa Rd compared to the drives in DV. The stretch on 178 is very scenic from Shoshone though imo. And you'll miss Dante's View driving 178. Thought you wanted to drive in one day from Las Vegas to Yosemite......Even starting at 6am it will be a heck of a trip with all the stops and you'll be driving Tioga Pass with the low sun in front of you. I even would suggest to stay Lee Vining and drive Tioga Pass with the sun in the east. From Lee Vining it's just 20 minutes to the booth on Tioga Pass and you are in Yosemite NP then. Have you made a reservation for Yosemite already?

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