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Trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite via Death Valley

Newcastle, Australia
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Trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite via Death Valley

Hi All, we are a couple from Australia (early 60's) and planning a holiday in the US in Sept next year. Our draft itinerary for this part of the trip is as follows:-

9th Oct - leave Las Vegas and drive thru Death Valley towards Yosemite and stay at Lee Vining for the night

10th Oct - drive to Yosemite, have a look around the park and then in the afternoon exit the Park and stay at Groveland the night before coninuing on to San Francisco the next day.

Is this enough time to get from Las Vegas to Lee Vining and still see some of Death Valley or should we try and plan a night to stay somethwere in Death Valley? All help appreciated, thanks, Karen

San Diego...
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1. Re: Trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite via Death Valley

No, it's not enough time to do justice to all the places in between Las Vegas and San Francisco. You're giving yourself 48 hours to drive 643 miles (1028 km) with driving time of 14 hours. That added to sleeping and eating hours leaves you very little left to actually see and enjoy any of these places. In my opinion you will need a minimum of 4 nights (5 days) to get from Las Vegas to San Francisco. It would be a shame to spend so much money to get to the U.S. and then just zoom right through some of the most scenic parts of the U.S. getting only a glimpse of them.

I would stay one night each at Lone Pine, Lee Vining, Yosemite Valley and Groveland. That would give you one day to explore Death Valley, one day to explore the eastern side of the Sierra range and some of the sights there, possibly including things like Mammoth Lakes, Devil's Postpile, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, June Lake Loop Mono Lake or Bodie ghost town. Then you would have 2 full days in Yosemite National Park, then you would spend the first part of day 5 driving from Groveland to San Francisco.

The only caution is that Death Valley will still be fairly hot in September: the average afternoon temperature is 110 F (43.3 C) at the beginning of September and 100 F (37.7 C) at the end of September. So the daytime will be hot in Death Valley no matter what part of September you will be there.

In Yosemite, the famous waterfalls of Yosemite Valley will be at a much lower flow in September than in the spring, and some, including Yosemite Falls, could be dry. Bridalveil, Vernal and Nevada Falls could still be flowing, but at a substantially lower flow than in the spring. As long as you know that in advance you won't be disappointed by the relative lack of water in Yosemite at that time.

I would start a new thread in the general California forum for discussing the overall route of your trip: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g28926-i29-Califor… That would be the best forum here for discussing your overall route. Even though Las Vegas is obviously not in California, we see trips like this all the time that either start or end in Las Vegas.

Then when your overall route is settled, start a new thread in each local forum, including this one for Death Valley, for fine-tuning the local itinerary in each locality. That way the destination experts for each locality will see your thread and offer suggestions for where to stay, what to see and do, what or where to eat, and other local tips.

Edited: 18 November 2011, 01:55
Newcastle, Australia
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2. Re: Trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite via Death Valley

Thank you so much for your very detailed answer, it is a great help. I will discuss this with my husband and see what we can do about extra days.

As it is we will be spending about 5 weeks in the US and don't know if we can afford anymore time away from our jobs but I agree it is a long way to come and not see everything.

Our whole itinerary is loosley based at the moment as nothing is booked and goes like this at the moment:-

9th Sept fly to LA and spend 6 nights at Anaheim (could maybe reduce this to 5)

15th Sept fly to New Orleans for 3 nights

18th Sept fly to Orlando for 6 nights (package bought over phone - don't ask!!!!)

24th Sept 5 night cruise from Orlando

29th Sept hire car and drive to Miami for 2 nights

1st Oct drive to For Lauderdale for 2 nights (package again)

3rd Oct fly to Phoenix and sty in Sedona for the night

4th Oct drive to Grand Canyon and stay 2 nights

6th Oct after lunch drive to Las Vegas and stay 3 nights (2 night package and 1 extra night)

9th Oct drive to Death Valley and stay somewhere (Stove Pipe Wells???)

10th Oct continue on to Lee Vining and stay the night

11th Oct drive to Yosemite and enter via Tiogga Pass (may stay the night if we can get reasonable accomm)

12th October drive to San Francisco for 3 nights (drop hire car)

15th Oct hire car and drive coast road to LA staying 2 nights on the way

17th Oct arrive in LA and stay for a couple of nights before flying home.

Thanks for your advice it is really appreciated. Karen

Edited: 18 November 2011, 02:19
San Diego...
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3. Re: Trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite via Death Valley

That's a big trip and it sounds like the trip of a lifetime. Since it includes many states, you should post the itinerary above in the Road Trips forum: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g1-i12567-Road_Tri…

That forum is less popular, since many people never find it, but there are people who read that forum who will offer many useful suggestions.

I am curious about your 6 nights at Anaheim and 6 nights at Orlando. Are you planning to visit the Disney parks in both of those areas?

Since you won't be arriving at Death Valley until October 9, you will escape the intense heat of the summer there. The averages for October 9 in Death Valley are 96 F (35.5 C) for the afternoon high and 64 F (17.7 C) for the nighttime low - still quite warm, but definitely more reasonable temperatures than the 110 F at the beginning of September.

And a bonus for you will be the fall colors on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada range in October. Since you will be driving through that area in October, I would highly recommend you take the June Lake Loop as a slight detour off the 395 - and you could even stay at some place in June Lake instead of Lee Vining, as they are not that far apart and the difference in drive times would be minor. Lee Vining is a tiny crossroads town, and June Lake has more choices, as it is also a ski resort in the winter.

The Silver Lake Resort on the June Lake Loop is a very old, basic place, but it's in a specatcular location and the fall colors will be there too. http://silverlakeresort.net/ But there are many other choices of places to stay in the June Lake area.

If you are there at the time when the aspen trees are turning color you will see scenes like this: marcadamus.com/images/large/Autumn-Splendor-…

For a brochure detailing where you can see the fall colors, download this: www.monocounty.org/docs/FallColorGuide.pdf The fall color season is starting to finish up this year, but a web site with daily updates on where colors have been seen and recent photos is at http://www.californiafallcolor.com/

Two years ago, my neighbors who are avid travelers did a 10-day trip through the Eastern Sierra region, including some time in Death Valley. Although their trip was in September and the trees were still green, at least looking at their report and photos will give you an idea of what some of the sights to see in that region are: travelswithbillandnancy.com/eastern_sierras.…

Once your general route and general itinerary is in place, start a new thread in each local forum for each of the places you listed in your trip outline above, including this forum for Death Valley. The destination experts in each forum will help you a lot with the details.

I would recommend that you stay at least one night in Yosemite Valley itself, even though it is overpriced. You need to get your reservations for both Yosemite and the Grand Canyon secured right now, and if the dates you want are not available now, keep trying, as cancellations do happen and a room may open up for the dates you want.

Newcastle, Australia
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4. Re: Trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite via Death Valley

Thanks for your reply, I have done what you suggested and posted on the Road Trips Forum so I will wait and see what answers I get.

Have been looking at the accom at GC and we can get a cabin at Bright Angel Lodge but don't want to book anything until we get our flights locked in but I guess we could always change or cancel if need be.

Will look at your suggestion for June Lake as opposed to Lee Vining.

The 6 nights in Anaheim are our own idea so we can go to Disneyland etc but the 6 nights in Orlando are part of what my husband bought over the phone and paid for (against my better judgement) so we have decided that we will make a good trip out of it - we also get tickets to Universal Studios in Orlando but don't think we will go to DisneyWorld or maybe just the Epcot Centre.

Cheers, Karen

Western PA
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5. Re: Trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite via Death Valley

If you can get lodging At Bright Angel in GC, book it NOW! You can always change or cancel. Lodging can be hard to get at GC National Park, and it is best to take what you can get. Even if you can't get something on your desired date, if you keep checking something is likely to open up because of a cancellation.

If it were me I would reduce the days in Anaheim and perhaps add in some of your other California destinations instead, before flying to New Orleans and Florida. Tet14 over in the Road Trips Forum will have lots of good ideas about how to spend your time wisely!

T2E :-)

Parsippany, New...
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6. Re: Trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite via Death Valley

Karen, Your trip sounds fantastic. If I were you, I'd reduce the number of your days in Anaheim/LA to get more time elsewhere. 6 days there plus a couple before you fly home is way too much. My husband and I went to LA a few years ago and I felt like we really got a good feel of LA in 3 days- we went to Hollywood, Sunset Strip, saw a taping of a show, Beverly Hills/Rodeo Dr., Malibu, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, etc.

There are so many beautiful places that you are skimping on and spending too much time in LA. Take your time through Death Valley and Yosemite and cut back on Anaheim.

Also, if you are planning on being both in Anaheim and Orlando, I'd pick Disney World over Disneyland- so much more to see and do. Epcot is wonderful for adults as is Hollywood Studios. Also, unless you and your husband are really into big rides, DW would be a better choice over Universal. While you're in the Orlando area, you could head over to Kennedy Space Center or take an airboat ride in Christmas, FL.

London, United...
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7. Re: Trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite via Death Valley

How much of your trip are you tied in to? It seems like you've booked a lot of small elements through an agent.

Obviously it's hard to play around too much with the schedule if there are bits you can't change. Either because of unchangeable reservations or event commitments.

However, six days in Anaheim (especially if you don't plan on spending some or most of this time in L.A.) and six days in Orlando is bonkers. You'll be so bored and frustrated with yourselves at the time.

And then when you rush other parts of the trip you'll be frustrated and upset.

However, if you knocked two days off Anaheim and two off Orlando you'd have four more days to put into the schedule elsewhere. Drive straight from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, a four hour drive, and you get a fifth.

Give yourself a stop at Lone Pine. Two days in Yosemite. And use the rest between San Francisco and L.A. This is another great stretch and Monterey, Cambria, Paso Robles, Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara would all be pleasing stops.

Or... or... if you don't have the flexibility in your plans, or you are fed up planning and won't make changes, then settle for what you've got. You're going to some wonderful places and will have a fabulous trip.

San Francisco...
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8. Re: Trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite via Death Valley

If you don't mind me jumping in here....

Death Valley in October is hot but usually not excessively so. Although I was just there around the 15th and we had temps hitting 100F in the shade! Driving in from Vegas makes staying at Furnace Creek a bit easier than going all the way across the valley to Stovepipe Wells. It's really more to do with your personal preference than anything else.

Yosemite in October can be stunning - and busy. There is a decent range of places to stay, but I would suggest calling to check availability when you get near. The other thing to keep in mind is that October can mean snow in the SIerra and that means the passes close at least temporarily. Keep this site handy for last minute checks: yosemitegold.com/ipages/roadconditions.html

One last thing: Oct. 6-8 is a long weekend (Columbus Day Holiday) and that means places are busy. Keep that in mind when making reservations.

I also agree with the other posters - 6 days in Anaheim is too much. If you can lop off a day somewhere and save it for San Francisco and your road trip down the coast you will be ever so grateful. October is balmy in SF!

London, United...
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9. Re: Trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite via Death Valley

Grateful is a great choice of word.

You really will be grateful, not to us, but yourself for making the effort to change your plans. You will look back and be so pleased you gave yourself longer for the Las Vegas to San Francisco and San Francisco to Los Angeles sections.

Newcastle, Australia
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10. Re: Trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite via Death Valley

Thanks everyone for your suggestions, we have had a look at it and we were going to spend so long in Anaheim to have the days for Disneyland etc but have now just about decided that seeing as we have 6 days in Orlando (that is non negotiable as part of a package my husband bought over the phone!!!) we will ustilise some of those days for Walt Disney World instead.

So we will prob only stay 4 nights in Anaheim so we can do some LA tours etc (cheaper to stay than LA) and then we can add a couple of days in the other places.

We will now prob fly from Anaheim direct to Orlando and do New Orleans on the way back to the West Coast.

Really appreciate all the advice as we haven't been to the US before, normally holiday in SE Asia - 1 month coming up in Thailand in Jan. Cheers, Karen

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