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LAS to either Lone Pine or Bishop via Death Valley?

Minneapolis...
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LAS to either Lone Pine or Bishop via Death Valley?

Hi! We're flying into LAS in early august and will arrive at 10:30am PST (or 8:30am PST...we have not booked our flights yet, still trying to convince my sister to take the earlier flight). Our plan is to pick up our rental car, hit up a grocery store for water and snacks and hit the road to Death Valley. We have no interest in taking tours of Scottys Castle; we are into photography and seeing unique landscapes, so we want to hit up the most scenic parts (any suggestions for just the one day?)

Our next day will be going to Yosemite, so we only have the one day in DV. I booked a hotel in Bishop (as it is closer to Yosemite), but if it makes more sense to stay in Lone Pine, I'm up for that too (hotel has free cancellation). Is it too much driving to go all the way to Bishop? Is it a bunch of twisty mountain roads? I'll admit that I'm not a huge fan of night driving through mountains, but I'll do it if I have to.

San Francisco...
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1. Re: LAS to either Lone Pine or Bishop via Death Valley?

Here's collected wisdom that should help for your trip. tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c182361/Califo…

Bishop should be fine if you plan on leaving death vally before nightfall and grabbing dinner in Lone Pine. Then you drive a little more at night to Bishop. The road between Lone Pine and Bishop is pretty straight and easy driving at night.

San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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2. Re: LAS to either Lone Pine or Bishop via Death Valley?

If you want to do justice to Death Valley, spend a night in Lone Pine because you can take your time in Death Valley and have a shorter drive that evening.

If you want to do justice to Yosemite, go farther north to Bishop, even Mammoth Lakes, so you can get into Yosemite sooner.

Both Lone Pine and Bishop are good overnight stops. I personally like Lone Pine better and think it is a more unique, Mojave Desert, Eastern Sierra, small-town California experience. Bishop and Mammoth Lakes have more services overall, but Lone Pine is more charming and less hustle-and-bustle. But any of them would be nice places with good visitor amenities.

If you want to do justice to both great parks as well as the 300 miles of magnificent Eastern Sierra Nevada that separates them (as well as the distance from Las Vegas to Death Valley), my strongest suggestion would be to stay one night in Death Valley and one in Lee Vining or maybe Bridgeport if there is any flexibility at all in your itinerary.

One overnight stay between Las Vegas and Yosemite is not adequate. There are majestic landscapes: Death Valley's totally unique natural wonders; Lone Pine's Alabama Hills where countless movies have been filmed; Mt. Whitney, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest (25 miles off Hwy 395 from Big Pine), Mammoth Lakes and Devil's Postpile National Monument, June Lakes, and Mono Lake - worth a few hours in itself if you had time. There are innumerable gorgeous views where you'll wish you just had time to stop and look. There are also several fine visitor centers and museums, including Lone Pine’s major regional visitor center and a movie museum, Manzanar National Historic Site, two Mono Lake visitor centers, and a possible side trip to the ghost town of Bodie – if you had the time.

The ride from Lone Pine to Bishop as you hurry along in the dark is not especially an issue of road safety (although wildlife does come onto the road sometimes), but of everything interesting and beautiful that you will be hurrying past and not be able to see.

Fremont, California
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3. Re: LAS to either Lone Pine or Bishop via Death Valley?

I would NOT spend a night in Lone Pine. Continue driving and spend the night in Bishop - a larger town with more to offer. Bishop is one hour further than Lone Pine. While Frisco Runner for some unknown reason loves LOne Pine, it is an old town with old motels and old restaurants and is not the best place to stay in. Its not that scenic (although I must admit I have spent several nights in Lone Pine both camping and staying in motels). Bishop is the better place to stay and just an hour additional drive. If you want to get used to the altitude and spend a night in a beautiful setting one hour beyond that is Mammoth Lakes which is in the mountain and a beautiful place to stay.

Menifee, California
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4. Re: LAS to either Lone Pine or Bishop via Death Valley?

I can't speak for the other places, but there is certainly nothing "old" about the Best Western Frontier Motel in Lone Pine. I spent two nights there in early June; they have renovated their rooms and public spaces. The rooms have new beds, carpeting, drapes, new microwaves, etcetera. Nothing old about it at all. And you can step out of your room, look across the 395 and see Mt. Whitney. I consider that something to see, actually.

Also, the taco trucks in town are awesome, and the Mt. Whitney Restaurant is a comfortable, inexpensive place to eat with really good food. Plus the owner comes around and makes sure you're having a good meal. I'm with Frisco Runner -- I love Lone Pine, too, as a wonderful small town in a very beautiful corner of California.

Edited: 08 July 2014, 12:59
Fortaleza, CE
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5. Re: LAS to either Lone Pine or Bishop via Death Valley?

If you just drive through DV in mid-day, you'll be there in bright sunlight. Not great for photography. Also it will be blazing hot. If photography is a big enough objective, I'd spend the night in DV, or in LV or in between, and hit the park at sunrise, for both somewhat cooler (not cool) temps, and better pictures. The Lone Pine area, especially the Alabama Hills, is also good for photography, again best in early morning (or evening).

For lower tempratures than DV, and some great photo opportunities, you could even consider skipping DV and traveling to Big Pine/Bishop via the Ancient Bristlecone Forest, over 10,000'. tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g289… Besides photos of the world's oldest trees, you can get some great photos of the next mountain range, the Sierra Nevada.

Edited: 18 July 2014, 18:53
Fortaleza, CE
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6. Re: LAS to either Lone Pine or Bishop via Death Valley?

p.s. the short road to the Bristlecones is a few miles east of Big Pine. http://goo.gl/maps/n0onM

Death Valley does, to be sure, have some great opportunities for photography, but at mid-day your comfort and photos won't be at their best. Have a good trip.

7. Re: LAS to either Lone Pine or Bishop via Death Valley?

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