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Route Decisions ... CA or NV?

Brisbane, Australia
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Route Decisions ... CA or NV?

Hi ... hoping for some help if possible. We need to get from Las Vegas to Yosemite Village to meet friends and on the way to LA ... here's my questions:

Do we drive through Death Valley and overnight in Lone Pine/ Bishop which is around 8-9 hours driving. .... OR .... do we drive through Barstow allowing us to see Calico Ghost Town, because I'd love to see a ghost town, staying overnight somewhere along the way .... OR .... do we fly to Fresno, hire a car and drive from there saving the travel time.

We only have to get to Yosemite, so if we drive which way would be more interesting, and are there other interesting things to see on the way. And more important as we will have a hire car ... is the road to Calico sealed?

Any help please:)

Santa Cruz...
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1. Re: Route Decisions ... CA or NV?

You HAVE to drive up Hwy 395. The usual, I think, is Death Valley to Lone Pine and then up 395. This is one of the most beautiful drives there is, at the foot of the eastern Sierras, and much to see on the way.

If you want to see a real ghost town you want to go to Bodie. This, however is north of where you enter Yosemite from the east, so it would be a detour, but worth it, in my opinion. I have been there when there was not a soul around, and it is quite moving. The empty buildings are still there and they are kept in a condition of "arrested decay"....not restored, but kept as they were when the town was designated as an historical site.

Trust me that this is more authentic than Calico. The road is paved until the last....(I don't remember the number of miles, maybe less than 10?), but it is perfectly navigable with an ordinary car, if you don't mind a little dust.)

Manhattan Beach...
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2. Re: Route Decisions ... CA or NV?

When are you traveling? The Tioga Pass (eastern entrance to Yosemite) is closed during the winter. I find the Owens Valley and Eastern Sierra interesting, but this may not be viable for you after the first snow. Mono Lake and the ghost town (city) of Bode, near the eastern entrance are both worth seeing.

Edited: 07 September 2013, 06:59
Santa Cruz...
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3. Re: Route Decisions ... CA or NV?

Here is the website for Bodie.

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=509

Brisbane, Australia
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4. Re: Route Decisions ... CA or NV?

Thanks and how fast was that .... I have looked at Bodie and would really LOVE to see it... however I'm concerned about the restrictions with car hire and un sealed roads. I'm not sure in the States whether that is an issue or not.

Santa Cruz...
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5. Re: Route Decisions ... CA or NV?

I seriously do not think that the road to Bodie would be dangerous for your hire car. We have driven it several times in our own car and, while it is a little 'bumpy' in the non-paved area, it is *nothing* that would damage a car. In other words, it is not what your car hire company would consider "off road" driving. And it is only for a few miles going in and out that the road is not paved. SEE IT, you will love it

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6. Re: Route Decisions ... CA or NV?

We haven't booked yet and probably next year around August or September. We are aware about the road closures for snow etc. Thanks.

Washington State
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7. Re: Route Decisions ... CA or NV?

Although the last part of the road to Bodie is gravel, folks carefully drive their rental cars on it all the time. The kind of driving you have to avoid is totally off-road.

Here is the Las Vegas to Yosemite article: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c182361 If you're planning to fit Bodie State Historic Park into Day 2, you might want an early start from Las Vegas, just a few stops in Death Valley NP, and a one night stop further north than Lone Pine like ... June Lake or Lee Vining perhaps.

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8. Re: Route Decisions ... CA or NV?

Several more thoughts.

I like the views that you get as you enter Yosemite from the east, although the driver can't appreciate them.

If you do go from Las Vegas to Death Valley to the eastern entrance of Yosemite, try to cover the portion north of Las Vegas, and Death Valley, really early. The desert north of Las Vegas is bleak and Death Valley is, no surprise, really hot.

Mammoth Lakes, south of the Yosemite entrance, should be considered as a place to stay in August since it is geared to skiiers, but still has restaurants, hotels, occasional summer festivals, and its lakes.

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9. Re: Route Decisions ... CA or NV?

I like seeing the Bristlecone Pines (off the 395) which are the oldest trees in the world, IIRC. Amazing views from up there.

The Alabama Hills area outside of Lone Pine is also interesting (site of many a filmed Western). It's near Whitney Portal, which is also a great place for views (you'll be looking at the tallest peak in the continental United States).

The DV to 395 to Bodie to Yosemite trip is not the shortest or fastest way to get to Yosemite, but it is by far the most scenic and interesting. It stands as an "attraction" all on its own. Mono Lake near sunset is eerie and beautiful. Bodie is indeed the quintessential ghost town experience.

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10. Re: Route Decisions ... CA or NV?

I started composing this last night before there were any replies, and I see that what I started to say is in agreement with other posters.

The eastern road into Yosemite, Tioga Pass, is closed in winter. It’s typical for this to happen in November, occasionally late October if we have an early, heavy winter. September is probably pretty safe. Any time a visitor has the opportunity to choose Hwy 395 and the Eastern Sierra Nevada, they should (ESPECIALLY when the alternative is I-15 through Barstow).

How much time do you have to spend making this trip?

For the most to see and do and the most dramatic and diverse scenery, almost nothing in all of inland California compares with Death Valley, the Eastern Sierra, and the Tioga Pass entrance. The Barstow route is a main road between Los Angeles and Las Vegas and has scads of commercial as well as passenger car traffic. TBH, it doesn't even start getting interesting until Utah on the east or the San Bernardino Mountains on the west. Between the Nevada state line and your turnoff to Bakersfield, there are few places to call in and see anything interesting. Other than Calico, the main things to see are the world’s tallest thermometer at Baker--which isn’t working currently--and the world's largest open pit borax mine at Boron.

Everything on the Eastern Sierra route is worth seeing. It has some of California’s most spectacular landcapes, AND you can see a genuine historic (unrestored, non-commercialized) ghost town with a short detour if you have about half a day to be flexible. After leaving Las Vegas, you’ll go through a good portion of Death Valley and be within convenient distance of many of its natural wonders, including Dante’s View, Zabriskie Point, Devil’s Golf Course, Badwater, and Artist’s Drive. By choosing a stopover at Lone Pine, you can see Mt. Whitney, and then Mammoth Lakes and Mono Lake on the way north. Every town between Lone Pine and Lee Vining has lodging, restaurants, and shops; and some have extra goodies like parks, museums, historic sites, even a Paiute Shoshone (Native American) casino at Bishop if that interests you.

If you’re willing to spend a night at Lee Vining before heading into Yosemite, the ghost town of Bodie is a little north, about 20 km off Hwy 395 on a road that is mostly paved and then rough gravel for 4-5 km (OK for any vehicle driven carefully). It would be about a 4-hour time frame to add it to your itinerary. Bodie was a gold mining settlement in the late 19th century. It’s close to 2.5 km above sea level in elevation, so it was a rigorous environment for the residents, but that also kept away most thieves and scavengers once the town was abandoned. It is now a state historic park and dozens of old buildings are preserved as the inhabitants left them, including a big ore mill where tours are sometimes given.

I would not recommend going from Lone Pine to Bodie and then into Yosemite the same day. One reason: it is a long trip and there is so much to see and do, you want to take your time. Another reason: Tioga Pass goes due west, so if you approach in the p.m. you will have the sun directly in your face. This will distract you from the gorgeous scenery and may also be a safety issue on the narrow, twisty mountain road. An overnight stop at Lee Vining will give you a fresh start into Yosemite in the a.m.

Other than some of the side roads in Death Valley National Park which are graded gravel (and suitable in most weather conditions for any vehicle driven carefully), and the last small section of Hwy 270 into Bodie (rough but doable for cars), all the roads on both routes (via Barstow or via Lone Pine) are sealed.