We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Travelling from San Fransisco to Las Vegas via Yosemite & DV

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
24 posts
52 reviews
Save Topic
Travelling from San Fransisco to Las Vegas via Yosemite & DV

Hi,

I know there are plenty of posts about this however i would like to find out if the Yosemite and death valley are worth travelling through during the month of December.

I plan on leaving SFO on the 29th of december, and plan to arrive at LAS on the 30th. I plan on spending the night somewhere (possibly Yosemite). I have read that there will be some road closures also, is the weather known to be bad during this time?

Does anybody have some advice of the best routes to take and possibly recommend a good place to stay on the way?

Thank you!

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Travelling from San Fransisco to Las Vegas via Yosemite & DV

Hi

Unfortunately Tioga Pass and other passes through the Sierra will be closed so from Yosemite you'll have to drive south of the Sierra via Bakersfield. There can be snow in Yosemite and you'll need to have chains in the car then but chains usually aren't allowed with rental cars. You can drive from SF to Yosemite in 4 hours but it won't be feasible to drive from Yosemite via Death Valley NP to Las Vegas in one day. Plus that time of year Tule fog in the Central Valley can slow you down. Can't you take 2 overnight stays? One in Yosemite and one in Death Valley (or before).

Tet

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
24 posts
52 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Travelling from San Fransisco to Las Vegas via Yosemite & DV

Hi Tet,

Time will not allow me to stay 2 nights in transit between SFO and LAS. Out of the two (Yosemite and Death valley) which would you recommend I keep on the itenerary?

I was thinking perhaps I could leave SFO at 5 am and arrive at Yosemite at 9 am. Spend the day exploring there and stay the night.

From reading some articles I was under the assumption that it would only be about 8 more hours from Yosemite to Vegas via Death Valley. So I planned on leaving Yosemite around 6am and with stops arrive at Vegas in the afternoon.

Edited: 12 July 2014, 14:25
Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
58,014 posts
113 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Travelling from San Fransisco to Las Vegas via Yosemite & DV

Hi

I think this is the driving route you're considering: http://goo.gl/maps/1wf9Q

I used the cities of San Francisco (abbreviated SF) and Las Vegas rather than the airports. If you just want to get from SFO to LAS, fly. Get a window seat on the plane.

In winter, expect drive times to be slower. Icy roads, tule fog, and other winter road conditions may be occurring.

If you leave SF at 6 am and arrive in Yosemite Valley around 10:30 am (1 short stop), you'd have a good amount of time to see the beauty of Yosemite Valley. Check the Top Questions & Trip Ideas on the Yosemite forum for specific suggestions.

In December, sunset is around 4:45 pm. If you're really planning to enjoy Death Valley NP the next day, you probably need to leave Yosemite Valley today. It's about 10 hours of nonstop driving from the Valley.

If the roads are good, take the shorter route via Wawona Road / Hwy 41 and exit the South Entrance. Stop for the night around Fresno or maybe drive in the dark to Visalia.

If the roads have chain restrictions or it's rainy, use Hwy 140 (The All Weather Route) and drive to Merced. Maybe go down Hwy 99 at this point to Fresno.

Then the next day you'll be just a bit closer to Death Valley NP. You might even have time for the Badwater + Artist Drive detour.

Don't expect to arrive in Las Vegas in the afternoon.

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Travelling from San Fransisco to Las Vegas via Yosemite & DV

Driving in the dark is not recommended and if you stay in Yosemite Valley it's some 1.5 hours to drive to Oakhurst. Very winding road and wildlife can be on it. With snow it even takes a lot longer and I already mentioned Tule Fog. That will change driving time completely.

If you want to do this I suggest to drive to Yosemite Valley for a visit and then drive to Oakhurst same day.

Oakhurst to Death Valley and on to Las vegas still will mean app 9-10 hours in the car without time to stop .

LA
Level Contributor
9,716 posts
1 review
Save Reply
5. Re: Travelling from San Fransisco to Las Vegas via Yosemite & DV

I think you should fly from SFO to LAS, then rent a car and drive to Death Valley, where you stay overnight in one of the accommodations. I just don't think you have enough time to do both during this time of the shortest daylight hours.

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
23,730 posts
5,366 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Travelling from San Fransisco to Las Vegas via Yosemite & DV

Its a 2 to 2 1/2 hour drive from Las Vegas to Death Valley (Furnace Creek area) which is a nice area to explore. Trying to get all the way from Yosemite Park to Death Valley and explore the park is too long a dy.

It is possible to drive from Oakhurst to Las Vegas (skipping the Death Valley part) in a long but reasonable drive day.

As such Excellent advise from PareoB.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Level Contributor
97 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: Travelling from San Fransisco to Las Vegas via Yosemite & DV

If you decide on chancing Yosemite, have an alternate plan as the roads can be snowy/icy &/or closed. Agree with PareoB, fly SFO to Las Vegas and rent a car. Death Valley is within range from there. DV is stunning, and December is one of the best months to visit as it isn't hot.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
24 posts
52 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Travelling from San Fransisco to Las Vegas via Yosemite & DV

Because of the time of year it is going to cost me over $700 for 2 people to fly fm SFO to LAS and an all inclusive hire car will be only close to about $250 for the trip. This is why I will be driving.

So based off of some comments here I'm thinking:

Drive from SF to Yosemite and spending the night in Oakhurst

then drive from Oakhurst to Las Vegas with the most direct route.

Then traveling from LV to DV on another day.

At least I wont be losing a whole day at LV if I do it this way. Does this sound do-able?

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
Level Contributor
14,426 posts
47 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Travelling from San Fransisco to Las Vegas via Yosemite & DV

** "Drive from SF to Yosemite and spending the night in Oakhurst... then drive from Oakhurst to Las Vegas with the most direct route... Then traveling from LV to DV on another day.. At least I wont be losing a whole day at LV if I do it this way. Does this sound do-able?" *

This is more feasible than the initial plan. You will still have less time than ideal in Yosemite, but parts of the park will be inaccessible anyway if we get the kind of snow everyone in California is praying for. Oakhurst is the logical stopover since you’ll be heading through Fresno and Bakersfield for Death Valley.

As for losing a whole day at LV, how long do you plan to be there? A day trip to DV is quite doable. We have a thread on the Death Valley National Park forum, in the Top Questions corner, about that very subject. Just my own preference, but I would gladly lose a day (or more) at Las Vegas for either Yosemite or Death Valley. ;^D

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Travelling from San Fransisco to Las Vegas via Yosemite & DV

Hear hear. Yes a night in DVNP is something you won't forget easily.