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Springdale, UT to Lee Vining

Carmel, California
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Springdale, UT to Lee Vining

I am in the last stages of planning a family trip from the central coast of CA to Las Vegas, North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Springdale UT (Zion & Bryce) and back to the easten entrance of Yosemite. We planned to stay at Tioga Pass Resort in Lee Vining while we explore the high country.

We've been on a similar trip before but did not return this way. The drive from Springdale to Lee Vining is very long, Mapquest says 8 hours. Does anyone know if that's accurate? I'm concerned the last part of the drive is a difficult road and it could take even longer.

We planned to stay in Springdale four nights and Lee Vining three so this is a big travel day, we will not be stopping to sight see but just to eat and take little breaks.

With two kids (9 & 13) am I biting off too much driving for one day? Is the 8 hour estimate accurate? If we did decide to break it up where to stay along the way? I had thought about Springdale to Vegas for a night and then 5 hours too Lee Vining but we will have already done Vegas and it seems to add a little more driving. I'm wondering if there is anywhere we can stop along the way that gets us closer to our destination and breaks up the long drive into two smaller chunks.

We will be taking this trip in July so I'm aware the heat could be crazy. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Menlo Park...
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1. Re: Springdale, UT to Lee Vining

I can't argue with the time it would take, but I would not suggest breaking it up in July in the middle of Nevada. You probably want to skip death Valley, so I'd suggest making sure the A/C in the car works and just go for it. 8 hours isn't that bad. I'm concerned about using Tioga Pass Resort as your base, due to its altitude. I'm guessing it's over 9000 feet there and that's a guaranteed headache until you're used to it. When we do our mtn day hiking we stay at lower altitude towns like Bishop or June Lake or even Lee Vining and then drive up to the trailhead. If you want to explore the Yosemite high country you could do it on your last day on the way through the park.

Long Barn...
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2. Re: Springdale, UT to Lee Vining

Have you been able to get reservations at the Tioga Pass Resort? A lot of people have reported they are unable to get through to them.. ???

I think the 8 hours sounds about right. You could stay at Tonopah, but you may just want to continue on to the town of Lee Vining. This may not be a good place to stay for your entire trip to Yosemite if you want to visit the Yosemite valley.

Check the Yosemite forum for tips on lodging for Yosemite.

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3. Re: Springdale, UT to Lee Vining

Make sure you actually contact Tioga Pass Resort.

I'd have backup plans to stay in Lee Vining.

Carmel, California
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4. Re: Springdale, UT to Lee Vining

Thanks for the info so far. It sounds like the drive will not be too much although I am now concerned about altitude sickness. I wasn't aware it had such a high elevation. We've done Tahoe many times with no problem and I think Heavenly is about 8K but the last thing I need is a sick family. Any suggestions on how to prevent that would be appreciated.

Yes. we do have reservations at TPR. Do you mean I should have back-up even WITH reservations? It took some tenacity but someone finally replied (hint:try their facebook page). I am not alone as they have a very full calendar for this summer already.

We've done Yosemite many times but have never stayed near the eastern entrance. We were interested in a little day hiking, the Bodie ghost town, Mono Lake, Tenaya Lake and Tuolumne Meadows area. Havn't thought much about June Lake. Anywhere else a must see in that area?

Thanks so much!

San Francisco
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5. Re: Springdale, UT to Lee Vining

OK, BTDT for Las Vegas, so no problem there. But with kids age 9 and 13, I’m not sure anyone wants to do a 500+ mile drive in one day, if you are open to stopping over. I think it would be more relaxing for everyone, you could do some hiking or other sightseeing and the kids could use up some energy. There is plenty to see between Springdale and Lee Vining.

A perfect overnight stop, a little over halfway, is Death Valley. It would be a shame to make a trip focused on national parks and be so close to one of the most unique and magnificent ones, and not spend at least a little time there.

If the kids (or anyone) feel cramped after a little over 2 hours, Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada is a nice stop. Yes, you’ll have been spoiled by the red rock country of southern Utah, but VofF is not too shabby. It has beautiful formations, including one that looks like an elephant, and a terrific hike to Mouse’s Tank, the hideaway of a 19th century Native American called Mouse. Along the way is a rock wall with petroglyphs, one of the best such sites open to the public. Unlike some parks, VofF encourages climbing or playing on the rock formations. This is a small detour from I-15; after Mesquite, Nevada, look for Overton (Hwy 169) exit.

From VofF, stay on the Lake Mead North Shore road to Las Vegas, rather than detour back to Overton. It's a pretty route and there are picnic areas and marinas along the way. Even with this detour, the distance from Springdale to Furnace Creek is only about 300 miles. Furnace Creek is in the main visitor area and has the larger resort complex, park visitor center, and other services, and it’s close to many of the outstanding natural wonders of Death Valley. We can tell you more on the DVNP forum.

After Death Valley, head for Lone Pine. This is a charming small town which is the gateway to not only Death Valley, but also Mt. Whitney: the lowest point in North America and the highest in the U.S. outside Alaska, less than 90 air miles apart. You can drive up to the Mt. Whitney foothills and see locations that you’ll probably recognize from your favorite Western and adventure movies; Lone Pine also has a movie museum.

Between Lone Pine and Lee Vining, places of interest include:

- Manzanar, a WWII relocation camp for American citizens who were confined for being the wrong ethnicity, now operated as a historic site by the National Park Service.

- The Inyo County seat at Independence with several beautiful preserved buildings and a fine small museum.

- Big Pine and access to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest where some of the oldest trees on Earth live.

- Bishop and the Laws Museum of railroad and local history—a "village” of historic buildings assembled around an old train depot. http://lawsmuseum.org/

- Mammoth Lakes, a year-round recreation destination and site of Devil’s Postpile National Monument (forest and volcanic features).

- June Lakes, a smaller and less busy resort community.

- Mono Lake, a unique geological feature, bird habitat, and object lesson in how humans impact the environment for better and worse. Two visitor centers and several spots to get close to the lake the see the unique Tufa spires and look for birds.

- Bodie, which you know about, a little north of Lee Vining.

- And more, if you have more time, plus miles and miles of some of the most stupendous landscapes in the West.

There is so much to see, and experience, between Zion and Yosemite that you really, really don’t want to rush the trip.

Napa, CA
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6. Re: Springdale, UT to Lee Vining

If you are worried about the heat, you should stick to the northern route that google maps shows through Caliente and Tonopah. Mesquite, Vegas, Death Valley will be really hot in July. The northern route is at a higher altitude. It's hot too but not as bad as the southern option.

The Tioga Pass Resort is at 9600 feet. Some people have more trouble adjusting than others but plenty of people stay there without any problems. Just take it easy that first day there and avoid over-exertion.

Carmel, California
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7. Re: Springdale, UT to Lee Vining

Thank you all so much for the advice.

While there does sound like so much to see in Death Valley, I'm thinking that will need to be another trip at a cooler time of the year. Being from the central coast of CA we will get more than our share of heat in Vegas and Springdale in late July. It isn't all that far from home and it sounds like there is a lot more to do in that area then I realized.

Given that we have four nights in the Zion area in a very comfortable lodge we'll be ready to hit the road early for a day of driving. That way we'll have a day to take it easy, maybe just lounge by a lake or river, and a second full day to do a little hiking (providing everyone is feeling well) once we hit the high country. It sounds like there a lot of things to do within a relatively short drive of TPR.

Anyone else who wants to chime in please do and thanks again to all those who have contributed so far.

Redlands, California
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8. Re: Springdale, UT to Lee Vining

I would just muzzle the kids (humanely) and buckle down for the drive at that time of year rather than looping through DV. I've always looked enviously at the TPR driving by (I've stayed in June Lake and done the drive back and forth) but figured it was too hard to make a reservation! If you just do short hikes or go back and visit Bodie the first day you should all be fine.

Two hikes just outside the park that I've heard highly recommended are Gardiskey Lake (steep) and the Saddlebag Lake area, which has a number of small lakes and is reached by a ferry from a small fishing resort.

9. Re: Springdale, UT to Lee Vining

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