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Death valley or lake tahoe

Fairfax, Virginia
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Death valley or lake tahoe

Hi I am travelling from east coast for 8 days trip to west. Landing in sfo flying back from LA. planning on sfo,la and yosemite. I still have 2 days left in my itinerary. would like to add lake Tahoe or death valley which is better and worth seeing ? I am planning end of Aug. I know both places are different but as I cannot do both at least I would like to visit one. We r couples with 2 kids 6 & 9 yr old.

Thank you,

Bloomington, Indiana
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1. Re: Death valley or lake tahoe

"Best" or "worth seeing" is so subjective . . . it's hard to say. For me? I probably go with Tahoe. Mainly because they'll be less driving involved (I see it as tying in with Yosemite reasonably well), which gives you more time at the destinations themselves.

Roughly speaking, Death Valley is about 4 hours from LA (obviously details of *where* in LA, time of day, etc. will impact this, but it works for a ballpark) and will also add some time on the Yosemite to Southern California drive (compared to going directly to LA). This will eat a good part of your "extra" 2 days in driving (could easily be a day's worth). Now, adding Tahoe will add some drive time on the north part of the trip, but I'm pretty sure it will be less than Death Valley and (in my opinion) the drive will be prettier than the southern CA desert (and I've driven both areas).

Beyond that, I'd ask do you (and your family) enjoy "green" more than "desert" (me, I "go green"). If it turns out desert is your answer, then maybe chuck my suggestion out the window as Death Valley might be best for you.

That's my $.02,

hlo

santa rosa, ca
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2. Re: Death valley or lake tahoe

I grew up on the eastern seaboard so the deserts of the west have always fascinated me. Death Valley is a fantastic place, however, since you will be here in August I would definitely choose Lake Tahoe over DV, especially with kids. A trip to DV in August will mean spending most of your time trying to escape the heat and staying hydrated.....not fun when you want to be outdoors exploring and enjoying the other worldly beauty.

Uden, The...
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3. Re: Death valley or lake tahoe

Death Valley will be terribly hot and is a detour. I'm a big fan of Death Valley and have been many times but in this case I recommend Lake Tahoe. I'd get there first from SF and to Yosemite after that via Bodie Ghosttown, Mono Lake and Tioga Rd. From Yosemite you can drive to Monterey and head along the coast to LA with another overnight stop. Make your reservations asa possible esp in the Labor Day weekend.

Tet

Bloomington, Indiana
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4. Re: Death valley or lake tahoe

Oh yeah, I meant to mention the August/heat issue too. Thanks for having my back gingerale!

hlo

Fremont, California
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5. Re: Death valley or lake tahoe

In August, agree with the others, Lake Tahoe.

If you go from Yosemite to Lake Tahoe, you ca drive and see Toulume Meadows portion of Yosemite, drive over Tioga Pass, Drive a few miles south amd see June Lake Loop and a bit further there is Mammoth Lakes (1/2 hour drive or so from bottom Tioga Pass), Mono Craters, Mono Lake Visitor Center, Bodie Ghost Town, have a Jolly Kone in Lee Vining (its the best with the scenery....just a road side stop but worth it) and contnue on the gorgeous mountain drive to Lake Tahoe. Possibly seeing Virginia City before finishing your drive to the Lake.

www.nps.gov/yose/naturescience/tuolumne.htm

http://junelakeloop.org/

http://www.visitmammoth.com/

www.volcanodiscovery.com/mono_craters.html

http://www.monolake.org/

http://www.bodie.com/

www.yelp.com/biz/jolly-kone-bridgeport-2

If you did all these yes, it would take most of the day to enjoy the Eastern Sierra amazing scenery - but you would still have a full day at the lake. To see Emerald Bay portion of Lake tahoe you might like a mid day cruise on the Ms. Dixie....

and the round out your activities with other hikes, casino visits, and eating...

http://www.zephyrcove.com/msdixie.aspx

Lots of great places for the 6 and 9 year old to explore in the various areas.....including if you go to June Lake Loop there is a community playground at gull Lake and paddle boats to get out on the lake which they might enjoy doing.

California
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6. Re: Death valley or lake tahoe

Death Valley in the summer? NO WAY!!!!! It's the desert and very, very hot that time of year!!!

San Francisco
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7. Re: Death valley or lake tahoe

Yes, “best” or “worth visiting” is subjective. Lake Tahoe and Death Valley are both wonderful places. Since Yosemite is on your itinerary, and Lake Tahoe is also part of the high Sierra, I’ll toss in Death Valley for variety and contrast. It will be a totally different experience, and maybe 10 years from now your kids will remember it distinctly for that reason.

The park is the size of Connecticut. You can see quite a few major sights in a day or two, although there may be areas you won’t have time for. The far west side, west of the Panamint range (the mountains that form the west wall of the Valley proper) is generally less visited. Some of the most renowned natural wonders, including Zabriskie Point, Dante's View, Devil’s Golf Course, Badwater, Artist’s Drive, and Golden Canyon, are east of the Panamint and can be enjoyed in maybe 4 hours in a morning or afternoon. You’d have time to enjoy the pool and lunch or dinner at Furnace Creek or Stovepipe Wells (the main park resorts) as well as time for other exploring or just relaxing or cruising around in a/c car looking at scenery if you wish.

The stargazing is fabulous, and in the morning the kids can look for wildlife tracks at the Mesquite Sand Dunes.

You’ll have to decide if it will be too hot for your family. When I work as a park volunteer in summer, I see lots of kids. One of my favorite things at the visitor center is the Junior Ranger program, and the visitor center store has a big selection of items for young people. What a cool (hee hee) opportunity for them to see and learn about an environment that is unfamiliar to many people, and discover how plants and animals (and we) can thrive in it. And when they go back to school and have the inevitable report, as everyone else talks about going to Disneyworld or the Smithsonian, they’ll have something really unique to tell!

Check out the Top Questions for summer safety and health precautions. It’s true that people can get very sick in this climate, but it’s also true that the vast majority of people don’t. With sensible precautions, everyone can have a great visit. The weather is typically hot and dry (115-125º range; relative humidity 10% or less), but it gets muggy when thunderstorms are forming. For comfort’s sake, come when it is hot and dry! Most summer visitors are international, many from northern latitudes like England, Germany, the Netherlands, or Canada; last year I met two parties from the Czech Republic on the same day. You will probably be a step ahead of most of these folks in acclimating to Death Valley!

Edited: 14 June 2013, 03:43
San Francisco...
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8. Re: Death valley or lake tahoe

As a native Northern Californian (been to both places numerous times since childhood) ---- if it's August, it must be Tahoe.

Come back to California in March ---- you will love Death Valley then.

We did a road trip in mid-March many years ago. Started in Tahoe so went to both in the same 10 day trip down Highway 395. Had to put on chains for Tahoe and couldn't get across a couple of high-mountain passes but Death Valley and the Panamint Mountains were the most gorgeous I've ever seen them. We camped in a pup tent for 5 nights in DV and it was spectacular. Spring is the most beautiful time in Death Valley. Skip August. It can get to 120F in DV during that time of year.

Uden, The...
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9. Re: Death valley or lake tahoe

It's hard to judge without knowing your exact schedule Par57718. If you drive via DV to LA you will miss the coastal drive. Do you want to drive the coast?

Manhattan Beach...
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10. Re: Death valley or lake tahoe

You should not miss Lake Tahoe in summer. The beauty of places like Emerald Bay or the crystal clear water of Sand Harbor are spectacular.

Do make reservations in advance for lodging in August. We prefer the north shore, less crowds but still lots of activities and restaurants. Also casinos.