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.

Scenic drive fron San Francisco to Las Vegas in early July

Lilydale, Australia
Level Contributor
3 posts
3 reviews
Save Topic
Scenic drive fron San Francisco to Las Vegas in early July

Hi all, I have been reading some posts on related topics but I would like to know the most scenic route given I only have 2 days (1 night) to get from SF - LV and I would like to travel through Yosemite and Death Valley (I KNOW I should take longer but I can't so please don't tell me to buy a postcard instead :) we are a family of 5 with a 8 week old baby from Australia and trying to pack in as much as we can. I would like to know the best place to stay to break the trip up and any ideas on accommodation would be good. I have heard it gets hot out there, how hot are we talking? I am going to hire a full size 8 person van, does this sound ok? Are they very economical on gas?

DAY 1: My thoughts are leave SF early 6am and travel to Manteca - Merced then up the 140 to Yosemite Village (have lunch there??) then make my way out to the 120 and head to Lee Vining then down to Bishop. Is this ok? naturally we will be stopping for sites etc. What and where are the major sites to stop at along the way?

DAY 2: Down to Lone Pine and through Death valley up to Beatty then through to LV, once again all the questions except for accommodation in Vegas.

Thanks heaps I am really looking forward to reading the replies.

San Francisco, Ca
Level Contributor
17,155 posts
74 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Scenic drive fron San Francisco to Las Vegas in early July

From the National Park site on Death Valley summer temps:

Summer temperatures often top 120°F (49°C) in the shade with overnight lows dipping into the 90s°F (mid-30s°C.)

And unfortunately large vans are the opposite of economical on gas... probably 15 mpg or so.

You might want to check your routes on something like Google Maps, to make sure you understand the distances and time involved. Day 1 is a 6 hour drive with absolutely no stops, and Google Maps tends to underestimate actual driving times, especially in mountains like Yosemite. Add in time to take photos, have lunch, maybe walk to view a waterfall, and you have a 10-hour day of fairly strenuous driving.

Scottsdale, Arizona
Level Contributor
4,974 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: Scenic drive fron San Francisco to Las Vegas in early July

I don't think you have any idea of the dangers of the heat on the desert. You can not leave a child in a car or you will go to jail. A small baby's brain can boil within minutes out in that heat. If your baby is injured or dies, you will go to prison. This is really, really a BAD idea. You need to rethink your schedule.

Uden, The...
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Scenic drive fron San Francisco to Las Vegas in early July

Lee Vining will be about half way. Beatty will be a detour. Just drive 190 through DVNP (side trip on Badwater road) to DV Junction and drive via Pahrump to Las Vegas.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
62,510 posts
114 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Scenic drive fron San Francisco to Las Vegas in early July

I "vote" with Tet. Day 1 should be a 4 hr drive to Yosemite NP, then the entire afternoon enjoying Yosemite including Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows. Staying in Lee Vining makes sense. Maybe drive another 15-25 minutes to June Lake for more lodging options.

Spend all of Day 2 enjoying the drive down Hwy 395 and then into Death Valley NP. I assume that your rental vehicle will be new and that it will have an excellent airconditioning system. Someone will stay in the car (motor running) with the baby when you stop at some of the scenic spots. You'll be fine. Exit via Pahrump.

Details on the portion between Yosemite Valley & Las Vegas: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c182361

Details about what to do on a one day (or partial day) visit in Yosemite NP are included in the Trip Ideas & Top Questions on the right side of the Yosemite NP forum page (full TA website, not the app.)

-----------

Vehicle choice: I think that 8 person vans are still mini-vans. Maybe there is a full size van that seats 8; I don't know.

A regular minivan or a larger SUV or Crossover would fit a family of 5 just fine. If you have specific questions about renting a car as an Aussie, I recommend reading the excellent info on the multi-state Road Trips forum: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g1-i12567-Road_Tri… It's in the Top Q. Then post there.

For future reference, the city/destination forum is really just about that city. So topics and Top Questions here on the San Francisco forum are just about visiting this fabulous city. If you have questions about finding lodging for a family of 5 or what activities are appropriate for kids, this is the place to research, read, and ask (with a new question.) Questions about driving across the state are usually place in the California state forum (where there is a Top Question about driving from SF to Las Vegas.)

Happy Planning!

Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
3,934 posts
57 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Scenic drive fron San Francisco to Las Vegas in early July

one of the problems with visiting the desert in summer...if you are going up a large hill, you may need to shut off your ac so that the car doesn't overheat and diriving in death valley without the ac on is not fun. also, check with your rental car agency...some don't allow their vehicles in death valley in the summer months. make sure you have lots and lots of water in the car. i've done vegas in july. you don't want to waunder far from ac but it's still fun. hat's and sunscreen.

San Francisco...
Level Contributor
3,983 posts
158 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Scenic drive fron San Francisco to Las Vegas in early July

Some articles you might find helpful:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g61000-c41113/Yosemit…

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g61000-c2636/Yosemite…

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c182361/Califo…

Uden, The...
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Scenic drive fron San Francisco to Las Vegas in early July

Some RV rentalfirms restrict to drive through DV in summer but that doesnot go for rental cars. You also are not cimbing steep hills in DV. Only a long descend in the Panamint Valley range.

Lilydale, Australia
Level Contributor
3 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Scenic drive fron San Francisco to Las Vegas in early July

Thanks all for your posts, it is really good to learn as you go and get others opinions on topics, I know its a long drive and long days but I have another driver and although we will be stopping for some pictures we wont be going on any hikes to water falls etc. (just don't have the time) we will stop and smell the roses so to speak but really just looking for a scenic drive rather than a boring one. Temperature WOW I looked up last year and it was 52 in death valley!! I do understand heat (I run my own A/C company) and do know the effects, there is know way I would risk any of my family just for a picture.... so I think I will wait till the day and if is going to get over 45 degrees we will give it a miss and go a different route, I am more concerned about the rental car breaking down or overheating than leaving a baby in a car. (Australia has very similar laws to that kind of treatment) Thanks for all the other info Thanks Tet and PacificNWFamily for all the directional info and web sites that ALTippet gave me and lttt I will certainly take lots of H20 and snacks.

If it is to hot and if I stay in Lee Vining or June Lake would it be ok to make my way around to the 95 and drive straight to Vegas?

Uden, The...
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Scenic drive fron San Francisco to Las Vegas in early July

Yes, you can take 95. Take 120 to us6 to Tonopah first and 95 to Beatty and to Las Vegas. Won't be much cooler though and less scenic.

10. Re: Scenic drive fron San Francisco to Las Vegas in early July

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 26 March 2015, 04:16