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Death Valley, Yosemite and what else

Virgin Islands
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Death Valley, Yosemite and what else

In March 2009, we went to Death Valley and explored lots of off the beaten path spots. I like the scenery, but I also like the fact that you can backcountry car camp. No crowds. Just me, DH and the stars. We spent a week doing this. Death Valley is still calling me, so I'd like to return.

Always the advance planner, I'm thinking ahead to 2011. DH wants to go to the Maker Faire in San Mateo and Real Goods house in Hopland. Unfortunately, it appears that the Maker Faire will be weekend before Memorial Day weekend. Not the best time to travel. We'd leave San Mateo on Monday morning. We'd have two weeks for the after-the-Maker Faire part of the trip.

But, this got me to thinking that I'd like to see Yosemite. There was something about it recently on the TV, and since we're getting older, we may not have another chance. Truthfully, the crowds are daunting, but I asked for advice on the Yosemite forum and folks said it wouldn't be too bad the week before Memorial Day. As long as I was prepared to make campground reservations at the very fist second they opened up - 7 a.m. Pacific Time on Jan. 15.

I know that Death Valley will be a lot hotter than when we visited in March, but if we were at higher elevations, would it be too hot? I'm thinking of those uphill spots off the west side road in the southern part of the park. When we had to traverse the valley floor, we'd have the airconditioning on in the car. Keep in mind that we live in the Caribbean and are used to hot weather.

So from Yosemite to Death Valley is where we'd go next. Tioga pass may or may not be open so that impacts our route. But beyond Death Valley and between Yosemite and Death Valley, what else do you think I'd like given the fact that I'm not keen on crowds and enjoy backcountry car camping. Forest Service campgrounds are good too because they don't seem to get as many people as national parks. We definitely will camp but will stay once or twice in motels to do laundry and get a good shower.

We can return the car - a four-wheel drive SUV - in either Las Vegas or San Francisco or if the price wasn't too bad, anywhere else.

I do want to go to southern Utah, but that seems out of the way for this trip. In fact that was my plan till DH said he wanted to go to the Maker Faire.

We are very slow travelers, like easy short walks and stopping early to put up our tent and read.

So thanks all, especially Frisco Road Runner and Tet because I'm sure you'll respond like you did on our first Death Valley trip.

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San Mateo
San Mateo
California
Tioga Pass
Tioga Pass
997 Reviews
Yosemite National Park, CA
San Francisco
San Francisco
California
Utah
Utah
United States
Goldfield, Nevada
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10,752 posts
33 reviews
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1. Re: Death Valley, Yosemite and what else

The weekdays before Memorial Day weekend are a good time to visit Yosemite Valley. The waterfalls are in full flow and the park is not as crowded as on Memorial Day weekend or later in the summer. There are crowds but its not objectionable. The weather is nice too, on average it may be 63 to 65 degrees for the afternoon high, with a cool wind, but not really cold. Other areas of the park, such as Glacier Point and Tioga Road, may or may not be open yet. You may not be able to cross over the Sierras via Tioga Road at that time, so your route from Yosemite to Death Valley would have to be a different one, and undoubtedly longer.

The eastern Sierras, along Highway 395, is a great area with many places to see and things to do, and it's all less crowded than the national parks on the western side of the Sierras. I would highly recommend spending some time there. In May many of the mountain roads leading up into the mountains off the 395 may still be closed due to snow, but some may be starting to open. There are plenty of places for car camping. I have a feeling you will like that area a lot. There are many spectacular mountain views, because the Sierras rise up slowly on the west side and then drop off suddenly on the east side. So the eastern Sierras offer a lot of spectacular mountain views in addition to many lakes, rivers, forests and campgrounds. Another great time of year for that area is October, when the many aspen trees are brilliant yellow.

Some of the web sites that can help you decide what to see and do include: http://395.com , http://www.thesierraweb.com/ , http://www.monocounty.org/ , http://jrabold.net/mammoth/ , http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/ and http://iguide.travel/Eastern_Sierra .

Another recent thread about that area is here:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28926-i29-k368014…

Death Valley in late May averages about 100 for the afternoon high and 75 for the nighttime low.

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Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley
5,759 Reviews
Yosemite National Park, CA
Glacier Point
Glacier Point
4,028 Reviews
Yosemite National Park, CA
Tioga Road
Tioga Road
297 Reviews
Lee Vining, CA
Virgin Islands
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2. Re: Death Valley, Yosemite and what else

I should add that when we went to Death Valley, we left the park by heading west to Big Pine, which was a lovely drive. Then we drove south to Lone Pine and had lunch at a great Mexican restaurant there. We then headed back into the park from there. But the country off 395 did look interesting, but in March it was too cold to camp there. But that's food for thought for this trip. We also went to Sequoia/Kings Canyon on that trip. It had snowed, and it was just lovely.

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Lone Pine
Lone Pine
California Desert, CA
Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon
806 Reviews
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, CA
Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
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122 reviews
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3. Re: Death Valley, Yosemite and what else

We camped at Emigrant Campground in Death Valley in early April. At 2,000' elevation, it's quite a bit cooler than Stovepipe Wells. There are only 10 sites, so it's not large and quite similar to "wild" camping (that's what we call camping without campsites.) We drove past the Wildrose Campground. I think it's about 4,000' and cooler still. It should be fairly comfortable in May.

Other places to camp ~ look at both Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management campgrounds & recreation land. US Forest Service: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/rwhr/ BLM: blm.gov/ca/st/en/prog/recreation/camping.html

Although it is crowded in Yosemite, staying one or two nights in the Valley isn't unreasonable to get the "wow" experience of being there. If you prefer to camp away from the Valley and spend quiet evenings, look at some of these options (keep in mind that there may still be snow on the ground above 5,000 or 6,000' in mid/late May): http://jrabold.net/yosemite/campn.shtml

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Wildrose Campground
Wildrose Campground
15 Reviews
Death Valley National Park, CA
Virgin Islands
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172 posts
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4. Re: Death Valley, Yosemite and what else

Thanks all. Since I'm spending my Sunday afternoon browsing the options, here's another thought. We are also canoers. Any multiday trips - like three nights, four days or even - in this area? I've looked at the Russian and that doesn't seem like you can get more than two days out of it. Not whitewater, but a couple of class 1 or IIs we can handle.

Goldfield, Nevada
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5. Re: Death Valley, Yosemite and what else

If you bring your own canoe, you can glide around on the placid Tenaya Lake in Yosemite, with scenic backdrops in every direction. Or you can rent rafts at Curry Village and ride on the Merced River through Yosemite Valley at certain times of the year. There are also lakes on the eastern side of the Sierras where you can go canoeing, and I think there may be places to rent canoes in the Mammoth Lakes area, for canoeing around there. Lake Mary, Lake George, etc. Here is a page about it: canoekayak.com/destinations/…

As far as multi-day trips, I know there are some companies, and you can take an adventurous trip rafting down the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River in Yosemite, but that would be whitewater rafting and may be more than you want. There is also canoeing on the Kern River in the southern Sierras. http://www.kernriver.com/

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Tenaya Lake
Tenaya Lake
264 Reviews
Yosemite National Park, CA
Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley
5,759 Reviews
Yosemite National Park, CA
Mammoth Lakes
Mammoth Lakes
California
Lake Mary
Lake Mary
335 Reviews
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Virgin Islands
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172 posts
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6. Re: Death Valley, Yosemite and what else

Thanks. We can't bring our own canoe because we live in the Virgin Islands. The excess baggage fees for a canoe would be very high. Only kidding, but we need to rent a canoe and have a shuttle service.

Goldfield, Nevada
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7. Re: Death Valley, Yosemite and what else

Well here's one possibility http://www.burkescanoetrips.com/

Earth
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342 posts
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8. Re: Death Valley, Yosemite and what else

Stop a few days at Mammoth Lakes. I think you'll like June Lakes, and the mono lake basin.

Edited: 14 June 2010, 02:06
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Mammoth Lakes
Mammoth Lakes
California
Earth
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342 posts
64 reviews
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9. Re: Death Valley, Yosemite and what else

There is a canoe tour with rangers at Mono Lake on certain days.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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10. Re: Death Valley, Yosemite and what else

I'll have to get back to you later about DV, because it's late and I should get to bed. My laptop is set on Pacific time but I am in the Central time zone on vacation,and I have to remind myself of the difference. I do want to get up tomorrow morning because I have momentous plans.

There isn't any canoeing in Death Valley, except for the rare winter when it rains enough to form a small lake at Badwater. This happened a few years ago, in the winter before that astounding wildflower spring, and people did take kayaks there.

The Eastern Sierra has Mammoth, Crowley Lake, Convict Lake, and Mono Lake. Mono is the farthest north, but it's really unique. To the south, Lake Mead is probably the closest opportunity. You could get access to the marinas about 3 hours from Death Valley.

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Badwater
Badwater
2,372 Reviews
Death Valley National Park, CA
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