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Driving from L.A. to Yosemite via Rt. 395 and Mammoth Lakes

Boston, MA
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Driving from L.A. to Yosemite via Rt. 395 and Mammoth Lakes

My husband and I are flying into Los Angeles this August and driving up Rt. 395 to Yosemite. We hope to make it as far as Mammoth Lakes the first night. Is this too ambitious, i.e., will we have enough time to get there before dark? We land in L.A. about 10:30am. We have a room at the Holiday Inn in Mammoth Lakes reserved, so that is our goal. Are there any good rest stops along Rt. 395, things that we might want to see? Once we're in Mammoth Lakes, it will probably be nightfall. In the morning, should we see anything in Mammoth Lakes before we head out to Yosemite? We're staying at the Best Western Yosemite Gateway the 2nd night. Since we'll only have about 36 hours in Yosemite before we head to Oakland, what are the highlights we should focus on. We love short hikes, waterfalls, seeing wildlife, and scenery.

Our trip will take us on to wine country, San Francisco, then down the coast to Big Sur, Monterey, and eventually back to L.A. I look forward to hearing any advice you might have for me regarding the trip from L.A. to Yosemite, Mammoth Lakes, and Rt. 395. Thank you in advance.

Mammoth Lakes...
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1. Re: Driving from L.A. to Yosemite via Rt. 395 and Mammoth Lakes

You should be able to make it by nightfall, along the way maybe stop and check out the Alabama Hills and gaze on Mt Whitney. In Mammoth I would see the Lakes Basin, Devils Postpile, maybe do a scenic gondola ride. On the the way into Yosemite Valley I really like Tenaya Lake, and Tuolumne Meadows. In the valley since you like falls I would check out Vernal and Nevada falls and of course Yosemite falls (which could be dry). Have Fun

Berkeley, California
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2. Re: Driving from L.A. to Yosemite via Rt. 395 and Mammoth Lakes

You can make it from LAX to Mammoth Lakes before nightfall, but I suspect you will miss some things along the way in such a rush.

I recommend booking your first night in Bishop rather than Mammoth Lakes. Thus, you can drive through the Alabama Hills and up to Whitney Portal, both of which are west of Lone Pine.

Also, you may be able to drive through the ghost towns of Randsburg and Johannesburg if you like that sort of thing. Alternatively, you could stop for a short hike in Red Rock Canyon, which is west of Randsburg. (You can visit all three, actually, as there is a paved road connecting them!) (I took a short hike in Red Rock Canyon in late July of 2007, and it was 100 degrees, so maybe you don't want to do that after all!)

You should try to visit the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forect, which is southeast of Bishop, if at all possible. The Schulman Grove is at 10,000 feet, and the Patriarch Grove at 11,000 feet. I recommend visiting both on a loose schedule, but you should skip the 11,000 foot part as the travel time is rather lengthy (on a dirt road no less!). Interesting fact: When I visited here in 2007, it was 100 degrees in Bishop, 68 at Schulman Grove, and 50 at Patriarch Grove!

Near Mammoth Lakes, you should consider visiting the Devil's Postpile National Monument. This is a surprisingly short hike, so you should have no trouble going here on your way into Yosemite!

Mammoth Lakes the community is not spectacular, so staying in Bishop instead will not make much of a difference. If you had more time, I would recommend a night in each community!

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3. Re: Driving from L.A. to Yosemite via Rt. 395 and Mammoth Lakes

If no delays, landing Lax at 10.30 pm, you'll app. need 1.5-2 hours before you are on the road, p/u rental car etc... Then you probably will take 405 to ca14 and drive north where you will meet 395 in Inyokern. Count on a 5-6 hours drive from Lax to Mammoth Lakes so you may be in Mammoth by 6pm app. without stops. DavDaven has given you great options but they will take much time. Too much time I'm afraid. I certainly would stop in Lone Pine for Alabama Hills and the views on the eastern sierras and Mnt. Whitney. Bishop to Mammoth is less than 1 hour so that won't make much difference. Staying in Lone Pine will give you more time to explore but will limit your time next day. Choices, choices. Actually, if this were my trip, I would focus on Yosemite and spend as much time as possible and come back another time to really explore 395 and the sights around it. You easily can take days for that and places like Mono Lake, Bodie and Lake Tahoe havenot even been mentioned.

Tet

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4. Re: Driving from L.A. to Yosemite via Rt. 395 and Mammoth Lakes

Just out of curiosity, what was your reasoning for going up 395? My assumption would be because it is a more scenic route and you just want to see that portion of California. If you were looking for more time in Yosemite you could skip Mammoth and head straight to Yosemite. Of course, this would mean changing your reservations.

If the 395 route is the way you want to go, I'd suggest a stop a Devil's Postpile National Monument. Mono Lake is also very interesting. If you have the time and are interested in ghost towns, Bodie State Historic Park is a great place to check out.

In Yosemite, I'd say Tuolumne Meadows is a must stop and in the valley, I'd suggest a hike out to Vernal and Nevada Falls. A drive up to Glacier Point is also a must. Be aware that in August most of the waterfalls aren't that full. In fact, Yosemite Falls may be just a drip or dry and the same with Bridalveil Falls. Vernal and Nevada will still be flowing, but just not as spectacular as earlier in the year.

Washington State
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5. Re: Driving from L.A. to Yosemite via Rt. 395 and Mammoth Lakes

Please post your query in the Yosemite forum to get more feedback.

_________________________________________

Best Western Yosemite Gateway is in Oakhurst, far from the Valley highlights. Do you have two nights there or just one?

If you have only one night, then definitely spend your time enjoying Tuolumne Meadows as you drive thru this gorgeous area; you won't be back. Stop for little hikes, photo opportunities, a dip in Tenaya Lake. Get a picnic at the Whoa Nellie Deli (gas station) so you can spend all your time enjoying the out-of-doors.

Spend the late afternoon & early evening in the Valley. It will be crowded and hot. Oakhurst is about 1 1/2 hours from the Valley.

Assuming only one night, drive directly to Mariposa Grove in the morning. Go on one of the first $$$ tours or just walk up to the Grizzly Giant before the crowds arrive. Next, drive to Glacier Point, about 45 minutes to an hour. Go on the Sentinel Dome hike, about 2 miles RT. Now head back to the Valley. Again, it will be CROWDED in August.

Alternatively, you could drive directly from Tuolumne Meadows to Glacier Point, enjoy an evening picnic (bring it) and sunset, then head to Oakhurst. Go to the Valley as fast as you can in the morning (speed limit is 35 mph in the Park, so I just mean don't dawdle in Oakhurst.)

Oakhurst is a great little town, but it's a long way from the main Yosemite attractions for such a short visit. It's much cheaper than Valley accomodations, easier to find availability, and has many food options. But it's a good distance away.

Here is Yosemite map: nps.gov/yose/…YOSEpark2003.pdf Oakhurst isn't even on this map; look at a CA map for a broader view.

This is a great mileage list: nps.gov/yose/…mileages9-2007.pdf

Happy Planning!

San Francisco
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6. Re: Driving from L.A. to Yosemite via Rt. 395 and Mammoth Lakes

Are you really going to pass up Death Valley?

:(

Boston, MA
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7. Re: Driving from L.A. to Yosemite via Rt. 395 and Mammoth Lakes

Thank you so much for all the tips for this trip. I am always amazed at how generous members are with their time in advising others, and I appreciate it very much.

I really didn't have a strong reason for choosing Rt. 395 other than it looked like it would be a scenic route, and we love that. But we also love to explore, and if taking it would not allow us any time to explore, we maybe should re-think it. I noticed there is another route that takes you straight up to Yosemite and would bypass Mammoth altogether, but I assume that's not a scenic highway. Where I don't have a huge amount of time, I'm not sure if I should eliminate it altogether, but you all have raised very valid points. I only would have the one night in Mammoth and one night in Oakhurst, so maybe the two in Oakhurst would be better. Thank you again for all the help, I will definitely take them all under advisement.

Berkeley, California
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8. Re: Driving from L.A. to Yosemite via Rt. 395 and Mammoth Lakes

The direct route, which I presume is either I-5 or State Route 99, is the least season possible route you can take. You will have to endure hours of driving in the Central Valley, and there really is nothing to see there. Even if you don't have time to explore, the US 395 route will be far more scenic. At a minimum, you can still see the Alabama Hills and Whitney Portal on your way to Mammoth Lakes. It sounds like Devil's Postpile will eat into your limited time at Yosemite, so I would skip it and head straight to the more interesting destination after you get some rest.

Mammoth Lakes...
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9. Re: Driving from L.A. to Yosemite via Rt. 395 and Mammoth Lakes

Xine1123 you are correct it is a scenic route

http://easternsierrarec.org/Byway.html

Santa Clarita...
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10. Re: Driving from L.A. to Yosemite via Rt. 395 and Mammoth Lakes

I simply find Hwy 14, to 395 rather long and boring. Red Rock Canyon north of Mojave is nice, it is just a lot of desert out there. You will not have time to take the side roads to the scenic areas of the mountains. Going up Sherwin Grade outside of Bishop and beyond, Hwy 395 then becomes very scenic.

Heading toward Yosemite from LAX after a long flight, will be more than enough for one day. If not, you will a little more rested to enjoy the beauty of Yosemite the following day.

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