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Salt Lake City to Yosemite

Salt Lake City, Utah
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Salt Lake City to Yosemite

Hi,

I'll be driving to Yosemite with my three teens in a few weeks. We've decided to take our bikes.

The problem is that I don't like driving straight through anymore and am worried about leaving the bikes on the van at a motel/hotel. Does anyone have any suggestions for a safe (reasonably inexpensive) place to stay where the bikes won't disappear?

I'm not really attached to driving a particular route. Usually, we drive I-80 and overnight in Winnemuca or Reno.

Thanks!

San Francisco
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1. Re: Salt Lake City to Yosemite

I think we talked about this trip before, didn't we? Your kids need a fair amount of structure and don't do well with unexpected situations, but they are starting to grow out of it, right? If they are intrigued with Western history, ghost towns, or natural scenery, I have a couple of alternatives for you to consider.

I-80 may seem faster, but it's actually longer in total miles than the alternatives. And if you're getting bored with it, there are things to see on the back roads.

1. Here's one possible itinerary. Take US 50 ("America's Loneliest Road"); I like it all the way from I-15 across Nevada, but you could save a few miles by taking I-80 to Wendover and dropping down 93.

In the 250 miles between Ely and Fallon, there are only 4-5 towns (including Ely & Fallon). They are old mining towns, fun to visit, and the scenery on the way is awesome. Austin, about midway to Yosemite, has 3 tiny, basic motels. I've stayed at the Lincoln and Pony Canyon, which have maybe 15 rooms. There are lodgings with basic food service farther west at Cold Springs and Middlegate, which are not towns but wide spots in the road where Pony Express stations were. Fallon is a good-sized town with lots of businesses and a naval air station; it's about 500 miles from SL. At Fallon, go south on US 95 to Hawthorne NV. Hawthorne is a casino and company town, with a major Army munitions plant. There is a casino-motel called the El Capitan. State roads will then take you to Lee Vining CA (Mono Lake). There, US 395 south goes to the Tioga Pass entrance to the east side of Yosemite is south of Lee Vining.

This route is around 710-720 miles (via Wendover, not Delta).

2. Another scenic route is closer to 650-660 miles. From Ely, take US 6 through Tonopah to Hawthorne. Those three towns are the only places with major services. Tonopah is about the 2/3 point. It has several choices; I like the Jim Butler Motel. Tonopah is a historic silver mining town. From there, continue to Hawthorne, and then Lee Vining as above.

All the specific lodgings I mentioned are motels (reasonably priced), not hotels, so you can park near your room. Even so, I would still lock the bikes to the rack with a sturdy cable. If the rack is on the back of the vehicle, back into the parking space by your room so that if anyone tampers with it, you're more likely to hear the commotion.

Saint Germain...
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2. Re: Salt Lake City to Yosemite

Carson Valley Inn in Minden has huge rooms where the bikes could easily rest for the night.

Have a great trip.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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3. Re: Salt Lake City to Yosemite

Friso Roadrunner,

Good memory! Thanks for the suggesttions. I was thinking of taking I-80 to Wendover and heading south on US93 to Ely. From there, I wasn't quite sure.

Yes, the kids are getting better about not needing a specific routine. They've adjusted to where they are fine as long as they know what to expect. The small mining towns sound interesting.

Thanks to HotelCharlotte, as well. I'll check out your suggestions. And yes, the bikes will be well secured. So, If I can back the van up to the room (especially if there is a post of some sort) we might not even need to pull the bikes off.

San Francisco
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4. Re: Salt Lake City to Yosemite

Just thought of something to add. If you take Hwy 6 and find yourself a couple hours ahead, one of the finest preserved ghost towns in the entire West, Belmont, is north of Tonopah.

www.ghosttowns.com/states/nv/belmont.html

rockymountainprofiles.com/belmont_nevada.htm

Take Hwy 376 north just east of Tonopah and then good side roads (paved or gravel, all signed). It's about 40 miles from US 6 to Belmont. Another ghost town, Manhattan, is also nearby. But Belmont is a real gem. You'll look around at the old buildings and mining remains and see what appears to be the whole town; but then go up the hill past the old church and a cluster of other buildings is there, including one of the most gorgeous preserved ore smelters I've ever seen.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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5. Re: Salt Lake City to Yosemite

Thanks!

We might not make it out of SLC early. One daughter has a 9:45 doctor's appointment on the 6th. If the ride goes well, though, the ghost town sounds fun.

It looks like we can get a reservation in Tonopah at the place you suggested.

Changing subjects, that road that goes directly from Pahrump to Death Valley Junction ... does it have a name yet? What street would we turn off the main highway through Pahrump(not that we'll be able to visit for a long time; I just love that little road).

San Francisco
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6. Re: Salt Lake City to Yosemite

I'm not sure what what the official name is of the road from DVJ; I've always just called in Stateline Road. I think the connecting street in Pahrump is Bell Vista.

I might not be aware of every change made in the past year, if any, because I don't often go through Pahrump. If I have to go between DV and LV, I usually take 95 through Beatty just because I like that route better.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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7. Re: Salt Lake City to Yosemite

BELLE VISTA ... that's it!

I've never taken US95 to Beatty because we usually enter from the south or Death Valley Junction.

San Francisco
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8. Re: Salt Lake City to Yosemite

Now and then I go from Death Valley to Utah. Unless I'm going to Arizona or southern Utah, or have s specific reason to go to or through Las Vegas, I usually take the Beatty route.

Beatty is a cool little town; it isn't a sprawling 'burb like Pahrump because it's too far to be a bedroom town to LV. Then comes Goldfield, another terrific semi-ghost town with many old buildings. It's a county seat and has a few businesses, but it's well-nigh deserted. The Goldfield Hotel used to have a reputation as the finest hotel between Kansas City and San Francisco; it still stands but is vacant.

www.ghosttowns.com/states/nv/goldfield.html

After Tonopah comes a long desolate stretch of US 6. For many miles, it skirths the north edge of Nellis AFB and the reputedly secret Area 51; at the Warm Springs junction are the ruins of an old resort and the turnoff to ET Hwy (NV 375) to Area 51 and Rachel.

Eventually 375 ends up at US 93, from where there's a state highway that crosses over toward Cedar City or Milford.

Straight ahead from Warm Springs is Ely, where Hwy 6 joins 50 toward Great Basin NP. I've been there in different seasons and never seen it crowded. I've stayed at the Silver Jack a few times, the Border Inn once with snow a couple feet high, usually eat at T&D's in Baker, go to church in Garrison, and think of night life as walking around Baker after dark looking at the stars. It's a very beautiful area. But the entire central part of Nevada, especially Hwy 50 and 6, are really not for the agoraphobic or faint of heart. I'm glad your kids are better about the need for specific routines, because there's a lot to see out there where the wild things grow.

From Ely, I almost always continue on 6/50, sometimes stopping at the Ranch Inn Cafe in Delta for a good meal.

San Francisco
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9. Re: Salt Lake City to Yosemite

Oops, I pulled the chain before I was ready!

Along rhe way near Delta is the former site of Topaz WWII internment camp, which recently became a National Historic Site. The CA counterpart, Manzanar, has been a NHS for quite a few years now. There's actually more to see at Manzanar (which is on 395 north of Death Valley, near the town of Independence).

I've never stayed in Delta, so I don't know anything about the accommodations. On the way to SL, I usually take the Nephi turnoff because I have friends there.

On this route, I see ALL the beautiful natural areas, miss ALL the crowds, and don't have to see either Las Vegas or Wendover. What more could a desert rat want? :^O

10. Re: Salt Lake City to Yosemite

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