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  1. #1

    Default

    Hi,

    We're arriving in Las Vegas on the 2nd of April and I'm having a little trouble sorting out a particular leg of our journey.

    We're driving from Las Vegas through Death valley and then staying overnight at a Lone Pine on highway 395 (this is changeable if it doesnt fit with the plan!

    Now here is where it gets tricky...

    What is the best route (most likely to be open, do able in a one day, and scenic) from here to Yosemite.

    I think there are two options:

    1. Go north on the 395, past Yosemite, further north, so "going up, around and above it" via Carson Pass on route 88 then via Jackson south on the 49 and meet the 120 to go in to yosemite Valley.

    Or

    2. Go south on the 395 and then cut across west from Ridgecrest to Bakersfield on the 178 and then north on the 99 via Fresno and then the 41 into Yosemite from the south.


    I need help to figure out which is realistic to do in a day and then secondly scenic and enjoyable.

    I hope you can help!

    Ssamiraa

    I've been reading the posts on the forum, since i posted 30 or ss minutes ago, and my goodness, how popoular is this route and secondly, I've made so many more notes just by reading other posts...

    Thank you everyone! What a great website!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-18-2007 at 10:40 AM. Reason: continuation of previous post

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default If any of the Sierra Passes are open....

    Quote Originally Posted by ssamiraa View Post
    We're driving from Las Vegas through Death valley
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! Until you get here and see what the weather is like -- you really won't have a definitive choice of routes. There are way too many variables. I think you have seen some of these posts, but be sure to look at the second post in this thread for links to commentary about this route AND look at the bottom of this page!
    and then staying overnight at a Lone Pine on highway 395 (this is changeable if it doesnt fit with the plan!
    If one of the Sierra Passes is open and you do go north from Death Valley -- I would stay at Bishop --bigger town, great bakery, wonderful murals and friendly people.

    It has been a very dry winter and it is even possible that Tioga Pass (into Yosemite could be open -- extremely unlikely -- see this poll....) but the first pass you ought to consider is Sonora Pass (not Carson pass) It is the closest pass to Yosemite and even though the state claims that it is not plowed -- it is kept open much of the winter.
    via Carson Pass on route 88 then via Jackson south on the 49
    While it is true that Carson Pass is usually kept open, if you go that far north, you might as well just keep going north over Luther Pass and take US-50 (which is open 95% of the winter) west to CA-49 at Placerville and then down to Yosemite.
    2. Go south on the 395 and then cut across west from Ridgecrest to Bakersfield on the 178 and then north on the 99 via Fresno and then the 41 into Yosemite from the south.
    This would be the faster route, and you could stay overnight at Lake Isabella or Kernville. The absolute fastest route is US-385 to CA-14 to CA-58 to CA-99 to CA-41 to the Park. All of these routes are scenic and fun.

    Mark

  3. #3

    Default

    Hi Mark,

    Thank you so much for all the detail in your reply. It's really appreciated!
    I've been on this website for most of this afternoon, and had a look at the links you'd recommended too - i must have read your mind!

    One thing I did read, i think one of the posters recomended it, was that if we go to Yosemite from the south via Ridgecrest and Bakersfield, we could take a small diversion and drive through the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This really appeals- I checked it out on Yahoo Maps and it says its about a 12 hour drive.

    I have a real dilemma on my hands if both are feasible for a day's driving. As the Sierra passes and this route through Sequoia and Kings Canyon both really appeal!

    So any recommendations would be very welcome.

    Thanks again for the help Mark

    Ssamiraa

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Sherman Pass Road

    Quote Originally Posted by ssamiraa View Post
    One thing I did read, i think one of the posters recomended it, was that if we go to Yosemite from the south via Ridgecrest and Bakersfield, we could take a small diversion and drive through the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This really appeals- I checked it out on Yahoo Maps and it says its about a 12 hour drive.
    It is really too long a day to make sense. Here is a post that addresses these issues (be sure to scroll down to about the 5th or 6th post) and here is a field report that covers this area. Another option, is to take the southern most trans-Sierra Pass -- Sherman Pass Road -- but again, I don't think it will be open and it would be way, way, too long a day. Although I have done it twice ...from Las Vegas to Sequoia....

    Mark

  5. #5

    Default I feel more decided

    HI Mark,

    Thanks for the advice and info, I think, its defintelly "a wait and see" scenario as the weather is so so important and changleable but at least i know which options I have either way.

    thanks again!
    SSamiraa

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Pre-planning is a useful state, but...

    Quote Originally Posted by ssamiraa View Post
    ...but at least i know which options I have either way.
    The best part about roadtrips, for me, is that they are ultimately open to change. I hope you let us know what you discover out there!

    Mark

  7. Default Sierra Passes

    Mark, and others - I live on the East Side of the Sierra and keep close track of the passes....
    Even though there hasn't been much snow down low this winter, there has been a lot up high. CalTrans will not even think about opening any of the passes until at least May 1 - and then they might tackle Sonora. Don't count on Tioga until Memorial Weekend - not only does it need plowing, but the NPS budget has to allow for posting Rangers up there, and they always drag their feet doing that. Memorial weekend is a definite possibility though.
    As for Sherman Pass - that pass is not plowed by anyone. Right now there is a bunch of snow on the north - shady- side of the pass and I wouldn't count on it being open much before Memorial Weekend.

    And - Sherman Pass road is definitely NOT the quickest way to get to Sequoia National Park! It looks good on a map, but it is wiggly, up and down, and definitely NOT a shortcut. It would take one all day to go from the Owens Valley over Sherman, down into Johnsondale, and up over Camp Nelson, down to Porterville, and up to Sequoia NP.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
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    Default One of our summer features

    Quote Originally Posted by jwest View Post
    Mark, and others - I live on the East Side of the Sierra and keep close track of the passes....
    Always great to have locals intel -- Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! I have been over all of the Sierra Passes a couple of times in the last 18 months. I did five of them in one day last October (zig-zagging my way from east to west, starting with Carson and ending with Monitor that afternoon -- Ebbetts remains my all-time favorite pass in summer. I actually prefer Sonora as the first spring pass each year -- that snow chute at the top is amazing!
    Even though there hasn't been much snow down low this winter, there has been a lot up high. CalTrans will not even think about opening any of the passes until at least May 1 - and then they might tackle Sonora.
    One of our contributors lives on base of the pass on the west side and he gets up there pretty regularily -- even when Caltrans reports the pass is closed. I have been over the pass twice when the road was officially still closed (the gates were open).
    Don't count on Tioga until Memorial Weekend - not only does it need plowing, but the NPS budget has to allow for posting Rangers up there, and they always drag their feet doing that. Memorial weekend is a definite possibility though.
    We will just have to see this year -- Snow pack reports are not encouraging in some respects.
    As for Sherman Pass - that pass is not plowed by anyone.
    Well, not officially, but residents up at Kennedy Meadows have been known to "scrape" a little bit from time to time.
    Right now there is a bunch of snow on the north - shady- side of the pass and I wouldn't count on it being open much before Memorial Weekend.
    You could be right -- I drove most of the way last year -- a week earlier and it was OK -- this year, is much drier along the entire range.
    And - Sherman Pass road is definitely NOT the quickest way to get to Sequoia National Park! It looks good on a map, but it is wiggly, up and down, and definitely NOT a shortcut.
    No one here has ever suggested that it is a short-cut -- but it is an extraordinary glimpse into the southern Sierra high country.
    It would take one all day to go from the Owens Valley over Sherman, down into Johnsondale, and up over Camp Nelson, down to Porterville, and up to Sequoia NP.
    Absolutely. And our recommendation is to stay overnight at McNallys Fairview Lodge -- grab a couple of steaks and listen to the Kern River all night.

    One of the articles, I am working on will present some ideas and tips for using all nine of the Sierra Nevada Mountain crossings. Do you have some more tips that I could incorporate into that article?

    Mark

  9. Default for Mike

    You are using "the Sherman Pass Road" to include things west of the Kern River - over there it is "the Western Divide Highway" ( Hwy 190 to Camp Nelson), or the California Hot Springs road. The Sherman Pass Road part starts at the Kern River and goes over Sherman Pass and down 9 Mile Canyon. The only folks who try to plow it are loggers who are anxious to get to their timber. The Kennedy Meadows folks don't... honest!

    The road down the Kern River is M99, and is usually just called the upper Kern River Road, or the Johnsondale Road... no maps have the correct markings, so it's important to try to keep them straight. :-)

    There is a nice new Motel along the Kern River road - before you get to McNally's, but they don't have a restaurant. There is nothing as good as a McNally's steak!!

    [update: 09-19-07: Terry Anderson, the host of McNally's writes: If you have Winter travelers interested the restuarant is closed after Thanksgiving but our rooms and cabins are open year round.]

    I've found that CalTrans is quick to post when the passes open - call 800 427-7623, or look them up on-line. And now on 395 there are solar-powered signs listing Tioga (as Yosemite), Sonora, and Monitor Passes- open/closed. They're pretty accurate.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 09-19-2007 at 10:42 AM. Reason: updated info

  10. Default more on sequoia trees

    remember that Sequoia National Park and Giant Sequoia National Monument are quite different animals - both have big trees, but the biggest ones are around the General Sherman Tree in SNP. 39 ft. in diameter!!
    However, I love to visit Trail of 100 Giants in GSNP on Hwy 190, just 2 miles west of the California Hot Springs-Johnsondale road. Nice paved trail does indeed pass over 100 trees which are over 10 feet in diameter, and 3 which are 20 ft. in diameter. There's even one you can go into (actually, it's 3 trees grown together, as Sequoias can do). Great place to stop along Hwy 190, and the closest big trees to the Owens Valley.

    Folks are always coming into Kennedy Meadows asking where Sequoia trees are, because it is Sequoia National Forest, isn't it!?! Well, yes, but there are no sequoia trees east of the north fork of the Kern River - ie. the Kern Plateau/Kennedy Meadows/Sherman Pass road. However, with persistance, you can keep going over Sherman Pass, down to the Johnsondale Bridge, up 7 more miles to Hwy 190, turn north 2 miles to Trail of 100 Giants. From there, it's another 2 hrs. down to Camp Nelson - the road passes several groves, but they are not marked nor is it easy to get to them.
    So - if folks are in the Owens Valley area, they can get to large (20 ft) Sequoia trees in 2 hrs. but it's not the National Park. (there is a lot of logging in GSNM) And the roads are very, very wiggly!!

    The Kern Plateau is a wonderful area to explore, camp in, hike from, etc. 3 Wilderness areas - Dome Lands, Southern Sierra, Golden Trout. PCT trail goes through. Best fishing around in the Kern River and Fish Creek. !! Most folks just drive through and miss the pretty meadows and grand vistas! 22 meadows (not counting Kennedy) with flowers, and all are available for primitive camping.

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