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  1. Default Las Vegas – Death Valley – Yosemite (+Bodie) – SF – LA – San Diego - Las Vegas


    Thanks the great forum, I can see that we have plenty of stuff to read for the next few weeks to get some inspiration. As we’re a bit in the dark, I hope we can get som feedback on the below, so we at least can put a few marks on the map, and get a bit closer to a plan.

    Except for a few days in NY back in 99, we haven’t been to the US before. As we have plans in Las Vegas from July 3-12th and will arrive in Las Vegas on the afternoon of June 21st I thought we should do a little roadtrip until July 3rd. This should give us 11 full days and 12 nights.

    First thought was to do Death Valley, Yosemite and the abandoned gold/ghost town of Bodie (not sure if this is too much of a detour from Yosemite making it a choice between one of them). We’ll then go to San Francisco for 3-4 days, down the coast to Los Angeles spending a few days on the road, and basically drive towards San Diego if we have time. We are in no time pressure as such as we’ll book accomodation from day to day and when we reach July 3rd, we’ll just turn the car towards Las Vegas whether we got all the way to San Diego or not. How does this trip sound? Anything I’m missing or is it spot on for a first trip to the west coast?

    Starting out from Vegas, I have a few questions for the trip from there to SF:

    1. We arrive from Europe after 17 hours of flights at around 5pm. My thought was to get out of Vegas immediately by renting a car and drive to Death Valley to be ready for a full day of sightseeing next day. Not sure if its overkill, but if we can be in DV area around 9pm-ish (6am in the morning European time) we’ll get something to eat and 10 hours of sleep, which will also turn our day to US time immediately. You think this is doable (I should be able to sleep on the plane), and where should we spend the night in Death Valley in order to get the most out of it from the start of the next day?
    2. Getting the most out of Death Valley from the morning the 22nd, and hopefully be able to arrive in SF late on the 24th (could be the 25th) and thereby having almost 3 full days, what would be the best way to spend this time, what route should we take (as mentioned Yosemite and Bodie are the only other things we have our sight on, but we’re open to other suggestions), what accomodation is recommendable and makes a natural stop for the day, and what would a good trip plan look like?

    Anything I’m missing?

    We are also open for a totally different trip as long as we start and end in Las Vegas.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-09-2012 at 06:59 AM. Reason: fixed title on thread

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Get rested.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    To start out, I would strongly advise that when you arrive you should just check in to a nearby Hotel, have something to eat and get rested. I understand where you are coming from, but by the time you clear customs, pick up a rental and get out of Vegas you will be exhausted. Although the excitement may keep you going it will be a false economy as next day your body clocks will be out of kilter and tiredness could set in again. Get rested and an early start next day if you are up to it. You could then explore DV and stay in the park or you would have no problem getting to Lone Pine or as far north as Bishop, depending 'on'.

    Bodie would almost certainly violate your rental agreement as you have to go on unpaved road to get there. I'm sure some do but any damage or mechanical failure that would result in a tow would most likely be at your expense. I would recommend 2 nights in or around Yosemite so that you have at least a full day at this natural wonder. The Tioga Pass [CA120] into Yosemite from Mono Lake is spectacular so leave time for stops. Yosemite is on route to SF and if it were a choice between the two, Yosemite is a 'no brainer' for me.

    Make sure you plan for an overnight stop between SF and LA and take the scenic coast road [CA1] arund Big Sur. Cambria is a popular mid way point.

    Search around the forums and you will find lots of info. You can simply scroll down this page and you will find 'Similar Threads' to get you started and repeat as often as you want.

    Any more questions just ask, but I'm off out for now.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Agreed

    I have to agree that trying to drive to Death Valley immediately upon arrival is a very bad idea.

    As you mentioned, you'll have already been traveling fro 17 hours, and I'm going to imagine it will actually be more than 20 hours once you factor in time to travel to the airport, get through security, and the customs and car rental on the back end. It also means that you'd be getting on the road in what your body will think is the middle of the night (roughly 3am Euro-time). Even if everything goes as planned, and even if you are able to get in a nap on the plane, it would really be a dangerous gamble to try to add another 2 hours of driving on top of that already hugely long day.

    Otherwise, your loop looks solid, although I would look at adding a stop at the Grand Canyon into your plans - heading their directly from LA or SD, before you return to Vegas.

  4. Default

    Thanks for some very quick and good answers.

    Point taken in relation to getting some rest after arrival. Plan is now to stay in Vegas and leave for Death Valley in the morning.

    Guess the plan will look something like.

    Day 1: Drive from Vegas through DV and spend the night in Mammoth Lodge/Lone Pine/Bishop area. How many stops/sights can we do, and what is definitely "have-to-see's"? Talking with a collegue I got the impression that DV is mostly a fantastic drive through, whereas I seem to remember having read about quite a few sights and stops.

    Day 2: Bodie for the entire day, probably back to the place we slept first night, or something closer to Yosemite". Will have to check with regard to the bad road, so might just drop Bodie and skip to day 3.

    Day 3: Yosemite. Not sure if this should be a drive through, and then return for walks etc on day 4, or just take them on day 3, and make it a one day trip only through Yosemite. Any advice?

    Can we go straight from Yosemite to SF in the evening, or should we find accommodation closer to Yosemite and go to SF in the morning.

    We'll definitely take two stopovers from SF to LA. Want to do this leg relatively slow :-)

    In relation to Grand Canyon we'll do this when we are back in LV, as we have 9 days here.

    Any comments on the above plan is highly appreciated so I can get some accommodation booked between LV and SF.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I think you'll want at least a full day to explore Yosemite, it's a huge place with lots to see. If you are thinking of starting around Bishop and making it to SF the same day, you would really just be driving through and wouldn't have time to see hardly any of the valley. Its basically a half day drive from Yosemite to SF, not including the hours you'll want just to drive across Tioga Pass.

    On the other hand, Bodie isn't a place I'd think you'd need the entire day for.

    The Grand Canyon really is way too far away from Las Vegas to do as a daytrip. Its a good 5 hour drive each way. Going there directly from SoCal would save you a couple hours worth of driving.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    If you end up visiting Bodie, you certainly wouldn't want to drive back south past Tioga Pass, it would make more sense just to stopover in Lee Vining. From Lee Vining it is only a short drive to the east entry kiosk, so with an early start you could get a full day in Yosemite. However I would stay close by, perhaps Groveland and maybe re-visit the following morning before heading to SF. I definitely would not try and visit Yosemite and get to SF same day.

    I agree that you won't need the entire day in Bodie, but if you were to start out from Lone Pine and end your day in Lee Vining, it will be most of it gone anyway. Whats left you could use up wandering around Mono Lake.

  7. Default

    By all means check with DNC via phone or website (concessionaire for Yosemite National Park) for overnight lodging in Yosemite. There are a few openings and cancellations pop up. Staying in Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, White Wolf or the valley will give you more time and flexibility to visit the park. Wawona is further south but still in the park.

  8. Default

    If we stay the first night after Vegas in Bishop or Lone Pine, how far could we go the next day if we still target Bodie, and then back over Lee Vining and then Tioga Pass? Is Lee Vining fine, or could we go even further that day?

    Think we can get accommodation in Curry Village, but still assume we should not head all the way from say Bishop over Bodie and to Curry Village in one day, correct? If not, would there be better places after Lee Vining in order to get a few more miles out of the day, and would Curry Village then be to close to that place the following day?

    Basically, I'm just trying to figure out the best way to do the trip from Bishop the first day, covering Bodie and Yosemite the following two or most likely three days.

    If we skip Bodie entirely Curry Village seems like the perfect target to stay, but with Bodie in the plan, I just can't figure out what would be good targets to spend the night, so hope you guys can help.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    For planning purposes - you can get from Bishop to Bodie in 2 hours or so. Plan on 4 hours or so to get from Bodie over Tioga Pass and into Yosemite Village. If you get an early start, I don't see why you couldn't do all this in one day, this allows for some sightseeing delays.

    You could of course go past Bishop to Mammoth Lakes or June Lake for your overnight, but lodging is going to be more costly.

  10. Default

    Thanks for all the input.

    Plan is now.

    Day 1: Arrive in Vegas, and stay there overnight.

    Day 2: Drive from Vegas to Bishop/Mammoth Lakes area, and just find a motel on the way, dependent on how things goes.

    Sights to stop at/drive through:

    - Badwater Basin
    - Artists Drive (will be a little back and forth, but should be ok)
    - Devils Golf Coourse
    - Zabriskie Point

    Road will be 160 to Pahrump, 372 to get to Badwater (better than taking the 190?), get back on 190 after Artists Drive, and over 395 to Mammoth Lakes.

    As day 3 will take us to Bodie, and its not a huge extra distance, should we include Ubehebe Craters and Scotty's Castle for day two, and then stay overnight in Tanopah instead? Seems like this will be a 7.30 hour drive, which should be ok for the day when we start early in the morning. Just not sure if Scottys Castle and Ubehebe Craters is that interesting as well lose the flexibility of how far we can go, if we head in the Mammoth Lakes direction instead, with more motel options along the way.

    Day 3: Going to Bodie, and over Tioga Pass to Curry Village which is already booked.
    Day 4: Tried to book a second night in Curry Village, but no succes so far. Would that be a no-brainer (if we get the option), as we'll likely maximum do a 4 hour walk, or could we do that from the morning, and then head to SF (or stay somewhere between Curry Village and SF) as it seems like less than a 4 hour drive from Curry Village, and I assume the traffic is ok on a Sunday?

    So, all in all, and good advice for day 2 and day 4, and day 1 and 3 are more or less ticked off.

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