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  1. Default Nov - San Fran to Vegas (via Yosemite & Death Valley)


    I'm going to be driving from SF to Yosemite, then on to Death Valley and Vegas. I understand I'm cutting the Tioga Pass route fine as the trip starts on Mon 3rd Nov.

    Can anyone recommend a route and any guidance on cold weather? We're leaving SF on Monday 8th and spending that night on Yosemite. The next day we go to Death Valley, hopefully via Tioga Pass, and then from DV to Vegas after spending the night in DV.

    Any help and advice is greatly appreciated. Also, if Tioga Pass closes, can I ask for some help with an alternative route to Vegas?



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

    Default 50/50

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    As you most likely realise, you just can't predict what the status of Tioga pass will be until close to the day of arrival making your odds in effect, 50/50 at this time. There is a good chance it would not have yet closed for the season but still runs the risk of a storm or ice causing a temporary closure. If it's closed then you will have to head south towards Bakersfield and head around the mountains into Death valley. I would leave the night after Yosemite open with regards to lodgings and just see how it goes. What I would suggest though is that whatever way you go you plan to stop before Death valley as it is not far from Vegas and reaching there will starve you of time in Yosemite. Bishop would be a popular choice if Tioga is open and if not, the Bakersfield/ Lake Isabella area.

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    If Tioga Pass is closed, then the shortest route would be to head down to the Bakersfield area to get across the mountains, either by using CA-178 (shorter and more scenic) or CA-58 (freeway), and then heading back up to Death Valley. The other option would be to go up to the Lake Tahoe area and cross. US-50 is open year round, but there is a chance one of the other passes in that area (CA-108 or CA-4) might still be open, even if Tioga Pass is closed. Check with the CalTrans website for updated information, although I'd imagine the staff at Yosemite will also be able to help once you are on the road.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    Tioga Pass is a gamble anytime in Oct and Nov, as we don't know when a snowstorm will close it. It's been known to be open one day and closed the next due to a freak snow or blizzard, then open a few days later. We even have a Poll (the Tioga Pass Prognosticator) on this website, to see when the Pass will open for good each year and shut down each year. You have, IMHO, about a 50/50 chance of it still being open in a couple of weeks, because we sure haven't have the precipitation that we need!

    That said -- if Tioga is closed, you only have a couple of choices. One is to head back to CA-99 via CA-41 (through the south end of the park) down to Fresno. At Bakersfield, head east on CA-58 to Mojave. This is really a pretty drive (IMHO) through Tehachapi. As you drive through Tehachapi, you can either look to the south to see all the train tunnels, or take the time to check out the Tehachapi Loop. At Mojave, head north on CA-14 which takes you to US-395 north. At Olancha, take CA-190 east into DVNP.

    If you don't already have one, get a road map for California and Nevada. You'll need them. Don't rely on electronics like GPS/satnav or the GPS or Google Maps on your smartphone.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The other option would be to go up to the Lake Tahoe area and cross. US-50 is open year round, but there is a chance one of the other passes in that area (CA-108 or CA-4) might still be open, even if Tioga Pass is closed.
    CA-88 (Carson Pass) is maintained year round, it's very scenic and less traveled than US-50. It's nowhere near as twisty and steep as Tioga, Sonora, or Ebbetts. Monitor Pass (CA-89) may still be open and that's your shortest way to get from CA-88 to US-395, otherwise you would have to stay on 88 into Nevada.

    If it's snowing or has very recently snowed, there would likely be chain restrictions on 88 and 50 - and in Yosemite itself.

  6. Default

    Thank you all for your help. It was really useful as it seems there are some picturesque alternatives to Tioga which I hadn't heard of before.

    Wish me luck.

    I suppose a convertible Mustang wouldn't be wise for this trip!

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