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  1. Default Vegas - Sequoia - Yosemite - Death Valley

    So I'm planning on doing this loop in no more than 18 days, which I'm hoping will be enough time to see and explore the parks and perhaps a few other areas without much time stress. I've seen a few other threads on this loop, but each itinerary is unique, so hopefully I'm not repeating too much!

    Basically I'm wondering about interestimg places to see between the parks and the best routes. For example, driving 7hrs straight from Vegas to Sequoia doesn't seem like much fun to me, and likewise if any advice could be given on how to break up the other drives that would be terrific!

    Relevant information is that at this stage I plan on spending 5 nights in sequoia/kings canyon, 4 nights in yosemite and 2 nights in death valley, however this can be changed depending places of interest in between or whether some of these parks are perhaps worth more time than I've given them so far. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    Exactly when are you planning on taking this trip? You posted in the fall and winter section, much of Yosemite and Kings Canyon will not be accessible, and you may need tire chains.

  3. Default

    Thanks for the welcome!

    Yup, I'll be going from Jan 26th, so definitely winter. I'm aware quite a few things are closed in the parks, as well as Tioga Pass, so some circumnavigating will be required. I won't be prepared for chains however, but I'm under the impression main roads into the parks will be ok?

    But yeah, I won't be doing any hikes that are TOO serious regardless, and as far as I can tell there will still be plenty of lovely things to see in the parks. Less people is a bonus too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Traveling in January does make a pretty huge difference, and now I actually think you might be in the very unusual situation where you're really spending too much time at some of these places.

    5 Nights in Sequoia, when a huge part of the park is closed - including all of Kings Canyon - might be a bit much. If you're not planning major hiking, you're going to be kind of limited on what you can do. It's a great park to visit for a day or two, even in winter, but if a large part of the park is off limits, you might find adding some other destinations to your plan could be more rewarding.

    I will also say that you will need to be prepared for chains, as you will be required to carry them inside both Sequoia and Yosemite. You might never need to use them, and the all season roads are well maintained, but you'll be traveling on mountain roads, where conditions can and do change quickly. A road that is in perfectly good shape right now could be completely snow covered in less than an hour, and without chains, you could quickly get stuck or stranded.

    Obviously, with Tioga Pass closed, checking out the Lake Tahoe area would make a lot of sense - since you'll basically have to go there to do a loop (your only other option would be to backtrack to Bakersfield). Between Tahoe and Death Valley, there are several interesting towns worth checking out on US-395. Alternatively, you could go from Vegas to DV first, then to Sequoia, via the Lake Isabella area, and drive more directly from Tahoe back to Vegas.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Michael is quite right --
    A road that is in perfectly good shape right now could be completely snow covered in less than an hour, and without chains, you could quickly get stuck or stranded.
    Years ago, we were given 1-1/2 hours to get out of Yosemite. We were camping at Wawona Campground (south end). A ranger came and told us that a blizzard was moving in quickly. We should get out of there NOW or be prepared to hunker down for a long while as the roads would close. We literally threw everything into the van, including our children (well....we were nice....grin) in 30 minutes. Then we got on the road. They were wet and cold, snow was starting to stick. Hubby took it slowly, but the back end of the van still slipped occasionally and hit the berm on the side of the road. That berm probably kept us on the road. We were never so thankful to get to lower elevation where things were dry (and warmer). Would chains have helped??? Maybe, if we actually knew how to put them on.


  6. Default

    Very helpful everyone, thanks! I guess I should learn how to deal with chains ASAP!

    Michael, thanks for the Kings Canyon info, I'll curtail my trip there and spend more time down the 395. Things like Mammoth Lakes, Devils postpile, Bishop and the Bristlecone Pines all seem lovely places between Yosemite and Death Valley. I guess if I have more time still, then the Grand Canyon and/or Zion after the loop is very doable.

    I guess the only other thing that would be nice to know is if anyone has seen anything especially interesting to break up that first drive from Vegas to Sequoia? Doesn't necessarily have to be park-related, but currently I just think I'll potter around Mojave National Preserve and stop in Barstow for a night. Anything much better?

    Thanks again.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    As has been said, it's the depth of winter in the mountains and you should expect the worse, but hope for the best. One thing you could consider is going up to Zion NP, possibly first going to the GC south rim [north will not be accessable] and through Page AZ and then drive across the Great Basin towards Reno/Lake Tahoe and then head south down the west side of the Sierras for access to Yosemite and Sequoia and back to Vegas via Lake Isabella and Death Valley. If the weather got real bad you could continue over to the coast and explore.

    Another option to consider is doing a loop in the opposite dirction, GC >Monument valley > Arches/Canyonlands > Bryce >Zion > Death Valley.

  8. Default

    Yeah, after looking at all the snow on 395 I think you've dead on nailed it with that first itinerary Dave. Thanks a bunch!

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