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  1. Default 1st Trip - San fran to Vegas via....Mammoth Lake?

    Hello all!
    I知 hoping to get some advice on a trip I知 planning for Mid May next year - apologies for any naive or basic questions but being from Ireland (a country not much over 300 miles from top to bottom), road trips here are a little more straightforward!

    I知 planning on driving from San Francisco to Las Vegas, staying 2 nights along the way. I壇 like to go the scenic route, ideally catching some of the sights possibly in Yosemite or maybe El Captain.
    I致e never done a road trip in the USA before so any advice would be appreciated - currently I知 considering driving to Mammoth Lakes via El Capitan, then staying in Mammoth for a couple of nights to break up the journey and then drive on to Vegas, possibly via death valley

    I知 hoping to get some advice on the following;
    1) Is Mammoth Lake a good option to break up this journey (we were thinking of doing some hiking, cycling or sight seeing while there)?
    2) If staying there whats the best route from Mammoth to Vegas taking in some scenery the slightly longer 395 route or the 95 to the east?
    3) It may be a naive question but if taking the death valley route, is it safe to drive through death valley as a novice in a basic rental car?....are there any tips or advice aside from brimming the car with gas when you can and bringing plenty of water?
    4) Are there any stops or sights on the way from San fran through to Vegas that are a 僧ust see taking the route above?

    I know that痴 a lot of questions but any help would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Mammoth Lakes is not a good overnight spot on this trip, at least for the first night, because it wouldn't give you any time to stop and explore Yosemite.

    Your other potential problem is that in Mid-May, Tioga Pass may not yet be open. The road typically does not open for the season until at least mid-may, and many times it's into June. It all depends upon the snow melt, so it's impossible to say what it will be next year.

    If the pass is open, you could spend 1 night in or near Yosemite, and the 2nd night around Mammoth.

    If the pass is closed, after visiting Yosemite, the shortest/easiest way to get to Vegas would be to go down to Bakersfield, although you could also go up towards the Lake Tahoe area.

    Death Valley is open year round, and in May it won't even be "hot" yet - at least not compared to the temperatures in July and August.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
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    6,936

    Default Death Valley.

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Death Valley is open year round, and in May it won't even be "hot" yet - at least not compared to the temperatures in July and August.
    That is true. However it is all relevant - depends on how used you are to hot weather.. I have a photo taken in the first week of May (can't recall which year) of the thermometre and clock side by side. At 10am it was 110F.

    Yes, it is always safe to drive through Death Valley, and recommended. It is an incredible landscape. The car will be fine, and will have good air conditioning. Be sure to carry ample drinking water, hats and sunscreen, and stay on the paved roads. At some of the attractions you will want to get out of the car. When I was there I left the engine and air con running for the few minutes I spent looking around and taking pictures.

    Lifey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    10,747

    Default

    As Michael mentioned, Mammoth Lakes isn't a good choice for your first night when wanting to visit Yosemite. All main areas of the park are on the west side of the mountains and the place is quite amazing. If your budget can manage it I would recommend you stay within the park and then because of not knowing what the status of Tioga Pass [CA120] will be, you could leave the second night 'open' to change. If the pass is open, which is a spectacular drive, you could spend the next night in Bishop and then drive through Death valley to Vegas the following day. If it's closed and you go south, you could choose between Sequoia NP and Death valley.

  5. Default

    Thanks for the advice guys

    If going for the suggestion above and staying in Yosemite the first night, is there anywhere you'd recommend in particular which would be a good base for exploring which wouldn't be too far off the beaten track for the onward journey?

    Also given Ive only got a couple of nights am I being too ambitious trying to squeeze in some of Yosemite's sights or would I just be best going straight from San Fran to Mammoth Lakes (or alternative stop over) and spending the 2 days exploring that area before heading on to vegas?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Green County, Wisconsin
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    If you can find a place within your budget, staying right within Yosemite would be the easiest option. If not, then places just outside the park, like Oakhurst and Mariposa, offer options that are about 45 minutes from most of the Yosemite Valley's major attractions.

    I'm not sure why it would be too ambitious to see Yosemite, if you're then going to give yourself 2 days in Mammoth, but if for some reason you would rather explore Mammoth than Yosemite, I guess that's an option. It's not an option I would personally choose, however.

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    I'm not sure why it would be too ambitious to see Yosemite, if you're then going to give yourself 2 days in Mammoth, but if for some reason you would rather explore Mammoth than Yosemite, I guess that's an option. It's not an option I would personally choose, however.
    Cool, thanks for the heads up - I'd just wondered if maybe the distances involved meant I was trying to squeeze too much into a couple of nights stay (given I'd guessed it could take 4/5 hours of the first day getting out of San Fran and traveling to Yosemite) but I'm totally open to suggestions - to be honest I'd only picked out Mammoth for a stop over spot as it looked roughly about half way between San Fran and Vegas, it looked scenic and had some nice hotels!! ...but Im not set on it as a definite stopping spot if spending the time in and around Yosemite Park could be a better trip!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    10,747

    Default

    Check out the Yosemite NPS site for lodging options. Quite close to the park is the Yosemite Bug which is rustic but gets good reviews and is reasonably good value. If you are prepared to 'splash the cash' then Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is an ideal location imo.

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