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  1. Default Road tripping from LA to San Fran detouring through Death Valley and Yosemite

    Hi there,
    I am new to RTA and to the US in general! My husband and I are honeymooning in the US in July this year. We are flying into LA and we are keen to drive to San Fran. We were originally going to take the coastal route only, however after further research would love to go via Death Valley and Yosemite then back to the coast, if this is possible! I appreciate we may be backtracking a fair bit, however would love to see some of the inland areas!
    Can anyone tell me if this would be a good idea or are we better off sticking to the coastal route only... we have approximately one week to do this trip! Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks in advance :)

  2. #2


    Hello, and welcome to the RTA forums!

    The route you're considering will certainly work, but there's a couple of things you should consider. Death Valley is amazing, but this is the desert, and you're travelling in July. Temperatures in Death Valley in July average 115 degrees, which is 46 degrees Celsius! If you're willing to try it anyway, bring a LOT of water and stay on the main roads, because a breakdown in an isolated area could be disastrous. From Death Valley, Yosemite is a very easy one day drive north on US 395 through Bishop to Lee Vining, and the high country entrance to Yosemite over Tioga Pass. You'll be well out of the summer heat, at that point--Tioga pass is at close to 10,000 feet, and late season snow is not unheard of. You should also keep in mind that July is the peak season in Yosemite, so it will be very crowded, and accommodations in or near the park can be hard to get if not booked well ahead. From Yosemite, it's only three hours or so to San Francisco, depending on the traffic. (San Francisco is where the concept of traffic 'gridlock' originated). If you don't mind summer heat and high country crowds, this would still be a great trip--just be sure you're prepared for it.

    The route up the coast would also be busy and crowded but not remotely as hot! A week is plenty of time to take that drive slowly with lots of stops. California Highway 1 hugs the shoreline, especially north of San Luis Obispo, through Cambria, San Simeon (the Hearst castle) Big Sur (made famous by Jack Kerouac, among others). It's some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in the U.S.

    With a week you could actually do a combination of the two routes. Skip Death Valley, save it for a trip in a milder season. Follow the coast north to Monterey, then take Route 152 west to Route 99, northwest of Fresno, then to Merced, and Route 140 into Yosemite's west entrance. Lots of options!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Nice loop !

    Hello and welcome to RTA !

    In actual fact there would be no back tracking involved, just a nice loop trip with lots to enjoy ! From LA you could head to Vegas, if it appealed, and then across Death valley and then north on US395 through Bishop and Mammoth Lakes and enter Yosemite on the amazing Tioga Pass [CA120] before heading to SF and back down the coast. I wouldn't plan on stopping the night in DV as it's very hot in summer, but a drive through this incredible landscape is well worth the effort. A week isn't a lot of time for such a trip but you would have time for an overview.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Don't miss Death Valley.

    As mentioned above, a drive through Death Valley at any time is an amazing experience. The car will be air conditioned, carry water, a hat and sunscreen for brief periods out of the car. You won't see anything like it anywhere else on earth.

    When I drove through Death Valley it was 110F by 10am. I left the engine and the aircon running while out of the car Bishop is a nice place to aim for before Yosemite.

    Be aware that the Pacific Coast Highway from SF to LA is a two day drive. Cambria area is a good place for an overnight stop.


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