LV - Death Valley - Yosemite - Monterey - SF
My girlfriend and I are getting married in Vegas in late May, after a week in Vegas we are planning to drive up through Death Valley and cut accross to the 395 and stay in Bishop for a night. then on to Yosemite for a night (hopefully taking the Tioga Pass) before heading out west for a night in Monterey before spending a few days in SF and flying back to the UK from there.
I have been to Vegas, SF and Monterey before (I love Monterey!) but never driven this way through the mountains. What will the trip be like from Yosemite to Monterey? I have planned a route using maps, but have no idea what the roads are like.
We are looking at the 140 from Yosemite down to the I-5, then one junction south on the I-5 and take the 152 down to the Coast and to Monterey, does this sound okay for a mornings drive? (want to get to Monterey asap so to have time to see some sights)
Also, a question that has been asked a million time, what would be the best route for our Plan B if Tioga Pass is still closed?
Carson Pass is the best bet
Congratulations on the pending marriage. Las Vegas is a cool place to get married.
Tioga Pass will be closed, (Trust Me) at that time of year. As will, Monitor and Sonora Passes. However, Carson Pass is usually kept open and makes a nice mountain driving alternative to either US-50 or I-80. Since Tioga will still be closed, I doubt you will have time to visit Yosemite and still make your run to the coast.
From Bishop, you would continue north on US-395 to the Gardnerville area -- if you have time you might consider lunch at our favorite Basque restaurant JT's Bar and Grill (turning west at Dresslerville) and then south on state route 88. SR-88 goes over the 8560 foot Carson Pass -- so check with Caltrans a day or so before you make the drive to make sure that it is open. SR-88 will take you down to Jackson, California where you can pick up a segment of the famous California Gold Rush Trail -- SR-49 to Mokelumne Hill where you can pick up SR-26 for the beginning of the "speed run" to Stockton and the Central Valley.
Now, obviously you will be north of the bay area along this route and you may wish to change your plans with respect to Monterey.
If Monterey is more important to you than crossing the northern sierras, you might consider going south on US-395 out from Death Valley and skirting the southern end of the Sierras and then over to the coast and up.
SR-152 is my favorite route to the coast -- you will enjoy the drive. Lots of wildflowers on the hills right now. I just drove from Santa Cruz to Las Vegas in about 11 hours by going through Death Valley.
Hope this helps.