Good day to you all! Happy to be part of this forum - and this is my first query...
We (an extended family of six adults) are planning an ~1 month trip of US from India; the dates are yet to be finalized. We'll first fly in to NY and then fly out to Niagara (NY side - cannot go to Canada due to visa). From Niagara/Buffalo, we plan to fly in to (South) Lake Tahoe - either via Reno or Sacremento... or even SFO since the flight options between BUF and Reno/Sacremento are not that great. We'll be renting a 7 seater for our trip - SUVs are expensive so it will likely be a Dodge Caravan or equivalent.
Need advice regarding the road trip planned below.
Places to cover:
- 2 nights in South Lake Tahoe. We'll likely arrive early evening on day 1. During our stay, we plan to cover Heavenly Mountains / Alpine Meadows / Olympic Village / + Emerald beach...experience walking on the snow in the mountains (no skiing or major activities - we are not used to snow!). We'll leave to Yosemite early on the third day
- 1 night in Yosemite National Park/outskirts (to see Yosemite Valley, Tunnel view, Half-dome,...we are not much into hiking; just drive about and admire from afar; small hikes ok). Plan to stay overnight within the park or near places like Midpine
- 3 nights in Las Vegas - driving down via Death Valley NP
- Continue on to rest of journey >> Page (2N) - Antelope Valley, Horse-shoe bend, Lake Powell >> Monument Valley (1N inside the Navajo park) >> Grand Canyon (southern side - 1N) >> to Los Angeles via parts of Route 66 (Seligman/Kingman/Oatman/...) >> PCH to SF in 2 days (via stop-overs at Solvang and Monterrey or Carmel-by the sea) >> SF (4N) >> return to India
While the rest of the journey may not be influenced by weather or road closures, I am seeking clarification on the early part of the trip, specifically via Yosemite.
I would prefer to drive south via I395 from SLT till Lee Vining and then take the 120 (Tioga Road) West towards Yosemite. This may be during the last week of May.
- What are the chances that the Tioga Road will be closed during that time?
- If the Tioga Road is closed, is it worth trying to enter from the west side - will this part of the Tioga road west of the Sierras be open?
- Even if I could, will it then require me to drive over to LV by returning back west and then taking the route via Fresno and Bakerfield?
- Or, can I still try and enter into Death Valley after skirting the Sequioa National on its southern side? Google Maps suggest we can do this via CA99S > 58E > 14N >I395N > CA 190 E merging on to I95 - a total distance of 580 miles and 10+ hours of driving. I am likely to be the single driver driving all the way, and I can do 8 to 10 hours drives at a stretch...but is it worth this detour if we are only going to drive by DVNP?
Separately, if there are any overall observations about the road-trip planned, please advice. I have lived briefly near Seattle over a decade back and so I am familiar with driving in the US.
This plan is drawn up to cover several places on our (my!) bucket-list: Antelope Canyon, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Route 66 (alas, only a part of it), Lake Tahoe & snow mountains, Pacific Coast Highway, LV, LA & Hollywood, SF...the road trip section alone is done over 15 nights before settling into SF.
Is this going to be too hectic? I am likely to be the lone driver till any of the others in our group gain the confidence to drive in US. That said, we' may not be able to extend the trip given our work commitments - so I may just grit my teeth and drive on...however, if you have a strong 'no', please recommend.
Am I missing out on anything else you recommend? Thanks much in advance for your advice!