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  1. Default Yellowstone National Park to Merced, CA (near Yosemite)

    Hi everyone!

    I have worked in Yellowstone as a nurse since May. I am leaving to my next job in Merced, CA (1.5 hours from Yosemite) on September 16. My friend and I will be driving together. She flies back home to Chicago from San Francisco the morning of the 19th. Here is our preliminary plan:

    Day 1 (9/16): YNP to Reno
    Visit a casino
    Stay the night

    Day 2 (9/17): Reno to Merced, CA
    Visit my friend's cousin in Sacramento
    Drop my things (and my cat) off in my new home
    Explore Yosemite (We realize we won't have much time here. We just want to do a hike to take a break while my friend helps me move).

    Day 3 (9/18): Merced, CA to San Francisco
    Golden Gate Bridge

    Day 4 (9/19): My friend flies out of San Francisco in the morning.

    Here are my questions:
    1) Are there any other places we should stop along the way? (especially on day 1)
    2) What are some good day hikes in Yosemite?

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Watch Out for That First Step!

    I'm sorry, but Day 1 simply isn't going to happen. 720(+) miles in a day would be too far by quite a bit even if you were traveling entirely on Interstates in clear weather. On two-lane roads through most of Idaho and parts of northern Nevada, it's simply impossible. You're looking at nearly 13 hours to make the trip from West Yellowstone to Reno. Starting from any deeper within the park than that simply adds to the time needed.

    Having two drivers does nothing to make that any better. Indeed having two people simply means that you'll need to stop more often and each stop will take longer. That doesn't even factor in the time you'll have to add to your trip to see to the cat's needs. And you cannot get any meaningful rest sitting up in a moving car. At best you will arrive in Reno far too exhausted to want to spend any time at all in a casino (You'll only lose money anyway!), and at worst you will fall asleep at the wheel and run off the road somewhere well short of Reno. Winnemucca is absolutely as far as you should even consider driving on the first day. But they have casinos as well. That will cut down on the time that you'll have to visit your friend's cousin in Sacramento, but at least you'll be alive to do so.


  3. Default

    Thank you for your input! Here is my updated itinerary:

    Day 1 (9/15/18): YNP to Winnemuca, NV
    Day 2 (9/16/18): Winnemuca, NV to Reno, NV
    Day 3 (9/17/18): Reno, NV to Atwater, CA (driving through Yosemite Valley)
    Day 4 (9/18/18): Atwater, CA to San Francisco
    Last edited by sgoczol; 09-07-2018 at 08:52 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Trying to Understand

    As near as I could tell from your first post, Reno was just a way point - a place to stop for the night. My suggestion that you stop in Winnemucca was based on safety issues, so that you could get to Merced and San Francisco on time and in one piece. I see that you've now added a day by leaving earlier, but still plan on making an overnight stop in Reno. To me, that doesn't make a lot of sense. If you want to take two days to get to the east side of Yosemite, than take the third day to drive through that park to the Merced/Atwater area, that's great. But if you also want to stop and see other places along the way, then I'd strongly urge you to even out the miles driven on each of your travel days. That would mean making your first overnight around Twin Falls ID.

    While not ideal, since it's 'only' about 275 miles from Yellowstone, there aren't a lot of great overnight options after Twin Falls until Elko or Winnemucca. Also, making your first day shorter gives you more time to get packed up in the morning and take care of any last minute details. And it gives you time to visit a few sites on your way southwest including Craters of the Moon NM, and just west of Twin Falls Thousand Springs State Park and Hagermann Fossil Beds NM.

    On day 2, driving through Nevada, I'd suggest that you try to have lunch at the Star Hotel in Elko, where both the food and dining experience are unique. After that, there are a couple of state recreation areas, South Fork and Rye Patch, that will make nice breaks for that section of your drive. And finally, I'd suggest that you aim for Carson City rather than Reno, since it's a smaller (but not too small), historic city that's actually a bit closer to Yosemite.


  5. Default

    I'm sorry! I probably should have explained better.

    We would like to do Reno because we are going to Vegas in April and would like to compare the two towns. We also would be able to leave my cat in the Airbnb in Reno while exploring the town and possibly stopping for a brief visit in Lake Tahoe the same day.

    I appreciate your suggestions of the National Monuments and state park, but we unfortunately would be unable to enjoy those because my cat would be in the car.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Based on your desire to see Reno, have a very brief drive through Yosemite (presumably you'll take full advantage of your new home's location to actually explore and appreciate the park in the future), and have a day in San Francisco, I think your new plan looks pretty good.

    The only other alternative I might suggest is that since you'll likely go back to Yosemite and won't have much time to stop this trip, you might look at some of the other great, scenic drives over the Sierras, like CA-108 or CA-4.

  7. Default

    Exactly! I will have 13 weeks to explore Yosemite while I am working near Merced.

    I mainly want to drive through Yosemite so my friend can see it as well. She probably won't be able to visit me again. I will take a look at the other drives though...thank you!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    To show your friend part of Yosemite then Tioga pass is the way to go, it's a fantastic drive. Try and get an early start and make the most of it.

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