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  1. #1

    Default Las Vegas, Reno, LA (Pasadena area) over Labor Day

    Thanks to all who helped me plot out this crazy trip we just finished. I thought I’d report back with a summary of how it went. Thought this may be just one post but as I’m typing realize it’s longer than that so here goes. I’ll try to add pics but no guarantee on those. At least I’ll try to give a perspective of what worked and didn’t work for us.

    8/28. We flew into Las Vegas in the morning and after getting our rental car immediately looked for food. Found a nearby shopping area, Town Square and a California Pizza that met our hunger needs. After that we did a drive up the strip then headed out to Pahrump for the night. Since we were early we stopped at the Pahrump Winery for a tasting and ended up buying two bottles. Our first stop after getting checked in at the Holiday Inn Express was the local Walmart for a cheap Collier, a case of water, munchies and food for the next day. The cooler and water proved invaluable for the whole trip.

    Pahrump Winery
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 09-12-2019 at 10:41 AM. Reason: added the link to the planning portion of this trip

  2. #2


    8/29. We made it to Death Valley by 7:30 am and since we knew time was limited we just stopped at Zabriskie Point, Furnace Creek Visitors Center, Badwater Basin and Artist Drive. We detoured by Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes on our way out. Impressions, very surreal in landscape. If we had more time I would have liked to have gone up to Dantes View but knew we couldnít. Still, interesting to be standing at Badwater Basin as the sun is coming up over the hill/mountain on the east where thereís a sign for Sea Level two thirds the way up the side. We left and went to Beatty, doing a quick drive through of Rhyolite, a ghost town. We stopped along the road in the only shady place we saw to eat then continued up 95 to Reno. What a long, lonely road!

    DF77F8ED-3063-4A04-8912-4A577CB67CEA.jpg. Zabriskie Point

    88B1450A-FD06-4DDB-B75D-F706D3B8F173.jpg. Sun coming up, the small sign high up reads ďSea LevelĒ

    F7728CE7-B25E-4CCA-8BEA-DA3DDF567476.jpg Warning sign for walking later in the day

    667E6B53-20EF-4381-8F44-2C0178D92387.jpg. Badwater Basin

    E9FEE84B-C986-4761-A1E2-24FB5A7B7C7A.jpg. Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes

  3. #3


    8/30. This was a game day, great day with friends and family. My BIL knew about a rib cook off festival at a casino so thanks to my savvy niece she got us all there and back via Uber. The less said about the football game the better as Purdue totally fell apart in the past quarter. Still it was a great time for fun and friendship.

    8/31. This day I wasnít looking forward to as we needed to drive from Reno to Big Bear City, CA. GPS had been showing 8+ hours so I knew it would be much more. We got an early start, by 7:00 am and what saved us was there was no road work happening as it was Saturday of Labor Day weekend. That morning the GPS time was over 20 minutes less. I think we arrived at my nieceís cabin before 4:00 so all was good. It was definitely curvy and steep for the last few miles. I wonít forget the U curve at 10% grade at one point! 8 31 - 9/4 were spent between Big Bear and back to LA and the Granada Hills/Arcadia area with family. What a good time!

    9/4 We started out early on our next part of our adventure, driving up and through Sequoia National Park. Since we were leaving from the north side of LA, Granada Hills, it only took a little over three hours to get there so we had the test of the day. Impressions of Sequoia, oh my! Iíve seen the giant Sequoia trees before but never in this quantity in one place. Just incredible! What we didnít do was go up to Moro Rock. We started to drive up but then we had second thoughts and turned around at Auto Log, I think half way there. We should have taken their shuttle which I would recommend. Instead we went back to the Visitors Center and found out there was another shuttle from there to the General Sherman tree which we did take. Later we stopped at the General Grant Tree as well. Again, we could have seen more if we had more time but I was happy with what we did see. Iím not a cave person so wasnít upset not to see Crystal Cave but I know other people were buying tickets for it. From here we stayed overnight in Fresno at a Comfort Inn Suites.

    0A1BB57A-A856-4F4E-B7EC-3FE9489659E9.jpg. BAF5EAC0-174A-437B-820E-B9C7CFC96365.jpg.

    8F4DA68F-79AF-490A-97EF-6B98CDC6C8CD.jpg. 7B81B7FD-41C7-419F-A6C1-FADDA360089D.jpg


  4. #4


    9/5. This was our Yosemite National Park Day. We skipped Mariposa Groves, thank you to whoever suggested that as we had seen so many magnificent Sequoias the day before. We went up to Glacier Point. Iím glad we ended up following the shuttle bus up as it stopped for a bear that ran across the road in front of it so we saw that and watched it for a bit in the woods. Later it slowed down again and we realized there were deer on both sides of the road so that was slow going making sure they werenít darting in front of us. The views from Glacier Point were incredible! After that we went down into the valley stopping at a beach with picnic tables for lunch. We were shaded so I didnít realize till afterwards when we walked out on the beach and I looked up and saw we were just below El Capitan! What an amazing site! We drove thought the valley then out and up to Tioga Road and over Tioga Pass leaving to the east and to Lee Vining. In Lee Vining we stayed at the Gateway Yosemite, nothing fancy but right on Mono Lake. We did find a great restaurant for dinner, Epics, which did scratch cooking and had wonderful food. The place was small and busy but that meant we ended up sitting with another couple passing through so could compare stories. Impressions, just loved Yosemite but really did not do justice to It for just one day. I would have liked to seen more in the valley but had not researched it well and was concerned about how long Tioga Road would take. To truly appreciate the place you need more time than we allowed.

    65CCE2CD-DBA1-47CD-9536-F29BD6C988D7.jpg Half Done from Glacier Point

    969FD954-052E-462F-B053-EFD918B4E921.jpg. Half Dome from Glacier Point

    B46B6FFD-5950-44CD-AFDF-E1003E2F9953.jpg. El Capitan

    BBD09FE8-78D3-44B5-ADA1-6E3A95DAB5C0.jpg. From the Tioga Road, Olmsted Point, view of Half Dome

    D13F25F6-3E3E-4347-A096-2D629A276829.jpg. Mono Lake, Lee Vining

  5. #5


    9/6. This was another day I wasnít looking forward to, a long drive back to Las Vegas. Didnít get any suggestions here on attractions but did a little looking, Then was talking to another couple at dinner and they mentioned the Extraterrestrial Highway. Hmmm, not too far out of the way. Hubby and I looked at each other and said, why not? They werenít kidding about the warnings that it is open range! Once we were on it we spotted a heard of cattle on both sides of the road. One steer stopped out in front of us and basically played chicken. We drove by it very slowly while it watched, then very slowly again by another one that was right along the road too. Timing was perfect to stop in Rachel for an Alien Birger at the A-le-inn. Then stopped at the Alien Research Center (aka, gift shop) as well. That proved interesting as there was a large RV and a camera crew there filming a documentary. They wouldnít tell me what channel but I learned from the woman when I checked out it is the Travel Channel and is connected with the upcoming ďStorming Area 51Ē. Fun watching them work.

    6680C267-66CD-4909-9392-0A21FE0F5E33.jpg. The Extraterrestrial Highway

    E1CCA6D6-F0E1-43FC-ACD5-A3A996C7680E.jpg. They werenít kidding about this being open range country!

    10C36662-A09F-4E26-9284-8F8AE00D4240.jpg. An Alien Birger for lunch, why not?

    6361E703-3501-4CEC-ABCA-2EDD539E6D4E.jpg. The Alien Research Center, aka: gift shop

    52C0AD1E-6F5F-4BB0-916A-A9FC19E02685.jpg. Filming going on for some documentary.

  6. #6


    9/7 - 9/10. We were with family in Las Vegas but still did some touristy things. Went to Hoover Dam one morning. The next went out to Red Rock Canyon. Very nice, I had no idea anything like that was so close by. Then we got to see Penn & Teller, went to the Neon Museum and down on the strip enough to see the fountain show at the Bellagio as well as the wonderful Chihuly chandelier in the lobby.

    3A917806-29A7-49AF-9A04-5C6888445807.jpg. Hoover Dam from the bypass bridge.

    F508FBBF-7193-43EA-B11C-2A27040B3FD8.jpg. The bridge taken from Hoover Dam

    E68A3A19-A7E7-4F0F-8F75-9B65CA060969.jpg. Red Rock Canyon, just west of Las Vegas

    67834AA3-D990-491F-B6CE-50FF28BA1575.jpg. Red Rock Canyon, 13 mike driving loop, lots of trails

    C6FD4F8D-0A70-49A0-86A6-6C7821B593C0.jpg. The Neon Museum, the boneyard for old neon signs of Las Vegas icons.

  7. #7

    Default Final comments.

    Overall, we had two family gatherings, a football game and three National Parks in two weeks and drove a little over 2300 miles. Did it work for us? Yes. Would I suggest it for anyone else? Probably not. I loved and saw the parks but could have spent more time in Sequoia and definitely needed more time in Yosemite. For us this was more a trip to see family and friends and to squeeze in some national parks I’ve never been to before. Our relaxation was not the parks as it would be for most people. A family could not enjoy the parks in the way we breezed through them. However we were combining so many things on this westward adventure I am glad we did what we did. Now, we relax!

    One more additional comment. While planning this I discovered the National Parks Apps for Sequoia and Yosemite and they were well worth downloading. You can then download maps in them so not to need cell coverage. This is vital as cell coverage service is basically nonexistent in most places we were.
    Last edited by NowthatIamretired; 09-12-2019 at 07:11 AM.

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by NowthatIamretired View Post
    Our first stop after getting checked in at the Holiday Inn Express was the local Walmart for a cheap Collier, a case of water, munchies and food for the next day. The cooler and water proved invaluable for the whole trip.
    Just rereading and finding my typos. That cheap Collier was a cheap styrofoam cooler. That allowed us to keep bottled water and any lunch type of foods cool with the help of ice from the hotels. We were able to offload it to my BIL at the end but even if not, it was worth it to have.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Cool report. Thanks.

    Thanks for the report and the pictures ! It's always nice to see other members road trip adventures to fill in the gaps between our own and to see a trip go from the planning pages to reality. Also, some great info for other members who may be planning a trip in the area.

    A family could not enjoy the parks in the way we breezed through them.
    If you are passing through and you have enough time for just a sneak preview then do it ! A quick visit is better than none in my book. One caveat, it'll leave you wanting to go back for more !


  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post

    If you are passing through and you have enough time for just a sneak preview then do it ! A quick visit is better than none in my book. One caveat, it'll leave you wanting to go back for more !

    Thanks. So true! Iím fine with Death Valley and Sequoia but would love to someday have time to go back and really explore Yosemite Valley. So much there we didnít have time to see.

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