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Old Jan 28, 11, 9:22 am   #1
 
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San Francisco - Yosemite - Death Valley - Las Vegas

Hi everyone!

Looking for some help planning the above trip. Having trouble what choosing the best month to do it - weighing up the Heat in Death Valley/Tioga Pass being open/Waterfalls etc in Yosemite. Did orginally choose May until I read about Tioga Pass opening dates. Now looking at either mid to Late June or last week sep 1st week oct. Thinking 1st week in Oct would be best for Death Vally, but then June would be better for Yosemite. What is Yosemite like at the end of Sep? Still nice and warm?


1 Fly San Francisco arrive 19:00ish

2 San Francisco

3 San Francisco

4 San Francisco

5 Drive to Yosemite (Groveland maybe)

6 Yosemite

7 Yosemite

8 Drive to ?? Lone Pine maybe

9 Drive to Furnace Creek Death Valley

10 Drive to Vegas

11 Vegas

12 Vegas

13 Vegas

14 Fly home

Any tips or suggestions would be great thanks!
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Old Jan 28, 11, 11:57 am   #2
 
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-Here's one view on Yosemite seasons (you can ignore the workshop info): http://www.yosemitefun.com/yosemite_...e_to_visit.htm

-I love Tuolumne Meadows and Tioga Pass, but I'd still go in May (IF you can find a hotel room in he park), to see the waterfalls. If Tioga Pass is still closed, Sonora Pass, just to the north of the park, may be open. From what I have seen (e.g., http://www.chainreaction.com/trans-sierra.htm) , it opens earlier than Tioga. Otheriwse, would you have time, probably an extra day, to go all the way up to Monitor Pass, Ebbetts Pass or even Tahoe and then south? The all-weather option, going south to Tehachapi Pass, is boring (if that's your only option I might go for October).
-Weather.com says the average temp in Death Valley in May is 99, and in October 92. Check the park's Web site before deciding to spend just one night. You could stay at Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells or, perhaps, Panamint Springs. There are lots of places to stay between Yosemite and DV (e.g., June Lakes, Mammoth Lakes, Bishop, Big Pine, Lone Pine).
-Not sure why you'd sty in Groveland unless you get a late start from SF or can't find anyplace to stay inside, or next to, Yosemite.
-October is not a bad month in Yosemite. Weather can be a bit cool at night, but crowds are less than in May, and certainly less than in the summer. Some waterfalls (e.g., Yosemite) likely dry. Others (e.g., Nevada and Vernal) just low. Tuolumne Meadows showing an autumn dry tinge.
-No matter when you go, do take the time driving along Hwy. 395 to see Bodie State Park, Mono Lake, Manzanar, and, if you have the time and aren't driving a trailer/RV, the Bristlecone Pines (oldest living things) southeast of Bishop. I think Google Maps gives Hwy. 95, through the center of Nevada, as the first option to get from Yosemite to DV, but it's just plain desert. Highway 395 much more scenic, between two mountain ranges (Sierra Nevada and White Mountains/Inyo Mountains) with peaks over 14,000'.

Last edited by SoCal; Jan 28, 11 at 12:09 pm.
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Old Jan 29, 11, 12:42 am   #3
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Welcome to FT, Walter!

There is no good month to do both Sierra Nevada parks and desert parks. It'll either be too wintery in the mountains or too hot in the desert. There are bus tour groups that do this sort of thing. It's really stupid. Visiting these parks should not be something you do in a hurry just to say you have been to them.

Given that you are planning to allocate just a bit more than one day to Death Valley, I'd suggest skipping it on this trip. Do Sequoia and Kings Canyon instead and save Death Valley for a future winter trip.
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Old Jan 29, 11, 6:57 am   #4
 
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Welcome to FT, Walter!

There is no good month to do both Sierra Nevada parks and desert parks. It'll either be too wintery in the mountains or too hot in the desert. There are bus tour groups that do this sort of thing. It's really stupid. Visiting these parks should not be something you do in a hurry just to say you have been to them.

Given that you are planning to allocate just a bit more than one day to Death Valley, I'd suggest skipping it on this trip. Do Sequoia and Kings Canyon instead and save Death Valley for a future winter trip.
Las Vegas will be hot, as well, but it appers that it's a principal objective for OP, for several days, maybe staying inside to escape the heat. Given that, I'd still head down Hwy. 395, perhaps avoiding DV (take Westgard Pass, see the Bristlecone Pines, then head to Hwy. 95 and down to LV), or, if they really want a quick glance of DV, stay in Lone Pine and get an early start, hit DV, and then Vegas. I like Kings Canyon and Sequoia, but don't necessarily see moving from there to Yosemite is worth the added time andsitance (vs. staying around Yosemite) unless they are doing some hiking. They would only be able to drive into Sequoia and KC from the west, of course (no road access into the parks from the east).

Last edited by SoCal; Jan 29, 11 at 7:07 am.
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Old Jan 29, 11, 7:54 am   #5
 
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Thanks very much for the replies and infomation. Richard not sure coming back in winter would be an option for many years, as we are travelling from the UK.

Was told Groveland would be a lovely place to stay if we wanted to break up the journey between SF and Yosemite. In Vegas we won't mind the heat in the day as we would be at the pool.

Anyway you have given me plenty to think about! Cheers!

Last edited by Walter Sobchak; Jan 29, 11 at 8:20 am.
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Old Jan 29, 11, 10:01 am   #6
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I can't imagine why you'd stop for a night between SF and Yosemite, it isn't that long a drive. Better to spend an extra day wandering the park.

I don't know anyone who's ever chosen to spend the night in Groveland, but maybe I just don't appreciate its undoubtedly subtle wonders.

Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley, which I believe stays open during the summer (Furnace Creek Inn does not), has a pool too. Daytime temperatures start at 45degC and go up from there, I suspect water evaporation is a significant issue!
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Old Jan 29, 11, 11:02 am   #7
 
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The two parks have such different climates that there's no one ideal time to visit both. That said, going in mid- to late September rates to be the best compromise.

Northern California weather typically stays warm through September. You can expect pleasant daytime temperatures (25C) in Yosemite Valley. It'll be cooler in the Tioga Pass area (15-20C daytime) but not cold enough for snow or road closures to be a problem. The main drawback is that several of Yosemite's waterfalls are dry at this time of year.

In late September it'll still be hot in Death Valley but not brutally so. Use common sense about the weather (e.g., drink lots of water) and you'll be fine.

BTW, skip Groveland. Some people think it's a charming little village, but really it's just a gateway town, over an hour from Yosemite Valley, with low quality inns at high prices. Spend the extra coin to stay in the park or somewhere much closer.
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Old Jan 29, 11, 8:55 pm   #8
 
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Put a couple days on the other side of yosemite - Mammoth lakes is a great base to explore the area described by skoenig with a good selection of hotels condos and restaurants.
I would personally skip overnighting in DV, just drive through it, take a few obligatory pictures and continue on to LV. It's probably gonna be too hot to do hiking and other activities.
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Old Jan 29, 11, 11:19 pm   #9
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Originally Posted by darthbimmer View Post
....In late September it'll still be hot in Death Valley but not brutally so. Use common sense about the weather (e.g., drink lots of water) and you'll be fine....
According to the New York Times "World Weather Guide," the average daily high temperature in September in Death Valley is 106degF (41degC). Hottest it's gotten is 121degF (49degC).

That is moderate compared to July, when the average high is 116degF (47degC) and the hottest is 134degF (57degC).

Note that these temperatures are measured in the shade. However if there is one thing Death Valley has very little of, it's shade.

Personally, I'd still avoid September!
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Old Jan 30, 11, 12:33 am   #10
 
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Originally Posted by RichardInSF View Post
According to the New York Times "World Weather Guide," the average daily high temperature in September in Death Valley is 106degF (41degC). Hottest it's gotten is 121degF (49degC).
Like I said, no one month is ideal for both parks. 106 is not really extreme considering that millions of people living in the Phoenix and Las Vegas metro areas experience similar temperatures for weeks at a time in the summer. And late September will run several degrees cooler than 106 average. If nothing else, remember, it's a dry heat.
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Old Jan 30, 11, 3:02 am   #11
 
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Originally Posted by azepine00 View Post
Put a couple days on the other side of yosemite - Mammoth lakes is a great base to explore the area described by skoenig with a good selection of hotels condos and restaurants.
I would personally skip overnighting in DV, just drive through it, take a few obligatory pictures and continue on to LV. It's probably gonna be too hot to do hiking and other activities.
I think this is probably our best option and to travel in mid to late June. Just have to hope accomodation in Yosemite is not already booked.

Thanks
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Old Jan 30, 11, 7:24 am   #12
 
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Originally Posted by Walter Sobchak View Post
I think this is probably our best option and to travel in mid to late June. Just have to hope accomodation in Yosemite is not already booked.
In this case, the earlier in June the better. Likewise, the earlier you can book accommodations the better. June starts the (very) busy season for Yosemite and the Sierra region in general. The falls will still be booming but so will the crowds as schools will be out and family travel at its peak. We locals tend to avoid the "front country" of Yosemite during that period, concentrating on the back country or staying away from the Park altogether.

In early June, you will have a 50-50 chance that Tioga Pass will be open to make the eastern Sierra driving route via SR 395 possible. That is a beautiful drive. Just be aware that we have had a pretty spectacular snow year up in the mountains so far. If that keeps up for a few more months, the Pass might not open until July. In that case, I suppose you could go out of your way north to get over the mountains before heading south on 395 toward Death Valley as suggested above or you could just suck it up and drive south through the San Joaquin Valley to Tehachapi Pass and on to DV that way. That drive will not be as scenic but will offer a different perspective of California, through farm country. If you do that, I recommend foregoing the main route on SR99 from Visalia south and instead use SR 65 along the foothills and through the orchards and oil fields to Bakersfield. If we have a wet spring to match the wet winter (it is raining again as I write), the hills between Bakersfield and Tehachapi will still be green and very pretty for a change.
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Old Jan 30, 11, 9:21 am   #13
 
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Come back with more questions after you get your Yosemite accommodations sorted out. Hope Camp Curry is good enough for you. Have fun.
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Old Jan 30, 11, 2:39 pm   #14
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Originally Posted by darthbimmer View Post
Like I said, no one month is ideal for both parks. 106 is not really extreme considering that millions of people living in the Phoenix and Las Vegas metro areas experience similar temperatures for weeks at a time in the summer. And late September will run several degrees cooler than 106 average. If nothing else, remember, it's a dry heat.
Another good reason not to live in Phoenix or Las Vegas!
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