Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > America - USA > California
Reload this Page >

Yosemite or Death Valley? [traveling w/one disabled and one portable oxygen user]

Yosemite or Death Valley? [traveling w/one disabled and one portable oxygen user]

Old Jan 25, 17, 1:53 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Paradise
Posts: 960
Yosemite or Death Valley? [traveling w/one disabled and one portable oxygen user]

Planning a family vacation to California in mid November and hope to see one of the parks, but can't decide which one is better.

I'm guessing Yosemite is the more scenic of the two but there will be a disabled person in the group and I don't know if she would be able to get around in Yosemite. She can walk, but hilly, rocky areas are very difficult for her. There will also be someone who uses a Portable Oxygen Concentrator for any high elevations. So will need to be able to roll that around as well if I choose Yosemite.

Anyone have any recommendations?
Yellowjj is offline  
Old Jan 25, 17, 7:26 pm
  #2  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: SFO/SJC, BWI
Programs: :rolleyes:, DL DM, Mlife Plat, TR 7*, SPG/MR Plat, UA 1K
Posts: 10,356
I haven't had to evaluate either one from an accessibility standpoint, but the NPS has guides on their web site that you may already be aware of:

https://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvis...essibility.htm

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvis...essibility.htm

Also the main central valley area of Yosemite is reasonably flat. The concern would be if it snows any time before your trip then the flatness may not count for much.

So that might tip me towards Death Valley, but where in California are you planning on starting from? Because if it's Northern California then the shortest way to the western entrance of Death Valley involves going over the Sierras someway-somehow and thus also exposes you to the potential for winter conditions. Although IMO the interesting things to see (that don't involve hiking or 4WD) are concentrated on the eastern side anyway.
Zorak is offline  
Old Jan 26, 17, 8:29 am
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Paradise
Posts: 960
Originally Posted by Zorak View Post
I haven't had to evaluate either one from an accessibility standpoint, but the NPS has guides on their web site that you may already be aware of:

https://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvis...essibility.htm

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvis...essibility.htm

Also the main central valley area of Yosemite is reasonably flat. The concern would be if it snows any time before your trip then the flatness may not count for much.

So that might tip me towards Death Valley, but where in California are you planning on starting from? Because if it's Northern California then the shortest way to the western entrance of Death Valley involves going over the Sierras someway-somehow and thus also exposes you to the potential for winter conditions. Although IMO the interesting things to see (that don't involve hiking or 4WD) are concentrated on the eastern side anyway.
We're pretty much fluid in terms of where we stay. More than likely we will be arriving in South California since they want to do the LA touristy things, but we can stay anywhere. In LA, on the outskirts or even move to one of the smaller cities like Fresno/Bakersfield when we're done with LA.

I'm hoping it doesn't snow, to avoid chain restrictions than anything else.
Yellowjj is offline  
Old Jan 26, 17, 8:44 am
  #4  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: SFO/SJC, BWI
Programs: :rolleyes:, DL DM, Mlife Plat, TR 7*, SPG/MR Plat, UA 1K
Posts: 10,356
If you have the flexibility, maybe play it by ear? See how the weather is the week before + the forecast before making a final decision.

For most people, Yosemite probably has more "wow" factor, but I like Death Valley too, there is actually interesting stuff in the desert, plus lots of colors in the surrounding mountains etc. If you do choose DV, I suggest staying in the Furnace Creek area for locational convenience to the various sights.
Zorak is offline  
Old Jan 26, 17, 8:51 am
  #5  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Minneapolis: DL DM charter 2.3MM
Programs: A3*Gold, SPG Plat, HyattDiamond, MarriottPP, LHW exAccess, ICI, Raffles Amb, NW PE MM, TWA Gold MM
Posts: 83,575
It's different but Muir Woods seems to have wide flat paths.
MSPeconomist is offline  
Old Jan 26, 17, 10:35 am
  #6  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Berkeley, CA USA
Programs: Piggly Wiggly "Shop the Pig!" Preferred Shopper
Posts: 43,197
Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
It's different but Muir Woods seems to have wide flat paths.
Yes, Muir Woods is good from an access perspective. The main paths are flat and in good condition.

As for the OP's question, I've never been to Death Valley (I must go there!) so I can't say about that. Yosemite Valley is generally good for access. The Valley is mostly flat, and there has been a lot of work over the years to make parts of it accessible. Of course, accessibility is not possible once you get onto the hiking paths that lead out of the Valley or above it.
dhuey is online now  
Old Jan 26, 17, 11:45 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Central California
Programs: Former UA Premex, now dirt
Posts: 6,458
Agreed. Yosemite has several handicapped accessible nature trails and viewpoints. Many of the most iconic views in the Valley are available right from the road or parking areas, necessitating little or no walking.

As for the breathing challenged, the elevation on the Valley floor is approximately 4,000 +/- feet. The drive into the Valley will climb a little higher but shouldn't be too onerous. Be aware, however, that other areas of the Park are considerably higher and more challenging. Glacier Point, Tuolumne Meadows, White Wolf and the Tioga Pass Road are probably not a good idea for someone who uses a concentrator.
abmj-jr is offline  
Old Jan 26, 17, 1:32 pm
  #8  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Berkeley, CA USA
Programs: Piggly Wiggly "Shop the Pig!" Preferred Shopper
Posts: 43,197
Originally Posted by abmj-jr View Post
As for the breathing challenged, the elevation on the Valley floor is approximately 4,000 +/- feet. The drive into the Valley will climb a little higher but shouldn't be too onerous. Be aware, however, that other areas of the Park are considerably higher and more challenging. Glacier Point, Tuolumne Meadows, White Wolf and the Tioga Pass Road are probably not a good idea for someone who uses a concentrator.
IIRC it's a little over a 6,000-foot summit via Hwy. 120. Entry from Hwy. 140 is a steady climb up to the Valley.
dhuey is online now  
Old Jan 26, 17, 2:48 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Central California
Programs: Former UA Premex, now dirt
Posts: 6,458
Originally Posted by dhuey View Post
IIRC it's a little over a 6,000-foot summit via Hwy. 120. Entry from Hwy. 140 is a steady climb up to the Valley.
SR 41 also goes to about 6,000. Of course, the east entrance at Tioga Pass tops out at almost 10k.
abmj-jr is offline  
Old Jan 26, 17, 7:15 pm
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Paradise
Posts: 960
Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
It's different but Muir Woods seems to have wide flat paths.
Thanks, I'll look into that.

Originally Posted by Zorak View Post
If you have the flexibility, maybe play it by ear? See how the weather is the week before + the forecast before making a final decision.

For most people, Yosemite probably has more "wow" factor, but I like Death Valley too, there is actually interesting stuff in the desert, plus lots of colors in the surrounding mountains etc. If you do choose DV, I suggest staying in the Furnace Creek area for locational convenience to the various sights.
I think that's what I'll do. Play it by ear and just position myself somewhat in between both parks. From looking at google maps, it seems bakersfield is smack dab in the middle.

Originally Posted by abmj-jr View Post
Agreed. Yosemite has several handicapped accessible nature trails and viewpoints. Many of the most iconic views in the Valley are available right from the road or parking areas, necessitating little or no walking.
Thanks. That's exactly what am looking for. No need for much walking.

As for the breathing challenged, the elevation on the Valley floor is approximately 4,000 +/- feet. The drive into the Valley will climb a little higher but shouldn't be too onerous. Be aware, however, that other areas of the Park are considerably higher and more challenging. Glacier Point, Tuolumne Meadows, White Wolf and the Tioga Pass Road are probably not a good idea for someone who uses a concentrator.
The person with the Oxygen Concentrator has been to the Grand Canyon twice before and we're going again this trip as well. She moves around fine there, just at a more leisurely pace. So if she can handle 7000+ altitude, I'd reckon Yosemite shouldn't give her any problems. From reading Yosemite website, it seems Glacier Point and Tuolumne Meadows would be closed when we go (Mid November), so shouldn't be a issue.
Yellowjj is offline  
Old Jan 26, 17, 10:35 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: SJC/SFO
Programs: UA 1MM/*A Gold, WN A+ CP, Mar LT Tit, IHG Plat, HH Gold
Posts: 5,275
Both Yosemite and Death Valley offer a number of choices for mobility-impaired visitors. As others have noted, Yosemite's main valley area is flat. Not only are there tons of amazing sights that can be seen from the side of the road but there are also many paved, level trails. Death Valley has several short, level trails too. Some are paved, others are not paved but are smooth. For example, the short trail out to Badwater Basin, elev 282' below sea level, is covered with crushed gypsum. A person with a cane can make it.

Weather is another issue you should consider for your trip. Yosemite in November is hit-or-miss. It might be snowing or icy, which can seriously complicate travel. Even if the weather isn't a problem, November is about the worst time of year for seeing Yosemite's iconic waterfalls. Some will be have very diminished flow, others will be completely dry. By contrast, November is a good time to visit Death Valley. The temperatures are usually comfortable, not deadly hot like in the summer or disappointingly cool like in the winter.
darthbimmer is offline  
Old Jan 26, 17, 11:26 pm
  #12  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: SFO/SJC, BWI
Programs: :rolleyes:, DL DM, Mlife Plat, TR 7*, SPG/MR Plat, UA 1K
Posts: 10,356
Originally Posted by darthbimmer View Post
Death Valley has several short, level trails too. Some are paved, others are not paved but are smooth. For example, the short trail out to Badwater Basin, elev 282' below sea level, is covered with crushed gypsum. A person with a cane can make it.
There's also a boardwalk up to the "elevation -282 feet" that everyone wants their photo in front of, and a short ways past that. Saltwater Creek, with the pupfish, also has an extensive boardwalk. Artist's Palette/Drive is entirely seen from your vehicle.

I imagine you'd want to take a pass on walking all the way out on the sand dunes

The accessibility guide I linked to in post #2 has a rundown of the major sights, listing which are paved/curb cuts, which can be enjoyed from the car, etc.
Zorak is offline  
Old Jan 27, 17, 2:22 am
  #13  
Moderator: Luxury Hotels and FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Palo Alto, California,USA
Posts: 17,043
The main entrance to Death Valley from the west on SR190 reaches 8,000' elevation briefly. Going north from Baker, California, the elevation stays low.

Note that the route to Death Valley from Northern California when the alpine passes are closed takes more than 10 hours -- you go to Bakersfield before heading east over the Tehachapi pass.
RichardInSF is offline  
Old Jan 31, 17, 11:32 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 4,101
Originally Posted by Yellowjj View Post
I think that's what I'll do. Play it by ear and just position myself somewhat in between both parks. From looking at google maps, it seems bakersfield is smack dab in the middle.
Bakersfield is where you stop for gas. It's not a destination.
CDTraveler is offline  
Old Feb 1, 17, 11:10 am
  #15  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Berkeley, CA USA
Programs: Piggly Wiggly "Shop the Pig!" Preferred Shopper
Posts: 43,197
Originally Posted by CDTraveler View Post
Bakersfield is where you stop for gas. It's not a destination.
As many here know, there is a show on PBS stations called California's Gold. A hyper-friendly guy named Huell Howser goes all over the state to visit attractions, historical sites, festivals -- whatever the location has to offer.

For the Bakersfield episode, Huell seemed to draw a blank. He spent almost the whole time in some restaurant.
dhuey is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread