Las Vegas to San Francisco: Death Valley and the Sierra Nevada

I love going on road trips, but the kind of trips I take are planned down to the day; I’ll leave the spontaneity to the younger folk.  And considering the trouble I had getting accommodation in Yosemite, it’s just as well I planned several months ahead.  Here’s the route (click through for the full details on Google Maps):

Las Vegas to San Francisco

Las Vegas to San Francisco

Here’s the rough itinerary:

  • Pick up a car at the airport, and leave Las Vegas immediately.
  • Drive to Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park, and explore the surrounding area, including Badwater Basin, at 86 metres below sea level, the lowest elevation in the United States.
  • Stay one night at Stovepipe Wells.
  • Explore the northern part of the park, including the Ubehebe Crater and Scotty’s Castle.
  • Leave the Death Valley area and head towards the Sierra Nevada (which is Spanish for “snowy mountains”)
  • Drive to Lone Pine for views of Mt Whitney, at 4,421 metres, the highest point in the lower 48 states. It’s just 122 km from Badwater, the lowest point.
  • Drive to Bishop; visit the gallery of Galen and Barbara Rowell. I discovered the gallery was here in Bishop by accident last year, as I was driving through.
  • Stay one night in Bishop.
  • Drive north, stopping at Lee Vining for a quick look at Mono Lake, before heading over Tioga Pass to May Lake.
  • Continue along the Tioga Road to Yosemite Valley.
  • Stay three nights at Curry Village in Yosemite National Park; I’m still working out what I’ll do on each of my days in the valley.
  • Drive to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, either via Fresno as shown, or more interesting back roads.
  • Stay two nights at Grant Grove Village; again, I’m still working out what to do here.
  • Drive to San Francisco.

I’m packing a lot into the time, but there’s so much to see, it’s hard to resist trying to see just a little bit more. As a list of bullet points, it may not be that exciting, but once I have photos from these places, I hope to make a more persuasive case.

One Comment

  1. KeithD says:

    Great posts. You do things exactly the way I do.

    I’ve not long got back from Las Vegas after doing a round trip up through Bishop, hung around there for a few days driving into the Sierra’s, then Up to Yosemite, turned around, Mono Lake, and then Carcon City/Lake Tahoe for a few days, until back to Vegas via a night in Tonopah. I’d only just done another route a couplr of months earlier, from Las Vegas to Phoenix, Tuscon, Tombstone and then all the way up to the crater, Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon before back to Las Vegas for a few days, and returned home to the UK.

    I don’t even set out until I have every hotel booked, having researched them to death.

    The Western part of the US is beautiful, and I’ll probably head back in Aug/Sept.

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