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Yosemite National Park

Death Valley to Yosemite

Hi We are visiting in late July and after Death Valley we want to visit Yosemite. I am thinking of taking the 395 then off on the 120 into Yosemite is this the way to go...thing is we are from England and we dont see many deserts here! so just need some advice on if this is the right thing to do. We are planning on two possibly three days in the park but will post question later on that, main thing is will my wife still be talking to me after dragging here through the desert then off over the mountains! Hoping to stay furnace creek roughly how long for the trip baring in mind I will want lots of photos..oh and are there gas tations or food areas on the way? Im sure its fine its just the map looks remote.
Thanks for taking time to read.

10 Answers

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Europe

there's no problem on the way, you may stop at Lone Pine or Bishop.
Probably you'll go to Dead Valley from LasVegas, let awake early that day, don't think to be inside the Valley after 10am, have full gasoline and pleanty of water with you. for sleeping at night there Mammoth Lake, which use to be winter sport place and there are a lot of accomodation opened also during summer, I've been once there, one afternoon, one night and till noon following day before going [back] to Yosomite, it's a worth visit on the way.
beware at speed traps on 395, keep right and speed under limit.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

Hi there - welcome to Virtual Tourist!

You'll get some good advice from others on the Yosemite piece but I did want to mention that unless you're conditioned/prepared for intense heat, I'm not sure how much dragging of the wife you'll be doing at Death Valley - on foot, anyway? From the park website:

"Death Valley is famous as the hottest place on earth and driest place in North America. The world record highest air temperature of 134°F (57°C) was recorded at Furnace Creek on July 10, 1913. Summer temperatures often top 120°F (49°C) in the shade with overnight lows dipping into the 90s°F (mid 30s°C.)"

For this reason, their visitor season is really during the late fall to early spring, and the Inn at Furnace creek closes from mid October - mid-May, although the ranch remains open. There is a gas station and a couple of restaurants at the resort:

I strongly advise reservations at the Ranch as there's little else out there, and you will definitely need reservations at Yosemite: park accommodations start filling a year in advance so you're very late in the game there. You probably get some suggestions here for alternate close-by locations if all the park lodges are full.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Surrey

I agree that it is very late for getting accomodations in Yosemite itself for this summer. If you find that's true, get back to me as I know a few places right outside the park that are nice and can be a good second choice.

I'm an American but now live in England, and the heat you'll find in the desert is not what we are used to! Make sure your car has a/c, of course, and always have lots to drink along with you.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Sacramento

I lived down there, was used to the heat, and would never visit Death Valley in July. If you aren't used to the heat, it's brutal. You can drive through but you aren't going to want to do a lot of walking around taking photos. My stepmother wanted to visit once and when she opened her car door, she immediately closed it and made me take her home. It was only 119 Fahrenheit that day.

That said, it is gorgeous if you like the desert. There is a serene peace there . . . and not much else. Once you leave Baker, there are no restaurants or gas stations so fill up both you and the car. In Death Valley, take the 190 west to the 395 toward Lone Pine. Lone Pine is a great little town with a couple good French restaurants. (French bottling company nearby) The drive north on 395 to 120 is gorgeous. BTW, the gateway to climbing Mt. Whitney is right outside of Lone Pine. Mt. Whitney is the highest point in the contiguous United States. So, you would have seen the lowest and highest points in the lower 48 states within hours of each other. Fun!

Keep the cars fuel tank topped up; carry plenty of water for both you and the car. Be super sure you have an air conditioned car. Most rentals in the US are air conditioned but it pays to check. The desert is very beautiful and very different. If you only have the one chance and it's in July, go . . . but go prepared for the heat. It isn't always that hot either; there are some lovely days so maybe you'll get lucky.

Take a good map! . . . and have fun. Yes, it is remote.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Sacramento

Just had another thought: If you are driving north on 395, eat in Lone Pine and then a bit further north is Manzanar National Historic Site. If you have any interest in World War II history, stop and look around. It was an internment camp for Japanese-American citizens (innocent ones!) during the war. It is now a memorial to them.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Los Angeles

I second the recommendation to stop at Manzanar. It is a very interesting site.

Also along the 395, south of Manzanar, is a terrific place to hike (but again, bear in mind the heat in July will be a challenge), called Alabama Hills. There are some really unique rock formations in this area and because of that, a lot of films have been shot here from silent times up to using it as Afghanistan in "Iron Man."

There are a number of hikes you can do here from very short to very long. Since you'll be there when it's so hot, the short hikes might be best but you could at least see some of the natural stone arches in the area.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member

Thank you to everyone who took the time to reply. Theres very sensible advice. It looks like I realy need to be prepared and not take anything for granted.
I am amazed at the great replies thank you again.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

You're welcome! Are we talking to Teresa or Terry? :O)

You'll be traveling during high season for many of our National Parks so I can't stress enough how important reservations will be for accommodations near the most popular of them. Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon.... all of the biggies will be very busy!

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from New Jersey

If you have any extra time, another thing that you can do is overnight in Mammoth and then do a side trip up to Mono Lake, a lake with strange rock formations, and then 20 miles north to Bodie, the largest 1800s ghost town in the USA. Bodie is about 20-25 miles from the entrance to Yosemite. ALso, beware that the drive from the Eastern entrance of Yosemite to the Valley itself will take you an hour or two. It is a large park.

In Death Valley, definitely make reservations for Furnace Creek. Stovepipe Wells is the only other lodging in the park. If you have time, drive up to Dante's View, which gives you a great view out over the valley, and is not as hot because of its high altitude. I also like the views along the Artist's Route and from Zabriskie Point.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member

THANKYOU again, I have looked up the ghosy town it looks amazing. Thanks everyone.

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