Road Trips

Las Vegas to Yosemite: Death Valley Road Trip!

Yosemite to San Francisco Road Trip
Written by Town & Tourist

A road trip between Las Vegas & Yosemite National Park offers two very different experience! The bright lights & built up Las Vegas is Sin city and will seduce you with epic casinos, resorts and a wild nightlife.

Whereas Yosemite National Park is the epitome of mother nature, a breath taking landscape of sequoia forests, canyons, peaks, lakes and waterfalls!

How long is the drive between Las Vegas & Yosemite National Park?

The drive between Las Vegas and Yosemite National Park is between 335 to 564 miles depending upon the route. This takes between 5.7 hours and 10 hours on average.

Which is the best driving route between Las Vegas & Yosemite National Park?

Tioga Pass (US 120), was named one of our 25 Most Epic Driving Roads in the U.S.A. Thus its must drive route to Yosemite National Park from Las Vegas.

Driving down via Tioga Pass is also the shortest route at just 5.7 hours and 334 miles from Las Vegas. It will lead you to the eastern entrance of Yosemite National Park.

Insider Tip:

The Tioga Pass route works only in late spring, summer, and early fall). In the winter it closes due to snow.

I would recommended taking at least two days for this road trip to really enjoy the journey.

Yosemite to Death Valley Road Trip

Las Vegas to Yosemite Road Trip

When is the best time to visit Yosemite National Park to avoid crowds?

The best time to visit Yosemite to avoid crowds are May and September. At this time of year the park is accessible, but not too crowded. It’s vital to know that many roads and trails in Yosemite are closed for the majority of the year due to snow.

May at Yosemite:

In May, average highs range in the mid-60s. Lows, however, stay in the mid-30s, so remember to bring a coat with you. These temperates make the visit comfortable and its also the best time to see the parks waterfalls as the snow has melted!

Insider Tip:

In May, some roads and trails may still be closed, so you are best visiting towards the end of the month.

September at Yosemite:

September, highs are in the mid-70s, while lows are in the mid-40s. This temperature range offers a more comfortable hiking experience. There is also fewer people on the trails and the sun won’t be as intense. However, the waterfalls won’t be as free flowing.

Winter at Yosemite: 

Yosemite National Park was named one of our: 20 Incredible Winter Camping Destinations: USA

Map of Las Vegas to Yosemite Road Trip

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Las Vegas to Yosemite Road Trip Itinerary:

Day 1: Las Vegas

Welcome to Sin City!

Budget Las Vegas Tips:

Las Vegas is the type of place where you can spend a lot of cash, so as we still had a big road trip to go on, we decided to be smarter and more savvy! Check out our 2 day Itinerary below which includes a host of true las Vegas activities of which many  are for free.

The Las Vegas Strip – Free

A drive down the famous Las Vegas Strip should be on everyones bucket list! Here you will see the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign along Las Vegas Boulevard South, before coming to the strip.

Las-Vegas-Lights-Road-Trip-with-Bus

Las-Vegas-Lights Road Trip with Bus

This is an astonishing road to take in “Vegas”, landmarks include Bellagio Fountains and the popular landmarks from around the world: The Sphinx, the pyramid, the Eiffel Tower at Paris and of course  The Venetian’s Grand Canal.

How to explore the Las Vegas strip?

The Las Vegas strip runs from Mandalay Bay in the south to Stratosphere casino in the north. Where you’ll find the Stratosphere tower, towering at 1149 feet tall making it the tallest observation tower in the USA. Great place to capture an instagrammable Las Vegas photo. Make sure you have some great travel photography gear

Can I explore the Las Vegas Strip on foot?

If you didn’t rent a car yet you can take a stroll down the Las Vegas Strip yourself. The whole thing is around 4 miles so be wear comfy shoes and be prepared for a walk!

You could also take a guided tour of the strip and benefit from the local knowledge.

Caesars Palace Casino & The Forum Shops

A staple of the Vegas Strip, Caesars Palace has been an iconic Casino in Las Vegas since the 1960s. It has even been in popular movies such as “The Hangover” and “Iron Man”. The decor is based on Ancient Rome and is truly immersive with large columns and roman frescoes amore.

caesars-palace-Casino

caesars-palace-Casino

Bellagio Casino and Fountains – Free

Check out the Bellagio Casino & Fountains, on the main strip. Here you can immerse yourself into some exciting table games from the slots, to sports betting. This place attracts many high rollers and even the World Poker Tour. A great place to people watch or get involved.

Location: 3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South

Paris Las Vegas

Eiffel Tower

The Mob Museum

Sin city has always had a dark side, big money, high rollers and excess will always attract organised crime. The Mob Museum, has a variety of interactive exhibits dedicated to Mob life in vegas.

The Venetian Casino and Grand Canal

No need to travel to Italy, take in the highlights of Venice right from Vegas. Here you can take a gondola ride on the Grand Canal and see live entertainment, such as stilt walkers, singers and living statues.

Venetian Casino and Grand Canal road trip

Venetian Casino and Grand Canal road tripVenetian Casino and Grand Canal road trip

Fremont Street

Just 5 minutes walk from the Mob Museum is Fremont Street. Attractions include a:

  • Iconic Casinos
  • Viva Vision light show with 12.5 million LED lamps and a 550,000-watt sound system.
  • Food Vendors
  • Souvenir Shops
  • Slotzilla Zip Line 10 stories above the pedestrian walkway!

Insider Tip:

Here you will find lots of buskers and crazy entertainment, including many half naked strippers!

Day 2: Las Vegas

Mandalay Bay Casino, Aquarium and Beach

Mandalay Bay is a Casino, Aquarium and Beach!

Mandalay Bay Beach

The Mandalay Bay Beach is man made and has over 2,700 tons of sand and a 1.6 million gallon wave pool to create an oceanside atmosphere in the middle of the Nevada desert.

They have rentable cabanas where you can relax and get a tan, you can also head to the Moorea Beach Club.

Shark Reef: Aquarium

Shark Reef aquarium houses over 2,000 animals which include: stingrays, sea turtles, crocodiles and of course, sharks!

shark-reef-at-mandalay

shark-reef-at-mandalay

How much are tickets?

Admission is $25 for adults and $19 for children ages 4 to 12 (children ages 3 and younger can enter for free). (Discounts are available for senior citizens and Nevada residents).

New York & the Big Apple Rollercoaster

No need to head to the big apple, it’s all right here in Las Vegas. A mock up of Manhattan includes all the New York highlights such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge .

High Roller Observation Wheel

As the tallest observation wheel in the world , high roller stands 550 feet tall and offers breath taking views over las vegas.

High Roller Worlds Tallest Ferris Wheel Las Vegas

High Roller Worlds Tallest Ferris Wheel Las Vegas

For more on road trips from Vegas check out: Las Vegas to Denver: Epic Road Trip!

Day 3: Death Valley National Park

How far is Death Valley National Park from Las Vegas?

There are multiple route to get to Death Valley from Las Vegas, the shortest route takes just 2 hours (123 miles) via US-95N.

Scenic Route?

There is a more scenic route which takes just under 4 hours (164 miles). This road trip will take your through some breath taking scenery.

First the drive climbs and winds over Salsberry Pass at 3,315 feet then it deep dives into the Death Valley, past highlights such as Badwater, Artists drive, Devils Golf Course and Furnace Creek!

A good place to start is to head towards Death Valley Junction then enter the park on US 190 W.

Death Valley National Park west coast road trip

Death Valley National Park west coast road trip. Source: nps

Death Valley National Park 1-2 day Itinerary

Death Valley National Park is arguably the most EXTREME place in the USA! Death Valley holds records such as the hottest place in the USA with recorded temperatures of 130 degrees F (54’C) and the lowest point in the USA at Badwater Basin, which is 279 feet (85 m) below sea level!

These remarkable conditions have formed extremely unique & beautiful landscapes which you have to experience!

When is the best time of year to visit Death Valley? 

Due to death valleys extreme temperatures (122’F) and humidity between (10%-55%) the best time to visit is during the colder months. AVOID Death Valley during the summer (End of May, June, July, August and Early September).

Insider Tip:

The Death Valley Visitor Center is open from 8 am to 5 pm every day, where you can see a 20-minute video about the park. During the winter months from November to April, there are activities such as ranger talks and guided walks.

Death Valley Road Trip Highlights:

  1. Furnace Creek
  2. Badwater Basin
  3. Mesquite Flat
  4. Dante’s view
  5. Zabriskie Point
  6. Salt Creek
  7. Artist’s Palette
  8. Racetrack Playa
  9. Devils Golf Course
  10. Rhyolite Ghost Town

Furnace Creek:

Furnace Creek was an Indian village, and today it is one of the few places within Death Valley National Park. Here you can find lodging, restaurants, and the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. Close by you can also find The Old Harmony Borax Works which has the remains of the main borax mine that was in operation from 1882 to 1889.

Insider Tip:

Here you can find a gas station, buts its very expensive so its better to enter the park with a full tank.

Badwater Basin:

Badwater Basin is one of the largest salt flats in the world and covers 985 square feet. It also is the lowest point in the U.S.A and lies 282 feet below sea level.

Insider Tip:

Getting to Badwater Basin takes approximately 20 minutes from the main road.

Badwater Basin-california

Badwater Basin-california (Las Vegas to Yosemite Road Trip)

Mesquite Flat:

This is the most popular sand dunes in Death Valley and is easily accessible from the Main road. They rise to a height of 328 feet and are the only dunes where sand boarding is allowed.

Mesquite Flat sunset death valley california

Mesquite Flat sunset death valley california. Source: Gigi Ebert

Dantes Peak:

Dantes view offers one of most the fantastic views of Death Valley and Badwater basin and is a must visit spot. To get there you will need to take the 13 mile road which has no exit, this takes around half an hour but its so worth it!

Dantes Peak california

Dantes Peak california (Las Vegas to Yosemite Road Trip)

Zabriskie Point 

Zabriskie Point another incredible viewpoint with offers Panoramic views of Death Valley. This viewpoint is located right by the road so if your just on a 1 day trip this spot it ideal.

Devils Golf Course

The Devils Golf Course offers a unique shape where salt crystals form large holes in the ground and is a unique phenomenon of death valley.

The Devils Golf Course is on Badwater Road and lies between entry & exit of the Artist circular road

Devils golf Course california (Las Vegas to Yosemite Road Trip)

Artists Palette:

Artists Palette is a colorful area where the oxidized minerals of the mountain glow in reddish, pink, yellow and green tones. To get here take the 20 minute route, artists road which is a one way drive between southeast & northwest with incredible views.

Day 4: Panamint Springs

Road Trip Route:As you leave death valley via US 190 West, you will head through Panamint Springs. This is a popular place to stop of and is great for star gazing!

Panamint Springs is famed for its no thrills, easy access resort which offers basic accommodation and campground.

The Pananmint Springs resort is close to major death valley sights. 30 miles from Mesquite Sand Dunes and 70 miles from Badwater. Places to stay which offer more amenities and luxury include The Ranch at Death Valley  (we stayed here) .

Panamint Springs

Panamint Springs (Las Vegas to Yosemite Road Trip)

Day 5: Lone Pine & Mount Whitney

Road Trip Route: As you leave Panamint Springs follow US 190 until it merges onto US 136 and you will enter the town of Lone Pine.

Lone Pine is a small town in some very big country! With a population of just 2,000 residents, Lone Pine stretches along U.S. Highway 395 and is at the heart of the vast Owens Valley.

To the east you can see the great Inyo Mountains which tower over the valley, while the Sierra Nevada rises in the west just behind the jumbled boulder formations of the Alabama Hills!

Mount Whitney

Mount Whitney (Las Vegas to Yosemite Road Trip)

Lone Pine also has a history of being a backdrop for the greatest movies of all time, to find out more check out: The Museum of Western Film History

Where to eat at Lone Pine?

For Breakfast check out Alabama Hills Café & Bakery on W. Post St, a homely local spot which offers lots of filling foods, including breakfast burritos!  Whitney Portal Store is a nice place for lunch.

Mount Whitney:

As you drive into high country from Lone Pine the road climbs nearly 5,000 feet and zigzags its way up the face of the Eastern Sierra before reaching Whitney Portal, the gateway for hikers who are bound for the summit of 14,505-foot Mount Whitney the highest point in the USA! (outside Alaska).

Day 6: Bishop 

Bishop is an outdoorsy adventure town with an artistic side! It can be reached just of US 395 and is well worth visiting! Many call it a “Small town with a big backyard” as it allows easy access to some of Sierras most dramatic high country.

Located at the north end of Owens valley this is an ideal paradise for hikers, skiers, mountain bikers and anglers.

Bishop Sierra Nevada mountains

Bishop Sierra Nevada mountains (Las Vegas to Yosemite Road Trip)

Lake Sabrina:

Lake Sabrina is an alpine stunner which is just a half-hour drive southwest of Bishop.

Birder watchers take note: Lake Sabrina is an ideal place to look for the prestigious snow quail.

Lake Sabrina California

Lake Sabrina California (Las Vegas to Yosemite Road Trip)

Other highlights enroute include the infamous Manzanar National Historic Site, which reveals a dark side of america history where over 120,000 Japanese Americans were held in a concentration camp during World War II!

Day 7-10: Yosemite National Park (3 day Itinerary)

How long should I spend in Yosemite? 

You can spend from 1 day to 3 days or more at Yosemite National Park it spans over  3,027 km² so plenty to explore. 

How much does it cost to enter Yosemite National Park? 

Yosemite costs approximately $35 per car valid for seven days

Day 1: Hiking Cooks Meadow to Glacier Point

Cooks Meadow Loop hike  spans 2.25 miles and take you around the Yosemite Valley. This is the ideal introduction to Yosemite and is fairly easy, flat and offers breath taking views of Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. Afterwards we took the drive to the base of El Captain.

Insider Tip: 

You should check out Yosemite Village, where you can pick up a useful hiking map and visit the Ansel Adams gallery. There’s also a shop and some restaurants where you can grab lunch…or alternatively bring a packed lunch like we did!

Drive up Glacier Point Road:

From the valley you can take the 1 hour drive Glacier Point which offers panoramic views of Yosemite. On the way you will find some nice hikes so it’s well worth stopping of.

glacier-point-sign-yosemite National Park

glacier-point-sign-yosemite National Park (Las Vegas to Yosemite Road Trip)

Sentinel Dome and Taft Point Hikes

Sentinel Dome and Taft Point hikes are both short but I would budget at least an hour for each to really enjoy the spectacular views along the way. The Taft Point Hikes (2.2miles) offers a forested hike with epic views of the valley and deer which can get really close!

Insider Tip: 

There is a Sentinel Done and Taft Point combo hike which takes around 4 hours. However, we chose to return to the trailhead after each to grab water and use the toilet.

Glacier Point:

Glacier Point is one of the most popular viewpoints of Yosemite National Park. From the top you will be able to enjoy incredible views of high country, Half Dome, Nevada Falls to the forests in the valley below! This is a must see for any trip to Yosemite!

Insider Tip: 

There are now restrictions on driving on Glacier Point Rd from Mid-May to September between 10 am and 4.30 pm.

If the Glacier Point parking lot is full, you will have to park at Badger Pass and then take the shuttle bus to Glacier Point, this shuttle also stops at the Sentinel Dome/Taft Point trailhead. See the NPS website for the latest updates.

Day 2: Mist trail & Vernal Falls

Mist Trail is a 7 mile hike which is really popular during the summer months. The steep trail, which has rock stairs for some parts which take you past the spectacular Vernal and Nevada Falls. These both offer fantastic flows even during the summer!

Insider Tip:

Hike down Muir Trail on the way back rather then retrace your steps this routes offers some unique views of the Nevada falls.

Yosemite National Park vernal Falls

Yosemite National Park vernal Falls . Source: Trail Run Project (Las Vegas to Yosemite Road Trip)

Hungry? 

Afterwards head to Curry Village for lunch, where they have everything from Pizza to Ice cream and some tasty coffee.

Day 3: Mono Lake

Mono Lake is a saline soda lake, which was formed at least 760,000 years ago! Unique rock formations look like something from the terrains of Mars and offer some of the strangest scenery known to man!

Insider Tip:

Sunrise or Sunset are the best time to visit Mono Lake.

After visiting Mono Lake, you can also take the short June Lake loop and then drive to Mammoth Lakes. 

MONOLAKE-STATE-PARKI

MONOLAKE-STATE-PARK (Las Vegas to Yosemite Road Trip)

Mono Lake was included in our list: 15 BEST California State Parks! Camping Tips! 

Where to stay in Yosemite National Park?

The best accommodation is inside the park and better still Yosemite valley. A few favourites we stayed at included, the Tenaya Lodge which is a luxurious hotel in the park and the Rush Creek Lodge  at Yosemite which is in an ideal location.

Insider Tip:

Be sure to book far in advance as the best rooms sell out a year ahead.

Las Vegas to Yosemite Road Trip Tips:

  • Bring Plenty of Water (especially if you drive through Death Valley!)
  • Bring Plenty of Gas
  • Make sure you have all your Travel Essentials 
  • Make sure you have all your Travel Accessories 
  • Bring a Great Travel Camera to capture some scenic shots.
  • Bring some High Quality Hiking boots: See Recommended Hiking Gear
  • Make sure your Car is well serviced, with a spare tire or alternatively rent a fully reliable car.

How to get the best car rental Deals?

check out: Ultimate Car Rental Travel Hacks!

car rental travel hacks

car rental travel hacks (Las Vegas to Yosemite Road Trip)

Would you like to know our hotel deal secrets?

Check out: How to find the Best Hotel Deals??

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Town & Tourist

A travel resource guide that has been carefully crafted and curated by travel bloggers to help you find the best places to travel to in the USA.