Along with taking in the sights, the one thing everyone should do is to take in the journey. Pack your bags, get yourself ready, and hit the road for a road trip that you’ll never forget—from Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park.
For many, a road trip is a way to escape from the everyday routine, and being stuck in traffic isn’t exactly relaxing. But there’s no reason you have to spend your whole vacation in a traffic jam. There are so many beautiful places in America, and we’re here to show you some of the best. In this blog post, we’ll be taking a road trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park. It’s a short drive, but it gives you a chance to see some of the best scenery in the country.The Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park trip combines the beautiful Nevada desert with California’s finest parks and forests in an epic adventure to remember.
The drive from Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park takes 6 hours and 20 minutes. The route takes you through Death Valley, Inyo National Forest and Mammoth Lakes or through Bakersfield and the Sequoia and Sierra National Forests.
If you blink along the way, you might miss some great places, so read on to get an idea of what to expect.
How far is it to Yosemite National Park from Las Vegas and how long is the trip?
The trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park takes about 6 hours and 20 minutes and covers a distance of about 370 miles. The scenic route takes you through Death Valley, then through the incredibly beautiful Sierra Nevada and its parks.
Although this trip can be done in one day, including breaks to refuel and eat, you’ll definitely want to stretch it out as long as possible to see everything there is to see along the way.
Tioga Pass gives you a small taste of what Yosemite National Park has to offer.
This route has one serious drawback: Yosemite can only be reached from the east (via Tioga Pass) from May to November. If you want to visit the park at other times of the year, you’ll have to bypass the Sierras and traverse much of Central California.
In other words, for the rest of the year, a 9 hour trip over about 510 miles is the best solution. This route trades the Sierras for a series of beautiful forests and some larger towns, making it a relatively scenic alternative.
Best route from Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park
The best route from Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park depends on your goals. If you’re looking for speed and are traveling at the right time of year, a trip along the Sierras is a faster option that also offers beautiful scenery.
The longer route is definitely worth considering, as it allows you to see some of the country’s beautiful and unique landscapes, as well as several major cities at different times during the trip.
Follow Interstate 95 from Las Vegas past the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Follow the road past Death Valley, then take State Highways 266 and 168 to California and Highway 395 to Big Pine.
If you like, you can stop a little further north in Bishop and then continue along a series of scenic peaks of the Sierra Nevada and Mammoth Lakes to the Inyo National Forest. Once you are (literally) out of the woods, turn left onto State Road 120 when Mono Lake appears on your right and follow it to Tioga Pass.
Route in Central California
Take Highway 15 south of Las Vegas and follow it between the Mojave National Wildlife Refuge and Death Valley. In Barstow, take Route 58 and follow it to Bakersfield.
From here, head north through Fresno past Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon. Once in Fresno, head north on State Highway 41 past the Sierra National Forest. You will soon pass Oakhurst and Fish Camp, one of the entrances to Yosemite National Park.
Best places to stop between Las Vegas and Yosemite National Park
Much of California is focused on tourism. So you’ll find plenty of good accommodation on the road between Las Vegas and Yosemite National Park. If we had to choose the best hotels of this trip, it would be these:
Peace and quiet in a literal oasis in Death Valley
As hot as Death Valley is in the summer, the park is incredibly popular with some of the state’s most famous artists. This is mostly due to the world-class resorts, the best of which is The Inn at Death Valley.
Deserts are certainly not for everyone, but everyone can appreciate the rugged beauty of Death Valley.
After a strenuous hike, you need a place to cool off, and the Inn won’t disappoint. With a beautiful outdoor pool with lounge chairs and a lovely fireplace, you’ll congratulate yourself on finding a great place to escape the Mojave heat.
After exploring the hotel’s beautiful grounds, relax with a massage at the spa, enjoy a traditional meal at the hotel’s restaurant, have a drink at the bar before bed or even try your hand at golf or other sports and activities.
The rooms in this hotel are expensive, but look at it this way: if Matt Damon and Martin Sheen were sleeping in your room, you’d have every reason to ask them for a lot of money!
Enjoy the scenery of Yosemite National Park
The biggest hurdle when planning a trip to Yosemite can be finding a cheap hotel. Different parts of the park shine at different times of the year, but Tenaya Lodge and the numerous activities within it are always a wonderful choice.
Yosemite is a place of nature, and Tenaya Lodge conveys this message perfectly. When not exploring the park, you can enjoy activities like rock climbing, archery and skiing.
And with four excellent restaurants on site, you’ll always be full and ready for more Yosemite adventures.
No visit to Yosemite would be complete without a trip to Half Dome.
In the evening you can relax in the communal pool with green mountains in the background, it can not be more picturesque. Before going to bed, refresh yourself in the hotel’s spa or simply have a drink in the bar.
Finally, the Tenaya Lodge is by far the cheapest hotel in the Yosemite area. You can walk to almost anything you want to visit in the area (or at worst, a few minutes), and the service at the resort is impeccable.
What to see on a trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park
While it’s hard to quantify, the trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park is as much of an adventure as the park itself, if not more. Give yourself a few weeks to visit all the places listed below:
- Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area – , an iconic rocky backdrop to the city of Las Vegas, this area is a must see up close.
- Death Valley – Although its reputation as the hottest place in North America is well established, a well-informed and documented visit can lead to an unforgettable experience.
- Bishop – is a welcome place to relax after a trip to the Mojave Desert.
- Manzanar – Despite (or perhaps because of) its horrific history of mass incarceration of Japanese Americans, Manzanar remains a very important historical relic to this day.
- Inyo National Forest – , home to Mount Whitney, one of the highest peaks in all the states, this forest is as epic as it gets.
- Mammoth Lakes – Although it probably grows best in the colder seasons, it is hard to miss for its fabulous beauty.
- Mono Lake – – This saltwater lake is not so much a swimming spot as it is a sight to see and one of the oldest lakes in the United States.
- Stanislaus National Forest – a lush forest named after the Stanislaus River that flows through it.
- Bodie State Historical Park – What was once a thriving mining town is now a popular destination for self-guided tours.
- Mojave National Wildlife Refuge – With its Joshua trees and the abandoned town of Kelso, this preserve has something for everyone.
- Calico – A lot of effort has gone into making this abandoned silver mining town as close to the original as possible.
- Bakersfield to is the largest city on the route, after Las Vegas itself, and one of the most obvious stops.
- Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks – Stunning wildlife and the world’s largest trees set these parks apart from the stiff competition of California’s parks.
- Fresno – This city is surrounded by all sorts of beautiful places, making it technically the true western gateway to Yosemite National Park.
- Sierra National Forest – This forest is distinguished from its neighbors by its beautiful crystal clear lakes.
- Mariposa Grove – is a wonderful addition to Yosemite, home to some of the oldest and largest redwoods known to date.
Mojave National Park breaks with the cliché that desert landscapes can’t be scenic.
Best time to go from Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park
A trip from Las Vegas to Yosemite is ideal because the park is one of the most inviting natural areas in the United States, regardless of the season.
Vegas’ location in relation to Yosemite complicates things a bit: the only way to reach the park from the east is only available for about half the year, with the exact opening and closing dates depending on the weather that year.
If that’s not a problem for you, you can also make the trip in the summer, when most people visit the park for the views of nature and easy access to hiking trails.
Yosemite Falls is a part of the park that is beautiful at any time of the year.
It’s also very easy to avoid the crowds – visiting in May or September guarantees a quieter and cheaper stay. September is probably the safer of the two options, as you may encounter an inaccessible road even in late spring.
The abundance of winter activities makes December, January and February the perfect months to visit the park. You’ll also pass through Bakersfield and Fresno, so you can make a few stops as time catches up with you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is driving to Yosemite dangerous?
Driving to Yosemite is not dangerous.
Where should I stop from Yosemite to Las Vegas?
The best place to stop is in San Francisco.
How many days do you need in Yosemite National Park?
There are three main entrances to Yosemite National Park: the south entrance, the east entrance, and the west entrance. The south entrance is located in Mariposa County, California. The east entrance is located in Tuolumne County, California. The west entrance is located in Madera County, California.
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