View Full Version : Driving Directions to Yosemite in April

Eric Biggerstaff
28-Jan-2008, 13:27
Ok, need some advice.

I am supposed to assist at a workshop in Yosemite at the end of April.

Because of the amount stuff I need to take, driving is the best/only option for me to get there.

I have driven from Denver to Yosemite many times, but always when Tioga Pass was open.

What are my options for driving to Yosemite when the pass is closed?

If it is too much of a pain I will decline and go another time.


steve simmons
28-Jan-2008, 13:46
You can go down through LV, down towards Barstow, up over Tehachapi to 99 and then up the Central Valley


80 to Sacramento, down the Central Vally on 99 towards Fresno and then into Yosemite

as a slight alternate you could go 80 to Auburn (35 miles east of Sacramento) and down 49 to Yosemite


80 to Reno, down to South Lake Tahoe to 50, west to Placerville and down 49 to Yosemite

steve simmons

Walter Calahan
28-Jan-2008, 13:51
I simply can not resist, "Go west young man." Horace Greeley


Enjoy the trip! May you run out of film due to all the beautiful images you make. HA!

Eric Biggerstaff
28-Jan-2008, 14:29
Thanks guys!

Now, I just have to decide to go or not!

Jim Ewins
29-Jan-2008, 08:58
With the crazy weather this year you may be in time for the spring flowers.

Eric Biggerstaff
29-Jan-2008, 09:12

That would be nice! It has been many years since I was there in the spring ( I normally go in the fall so there are fewer people). Some flowers and running falls would be great!

Carlos R Herrera
11-Feb-2008, 11:24
If the weather is nasty and snowing when you are enroute, I would suggest driving into the YNP Valley via 140 and NOT 41. I drove 41 into YNP for years from Oakhurst. Sketchy roads once you get inside the gate. YNP Roads and Trails crews are infamous for poorly plowed roads. Caltrans does a great job..right up to the gate at Fish Camp.

140 is much safer. YOU might know how to drive in the snow, it's the other people on the road that gave my fits of rage. Snow is uncommon on 140 until you get up past El Portal.

I once drove into YNP in late May, during a MONSTER snowstorm. Crazy. Every year is decidedly different.

I think you attended alone of Alan's workshops several years back. I used the run that program....


Eric Biggerstaff
11-Feb-2008, 11:32
Thanks Carols.

I have attended a couple of Alan's workshops and on this occasion I am slated to assist in Ray McSavaney's workshop. Sara had taken over just prior to my coming out so I never had the chance to meet you, Perhaps one day I will have the opportunity.

I was going to come in from the north but I have decided to come up from the south via Las Vegas to Bakersfield and 140. I drive in the snow a great deal, but you are correct, it is the others on the road I worry about. Also, the southern route cuts about 2 - 3 hours off my drive.

Now, I am only hoping enough people sign up for the workshop so it isn't cancelled!

Thanks again.

Carlos R Herrera
11-Feb-2008, 12:18
I may have spoken to you on the phone in 2004 before I was activated.

I might just pop on by this April and visit the Gallery during Ray workshop. I saw Ray at one of John Sexton's lectures at the Bowers Museum last year. Ray is awesome to work with.


Eric Biggerstaff
11-Feb-2008, 12:28
Great! Happy to know you are back from Iraq!

Carlos R Herrera
11-Feb-2008, 12:33
I am closing out my second tour right now. A third tour is definitely on the horizon.

Was Greg Hunter is one of your workshops? He moved from LA to Colorado a few years back. I thought he was in Denver or nearby.

Very nice website by the way. You have great work on there.


Eric Biggerstaff
11-Feb-2008, 12:51
Greg was not in my workshop but I have met him a couple of times. He is a very nice person and talented photographer. He has been assisting in Alan's workshops for the past year.

Thanks for the compliment on the work! Nice words make me stay at it.

Hope to meet you soon.

Richard Raymond
12-Feb-2008, 09:55
The most direct way for you to get to YNP is to go west on 70. At exit 178 in Utah take route 50 to Delta. Continue on 50 to Nevada (80 miles from Delta to Baker), across Nevada (Baker, Ely, Carson City) and into California. From there you can take your preferred route south to YNP. This route is more direct and quicker than going north to the 80 and definitely faster than dropping south on the 15 to Las Vegas and around the south end of the Sierras. (And what they say about 50 being the "loneliest road in America" is probably correct.) Some interesting photo opportunities but make sure you keep the gas tank full. I do a lot of aerial photo work in the area from Delta to Carson City so I have some understanding of the trip. Let me know if you have any questions.

Eric Biggerstaff
12-Feb-2008, 11:02
Thanks Ric,

Let me run that one on the map.

I have driven to Yosemite several times but always when Tioga was open, so this one I need to figure out a bit.

Thanks for the directions and I may touch base with you for some more suggestions.


Eric Biggerstaff
12-Feb-2008, 11:10

Ahh, now I see it.

That is sort of the way I usually go, but when I get to Ely I take 6 down to Tonopah then over into California.

Your way looks interesting.

steve simmons
12-Feb-2008, 11:14
The most direct way for you to get to YNP is to go west on 70. At exit 178 in Utah take route 50 to Delta. Continue on 50 to Nevada (80 miles from Delta to Baker), across Nevada (Baker, Ely, Carson City) and into California.

This still takes you to SLT and would be a painful way across Nevada unless you wanted to stop someplace like ELY(an old railroad museum). Hwy 50 across Nevada is really a lonely road, much of it is two lane and I would not use it unless there was a specific reason. 70 from Denver to the Salt Lake area and then 80 to Reno would be much quicker with more intermediate places to stay.

steve simmons

Curt Palm
12-Feb-2008, 11:45
if you haven't tried it, check out plotting the different routes on Google maps. A recent feature added is that you can grab one part of the route google plotted and move it to another road and get an alternate route, so you can get mileage/time comparisons for the different routes pretty easily.

Colin Graham
12-Feb-2008, 11:53
I took 50 my last trip across Nevada. Very severe but also very beautiful. Just make sure you're in a very reliable car. Lonliest road in America. (http://www.webpanda.com/white_pine_county/historical_society/attractions/hwy_50.htm)

Eric Biggerstaff
12-Feb-2008, 11:55
Thanks for the suggestions everyone.

I used the AAA.com trip planner and here is what it says:

Option 1 - Denver to Salt Lake to Reno to Placerville to Yosemite

Distance: 1,330.5 miles Estimated Time: 20 hrs, 33 min

Option 2 - Denver to Delta,Utah to Ely, NV to Carson City, NV to Placerville, CA to YNP

Distance: 1,231.9 miles Estimated Time: 22 hours, 46 min

Option 3: Denver to Las Vegas, NV to Bakersfield, CA to Yosemite

Distance 1,233.7 miles Estimate Time: 18 hours, 32 min

Due to weather concerns at that time of year, I am leaning towards the southern (option 3) route as it appears faster. But I may come back the Option 2 route.

I have driven it straight through from YNP to Denver, but that was a LONG day.

Thanks everyone!


Richard Raymond
12-Feb-2008, 13:23
On the southern route check the time of day and the day of the week you plan on hitting Las Vegas. There is construction on the 15 just coming into Las Vegas from the north. They are widening that section so first they are making it narrower. Rush hour traffic in the morning will be worse than in the afternoon. Going out the south end rush hour will start around 3:30 and last to a little after six. Main problem would be an accident which is a normal occurance. From Primm on the NV/CA line to Baker, CA there is construction. Check with the CA highway people to see when the road gets shut down to one lane. The general rule on travel on the 15 from LV to LA is that you don't want to be going south on Sunday afternoon or north on Friday afternoon.
Steve S. is right about the 50 being lonely but it is a fast road. Speeds will be about the same as going on the 80 except in the towns. On the northern route along the 80 there are interesting places including the Ruby mountains just south of Elko.
There could be a spring storm in April but it won't be too bad. Once one gets down off the Colorado Plateau and into the Great Basin at that time of year Spring is definitely on the way although there will still be snow in the passes.

Eric Biggerstaff
12-Feb-2008, 13:59
Thanks Ric!

Nice to know I15 hasn't changed much from when I lived there 15 years ago!

That is great advice and I will follow it.

Michael Wynd
12-Feb-2008, 15:39
You should have done what Bugs Bunny did.....turned left at Albequerque.
Sorry, I had to do it.