While the glittering lights and entertainment in Las Vegas can be intoxicating, there is much to be discovered beyond The Strip. After catching a show and lounging by your hotel pool, load up your car and hit the road to Death Valley. Before you get to the park's entrance, you'll drive into Death Valley Junction, home of the historic white stucco Amargosa Opera House and Hotel. Grab a cup of great coffee at the Amargosa Cafe. Ask around to see the inside of the opera house where ballerina and Broadway dancer Marta Becket performed for 40 years.
From there, head to Death Valley National Park, stopping at Zabriskie Point for mesmerizing views. Then drive north through “the other side of California,” a startlingly beautiful high desert with sparsely populated towns like Bishop that are full of character. Enter Yosemite through the East Entrance, taking Tioga Road past alpine meadows before dropping into Yosemite Valley. After exploring the park, exit through the South Entrance and visit the hidden gems of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.
Just outside the two parks lies Tulare County, one of the world's most productive agriculture areas. Take an agri-tour and dine at a restaurant serving locally produced food. Then head to Ridgecrest for some far-out landscapes where Hollywood movies have been filmed.
Start: Las Vegas, Nevada
Before you head for Yosemite, visit Las Vegas' 180-acre utopia, Springs Preserve, that features museums, art galleries, animal exhibits, live show, and botanical gardens.
Death Valley National Park
The largest national park in the contiguous United States, Death Valley National Park is just 142 miles from Las Vegas, but you might feel as though you've landed on the moon. Stretching across 3.4 million acres, the park is made up of a patchwork of salt flats, badlands, artfully colored hills and ruins from those who dared to settle in this unforgiving landscape. You'll also find the lowest point in North America in Badwater Basin, which sits 282 feet below sea level and encompasses nearly 200 square miles of salt flats.
The Other Side of Yosemite, East of the Park
3 Sights to See in Inyo County, the Land of Extremes
Inyo County claims the highest and lowest points in the lower 48. Stop at a WWII internment camp, read tales of a local mountaineer and see restored trains.
Bishop's Big Backyard on the Other Side of Yosemite
On the Eastern Sierra between Yosemite and Death Valley, walk among ancient trees, go trout fishing, and relax in a small town with down-to-earth people.
Try Your Luck and Fuel Up at Paiute Palace Casino
Test fate at the slots, poker, and more. Then, before you drive out of Bishop, fuel up at the lowest-priced gas pumps at Paiute Palace Gas Station.
Try Something New in Yosemite National Park
Enter Yosemite at its east entrance on Tioga Road. On your drive over this iconic park road, make these 3 pitstops before getting to Yosemite Valley. After exploring the waterfalls in Yosemite Valley, drive to Glacier Point for a high view of Half Dome, then head south to see the giant trees at the Mariposa Sequoia Grove.
Year-round Fun in Yosemite National Park
Take a leap and try new activities to explore the park. Which ones have you tried?
Tour Yosemite Like a Local with Gypsy Guide
On your Yosemite adventure, listen to an entertaining guide in your car.
Home in the Park with Yosemite's Scenic Wonders
Who knew you could retreat to a house, cabin or condo in the heart of Yosemite National Park? Choose from over 100 properties in three locations at Yosemite's Scenic Wonders Vacation Rentals.
Pool Time at Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino
If spending time outdoors has you dreaming of swimming pools, a massage and a clean hotel room, consider getting pampered for a night or two at Yosemite's south entrance.
Two More National Parks, Sequoia and Kings Canyon
The Majestic Mountain Loop Stops at Three National Parks
If the only national park you visit in California is Yosemite, you'll miss seeing the world's largest living tree in Sequoia National Park and the nation's Christmas tree in Kings Canyon National Park. Only have three days for your entire vacation? Start the Majestic Mountain Loop in Fresno.
Fields of Dreams Border Sequoia and Kings Canyon
Discover more than the biggest trees and the tallest mountains. Find out how the areas nestled against Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks feed the world.
Strange Formations are Rockin' Ridgecrest
In the heart of the Mojave Desert, you’ll find a far-out desert scene where a military base protecting ancient drawings and a living ghost town collide.