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 more than 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. Continue to Carson City, Nev., where you can dip your toes in Lake Tahoe’s sparkling waters. Then 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. Then head to Bakersfield and Ridgecrest on your return route to Las Vegas. Learn more below.
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.
Here are our top 6 stops plus road-trip tips for a fantastic scenic drive on the way to Yosemite National Park.
7 Sights to See East of Yosemite
Inyo County is the Land of Extremes
Inyo County claims the highest and lowest points in the lower 48. Stop at a WWII internment camp, watch and listen to the sky and see restored trains.
Bishop’s Big Backyard
On the Eastern Sierra, walk among ancient trees, watch mules compete, hike to a lake and relax in a small town with down-to-earth people.
Try Something New in Yosemite National Park
Enter Yosemite at its east entrance on Tioga Road. (In winter, enter the South Entrance.)
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.
5 Famous Viewpoints Close to the Road in Yosemite
Visitors to the park won’t want to miss any of these following heart-stopping vistas, all easily accessible from paved roads throughout the park.
Which Yosemite Hiking Trail Should I Hike?
Find your perfect hike by thinking about what type of view you crave then narrow it down with our guide.
The Giving Trees
Don’t leave Yosemite without visiting the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias with trees stretching 300 feet hight in the sky.
Exit Yosemite at its south entrance.
Go Jump in the Lake at Miller’s Landing Resort
Just 20 minutes from Yosemite National Park’s South Entrance lies a lakeside paradise where contemporary cabins are just a stroll from the shore, boats of all sizes are available for rent and the water in the summer reaches almost 80 degrees.
Rest and Relax at the Pool and Spa 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. A modern resort with a swimming pool, outdoor concerts and gaming awaits.
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.
Explore the towns that sit at the foot of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.
Roadside Stops in Bakersfield
At the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley and the heart of the Mojave Desert, you’ll find country music and a noteworthy luncheonette.