If you’re planning a road trip that looks like this; Las Vegas – Yosemite – San Francisco – US Highway 101 – Los Angeles, then this article describes your options for the first leg of the journey.
This is what makes the long drive worthwhile.
We visited three National Parks; Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Muir Woods. Each of these has an admission fee, but you can save on that by purchasing an America the Beautiful annual pass.
The place we most wanted to visit is the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Here’s a link to the National Parks website: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/mg.htm
My original plan was to drive from Vegas to Mammoth Lakes, stay one night and then drive the Tioga Pass across to Mariposa. However, the Tioga Pass is blocked with snow until May/June each year and this year there was especially heavy snow. You can check the plowing status here: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tioga.htm. The only alternative, until at least mid June, is a 6.5 hour drive from Vegas to somewhere near Mariposa Grove.
Just like the Grand Canyon, I found that Yosemite lodges are all expensive, booked well in advance and the reviews aren’t good. If your dream is cook s’mores* in front of a campfire, then go ahead and book a lodge or campground. We were looking for a comfortable bed in a reasonably-priced hotel and booked the Chukchansi Gold Resort Casino – it was pretty rubbish for the price and I wouldn’t recommend that. Having seen the lodge at Mariposa, I now thing it’s worth embracing the whole Yosemite experience and stay at a lodge.
It’s a 45 minute drive from the Chukchansi Gold Resort to Mariposa Grove. Visitors need to park nearby and take a National Park Service shuttle bus to Mariposa Grove. It isn’t possible to pre-book – as it was we were able to park quite easily when we arrived around 11am.
* What the Hell are s’mores? I had no idea until I started reading reviews of the Yosemite lodges. A s’more is a traditional night-time campfire treat popular in the United States and Canada, consisting of a marshmallow and a layer of chocolate placed between two pieces of graham cracker. National S’mores Day is celebrated annually on August 10. The word s’more is a portmanteau made from the words ‘some’ and ‘more’.
For all reviews of our May/June 2019 USA Trip – click here.