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Trip Recommendations
#56734 03/03/20 10:05 AM
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Hello everyone. Thanks for your input and postings. They have helped my trip planning. I got a permit for Aug 12-18th entering Onion Valley and exiting Whitney Portal. I have a permit for 5 but it looks like it will be me(50 yo dude) and my son 16.

Last Summer we did the 11 day ~100 mile hike at Philmont Scouting Ranch. We did not have any issues with AMS and did Pikes Peak and were over 12K feet twice on our Philmont hike. We are east coast folks (North Carolina) and will acclimate the best we can.

So I plan to fly into Vegas and rent a car(least expensive). Flight in ~ Aug 8 and out Aug 22nd (not booked yet). Most likely do a car service from the portal and drop us off at Onion Valley.

Few Questions/Recommendations:

- Coming from Vegas we will go straight through Death Valley. Other than car sight seeing this time of the year anything worth doing considering the heat? We will be leaving NC 90+ degree days with 90+ percent humidity so no thanks to sweating my @ss off.

- We will do Yosemite Valley and try to Climb Half Dome. Camp a couple of nights in the area. Any recommended sights, trails or campsites?

- We most definitely would like to see some giant Sequoia trees so any recommended hike/loop/etc?

- We would like to camp on top of Whitney if the weather is favorable. Will the ranger at Crabtree give us a weather forecast?

Of course any recommendations on where to eat or neat places to stay and get cleaned up would be appreciated. We plan to mostly camp for our trip. Our first trip to Sierras so its all new to us. Thanks in advance for any recommendations!

Re: Trip Recommendations
WeekendPack #56735 03/04/20 06:27 AM
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On your way through Death Valley, make the short detour to Badwater. A trip through Death Valley is not complete without stopping there. it's worth the detour.

Re: Trip Recommendations
Delkan1066 #56736 03/04/20 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted By: Delkan1066
On your way through Death Valley, make the short detour to Badwater. A trip through Death Valley is not complete without stopping there. it's worth the detour.


And you also get to boast that you went from the lowest point in the lower 48 to the highest point. smile

Re: Trip Recommendations
WeekendPack #56737 03/04/20 08:53 AM
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You will drive past the sand dunes near Stovepipe Wells. Do stop. If you have an hour or two, check out Mosaic Canyon just west of Stovepipe. A short drive on a well maintained dirt road takes you to the canyon mouth. The walls look like polished marble in places. DV will be hot and very dry. Drink lots of water and sports drinks. Dehydration is a real threat here.

Know that climbing Half Dome requires a permit from the park service. See the Yosemite website for details. The granite in between the cables is a bit slick from thousands of pairs of boots. Consider wearing a climbing harness and a short length of rope to clip into the cables. Make a fall physically impossible. Bring a good pair of gloves.

Drive Tioga Pass Road 25.5 miles east of Crane Flat to the Porcupine Creek trailhead for North Dome. It's an 8.8 mile round trip hike to a view point where you can see the face of Half Dome across the valley floor. Spectacular.

There are several groves of big trees in Yosemite. The Mariposa Grove will be very crowded. Parking will be at a premium and you will likely have to park at a distance and be shuttled in. Parking at the shuttle point can also get full. The Tuolumne and Merced Groves are a bit less busy, but have smaller parking areas and no shuttles.

Good luck!

Last edited by RichardK; 03/04/20 08:58 AM.
Re: Trip Recommendations
RichardK #56738 03/04/20 09:45 AM
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I don't recall the dirt road being well-maintained but Mosaic Canyon close to Stovepipe Wells is a cool little hike that I'd recommend.

I agree, if you're going through and will eventually summit Whitney, it's cool to be 282 feet below sea level the same week. Go to Badwater and walk around a bit.

Re: Trip Recommendations
WeekendPack #56741 03/04/20 11:38 AM
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A stop at Zabriskie Point is worth the time/effort. From the parking to the overlook is a short walk. For even better views, just leaving the parking lot, there is a path/trail leading off to the right. Follow it and it will turn left (after 100 yards or so), and take you to a trail that presents magnificent views of the "bad lands". I think this trail hooks up with the Golden Canyon Interpretive Trail. However, I do not recommend hiking that distance. Just go as far as you like (temperature allows), and turn around when you reach your limit.

Sorry to tell you, but Yosemite Park is Waaaayyyyyyy over crowded in August. It can take as long as 6 hours to simply enter and exit the park, and there are few options to exit this road. If you do get your permit for half dome, enter the park very early. Normally there is ample parking at the trail head lot (about one mile short of the start of the trail). I "guess" the traffic will not be too bad at 6:00 AM. Hwy 120, to Tioga Pass will also be busy, but nothing like the valley proper. RichardK's recommendation of the hike to North Dome is a good one.
If you do not have the time for that hike another alternative is hiking to Mt. Watkins. This is about 6 miles round trip, and can be done in 2.5/3 hours. This is a bit farther from Half Dome, but still presents a magnificent view. There is not "trail" to Mt. Watkins, but there is a "path", that is easy to follow, and overlaps the Snow Creek Trail at the start, but after 3/4 of a mile veers left, and takes a more direct path to Mt. Watkins.
The route (including gps download) can be viewed here:
https://my.viewranger.com/route/details/MjU5OTYyNA==?ref=37.808046524547194|-119.55554092074273|12

Last edited by John Sims; 03/04/20 03:50 PM.
Re: Trip Recommendations
WeekendPack #56751 03/05/20 10:23 AM
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The short dirt road to Mosaic Canyon can be driven by any passenger car. Other roads like the Racetrack Valley Road or the Saline Valley Road need high clearance and truck tough tires (BFG AT's) at a minimum.

We were in Yosemite last Labor Day weekend. The first day (Friday) we rode the bus into the valley. The second day (Saturday) we drove to the North Dome trailhead. There was no line at the Arch Rock entrance either day. There were no lines in the valley on the first day. At a glance, the parking lots had plenty of cars, but we weren't looking for empty spaces. Obviously, conditions can change significantly depending on how many show up on a given day. The key is to drive into the park early, early.

Last edited by RichardK; 03/05/20 10:35 AM.
Re: Trip Recommendations
WeekendPack #56752 03/06/20 12:12 PM
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Happy Friday. Thanks for all your recommendations!!!!!! All look doable. We have 14 days so plenty of time to explore.

I was/am 50/50 on Yellowstone due to the crowds. You see half dome on the TV so much that more than anything I wanted my kid to remember this trip each time he sees half dome. I did Grand Canyon bottom hike (full moon) in college and think back to that trip every time I see see it(including how ill prepared I was). North Dome hike looks like a good option as well.

I will post on here when if I do indeed end up cancelling the three passes out of Whitney Portal on Aug 18th. I get they show back up at a random time.

Have a great weekend and happy travels.

Re: Trip Recommendations
WeekendPack #56753 03/07/20 12:32 AM
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WeekendPack, glad you got some good recommendations here. I'm a bit wary on your visiting Death Valley in August. Best times are late fall through mid-spring seasons. If I was going through DV in August, I would leave Las Vegas before 4 AM, so I could make it into DV about dawn. (The views with the early morning shadows would be outstanding at that time, too!) See what you can, and then get out of there by noon. You won't want to step out of your air-conditioned car when it's 120F outside.

There is a daily lottery for Half Dome, so you should get into that if you don't already have permits. You put in 36 hours before the hike and see the results next day if you get a permit or not. If you don't get a slot, you can always climb Clouds Rest from the Lake Tenaya trail head, and look down on Half Dome -- it's quite a spectacular view.

You should be working on overnight accommodations already for your stay around Yosemite.


Re: Trip Recommendations
Steve C #56756 03/13/20 04:49 PM
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Weekendpack, You will pass Father Crowley Overlook as you are about to leave Death Valley NP. It is also called star wars canyon. If you pull over and are lucky you may see fighter jets fly into the canyon and shoot out into the valley. We were lucky enough to watch this two years ago it was amazing and totally unexpected. Stopped twice since then but not as lucky. Probably too far out of your way but Great Basin National Park and the Ruby Mountains have beautiful hikes and other than weekends are seldom crowded.

Re: Trip Recommendations
tarheel1 #56757 03/13/20 04:55 PM
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I forgot to add that I Totally agree with Steve C. Death valley will be too hot to hike when you are there. My wife and I did the Golden Canyon Gower Gulch loop last week and it was already pretty warm. A walk up to Zabriske Point would not be a problem.


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