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Yellowstone to Yosemite in 5 days

Eastbourne, United...
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Yellowstone to Yosemite in 5 days

People have suggested the best place for this post is road trips forum

We are visiting Yellowstone and Yosemite next July and have booked accommodation. We have 5 clear days in between and are puzzling how best to use them.

Option 1, use two days to visit Glacier National Park. Head through Cascades to the Pacific Coast, scurry down towards Yosemite.

Option 2, Miss out Glacier NP, head for Pacific Coast, take our time meandering South

Option 3, take two days between Yellowstone and Nappa Valley spend a couple of days in wine region then head for Yosemite

Open to other suggestions! Our priority is scenery, scenery and scenery. Already visited San Francisco (great city, but don't want to go back on this trip). We will have a National Parks Pass and want to make best use of it.

We will have seen Utah national parks earlier in the trip. Don't mind long days driving, particularly as in July it won't get dark until late. Ideal day is to leave around 9am after breakfast, stop off at 2 or 3 places en route, arrive at overnight stop at 8 or 9pm. Above all want to maximise scenery. Happy to stop at turnoff and walk 1 or 2 hours to see spectacular sight, but not able to do half or full days hike.

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1. Re: Yellowstone to Yosemite in 5 days

I can't believe you could even do Option 1 in five days and really see anything.

Option 2 is possible I guess, but you're pushing it. You would see Columbia Gorge, Oregon coast and the redwoods of northern California. Problem again is only 5 days for sections of road I'd want to spend twice the amount of time on.

Option 3 would be the shortest, and, IMO, the least scenic.

Another option would be to cut off at Ontario, Oregon, and head to Bend via Burns. Very nice mountain scenery south of Bend. Crater Lake is absolutely spectacular. You could then go by Mount Shasta, visit Lassen Volcanic National Park, and see Lake Tahoe. You could go into Yosemite from the east via Tioga Pass. To me, the high country of Yosemite is as nice as the more crowded valley area. There would be a lot of driving with this route, but less than Options 1 & 2. It would be more scenic than Option 3.

This begs another question. Are you going to visit Grand Teton National Park while at Yellowstone? If not, you need to spend a little time there since it will fulfill your wish to "maximise scenery". Of course, now you would have perhaps 3 days to get to Yosemite.

Eastbourne, United...
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2. Re: Yellowstone to Yosemite in 5 days

Hi, thanks for the post. Going to Jackson Hole and Grand Teton before Yellowstone. Been looking at possible routes on googlemaps which give an idea of distance and time, but I need local knowledge to know quality of scenery, areas to explore off the main roads and so on.

Uden, The...
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3. Re: Yellowstone to Yosemite in 5 days

You'll see a lot of green both in Yellowstone and in Yosemite. Maybe drive the deserts between them:

Day 1: From Yellowstone to Craters of the Moon Id and to Twin Falls after that.

Day 2: Drive from Twin Falls via Wendover (Bonneville Speedway) to Great Basin NP .

Day 3: Great Basin NP and to Ely.

Day 4: Loneliest Rd of America Us50 to Lake Tahoe

Day 5: Lake Tahoe via Bodie and Mono Lake into Yosemite.

If you don't want to spend that long for Great Basin/Ely you easily can add a day in Lake Tahoe.

Us50 is often overlooked. It's a fantastic Basin and Range desert drive.


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4. Re: Yellowstone to Yosemite in 5 days

How long have you planned for YNP and GTNP? 3 and 2 days minimum, respectively, IMO. And Yosemite? 2 days minimum, more if a hiker.

With or without kids? It matters on such long drives and seeing great places.

The drive from YNP to, say, Seattle or Portland, takes an overnight.

The drive from West Yellowstone to, and south along, the very scenic OR coast through the Redwoods toward Yosemite can take at least 34 hours straight driving; add numerous stops for food and more, plus viewing scenery. Figure about five days minimum to smell the roses.

I strongly suggest that, after some more research, you pick locations and en route destinations you'd most like to see and plot them on Google Maps to get an idea of driving distance and times. Show us your draft itinerary, with options, and we can better advise.

Here are some of my favorites...

Yellowstone NP: Things You Need to Know


Oregon, Central/Bend Area



Crater Lake National Park


Oregon Coast


Redwoods National Park



Avenue of the Giants between Eureka and SF

Edited: 30 December 2011, 00:11
Eastbourne, United...
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5. Re: Yellowstone to Yosemite in 5 days

Thank you for these posts. We are a couple whose kids have long since grown up. This will be our third road trip to USA, each time we have started with an unrealistic plan, taken advice about cutting out some places and ended up with great trips. You have given me lot's more research to do!

Lewes, United...
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6. Re: Yellowstone to Yosemite in 5 days

Hi Paul

You have been given some great suggestions, and realistically better alternatives than any of your own three options. Back in August/Sept this year, we visited both of the parks you mention, but we did it in over 5 weeks of travel in the USA. Given the amount of time available to you, I'd personally chose Tet's suggested route. You will see some fascinating scenery and much greater contrasts of scenery from those 2 awesome national parks. My own personal comment on Tet's route might be to skip the Craters of the Moon. We visited there in Sept and found it the most disappointing element of our trip (but we had seen some better example of similar terrain on a completely different trip earlier in the year), and you might find it fascinating. Great Basin and loneliest road areas are very much off the beaten track, and mostly unknown, yet surprisingly interesting to drive through - you really do get that feel of the big, wide outdoors that the USA is famous for, as if you're starring in your own movie intro!!! Approaching Yosemite from Tioga Pass rather than the CA central coast region is a much more spectacular approach, too.

If you want more info regarding the whole of your trip, please feel free to list out your whole itinerary and I'm sure you get lots of opinions on all aspects of your plans.

Have a great trip


Wednesbury, UK
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7. Re: Yellowstone to Yosemite in 5 days

Hi Paul.

I'm with Tet and SWT'S, the difference in the landscapes is dramatic, Great Basin is like having a NP to yourself and if you have not seen volcanic landscapes before then Craters of the Moon is well worth a visit, think that's the one with the cinder cone to hike up and the lava tubes?

Eastbourne, United...
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8. Re: Yellowstone to Yosemite in 5 days


I realise that trying to include Glacier NP or West Coast was way too much (being from UK I'm used to being able to drive most places in a single day)

I've pretty much decided to go with this idea. What I need to do now is work on the detail such as places to stop or detours to take along the way.

Your help is much appreciated

9. Re: Yellowstone to Yosemite in 5 days

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