Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020

By Ali Karim
This post is part of a series called Yosemite & Death Valley 2020

After a very nice time in Yosemite, we started heading towards Death Valley National Park, by crossing the continental divide at Tioga Pass and then to Mono Lake; the Tioga Road actually went through Yosemite National Park at its northern boundary. Some scenes along the way

Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, As before, beautiful scenery
As before, beautiful scenery
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Snowcapped mountains and pine forests
Snowcapped mountains and pine forests
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Interesting flora and fauna
Interesting flora and fauna
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Plenty of wildflowers by the roadside
Plenty of wildflowers by the roadside
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Landscape changed to smooth rock; due to glacial erosion over time
Landscape changed to smooth rock; due to glacial erosion over time
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, More monoliths
More huge monoliths
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Trees growing out of the rock crevices
Trees growing out of the rock crevices
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Interesting landscape
Interesting landscape
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Surreal landscape sculped by glaciers
Surreal landscape sculped by glaciers

Tuolumne Meadows

Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Alpine lakes
Alpine lakes
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Picnic stop at an alpine lake
Picnic stop at an alpine lake
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Tioga Pass entrance/exit gate of Yosemite National Park
Tioga Pass entrance/exit gate of Yosemite National Park

We were out of Yosemite National Park and we were on the other side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. From here (10,000ft) it was all downhill 🙂 and the weather got warmer.

Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Tioga Road snaking downwards half way up the mountainsides
Tioga Road snaking downwards half way up the mountainside

Panoramic view of Tioga Road and landscape

Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Arrived at Mono Lake
Arrived at Mono Lake

Mono lake is a basin/depression lake, which means here is no exit for the water from the lake; other than evaporation. So over time, this lake has become saltier than the sea

Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, About Mono lake
About Mono lake
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, View of the “tufa towers” at the edges of the lake
View of the “tufa towers” at the edges of the lake

Mono lake is fed by glacial meltwater from the Sierra Nevada mountains and from rainwaters in the surrounding hills that soak into the ground and flow underground (dissolving Calcium and other minerals) and then rise up at the basin to form fresh water springs into the existing lake; so feeding it. The calcium bonds to carbonates in the lake to form calcium carbonate towers called tufa’s. Never knew such a place existed in the US

Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Views from the visitor center which was closed
Views from the visitor center which was closed
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Tufa towers explained
Tufa towers explained
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Saltier than the sea
Saltier than the sea
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Tufa towers in Mono lake
Tufa towers in Mono lake
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Close up of tufa towers built up over hundreds of years at the edge of the lake
Close up of tufa towers built up over hundreds of years at the edge of the lake
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Fragility of the ecosystem explained
Fragility of the ecosystem explained

Mono Lake video

After this very interesting stop, we drove south on highway 395 towards Death Valley National Park. Plan was to drive to Mammoth Lakes town and stay overnight before continuing to Death Valley. We arrived at Mammoth Lake (at the edge of the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area) and searched online for decent hotels; we found multiple hotels but they were all closed due to Covid restrictions in the town/municipality. Again, so much for us assuming we would easily find accommodations wherever we went 🙁 ; poor planning on our part.

We researched for hotels further south along Hwy 395 along our way to Death Valley and booked online a Best Western hotel in a town called Bishop, about 25 miles south; one of the few places that were open 🙂 but expensive 🙁 . So we drove to Bishop, spent the night there, and next day, after a nice breakfast at Eric Shat’s Bakery, an old school type European bakery; we continued driving south on 395, 136 and 190 towards Death Valley. We also decided to book hotels in advance as we did not want to be stuck again. Plan was to drive through Death Valley to its eastern end and stay at Tecopa Hot Springs & visit a Date farm there, before driving back into Death Valley National Park and then exploring Death Valley from there.

Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, View of Mt Whitney & rural life along hwy 395
View of Mt Whitney & rural life along hwy 395

We turned off from Hwy 395 into 136 at Lone Pine and the road became very straight over flat undulating desert landscape with zero population. We saw signs indicating that these were areas of military aircraft flight training for low level flying. As we drove along, we did see fighter jets flying quite low to the ground over the desert around us. We kept driving along the straight road, and there was hardly any traffic in either direction. Suddenly, there was an extremely load noise right above us and a fighter jet from behind passed over us, at very low altitude, following the deserted road. The very sudden, very loud noise right above us scared the living daylights out of us; I had not seen this fighter jet in my rear view mirror. I wonder if the pilot was actually doing a training maneuver or if he/she was simply playing with us.

Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Entrance to Death Valley National Park
Entrance to Death Valley National Park

We were in the Mohave desert in which Death Valley National Park is located along with several other national areas (Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave National Preserve and Lake Mead National Recreational Area). This area is huge and mostly deserted, and classified as a rain-shadow desert. It has elevations from 11,000ft (Telescope Peak) to -282 ft (Yes, minus 282ft at Badwater Basin). Some scenes along the way

Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Joshua Trees grows at higher elevations of Mojave desert
Joshua Trees grows at higher elevations of Mojave desert
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Stunning landscapes with elevation changes
Stunning landscapes with elevation changes
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Interesting sign with warnings and gave notice about the low level military flight training
Interesting sign with warnings and gave notice about the low level military flight training
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Pictures don’t do justice to the beauty here
Pictures don’t do justice to the beauty here

Panoramic views

Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Interesting desert flora
Interesting desert flora
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Amazingly beautiful
Amazingly beautiful
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Sand dunes in Death Valley
Sand dunes in Death Valley
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Better be careful
Better be careful
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Stark color contrasts
Stark color contrasts
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Amazing colors in beautiful raw landscape
Amazing colors in beautiful raw landscape

We drove through Death Valley National Park exiting at its eastern boundary, and turned south on Hwy 127 to Shoshone where we stopped for late lunch at the Crowbar Saloon in Shoshone and were served a surprisingly tasty meal of tacos and salad

Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Crowbar Café and Saloon
Crowbar Café and Saloon
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Great late lunch at the Crowbar Café
Great late lunch at the Crowbar Café

We then drove to the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort where we stayed the night and partook of the natural hot springs baths they have, which were very soothing after a long and eventful drive.

China Ranch and Death Valley proper next.

Trip so far

Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Yosemite portion
Yosemite portion
Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020, Yosemite to Tecopa via Death Valley
Yosemite to Tecopa via Death Valley
This entry was posted in North America, USA, Yosemite & Death Valley

22 thoughts on “Yosemite to Death Valley, June 2020

  • Mahamud Jinnah August 2, 2022 at 4:58 pm Reply

    Did not know places like these existed in USA. Very interesting to read about mono lake and the tufas.
    Thanks for sharing-feels like i was there.
    What are you up to now?
    A friend of mine passed away recently. A great reminder to enjoy life while we have it; just as you do.

    • Ali Karim August 2, 2022 at 5:06 pm Reply

      Thanks Mahamud for the feedback.
      Yes, there are many interesting places in the US that we just don’t know about or don’t hear about.
      We tend to discover many such places accidentally; and then share them via this blog.
      Agree with you about the reminder to enjoy life while we still can.
      Thanks

  • MHERAJALI JUMABHAGAT August 2, 2022 at 4:57 pm Reply

    Karim,
    Beautiful. Both of you enjoy & have fun. But also be careful.
    GOD BLESS YOU BOTH.
    AAMEEN
    SEMIN & Mheraj.

    • Ali Karim August 2, 2022 at 5:08 pm Reply

      Thanks Mehraj & Semin; appreciate the feedback; glad you enjoyed the blogpost
      And thanks for the prayers

  • Mansoor Ladha August 2, 2022 at 11:29 am Reply

    Enjoying reading about your travels. Great pictures. Keep it up.

    • Ali Karim August 2, 2022 at 4:41 pm Reply

      Thanks Mansoor; hope all is well with you and the family

  • Muslim Harji August 2, 2022 at 9:02 am Reply

    Thanks, Ali,
    Stunning Photography…Wow.
    Love to Dilshad
    Love, Light & Cheers

    • Ali Karim August 2, 2022 at 4:38 pm Reply

      Thanks Muslim; glad you enjoyed

  • Iqbal Talib July 28, 2022 at 10:28 pm Reply

    Excellent as always. Enjoyed the Blog.

    • Ali Karim July 29, 2022 at 8:25 am Reply

      Thanks so much for the feedback Iqbal; glad you enjoyed 🙂

  • Amir & Roshan July 21, 2022 at 4:54 pm Reply

    Thanks for Sharing. Enjoyed this blog

    • Ali Karim July 22, 2022 at 9:41 am Reply

      So glad you enjoyed the blog; thanks for the feedback

  • Azizeh Juma July 21, 2022 at 8:08 am Reply

    Beautiful pictures and enjoyed the description!

    • Ali Karim July 21, 2022 at 4:40 pm Reply

      Thanks so much Azizeh. Glad you enjoyed the blogs

  • Aziz July 21, 2022 at 6:26 am Reply

    Ali Karim, looks like you are absolutely enjoying life and traveling well.
    Thanks for all the good pics, youtube and all the details that go along with it.
    Absolutely enjoying and following your travels. Stay healthy.

    • Ali Karim July 21, 2022 at 4:40 pm Reply

      Hi Aziz, thanks so much for the feedback; really appreciate it.
      So glad you enjoy the travels with us.
      We are indeed blessed.

  • Lin July 16, 2022 at 11:18 am Reply

    Really beautiful places ,thanks for sharing with us.

    • Ali Karim July 19, 2022 at 6:24 pm Reply

      Thanks for the feedback Lin; glad you enjoyed the journey with us

  • Sujith July 5, 2022 at 11:59 pm Reply

    Hi Ali! Howdy!:)
    Beautiful variety in landscapes , nice spread, have to checkout Yosemite sometime, thanks for sharing.

    • Ali Karim July 6, 2022 at 12:11 am Reply

      Hi Sujith; you will definitely enjoy the very beautiful scenery and hiking.
      Thanks for the feedback

  • ABDULMAJID MORANI June 30, 2022 at 6:53 pm Reply

    As always, enjoyed the Tour

    • Ali Karim July 2, 2022 at 6:24 pm Reply

      Thanks Abdulmajid; glad you are enjoying 🙂

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