SEKI from Vegas?

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
Post Reply
User avatar
Topix Newbie
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 7:46 pm
Experience: N/A

SEKI from Vegas?

Post by Killcrop » Fri Feb 29, 2008 7:57 pm

I was thinking about flying into Vegas and driving to Lone Pine for a backpacking trip this August.

Two questions:

1. I know it's going to be hot but is the drive more interesting than San Fran to SEKI or Yosemite?
I've never been to Death Valley so the drive looked cool, or the opposite of cool. :p

2. Where are some good entry points and worthy hikes into SEKI from the East? I'll have about 4 full days on the trail. Maybe 10 miles a day. Looking to take in some sights I haven't seen before.


User avatar
Topix Expert
Posts: 971
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 1:07 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: SEKI from Vegas?

Post by cgundersen » Sat Mar 01, 2008 3:20 pm

Hi Killcrop,
The drive from Vegas is certainly "doable" and probably no worse than the heat and smog in the San Joaquin in August (which can be as bad as LA, and I've got 30 years of LA air in my lungs, so I know bad air). Besides the desert, you get a great panorama of the southern Sierras as you come over the last ridge on 190 (before descending into the Owens Valley).

As for backpacking routes, I'm guessing that others will chime in, but assuming you're planning a point-to-point loop, your timing (for days on trail) is perfect to do the "famous" Rae Lakes loop (and it's famous for good reason, just lots of gorgeous scenery on well-maintained trails). By going over Kearsarge pass and then accessing the (segment of the John Muir) trail that goes over Glen's Pass to Rae Lakes and continuing from there till branching west down toward Cedar Grove in King's Canyon before looping back up Bubbs Creek you'll get a dazzling array of Sierra beauty (obviously, you can do the loop clockwise, too, and that would mean a long stretch of downhill after you clear Kearsarge). If you choose this one, definitely reserve a wilderness permit in advance, as Kearsarge is popular.

Otherwise, there are lots of other East side options, but for the time you have, few will be better than this loop, and most all would entail either a lot more driving or a lot more climbing on some of the daunting trails that leave the floor of the Owens Valley.

Good luck1


User avatar
Topix Regular
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 11:12 am
Experience: N/A
Location: Paso Robles

Re: SEKI from Vegas?

Post by Strider » Sat Mar 01, 2008 6:43 pm

cgundersen wrote:Hi Killcrop,
... no worse than the heat and smog in the San Joaquin in August
"It's not smog, it's 'agricultural haze'!"

Remember how nice the western view of the Sierra was in the fifties?
'Hike long and perspire'

User avatar
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 99
Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2006 8:46 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Clifton Park, New York

Re: SEKI from Vegas?

Post by stevet » Sat Mar 01, 2008 8:48 pm

I've driven from Phoenix through Vegas to SEKI a number of times. The best route is to drive north from Vegas to Beatty then across Death Valley to Olancha. From there north on Hwy365 to your desired trailhead. Strongly suggest hitting Death Valley for sunrise, absolutely gorgeous and you avoid the blistering heat. If you aren't set on spending a night in Vegas, the Burro Inn in Beatty has adequate rooms.

As backpacking routes there are many you can do 4-5 days. If you want minimum crowds try hiking out of Horseshoe or Cottonwood into the Golden Trout Wilderness. You can also press northward from there and exit at Whitney Portal. Via Whitney you won't have the same solitude, but Mt. Whitney is always a worthy goal. Short car shuttle involved.

The Rae Lakes Loops out of Onion Valley was suggested. A not too challenging loop in beautiful country.

Another classic is the N. Lake to S. Lake (trailheads near Bishop). This makes for a reasonably challenging 5 day trek. Lots of high country, meadows, lakes...this route has it all.

User avatar
Topix Regular
Posts: 122
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2007 5:50 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Pasadena area, CA

Re: SEKI from Vegas?

Post by SPeacock » Sun Mar 02, 2008 7:29 am

Every town or wide spot on US-395 from Lone Pine north to Reno has trailheads leading west into the Sierra.

SEKI are backpacker National Parks. Only a few miles of roads on the western side. The rest requires foot power - yours or hired. The east side of the Sierra is the express to 'sweet spots' of the Sierra. The east side is steeper and dryer. The trails are for the most part moderate and many start at well over 9,000' so much of the altitude gain has been taken out of the hike. Depending upon the trail head, you can get to SEKI in one day if you are fit or two if you are enjoying the trip.

If I had the option, I'd leave from Vegas for the east side rather than from SF or other west side spots. Los Angeles is about 5 hours from the east and about 6+ to the west Sierra trail heads.

Entering from the east you do miss all of the major lodges, visitor centers and group camp grounds the west side is famous for and most of the popular images of the park...except for Mt Whitney. Only good tourist drawing point on the east side :)

Plenty of accommodations up and down US-395. Both covered (with flush toilets) and star studded.

Winnet (et al) does a good trail guide to the north and south Sierra. are preferred by many. gets you instant gratification.

Better loops include Rae Lakes(already mentioned) and Onion Valley entry Shepherds Pass exit with short access road hike to thumb ride back up to your car. Lots of ins and outs or lollypops all up and down the east side.

Have fun! You probably really can't go wrong on any trail head you pick.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: davidsheridan, GGC23, Google Adsense [Bot] and 2 guests