A road trip from Flagstaff to Yosemite National Park will take at least a day of driving and is one that will pass through the states of Arizona, Nevada, and California. You will begin your journey in Flagstaff, which is a popular access point for the Grand Canyon National Park. You will end your trip at another national park, Yosemite National Park. These two parks are among the most iconic and well-known parks in the U.S., and it will be a great opportunity to see them both.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the few places on earth where you will find the Joshua tree, which is only found naturally in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts. This yucca plant of the agave species is not actually a tree and resembles a cross between a pine tree and a saguaro cactus. The 790,636-acre park offers visitors the opportunity to see fine examples of the Joshua tree, hike the many trails, and climb the rock formations while posing for a unique photograph. Key View is a scenic point that provides views of the Salton Sea, the San Andreas fault, Palm Springs, and Coachella Valley.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is the hottest, driest, and largest park in the national park system. However, its main claim to fame is that it is the park with the lowest elevation in the U.S., recorded in Badland Basin at -282 feet below sea level. Most of the park is desert, but you will also be treated to high snow-covered peaks, fields of wildflowers after rain, and oases with tiny fish. The Telescope Peak Trail leads to the 11,049-foot Telescope Peak, the highest elevation in Death Valley National Park.
Red Rock Canyon State Park
Red Rock Canyon State Park is located at the conjunction of the Sierra Nevada and the El Paso mountains in California and is near Death Valley National Park. The fluted cliffs and canyons are vividly colored and look like rivers of red molten rock. People over the years have frequented this area, including the Kawaiisu Indians, who left petroglyphs in the El Paso sections. Later visitors have included pioneers, miners, and filmmakers. There are multi-use trails, and off-road vehicles can use all of the dirt roads.
Valley of Fire State Park
The sight of bright red sandstone outcrops greets all who visit Valley of Fire State Park, a National Natural Landmark, and the oldest state park in Nevada. This 46,000-acre park contains petrified trees and petroglyphs, and the visitor center has exhibits on the history, geology, and ecology of these lands and their previous inhabitants. There are numerous hiking trails, many of which lead to these prehistorical sites. The park hosts an annual World Atlatl Association competition in the spring, wherein the participants demonstrate their spear-throwing skills.
Homolovi State Park
Homolovi State Park is an archeological research site that explores the history of the Ancestral Puebloans and Hopi peoples during their late migration period of the 13th and 14th centuries. There are more than 300 archeological sites in the park, including many large 14th-century pueblos. You can view these sites via one of the five hiking trails in the park, and you can also visit the Winslow Homolovi Observatory and spend the evening looking at the night sky.
The Grand Canyon's South Rim entrance is only 60 miles north of the route on your Flagstaff to Yosemite National Park road trip, and it is a one-of-a-kind natural wonder that shouldn't be missed. The Grand Canyon is the largest canyon in the U.S. It measures 277 feet long, 6000 feet deep at its deepest point, and 18 miles at its widest. The canyon is managed separately by the National Park Service in the Grand Canyon National Park, which contains the South Rim and the North Rim. The West Rim is managed by the Hualapai Nation, and the Havasupai Canyon area is managed by the Havasupai Nation. There are numerous trails along the canyon rims, in the interiors, and throughout the bottom of the canyon. Visitors can also experience the canyon by taking a mule train into the canyon, riding a helicopter, and rafting on the Colorado River. There are several campgrounds inside the canyon, and Phantom Ranch, located at the canyon's bottom near the South Rim, has a bunkhouse and a cafe.
Hoover Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam that is located on the Colorado River and lies across the state borders of Arizona and Nevada in the Black Canyon. At the time of construction, it was the largest dam in the world. Today, the dam is listed as a National Historic Landmark and as one of America's Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders. It provides enough water to irrigate 2 million acres and enough electricity for 1.3 million homes. You can take various tours, but be sure to take a tour that includes the newest addition to the dam, the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. This bridge is 1,905 feet long and runs between the highways that connect Nevada and Arizona. You will have great views of Hoover Dam and the Black Canyon as seen from the bridge.
Lowell Observatory is located in Flagstaff and was opened in 1894, making it one of the oldest observatories in the U.S. It is a National Historic Landmark and has been home to many historical events over the years. Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory, and the observatory was used to map out the moon for the NASA Apollo space program in the early 1960s. The Mars Hill campus in Flagstaff has numerous telescopes, including the Clark Refractor, the six telescopes on the Giovale Open Deck Observatory, the Dyer Telescope, and the Pluto Discovery Telescope. There are various types of tours and exhibits, and visitors can also experience star-gazing separately with the available telescopes. In 2024, the observatory is slated to open a new Astronomy Discovery Center, which will be much larger than the current visitor center and feature an "open planetarium" that will display current images from Flagstaff's skies.
Kingman is located on historic Route 66 in Arizona. If you stop and take a break from your road trip from Flagstaff to Yosemite National Park in Kingman, you can spend time at the Route 66 Museum learning about the influence this highway had on migrations to California. Other interesting sites include the Mohave Museum of History and Arts, the Locomotive Park, which has a 1928 steam engine on display, and the Kingman Railroad Museum, which details Kingman's past as a 20th-century railway hub. Kingsman is about a third of the way on your Flagstaff to Yosemite RV road trip, and you may want to make use of a dump station there for your RV. The Canyon Trail RV Park is in nearby Boulder City, southeast of Las Vegas, and is a highly rated Good Sam campground that has lots of amenities.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the only large city on your route, and you will probably want to add this famous entertainment destination to your road trip itinerary from Flagstaff to Yosemite National Park. The Strip is a good place to start, and don't forget to take a photo of the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign. Some interesting attractions include the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, the SkyJump at the Stratosphere Tower, and the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas Tea Lounge. Outside The Strip, you can tour the Neon Museum, which has collections of Las Vegas hotel and casino signs, the Mob Museum, which is the official National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, and the National Atomic Testing Museum. The Hitchin' Post RV Park & Motel is a huge RV park near Las Vegas that is easy to access from Interstate 15 and has a restaurant and a pool. You will have plenty of opportunities to find a convenient dump station in the Las Vegas area.
Lee Vining, California
A gateway to Yosemite National Park and Mono Lake, Lee Vining is a small town located at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains by Tioga Pass. There are trading posts, a market, restaurants, service stations, hotels, two visitor centers, and a nearby airport. The Upside-Down House, built by the silent film actress Nellie Bly O'Bryan, is an intriguing landmark in the city. Lee Vining may be your last stop before arriving at Yosemite National Park, and you may want to use a dump station while here. Flag City RV Resort is an hour's drive south of Sacramento and offers amenities like a pool, hot tub, showers, clubhouse, and dog run.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Flagstaff to Yosemite National Park, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Flagstaff or Yosemite National Park.