This one is out of my area of expertise, so I'm hoping someone can help you. It does mean you can exit the park over the Tioga Pass and see a bit of the high country and Tuolumne Meadows before you leave, which is well worth-while.
Also, it seems to me that wherever you are east of the Sierras in July, you're going to hit some pretty intense triple digit temps!
How much time do you have, how scenic do you want your route to be--and how creative do you want to get?
Death Valley is a wonderful place--not to be missed. But if you really don't feel up to it, when you come out of Tioga Pass on US 395, continue on CA SR 120. You'll be on 395 southbound for a bit, then turn east toward Benton. Follow the directions for US 6, cross into Nevada.
US 6 will eventually take you to Ely NV. About 25 miles past Ely is a junction called Major's, where you will choose between Great Basin National Park and US 93 southbound. If you have a few hours to spare, do see the park; it is very beautiful and uncrowded, and it won't get as hot as Death Valley.
On 93, past the town of Pioche, turn east on NV SR 319. It'll turn into UT SR 56, which will get you to either Cedar City or Enterprise.
I have traveled all of these roads and can vouch that they are safe, scenic, and suitable for any kind of car.
This route is 30-40 miles longer than going through Death Valley. It's higher, so it will be cooler, but heat is relative; this IS, after all, desert. You won't totally avoid hot weather, especially along Hwy 93. Also, this is a very desolate, sparesely traveled route in comparison to 395 and between DV, Las Vegas, and St. George. Even in summer. In rural Nevada, place names on the map are few and far betweern, and every place name isn't necessarily a town with tourist services. Be sure you have water for you and your vehicle, and do not pass up any gas stations.
Another alternative, if you don't need a lot of scenery but have to see Las Vegas:
When you get to Tonopah NV on US 6, turn south onto US 95. This is the main north-south road in NV that connect I-80 to Las Vegas. From Las Vegas, I-15 goes to St. George. You can even choose a parallel scenic route along part of Lake Mead that won't add much time or distance.
I think this route is a lot less interesting than the others I mentioned, and again, the difference is only about 50 miles or so. The weather along 95 CAN get pretty toasty, but still not as warm as Death Valley. Not much in North America is ever as warm as Death Valley :)
Sorry, I just reread this and realized I kinda left you hanging here!
"On 93, past the town of Pioche, turn east on NV SR 319. It'll turn into UT SR 56, which will get you to either Cedar City or Enterprise."
Cedar City is on I-15, the main north-south highway in western UT. If you stay on 56, then turn south, you'll hit St. George.
BUT it is shorter and more direct (and a lot nicer) to turn south onto SR 18, which goes through the little towns of Enterprise and Veyo, to St. George.
Wow thanks for such detailed information with roads and all that. I will have to look these up on the map and check them out.
We still might go the DV route just to say we drove thru it but that's about all the time we will have and not much time to explore and see thing.. Thought if we left Yosemite early in the morning we could get there mid day and see a few things but then again it will be very toasty by mid day and might make it uncomfortable to site see..
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