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Author Topic: Yosemite visit  (Read 1986 times)
jetart
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« on: February 15, 2014, 11:33:27 AM »

Hello,  My kids want to see Yosemite this summer.  Have a 40' bus and will be pulling a toad.  I'd prefer to stay in the park.  Anyone have any suggestions on which campground(s) would be best.  Routes to avoid? Any must see (or avoid) attractions?  Will probably plan to spend a week or so in the area.

Thanks!
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skihor
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« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2014, 01:10:29 PM »

Easiest way in would probably be hwy 120. DO NOT come in from Lee Vining or Fresno. The roads throughout the park are scary narrow. Between bad RV drivers and tour buses it's a white knuckle drive at best. Good luck getting a space in the park. They go on sale 5 months in advance and sell out in under 5 minutes. I'm not sure any of the park campgrounds can accomadate a 40' rig, let alone a toad. Be prepared for crowds 4 1/2 million people visit each year. Best to stay outside and travel to the park in the toad. Must see: Glacier Point, the valley, binoculars for seeing the climbers on El Capitan, Yosemite falls, Tanaya lake, Tuolame meadows, Mirror lake is dry but is worth the walk for the view of Half Dome. Olmstead Point near the east entrance, (follow the steps down around to the right and at about 50 yards turn left up the rocks for an incredible view of the valley and Half Dome) little known secret !! Take the mist trail from Happy Isles. short for the view or to the top for a WOW view. The Ansul Adams gallery in the valley. Just inside the SW entrance, (hwy 41 from Fresno), Go see the Giant Seqoias ! There is another grove near Crane Flat. Day hikes from strenuous: Yosemite Falls trail, Glacier Point to Vernal + Nevada falls to Happy Isles, OMG views from either. Happy Isles to the top of Vernal + Nevada falls. Great bike trails, (rentals available) on the valley floor. Swimming pool/showers in Curry Village. Pizza + booze in Curry also. Easy rafting/tubing on the Merced in the valley, (rentals available). During the full moon they have a "tour" from the valley floor to the Wawona tunnel and back. Very cool. The view from the Wawona tunnel, (hwy 41), is incredible.
I would stay as close to the SW entrance as possible, Bass Lake maybe, and drive the Toad.
Above all don't let the crowds get you down and revel in the beauty that is Yosemite...
In the "area" is Seqoia National park. Unbelievably big trees. NOT for a bus. Don't even try. Also Lake Tahoe is very cool. "Campground By The Lake" is right in town across the street from the lake.
Don & Sheila
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skihor
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« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2014, 01:12:18 PM »

PM if you would like to talk more about my favorite place on earth...
Don & Sheila
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Lin
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« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2014, 02:29:08 PM »

Obviously, it is best to go before school lets out or after it starts up again in the fall.  In the summer, Yosemite is extremely crowded.  I heard a ranger on the east side of the park call the situation on the west side "a zoo".  As mentioned, getting a spot in the campground may be a problem.  Possibly there may be some week days available though.

An alternate suggestion I would make is to camp in Lee Vining, which is on Hwy 395 near the road into the park.  Using your toad, you could go into the park for multiple day trips as well as visit Mono Lake, which is right there.  There are also some other great places along 395.
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RJ
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« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2014, 04:32:47 PM »

Easiest way in would probably be hwy 120. DO NOT come in from Lee Vining or Fresno. The roads throughout the park are scary narrow. Between bad RV drivers and tour buses it's a white knuckle drive at best.

Well, I'm going to respectfully disagree with Don, but then again, I drove 35' & 40' tour buses in/out of the park for 10 years, so am very familiar with all three routes (41, 120 & 140) and aren't afraid of any of them.  Just take your time, use the turnouts when available and as needed, but most of all, when in doubt about clearances with oncoming traffic, STOP!  Let them figure out how to get around you.  DO NOT SWERVE to miss them, STOP FIRST!!  If you swerve, chances are good you'll kiss a rock outcropping with a baggage bin door.  If you stop, and they hit you, it's their fault, especially if you're totally on your side of the lane divider line.

Coming in from the Sacramento area, Hiway 120 out of Manteca, thru Groveland, is a nice drive.  However, last summer there was a devastating fire along that route, so if you want to see burned forest, enjoy.  The other thing with 120, once you're in the park and dropping down to the Valley Floor, you've got a nice little narrow two-lane road carved out of a rock wall where one stupid mistake will have you swimming in the Merced River, complete with coach.  No big deal coming out that way, but it can be hazardous to baggage bin doors.  Eastbound out of the park on 120 to Lee Vining over Tioga Pass is often closed due to snow until late June or early July.  Steep grade down the backside of the Sierras as you approach Hiway 395 on 120, use 2nd gear and/or your Jakes all the way.

Hiway 140 from Merced, thru Mariposa, is considered the "All Year" route into the park, as it seldom, if ever, gets closed due to snow.  There was a spot between Mariposa & El Portal where there's a one-lane bridge over the river, but it was controlled by a traffic-activated stop light, so not a problem.  That may be different now, I haven't been over 140 in awhile.  The entrance gate is a little narrow for a coach, just follow the signs, take your time and watch your mirrors for clearance as you slip thru.  Oh, and there's a nice little rock outcropping just past the gate that loves to kiss coaches as they go by!

Coming into the park from the south, Hiway 41 from Fresno thru Oakhurst is the one I travel the most, since I live in Fresburg.  It's an hour from Fresno to the gate, and another hour from the gate to the Valley Floor.  Turning right at the gate takes you to the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees (Redwoods).  You'll pass the historic Wawona Hotel plus the turn-off to go up to Glacier Point.  You also get to go thru the Wawona Tunnel which brings you out at "Oh, My!" point, just as soon as you exit the tunnel.  (It's actually called "Tunnel View" point, but colloquially known as "Oh, My" because of folk's reactions when they first see the Valley emerging from the tunnel.  You won't get this spectacular view coming in the other routes, btw.)  And just as you hit the actual valley floor, the parking lot for Bridal Veil Falls will be on your right.  No bus parking in that lot. . .   Sad

(Side Note:  Hiway 41 is the only route the Park Service allows the newer 45' coaches on to access the park, primarily because it's wider the whole way.)

So much for routing.  As others have suggested, stay in an RV park or campground OUTSIDE the park and use your toad.  On the valley floor, park the toad and ride the YTS shuttle buses.  They're free and you can hop on/hop off at any stop all day long.  (If you qualify for a Golden Eagle Senior Citizen pass you'll save $$ on entrance fees.)

Don't even attempt Yosemite's Valley Floor on a Saturday or Sunday during the summer, unless, of course, you enjoy major traffic jams. . . or you're on a bicycle!

Extra Brownie Points if you can find Fern Falls - the only waterfall in the park that's twice as wide as it is tall!  Grin

As Don said, PM me if you'd like more info, I'm with him on it being a favorite place (especially in Spring, Fall & Winter!)

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2014, 06:38:36 PM »

I stand corrected. As RJ pointed out hwy 140 is the easiest drive in. I've driven our MC5 A on every road in or out. Even up AND down "OLD PRIEST GRADE" That's a road that will seperate the men from the boys. I digress. Most of the roads, when passing opposing traffic, two buses or large RV's, The space between rigs mirrors and pavement edges can be measured in inches. As RJ stated one can navigate everywhere easily in a bus if your confidant/competent. It's the other guy that I don't trust.
Bottom line you're going there to see the park. Also forgot to mention there is guided horse tours up the "John Muir trail".
Don & Sheila
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jetart
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« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2014, 03:12:20 AM »

Thank you for taking the time to respond.  This gives me some great inside info to help us plan our trip.

again, THANK YOU!
Dan
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Ed Hackenbruch
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« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2014, 04:41:41 AM »

 At crowded places like that i prefer to leave the bus somewhere and take the car,....too many people looking around and not paying attention to their driving. Only takes a second to get hit, why take the risk?  We have stayed at Mariposa which was ok, but like the Bass Lake/Oakhurst, Coarsegold area better, more options on where to stay. We did Hiway 49 between 120 and 140 the first time we went to Mariposa,......won't do that again. Had to unhook the jeep and have the wife drive it ahead of me to warn me of oncoming traffic, lots of narrow, tight, sharp corners with limited visibility. Had to take up both lanes to get around some of the corners, luckily there wasn't much traffic but i did end up meeting a tour bus that was coming out.   
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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2014, 06:29:59 AM »

Couple of years ago, was in Mammoth Lakes with the bus. We took a day bus trip to Yosemite. The bus ride was fine-driver was very professional-about 2hrs each way. I hadn't been to Yosemite in years. As mentioned-it was a ZOO! Not my idea of a nature type visit-but it was a big snow year so all water falls were quite spectacular. With the amount of mountain driving involved, I'd stay outside the park and toad in.

My preference is staying at Shaver Lake (in between Yosemite and Sequoia). 50mi east of Fresno. Nice, wide 2 lane drive in on the valley floor-a 8 mile grade-then only 5 miles of true mountain driving. Much less then Yosemite. You stay at Camp Edison right in the lodge pole pines, near Shaver Lake. You have biking, swimming, water skiing, hiking, fishing, boat rental (no lakes in Yosemite). Plus there are giant Sequoias near by. Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2014, 12:10:04 PM »

As Tom C pointed out, The water falls are spectacular in the spring. The high country may be closed into June. Usually all open by Memorial weekend. By August Yosemite Falls is barely a wet spot on the "wall". My preference is the first week of June. The waterfalls are all over in the spring and very impressive. For the best weather/crowds go in mid September. Cooler days mild nights, and literaly 1/4 of the people. Also I believe there's no gas in the valley. There's gas @ Wawona Hotel (hwy 41 entrance), and @ Crane Flat.
Don & Sheila
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« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2014, 04:17:13 PM »

I used to work summers at Yose-a-mite.  Yep....to make your visit of that super cool park something to remember, consider the advice already given.  Now some of my own.  Might be best if you parked your big Bus Conversion OUTSIDE the valley floor and instead consider several, (many) DAY trips with your toad.

No matter how you try to get into the Valley, you will be subjected to VERY NARROW 2 lane roads with 2 foot high ROCK walls instead of fog stripes.  Some of these tight turns are very very narrow.  You might scrape up the sides of your Bus Conversion.  Do not ask how I know this can happen.  Embarrassing.  Aughh!

You can literally spend years touring the entire park.  Consider early Fall as the best season.  This would be AFTER Labour Day.  Perhaps a couple weeks after might be best.  Most of the summer type facilities would still be open, but with only ten percent of the tourists.  The turning leaves are actually gorgeous.

Things shut down as soon as the snow starts to fly.  In the Valley, this time can vary.  Several day trips come to mind.  Tioga Pass (sp?) via Talomomie Meadows, (sp!) comes to mind.  Nearly 10,000 feet.  Glacier Falls is another trip.  Another is a day trip West outside the part along the Merced River route following the old RR.

Many day trips also inside the Valley Floor.  So much to see.  Do some homework first.  Geology is one of my hobbies.  Spelling is not one of them.  You can cut the total trip down to about 2 weeks, but that would be leaving out a whole lot.  You can even stay in Jail in the park....do not ask me how this is possible.  HB of CJ (old coot) Smiley Smiley

You will love this trip....let me tell you.  Do everything you can.  Call first.  Some Valley Floor stuff stops shortly after Labour Day.  Others do not.  Enjoy!! Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2014, 04:30:00 PM »

Late springtime might work out also.  No tourists yet and the many beautiful waterfalls will be in full swing or flow.  About the only disadvantage would be that most of the high country would be non accessible because of the snow.  Tioga Pass sometimes does not open until early July!!!  Glacier Point usually opens a big more early.  But...sometimes the nicer private high end RV parks out side the park are not yet open.  Need to do some homework first.  Hope this helps. HB
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« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2014, 04:35:47 PM »

Of course, if things keep going like they are there may not be any snow.  Anyway, I had thought since you were including your kids, the school season might be out.
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jetart
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« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2014, 06:47:53 PM »

We made the trip - it was great!  We stayed in Crain Flat campground and entered and exited on 120.  We did all the driving down to the valley in the toad.  The waterfalls ran pretty good for a day are two after they received some rain up in the high country.  Fantastic views everywhere.  Not as many people as I expected Smiley

Thanks for all the guidance!

Dan
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2014, 08:13:19 AM »

If you like pictures or paintings of Yosemite that look like you can be right there of course Ancil Adams  and for oils and pencil is Alice Best and her father who are both dead and gone but did wonderful paintings while being there.
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