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Help! with day planning in July

PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 8:23 am
by USATrip
We will be staying at Yosemite View Lodge and have the a full Thursday (tioga pass) and Friday for Yosemite. Hope you are (Dan?) are able to help.

Part of the trip:
Thursday 21st of July: Lee Vining to Yosemite (El Portal)
Friday 22nd of July: Yosemite (El Portal)
Saturday 23nd of July: Yosemite (El Portal) to San Francisco

I read that Yosemite is extremely busy in the weekends (Valley Floor). Would you recommend a different schedule in this case? I am planning of using the Thursday all-day for the Tioga Pass, a small hike to Tuolumne Grove and picknick at Olmsted or Tenaya Lake. Or would you recommend that (as it is outside the weekend) to visit Glacier Point also this day?

Are you able to provide us also with some day planning? I would like to see: some falls, Maripose Grove, G?lacier Point, Tunnel View. We are with older kids (17) and prefer max. hikes of 4-5KM (level: easy to moderate). Do I miss something here in this list of things to see?

Thursday: Toulumne Grove hike, Olmsted / Tenaya (and Glacier Point?)
Friday: [......]
Saturday: [......]

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Re: Help! with day planning in July

PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 5:46 pm
by dan
I don't think you have time to visit Mariposa Grove--it's way on the southern end of the park. Visit Tuolumne Grove instead. It's a 1 mile downhill walk from the Tioga Road (1 way). There aren't as many Sequoia trees as in Mariposa Grove, but they are still giant and you get to see them along the way. ... trail.html

Picnic at Tenaya Lake--it's a beautiful lake and there are multiple areas you can picnic. Olmsted Point has a nice view of Half Dome, but it's windy and mostly a parking lot.

There's multiple short hikes around Tuolumne. See the Soda Springs and Parsons Lodge. Climb to the top of Lembert Dome (next to the Tioga Road). Stop at the Visitor Center at the west end of Tuolumne Meadows.

Friday would be a good day to see Yosemite. There's a Valley Floor Tour led by Rangers on an open-air tour bus (2 hours). ... rTour.aspx
It's a popular tour--I think reserving a few days in advance will guarantee the times you want.

The crowded parts of the Valley are around the stores and restaurants. Walk to the base of Yosemite Falls. There's a short but steep trail to Vernal Falls (and on to Nevada Falls if you have time). There's a bike path that goes in a circle around Yosemite Valley--you can rent bikes at Curry Village and Yosemite Lodge and go where you want.

You could see Glacier Point on Saturday--it's not in the Valley.

Re: Help! with day planning in July

PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 2:20 am
by Ljrack

Sorry for my late reply here, I almost forgot about it. I don't visit this forum on a daily basis.... I actually had a long, long reply going a few days ago, but I spent so much time composing it, my session timed out and somehow I lost all the text (not happy about that...) Anyway....

I think Dan provided some excellent suggestions to start with. Spending the morning/day in the Tuolomne meadows area, the Lembert Dome would be a nice little scamper. There's also the popular May Lakes hike. I personally don't have a lot of experience in hiking that area, but definitely spending a good portion of one of your days along the Tioga Pass road is recommended. Of course this year with some record snowfall, I'm guessing you will still see snow up there, although perhaps not around the meadows.

Back to the beginning. As I'm sure you might know, Death Valley in late July is going to be scorching. Some alternatives might be the Bristle Cones and White Mountains out of Big Pine I believe it is. At 11,000 feet you might be able to escape the heat. There's also the Alabama Hills, Devils Postpile in Mammoth and if you'd like a fairly easy 3-4 mile hike, try Little Lakes Valley. All this stuff you can Google of course for more info.

You mentioned staying in Lee Vining. Great spot to stay over. Bodie would be a definite visit as it's only about 45min from Lee Vining. Hopefully you have plans on visiting Mono Lake as well. Either a dawn or dusk visit would be the best. It's quite an experience walking among the tufa in the dark. And a sunrise at the South Tufa can be quite an experience if you get a great sky. You might consider the afternoon visit to Bodie and then do an early sunrise at Mono Lake before heading up the Tioga Pass in to Yosemite.

So, for the first day, Thursday, think about the sunrise at Mono Lake. You could still be at Tuolomne meadows early morning for some hiking and lunch around the meadows or one of the suggested hikes. After lunch and right along the way would be the Tuolomne Grove of Giant Sequoia. Might be the best bang for the buck as far as time goes since the Mariposa Grove is a bit remote relative to the Valley. Now depending on timing, you might consider making sure you've alerted the hotel to a late check in and not bother going there until after dark. Take the opportunity to hit the Valley on Thursday, that is if you haven't spent the entire day up in the higher country. Since you're only there two short nights, spend thursday evening around the valley and check out either Valley View or Tunnel View for sunset. There's a turn around in the Valley loop called the El Capitan crossover so you don't have to go all the way in to the valley to head back towards El Portal.

Friday, right back to the valley. I would also recommend the open air bus tour as your first thing Friday morning. Now it may not be something you or your party are interested, but for those who have never visited and perhaps may never return, you get a lot of sights AND information about the park in those 2 short hours. You can then spend the rest of the time concentrating on short hikes or other features you want to see more closely. Then again, lots of folks don't care to sit on a bus like this and become little tourist lemmings..... but for many it may be worth it. If you don't do that, make sure you do either the short walk to the Lower Yosemite Falls in the morning, Or some alternative easy walks would be: Mirror Lake or Happy Isles. A little more aggressive would be the full Yosemite Falls hike or the Vernal Falls and Mist trail hike out of Happy Isles.

That takes care of the morning pretty quickly. Now I try to avoid the main areas of YOsemite Village especially during this busy time, but if you're interested, you can visit the Ansel Adam's Gallery (glorified gift shop with a heavy lean towards photography and some other artwork,) or the Visitor's center, Indian stuff, etc. You can grab lunch at Degnan's Deli. Better yet though, pack a lunch which you can get from the store at Yosemite View Lodge or grab a sandwich from the deli at Yosemite Village and then make your way to El Capitan Meadow for a picnic. Relax, have lunch and watch the rock climbers on that big rock called El Capitan. You can't miss the meadow. A long meadow with cars and buses all pulled over on the left side of the road just a couple of miles from Yosemite Lodge.

So, by mid-late afternoon I would start heading out. As you make your way out of the Valley, you can return back to the valley by following the signs to return, or Highway 41 to Fresno. Make a stop at Bridal Veil falls. Late in the afternoon you can catch a rainbow at the base of the falls. I'm pretty sure that water will still be flowing nicely in July considering the record snowfall they had this year. From the Bridal Veil parking lot, head up the hill towards Fresno on Hw 41. Just a mile or so up the hill is the famous Tunnel View. Now if you hadn't been there the night before, then this is most definitely a spot to stop at. One of the most beautiful views in the world.

Now depending on how much time you've spent in the valley, I would highly recommend you spend your second sunset/evening at Glacier point. It's probably only about a 30 min drive or so from Tunnel View to Glacier Point. Time it to be up there in time for sunset which will be about 8:15pm. And if you're really ambitious, I'd recommend staying around till dark. I believe they still may have daily ranger talks about the night sky from Glacier Point. The moon will not be out so it should be nice and dark for great star watching. If you're up there early enough, there are short hikes to Sentinel dome and/or Taft Point also along the Glacier Point road.

Saturday morning, if you want to do something you couldn't get to the first two days, you have plenty of time to make an early morning run back to the valley before heading towards San Francisco. Go for it. The drive to SF will take you about 4 hours from the hotel in El Portal. Take the Highway 140 west that follows the Merced River Canyon. Not sure how picturesque it will be in July as most of the greenery will have browned by then. But's the river and canyon walls are fascinating themselves if you're in to geology or anything like that. I much prefer that drive over the alternate 120 (although 120 is about 10-15 miles shorter heading to SF.

As a side note, you can white-water raft anywhere... I'm not sure I'd spend a day doing that. If it's hot and you're interested in taking a dip in the Merced River. Check out Cathedral beach in the Valley. It's on the Southside drive heading towards Yosemite village. Check the maps and signs on the way in.

One tip I would mention. The valley loop without traffic may take about 30 min or so to drive all the way around. With traffic, bear and wildlife log jams and general crowding may easily take an hour or more. so as you're driving in for the first time and subsequent times, take advantage of each of the pullouts. There are some major ones that are obvious, but also some smaller ones. The smaller ones are places where you can actually get out of your car, walk for 2 minutes and get away from people. Even in the summer. But just be aware and ready to pull over so you can get out of the car and enjoy the views. Drive slow (the speed limit is 25mph in most places anyway, 35 max in the Valley) and you'll be sure not to miss much.

Even if you stay til after lunch time on Saturday, you'll still have plenty of time to reach San Fran before dark. Fisherman's wharf, the cable cars, all the usual stuff. Alcatraz is a great tour if you have the time. Head over the GG Bridge to the Marin Headlands for a terrific view of the city. Make sure you go on both sides of highway 101 for views.

Well, enough for now. Feel free to ask any more questions. Best of luck with your planning and I wish you a great, fun, and safe trip to the States. Welcome!


Re: Help! with day planning in July

PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 4:35 am
by USATrip
Lon, Dan: thank you extremely much! I just printed out your comments and let them read by the family, the first comment was: "wow, this is amazing: those American people seem to be very kind and helpful". So great that we now have a schedule for Yosemite. Thank you so much.

The Mist / Vernal Trail might be a bit to strenous for parents as AARP members, but the hike to the Falls would be great. Also the Valley Floor tour might be interesting as it encompasses a short period with a short drive. Is it worth the $ 25,- / person *4 = $ 100,- in your opinion? And you noted that sunset at Glacier Point/Tunnel View is great; may I ask if it is recommended to drive back in dark to El Portal?

Re: Help! with day planning in July

PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 10:54 am
by Ljrack

You're most certainly welcome. But don't generalizing about those "American People," we're not all the same you know.... :mrgreen: :wink: :evil:

Since you've got some AARPs in your party (sorry Mum!) then the Mist and Upper Yosemite Falls are out, but certainly Lower Yosemite and Bridal Veil falls are in. Lwr Yosemite does have a bit of a slope, but 15 min is about all you need at a slow pace. Bridal Veil, less than 10min. The walk from parking to the overlook at Glacier Point is mostly flat and about 10min or Seniors. Driving back in the dark shouldn't be a problem. The road is of course windy and mountainous, but a good road and you should have no trouble with signs and directions. It's not like a freeway maze in Los Angeles.... ;-) Be cautious though, stick to speed limits and be mindful of deer and bear at night, especially around dusk.

Personally, I've never been on the bus tour. All I'm saying is that for the short time you are in Yosemite, going on a guided tour squeezes the most sights and info in a short little package. Is it worth the money? I'm sure that all depends on the value folks place on things like this. The advantages are: For the seniors, obviously less walking, a more relaxed mode. for both young and old, more information about the park, geology, culture, history, the Indians, etc. etc. Nice to know stuff. Also, you don't have to be concerned about pullouts, and parking. Cons: you're committed for the 2 hours, it's expensive and confines you to where the bus goes. Of course there is only 1 loop road around the valley so you can drive where the bus goes as well. You get to sit in a green open air bus and feel like tourists at a zoo or a tram ride at Disneyland. One other note about the bus tour. I would recommend getting on the first tour in the morning that Friday, or maybe even Saturday if that works out. You're more likely to get parking that's closer to the bus loading right there at Yosemite Village. Later in the day you'll be parking in the overflow which is a good 10min walk. Also, once you're done with the tour you can get your lunch or see the visitor's center, AA gallery before it gets really crowded, then get out of there to enjoy the less crowded areas of the park. BTW, once leaving Yosemite Village proper, it's just less than a mile to Yosemite Lodge where you will park for the walk to Lower Yosemite falls.

This may or may not be something you're interested in, but you might want to consider a pair of two-way radios. This applies to your entire trip as well. If the teenagers want to go on their own hike for example or if you get separated as a group, these radios can be handy. Cell phone coverage in Yosemite is okay, is best in certain spots and some carriers are better than others. Just a thought. Here's an example

Well, I hope you have a great trip. Feel free to ask any last minute questions too.


Re: Help! with day planning in July

PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 11:58 pm
by dan
First, thanks Lon for the great suggestions and giving more detail on suggestions I offered. Yes the Vernal Trail and especially Mist trail is a little too much for some.

Sunset at Tunnel View/Inspiration Point is great. Glacier Point is better for sunrise--and few are up there that early. No problem driving back in the dark to El Portal--it's not that long of a drive anyway from Yosemite Valley.

As far as the tour, yes I think it's worth the $25. You'll see a large part of the valley and get some ideas for what to see in more detail. But, it's certainly reasonable not to want to do that. At least buy Steve Medley's Guidebook to Yosemite National Park or similar guidebook and read it in advance.