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!st trip - 9 year old and 11 year old

Travelling to and visiting Yosemite National Park. How to get there, what to see or do, and other Yosemite trip advice.

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!st trip - 9 year old and 11 year old

Postby aiannarelli » Wed Jan 27, 2016 12:43 pm

Hello - We are planning our first trip to Yosemite. We expect to be in the are about 4 days and 3 days in Sequoia. We are looking for general advice to make the most of the trip along with some day hikes that are age appropriate. Should we pay for any of the guided hikes or ranger activities? How much are we missing out by not camping during the hikes? We are looking at between school letting out and mid July for the trip.

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Re: !st trip - 9 year old and 11 year old

Postby Phil » Thu Jan 28, 2016 12:29 pm

Hey Anthony,

There's so much to do and see that, with a little homework and creativity, you should be able to set your own itinerary, without structured tours or programs. 9 and 11 are old enough to do most everything, IMO, from all but the most strenuous day hikes to even some backpacking. You'll want to see Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, Glacier Point...a day each with hiking and exploring as the central theme.

My first trip out with my kids, then 7 and 9, was 2 nights backpacking. I thought it out as thoroughly as possible in advance, and they worked for it at times, but they had a blast and now look forward to helping plan every aspect of their summer trips. I'm biased, but I think you would be missing a lot by not getting out there off the beaten path with them. 4 million people visit Yosemite per year...only 1% of them take out wilderness permits and travel into the backcountry. Not only is the majority of the park an amazingly beautiful wilderness that can never be fully appreciated by limiting yourselves to what the masses see, being out there is an exceptional experience that makes those people that become part of it in some way, exceptional themselves. Something to consider I suppose.
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Re: !st trip - 9 year old and 11 year old

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:05 am

One of the problems with kids while backpacking in Yosemite ("camping out while hiking" is I'm guessing what we call backpacking, anyway) is the bear can -- you need them, absolutely must have them, as the bears will steal your food without them. All smelly items including diaper lotions, powders, etc have to go in them. The bears in Yosemite are very likely to tear into tents to get candy wrappers, lotions, anything that smells. All trash and anything that smells of food or really anything at all needs to go in the canisters, which you carry, or the bear lockers - big metal boxes in some backcountry camp areas.

Little kids in particular can be messy and require lots of supervision -- it might be easier for you to stay in car campgrounds, in the valley, and day hike than to try taking the kids backpacking just yet. Experienced backpackers can and do go out multiple days with their kids, but unless you have that experience already, managing kids on top of figuring out backpacking might take a lot of fun out of it for you, especially in an area of the Sierra where the bears requires strict and specific food storage regulations.

ETA: for some reason I misread the title - now that I have my glasses I see that you do not have very young children. But it can still be a challenge to take kids backpacking, unless you do something short like May Lake/Polly Domes. If they aren't frequent hikers, kids can turn whiny and cranky fast on backpacking trips. Lyell Canyon might be a good option - four miles out before you can camp, but it's relatively flat walking. Or Sardine Lakes from the Mono Pass trailhead, out and back.
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Re: !st trip - 9 year old and 11 year old

Postby hotrod4x5 » Fri Feb 05, 2016 12:37 pm

I have taken kids in that age range to Yosemite many times. If this is your first ever visit to the park, I highly recommend the Valley Floor Tour. Try to do that when you first arrive to help you get oriented to the valley. It is given in an open air tram with very good narration from the driver. Make reservations as they fill up in summer.

Once that is done there are lots of things to do with kids. Can you bring bikes? If not, rent them. Can you bring some rafts? If not, rent them. A trick I have done when bringing my own raft is to rent their life jackets for a few dollars, as this gets you a free ride on the return bus at the end of the rafting area.

Drive to Glacier point and look around. Do the short hike to the top of Sentinal dome for a sense of accomplishment and great views. An easy hike for pretty much anyone. A MUST hike is the Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Fall. If you are in good shape, continue on to Nevada, but be aware, this is a long day for most hikers.

Do not miss take the short trails to the bottoms of Bridal Veil and Yosemite Falls. If you are VERY ambitious, hike to the top of Yosemite Falls, but be warned, it is a hard hike and gets hot in summer.

One hike I did with kids that age was the Panorama trail. It is an epic journey. Leave your car at Glacier Point and hike down. Along the way you pass 3 waterfalls and lots of beautiful scenery including views of the back of Half Dome. You'll need to get a ride back to GP in the morning to get your car, there is a bus you can take. If you do it that way, its cheaper and you can start earlier than all of you riding the bus and hiking down.

One day should be spent in the high country at Toulemne Meadows. Hike to the top of Pothole Dome (easy) and Lembert Dome (moderate). If they are renting horses, take a guided ride. If you can, stay till dark and join one of the ranger led star activities where you lie on the granite under Lembert Dome and the ranger points out constellations.

There is just so much to do, I could go on and on. Most of all, have fun!
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