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Advice needed for yosemite

Discussion in 'TUG Lounge' started by vlapinta, Sep 24, 2019.

  1. vlapinta

    vlapinta TUG Member

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    My husband and I are planning a trip to Lake Tahoe in August, and wanted to drive and stay in Yosemite for a few days before flying back to NJ. Can anyone give me any advise on where to stay? Our budget is $200-$250 per night. We want to to be close, so we are not driving and driving... We prefer not to stay in a camping cabin, unless it has a private bathroom.
    We have never stayed in this area so any help is welcome so we can plan our trip.
     
  2. Snazzylass

    Snazzylass Guest

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    Have you looked at the lodges in the park? We stayed at the Wawona which is the older of the two. We found it utterly charming!

    The dining room is wonderful! They packed lunches for us. Once we arrived, we parked our car and never started it again until we left. There's a shuttle in the park. We had a wonderful, wonderful time!
     
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  3. WalnutBaron

    WalnutBaron TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Here's another big thumbs up for the Wawona Hotel. Unfortunately, since you're traveling during peak time, it will be well above your budget. In fact, any lodging very close to Yosemite other than a campground will exceed your budget. I recommend you check out the various options in the town of Groveland, which is about 20 miles west of the Highway 120 entrance to Yosemite. There are a number of lodging options there that will fit your budget.
     
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  4. Beachclubmum

    Beachclubmum Guest

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    Just returned from a trip there a couple of weeks ago. Some thoughts:

    REI has a wonderful app which rates trails and sights by categories. Download specific parts ahead of time as there is limited cell service in the park itself.

    I was surprised at how crowded and busy everything was..almost Disney worthy at times.

    My favorite excursion was the hike through the Sequoia trees.

    My least favorite part was driving....lots of shear drops and no guardrails.

    If you can, bring your own cooler of food...we did and were so glad. Made eating much easier with the crowds everywhere plus we were able to enjoy the healthy foods we normally eat.

    If you want to stop into Yosemite Village, go early as the parking fills up. It's the best place to buy a t-shirt or whatever. Take the short walk to the deli to find the cleanest least crowded bathrooms there (they one behind the market was a horrible).

    No advice on where to stay. Rooms were very limited (we planned last minute due to not knowing our exact schedule ahead of time). We almost booked a rare available room that had a shared bathroom situation for $150 and in hindsight wish we had just done it. Instead we drove to a small town nearby and commuted back in which was fine, but I think staying on-site would have been more interesting.
     
  5. presley

    presley TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    You can find places to stay in your price range in Oakhurst. That was a town that I did like next to Yosemite. If you aren't staying inside the park, expect to spend a lot of time driving. There's even a lot of driving inside the park if you plan to see all of the main spots.
     
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  6. klpca

    klpca TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    We have been to Yosemite quite a few times over the years. If there is one place to relax your budget, it's Yosemite. My first choice would be Yosemite Valley Lodge. It's not fancy (but I believe that they remodeled a few years ago). The location is perfect - right in Yosemite Valley ("the Valley"). You can park your car and use the shuttle to get around. There are openings in August, although it looks like it is filling up fast, and the rates are about $275 per night. This is 100% where I would stay. https://www.travelyosemite.com/lodging/yosemite-valley-lodge/ My second choice would be to stay at a vacation home in Yosemite West, about a half hour from the valley. I have used this property manager before https://www.scenicwonders.com/yosem...MI0bChrIvx5AIVRR6tBh2KcQOrEAAYAyAAEgLDkvD_BwE, but I am sure that there are listings on AirBnB and HomeAway. There is a small condo development in Yosemite West (inside the park - so no going through the gate every day) and those will be in your price range. Personally, I think that any other areas (El Portal, Oakhurst, Wawona, etc) are too far away for such a short trip. If it were me, I would bite the bullet and pay whatever you have to to stay in the Valley.

    August could be pretty warm (80's - 90's maybe?), and none of the lodging that I am aware of is air conditioned. It just is what it is. Yosemite West is at 6000' elevation vs the Valley at about 4000'. But it gets nice and cool in the evening in both places. We usually camp, but have stayed in both the Lodge and in some of the homes in Yosemite West when it's too cold to camp.

    And while I agree that Wawona is delightful (and the historic hotel there is so charming) it's a 50 min drive into the Valley. For a two - three day visit, I would do whatever I could to minimize the time spent in the car.
     
  7. turkel

    turkel TUG Member

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    If your going over a weekend please have realistic expectations. It will be hot and crowded and you will be shocked by the dense smog. We went on a Saturday in April. It’s a beautiful place but it took us 2 hrs to drive 6 miles within the park. Walking would have been faster. The crowds are insane. Finding parking was difficult. Glad I went won’t return.
     
  8. klpca

    klpca TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Did you have smog/crowds in April? We haven't gone in April in probably 10 years +/- and it wasn't crowded when we went. We've had rain and snow in April. In fact we ruined our Easy-up because we had it over the fire so that we could sit around the fire without getting wet. It seemed like a clever idea until the next time that we tried to use it. It reeked of campfire and had a million tiny holes in it. :p

    I just hope that April isn't as bad as the summer months now.

    We are actively searching for less crowded places for camping now. Yosemite campsites are ridiculously difficult to get now.
     
  9. turkel

    turkel TUG Member

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    It was very nice weather wise. But I was shocked how crowded it was. I actually thought it was exceedingly dangerous. We saw an ambulance while we were in all the traffic. They had no way of getting through due to traffic in the area we were at. Eventually they got to a bus lane that was empty and got moving. As a nurse all I could think was if it was life threatening the passenger would be dead by the time they got out.

    I don’t like crowds, for me the crowds far out weighed the beauty although I am glad I got to see it. The smog was from all the cars bumper to bumper in a deep valley with no wind. Sad that just like Disney there is no limit to the vast number of people they let enter the park.
     
  10. klpca

    klpca TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Crazy.
     
  11. turkel

    turkel TUG Member

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    I mentioned this when we were out to dinner husbands captain commented “that’s what helicopters are for”.
     
  12. TheTimeTraveler

    TheTimeTraveler TUG Member

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    Does anyone know if one can catch a bus tour of Yosemite from outside the entrance somewhere? It seems to me that if someone could get in that way then the traffic and crowds would be far easier. Not to mention you can take your eyes off the road while in a bus and really enjoy the views!




    .
     
  13. klpca

    klpca TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Here is the info (at work, can't spend much time here) https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/publictransportation.htm

    YARTS is the local bus. I think there's a charge. There is also a Yosemite Valley Shuttle (free) that operates within the valley itself. I have used it extensively but have been there at times when you can't even get on because the crowds are so thick. Best way around the valley (I'm being completely honest here) is a bike, followed by your feet. Once you get past the store (#10 on the map) access is less crowded. Btw, it looks like the shuttle from Wawona is not operating any more.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2019
  14. klpca

    klpca TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Btw, in all of our visits we had never done a Valley Floor Tour but when our daughter got married in Yosemite Valley in 2016, we did the tour on the morning of the wedding as a "wedding activity" (while the bride & groom went rock climbing, lol). It was actually a nice tour and with your limited time, I would recommend it. https://www.travelyosemite.com/things-to-do/guided-bus-tours/
     
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  15. Beachclubmum

    Beachclubmum Guest

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    As we entered the park we noticed a helicopter flying....a red one with a basket lowered from a rope. Sadly (we found out later), it was removing the body of the female climber who fell that day.
     
  16. RNCollins

    RNCollins TUG Lifetime Member

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  17. vlapinta

    vlapinta TUG Member

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    Thanks for all your help. Based on all your input, and the fact that we want to be in our car as little as possible, we booked YVL for 2 nights
     
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  18. klpca

    klpca TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    I think that with the time of year, that will work nicely for you. What do you like to do? Hiking? museums (there's a nice little history museum near the visitors center)? For a short first time visit I do think that the Valley Floor tour is great, and Glacier Point is another really nice view. We have always driven or hiked (butt-kicker) but it looks like you can take some kind of a bus https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/glacierpoint.htm . The Mist Trail is fairly short and high on value, but if it's hot I would pass (my personal preference - I just don't like hiking in the heat). But if you are staying in the valley, you could get an early start - 7-ish, and beat the crowds and the heat. https://www.yosemitehikes.com/yosemite-valley/mist-trail/mist-trail.htm And if you are in great shape, there's always Half Dome - but you now need to get a permit. When we did it we left around 6:30 am and got to the shoulder around 1:00pm. This is a long hike, 8-ish miles each way, nearly 5,000' elevation gain, so it is not easy and will kill a whole day. I wouldn't suggest it unless it's on your bucket list and you are in pretty darn good shape.

    Mirror Lake is another fairly easy hike/walk but it's mostly a seasonal lake so it will probably be dry in August - I'd pass. You can also rent single speed bikes and ride around the valley on the bike trails. This would be fun - I love riding my bike in the valley more than anything else. You can also take the shuttle (stop E4 according to the info? I don't understand what stop this is) and check out climbers on El Capitan using the spotting scopes set up and staffed by local climbers. I found this page with some info: http://www.climbingyosemite.com/ask-a-climber/ We had fun talking to the climbers who staff this and checking out the climbers on El Capitan.

    Gosh - now I have a hankering to get up to Yosemite!
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2019
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  19. klpca

    klpca TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    One more thought, since you will be staying in the valley, if you get up early you will have the place to yourself. Get up soon after sunrise and drive the loop around the valley. When heading west from the lodge, there is a place to park on the left (south) side of the road just before it loops back into the valley (or exits to leave - don't go that way!). I believe that it is called Valley View. This is where many of the iconic images are taken - boulders in the Merced in the foreground, El Capitan in the background. It is just stunning. If you get there early - before the sun comes over the valley walls - you can see why they call part of El Capitan the "Dawn Wall". It is worth every second of lost sleep to see it! Here's one (sorry, just a phone picture but you'll get the idea).
    20160917_075339 (1).jpg
     
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  20. vlapinta

    vlapinta TUG Member

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    Thank you, you have given me some great suggestions. My husband (67) and myself (61) are in decent shape, but not in shape to do long grueling hikes, nor do we want to. I also have a hard time hiking in heat. That being said I think we are looking more for the "flavor" of Yosemite.
     
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  21. klpca

    klpca TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Then I'll give you our winter itinerary (love that the trails are closed so I have an excuse, lol). Go to the dining room at the Ahwahnee for breakfast. Enjoy the view and the food. For "hiking" do the valley floor trail. You can do as much or as little as you want. It's pretty flat, very nice. I like the atmosphere of the south side of the trail the most, but I'd choose whatever side is shaded. Again, do that in the morning. There are some meadows with boardwalks going across them. Take a meandering walk through the meadows and enjoy the beauty of the valley. Avoid: the store and everything in that area. It's a giant bottleneck. If you want to see a different part of the park you can drive up to Tuolumne Meadows. (The driving is not for the faint of heart though) but it will be cooler with no crowds, but it could take you 2 hours. I'm just throwing it out there in case it appeals to you. It's a completely different environment, and it wouldn't be *my* first choice, but the rest of my family would disagree with me :) .
     

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