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Yosemite area trip planning for summer 2009...ideas please

NTHC

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We are planning for our summer vacation and have decided to do Northern California this year. We typically do 12-14 days so we will have plenty of time for the kids to really enjoy the area. Son will be 19 and daughter 12 when we make the trip so we need ideas for a wide range of interests.

Any ideas from you guys would be awesome. Timeshare stays aren't a must on this trip but if they fit in for a portion of the trip that is fine as well.

Thanks in advance,
Cindy
 

DeniseM

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Hi Cindy - how far away from Yosemite do you want to range? Do you want to stay there for the whole time?

The nearest TS is at Bass Lake, but for the real Yosemite Experience, I think you need to stay IN the park. Plus, it's nearly 50 mi. from Bass Lake to the valley floor (center of Yosemite.) - MAP

There is a group of privately owned vacation homes inside the park - all sizes and prices. We've stayed there and liked it. - The Redwoods in Yosemite

Summer accommodations in Yosemite book up months in advance, so you should reserve your accommodations ASAP.
 
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WalnutBaron

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If you're spending 12-14 days and have never been to Northern California before, I'd suggest something like the following itinerary:

* 3 days in San Francisco. It's one of the most beautiful and eclectic cities in North America and there is a ton of things to do. My favorites include the ferry trip and tour of Alcatraz, riding the Cable Cars (including a visit to the Cable Car museum), having a crab cocktail at Fisherman's Wharf, visiting the Conservatory in Golden Gate Park, walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, and touring among the ancient redwoods at Muir Woods (actually about a 20-minute drive north of San Francisco)

* 1 day in Napa or Sonoma Valley. Great wineries and spectacular scenery. Some of the wineries have winery tours which even your kids will find interesting.

* 2 days on the Monterey Peninsula. Be sure to visit the spectacular Monterey Aquarium, have lunch in Pacific Grove, drive down one of the most beautiful highways in the world--the Pacific Coast Highway--to Big Sur, and spend time walking in the quaint and lovely hamlet of Carmel.

* If your focal point for your trip is Yosemite, spending a week there will be wonderful. It is one of the great awe-inspiring sites in all of the American West. Be sure to plan day hikes to the top of Nevada and Vernal Falls, drive to Glacier Point, have lunch in the beautiful dining room of the Ahwahnee Hotel, and go fishing on the Merced River. Be aware that the Yosemite Valley can be quite crowded in the summer (in fact, I can say with certainty that it WILL be quite crowded in the summer), so plan also to spend time away from the Valley by visiting the Mariposa Grove where you'll see some of the biggest and oldest trees in the world. You can also stay at the Wawona Hotel, which is on the western perimeter of the park--away from the crowds--and at a much cheaper price than other options in the Valley.

Have a great time! I am sure your vacation will be unforgettable.
 

NTHC

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Denise,
I figured that staying in the park would be our best bet so I am glad you confirmed that. I actually had in mind flying into San Francisco, spending a few days and then going north through Napa and then over to Lake Tahoe. Maybe spend a few days there and then down to the park.

Do you think this is doable in the two weeks? Do you have ideas of things along the route? Son wants to do Alcatraz and our daughter wants to ride a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. Otherwise we are pretty open at this point. None of us have been to Yosemite so we aren't sure how much time to spend in the park.

Thanks,
Cindy
 

DeniseM

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Denise,
I figured that staying in the park would be our best bet so I am glad you confirmed that. I actually had in mind flying into San Francisco, spending a few days and then going north through Napa and then over to Lake Tahoe. Maybe spend a few days there and then down to the park.

Do you think this is doable in the two weeks? Do you have ideas of things along the route? Son wants to do Alcatraz and our daughter wants to ride a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. Otherwise we are pretty open at this point. None of us have been to Yosemite so we aren't sure how much time to spend in the park.

Thanks,
Cindy
I would skip Napa. I don't think it's very interesting for kids - plus you will have some fairly long drives to Tahoe and Yosemite

I would do 4-5 days in SF, 4-5 in Tahoe, and 4-5 in Yosemite. Avoid leaving or returning to SF during commute times.

Here is a link to Yosemite National Park.

Maps-

San Francisco to Tahoe

Tahoe to Yosemite - note that this route may not be open in June due to the pass still being closed with snow.

Yosemite to Tahoe
 
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chap7

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Travel channel had a show on Yosemite today. If you check the guide you may be able to catch it at another time. The shows usually air a few times. I TIVOed it but haven't had a chance to watch it yet.
 

NTHC

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Thanks to all,
I am going to go ahead and book this week because it does look like space is pretty tight for late July.

I will let you know how it goes.

Cindy
 

Zib

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I second Denise's suggestion, but here's another possible option. S.F. first, then Yosemite and come back over beautiful Tioga pass to #395 and on to LakeTahoe last. Then see if you can get your flight OUT of Sacramento!! If you can do that you can avoid the awful traffic in S. F. I know there is rush hour traffic through Sacramento but not nearly as much as the bay area. It might be worth a few extra dollars to book your flight that way if it's not too much more for that flight. You actually could book to and from Sacramento but you'd have to drive about 2 hours to S.F. for the first few days of your trip. Sacramento has a good airport. We've flown out of there quite a few times. It used to be more expensive to fly out of there but as they get bigger, they are getting more price competitive. It's about a 2 1/2 drive from Tahoe to Sacramento. Great trip! Have fun!
 

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If you stay in the Yosemite area for any length of time, you might consider a trip voer Tioga Pass, but go south on 395 to the Mammoth Mountain area. Spend a day or so there. You could do a nice hike to Devil's Postpile. Afterwards you could then drive north on 395 to Reno and Tahoe.

Mammoth is about 30 minutes south on 395 from Tioga Pass while Tahoe is 2 hours north on 395.

So much to see, so little time.

Personally, I'd do a full on driving tour. SF, Yosemite, Mammoth, Tahoe, Lake Almanor, Lassen Volcanic Park, SF or Sac Town to leave.

Whatever you do will be fun. All places mentioned are pretty neat to visit.

Al
 

Liz Wolf-Spada

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We recommend the train trip on an logging route on the way up to Yosemite from Bass Lake. It was an old steam train. Really interesting and kids loved it.
Liz
 

travelnut

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experience the real Yosemite

Yosemite Valley is a must for the waterfalls and views. Also the views from the end of the Glacier Point road and the tunnel, as you approach the valley from the south. Be sure to attend the Ranger campfires. A complete list of nature-related programs is in the newspaper handed out as you enter the park.

In the valley, you can stay in tent cabins at Curry Village, or sort of lean-to affairs called Housekeeping Cabins, right on the Merced River. Remember to leave valuables at home. It's against the law to leave food and even scented items such as chapstick and soap in your car because they invite bear break-ins. Bear boxes to store these items are becoming more available. Bring a padlock just in case.

For the real Yosemite experience, inquire ASAP about the possibility of staying in the tent cabins at White Wolf or the lodge at Tuolumne Meadows. There are restaurants at both places. Get your name on a waiting list, there are always cancellations and you might get lucky. If this fails, try the Tioga Lodge outside the park en route to 395 (recommended previously). The tiny restaurant there is very good, even if you don't stay there. Also the restaurant at the gas station at the intersection of the Tioga Pass Road and 395 gets good reviews by foodies. Take a day trip to Saddlebag Lake atop the pass. Fishing can be good. Great pie in the little resaturant there! You can walk around, or take a boat taxi one or both ways to the far side. Enjoy spring all over again in the high alpine meadows!

Saddle trips are available. In the Valley, you can rent bikes or maybe take a small raft down the Merced River (depending on flow) from Curry Village.
 

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tuolumne meadows is a good place to base camp, its about 2/3rds thru the park and provides excellent access to the sierra towns of bridgeport and mammoth as we as the june lake loop. you can go just about anywhere in the park from here. one draw back is that it gets busy during the summer and especially on weekends. then again the whole park is busy on weekends. might i suggest going thru the park and going up to bridgeport. the reservoir is big enough to have a spot to yourself and if it gets windy (and it will) you can go to twin lakes or robinson creek, it has public campgrounds along twin lakes road and mono village is at the end. go to the www's below and see for yourself.
 

luvsvacation22

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Denise,
I figured that staying in the park would be our best bet so I am glad you confirmed that. I actually had in mind flying into San Francisco, spending a few days and then going north through Napa and then over to Lake Tahoe. Maybe spend a few days there and then down to the park.

Do you think this is doable in the two weeks? Do you have ideas of things along the route? Son wants to do Alcatraz and our daughter wants to ride a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. Otherwise we are pretty open at this point. None of us have been to Yosemite so we aren't sure how much time to spend in the park.

Thanks,
Cindy
You need to buy your Alcatraz tickets in advance.

http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/
http://www.nps.gov/alca/planyourvisit/feesandreservations.htm

http://www.yosemitepark.com/Reservations.aspx
 
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