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10th anniversary trip to San Fran/Carmel and Yosemite

10th anniversary trip to San Fran/Carmel and Yosemite

Old Feb 5th, 2007, 02:26 PM
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10th anniversary trip to San Fran/Carmel and Yosemite

Hi everyone - taking a 10th anniversary trip in July and have planned the following: Fly into San Fran - stay for two days/nights lodging is booked. Will probably head up to Napa for some wine tours. Then head down to Carmel for two nights lodging is booked. Now here is the tricky part - we're dying to go to Yosemite for two days, but are not sure where to stay. Ahwahnee is lovely, but out of budget and although we are outdoorsy/camping people we simply won't have camping supplies with us as we'll be flying in from Maryland.

Could anyone comment on what they thought of the lodging in Yosemite? Curry Village sounds good in one review and terrible the next. We'd camp if we could if that would help anyone with their response. How about Housekeeping Camp? Thanks for any advice you can give. It looks like I should try to make a reservation soon. Thanks again.
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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 02:47 PM
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Hi doogs - sounds like a terrific trip. And Yosemite is really great. I hope it works out for you to go. Unfortunately since you are planning to go during the high season, your lodging options are limited since things get pretty full. I would take what I could get and then if it wasn't my first choice, hope for a cancellation and snag that.

Here is my take on the lodging options.

Curry Village - the tent cabins here are adaquate, but privacy and space are basically non-existent. You've got tent cabins on platforms without much space in between. The central bathrooms and showers are fine - reasonably convinient, pretty clean, plenty of hot water. You can rent bedding and that is really all the equipment you need beyond a flashlight. Curry also has some hardsided cabins and motel-like rooms, but I don't know what they are like.

Houskeeping Camp - the biggest thing the Housekeeping Camp has going for it is that it is on the river, which is terrific. There is also more room than in Curry Village and each cabin comes with a picnic table and fire ring, also an outdoor area with a canvas roof. The tent cabins are still rather spartan, but they do the job. Like with Curry, the central bath and shower facilities are fine and you can rent bedding. I think you can also rent camp kits if you want to cook out. Wood and supplies are sold at the camp store. In Yosemite Village, there is a bigger store with more food and supplies.

Yosemite Lodge - the location is very central and convinient. The rooms are basic but fine. They have their own bathrooms, which is a plus.

You've already looked up the Awhaunee, which is great, although beyond my budget, so I have never stayed there.

Just outside the Arch Rock entrance to the park is El Portal - the Yosemite View Lodge is there, right on the river. It is only about a 20 minute drive (without traffic) into the valley. You can also take the YARTS bus in.

Just outside the south entrance is the Tenaya Lodge, which is really nice, the biggest drawback is the drive into the valley - which takes about 45 minutes without traffic. The benefit of being over there is that you are closer to the Mariposa grove and the road to Glacier Point.

So what makes the most sense for you depends on what you are looking for.
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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 03:09 PM
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As J_Correa mentions, the Yosemite Lodge is basic, but satisfactory to my husband and me. There is a shuttle that runs from the Lodge to the Ahwahnee, so you can easily go over there to hang out and have a drink or just enjoy the ambiance. If you stay at the Yosemite Lodge, expecting fancy accomodations, you will be disappointed, but if you accept it for what it is (a basic room with bathroom in one of the most beautiful locations imaginable), you'll be delighted!
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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 03:37 PM
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I was at Yosemite last May and I thought Curry Village looked much more rustic than I cared to stay in

We stayed in Yosemite View Lodge and were happy with arrangements- easy to get into park daily and as stated before you could take the bus in if you chose.
Couldnt afford the Ahwahnee but had drinks and appetizers there every night
before going back to El Portal
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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 04:10 PM
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Curry Village is about as close to camping as you can get without actually calling it "camping".

The Lodge has always been fine for me, too. You will be so tired that you will not care that it is not fancy
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 07:59 AM
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Thanks for the great advice. We really aren't expecting the world from our Yosemite lodging - we just want to get the most out of the scenery without being overwhelmed by our neighbors. One review I read said to bring your earplugs to Housekeeping camp because it's so loud! Sounds like the lodge might be a good way to go. I think we'll be so exhausted from hiking we'll be happy to have a comfortable bed to sleep in.

Thanks for the tip about going to Ahwahnee for drinks. That sounds like a fantastic idea.

Thanks again for the advice - I'm hoping to get a reservation made within the next day.
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 08:39 AM
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We were at the Ahwahnee Hotel on New Year's Day for brunch, dont miss spending some time here. You may want to check out the Wawona Hotel, it is a nice property with a Victorian feel to it. They have a great restaurant there, also. Have fun! ***kim***
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 09:24 AM
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Hi doogs---I hope they have rooms available for you at Yosemite Lodge, but they may be already booked for July. If it's a choice between Curry Village/Housekeeping Camp and staying outside the park, that's a tough one. We are hikers/campers and I will only stay inside the park, but it's your special anniversay and you might want something nice. Only you can decide that.

We usually stay up in Tuolumne Meadows, but have also stayed in the Valley at Curry Village, Housekeeping Camp, and the motel rooms at Curry. All are adequate for a night's sleep. The motel rooms at Curry (if available) are your basic one-star motel room, in a building near the entrance to Curry Village. The wrap-around veranda is nice, and the rooms are quieter than the tent cabins. I agree with everything said here about the tent cabins (both at Curry and Housekeeping) being noisy. We found the noise to come from people walking around past our tent, not from the next-door neighbors.

We last stayed at Curry the night before a hike up Half Dome and back down, and it was fine. The new bathhouse is large and modern, and was very clean, at least while we were there. We spent no time in the cabin other than to sleep, so it really didn't matter that it was spartan. You step outside and, from many places in Curry, look right up at Half Dome.

I can't remember the views from Housekeeping Camp, but it is right on the river, which early in the season can be a problem. When we were there (early July) half the camp was closed due to flooding, and our picnic area was under water for part of the time! And there were mosquitoes.

If you are serious hikers, and can't stay at Yosemite Lodge, you might consider staying up in Tuolumne instead---the hiking is wonderful. You could stop and spend some time in the Valley on your way. It is another hour and a half up to Tuolumne from there. The accomodations in Tuolumne are also tent cabins.
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 09:56 AM
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enzian - what are the tent cabins in Tuolumne Meadows like? I have not been up there as all our trips to Yosemite have been in the spring or late fall when the high country is closed. I want to get up there though so I have been thinking about planning a weekend trip in the summertime. No one I know IRL has stayed in the tent cabins though - those that spend time in that area are all backpackers. We prefer to stay in cabins or tent camp and do day hikes. I like too many creature comforts to backpack - LOL.
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 10:33 AM
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Hi J_Correa---we haven't actually stayed in the tent cabins at Tuolumne Lodge; we tent camp and use the showers there after our hike each day. But we have walked around there a bit, and it sems like a pleasant place---everyone we saw seemd very happy to be there. The tent cabins look like the ones at Curry Village; I think they come with 2 beds or 4.

I believe you can book them without going through the "lottery" like one must for the High Sierra Camps.
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 12:03 PM
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Thanks for the info.
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 03:41 PM
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doogs, I can't help you with lodging (we stayed at the Ahwahnee), but I have a planning tip. We drove from SF to Y. and then to Lake Tahoe. We were in SF over a weekend and then headed to Y. Our direction there was no traffic, but for those heading into SF on Sunday afternoon the traffic was backed up for miles! (Our trip was in summer as well). If you can do the park during the week you will be much better off with less crowds and traffic! Have a great trip.
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 04:42 PM
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Well - thanks again for the fantastic information. Just made my reservation for the only thing available....canvas tents in Curry Village! They had some pricy options, but we decided that we'd stick with cheap, bring our earplugs and enjoy the view. You can't beat $77/night! Here I thought I'd have an easy time of booking something this far in advance - how naive!

Luckily Cristab - we'll be heading back to SF on a Friday morning - hopefully beating the traffic. I really appreciate everyone's input and am sorry to make you all type so much when it turns out I really didn't have a choice as to where we stayed. I am deleriously happy to be heading to Yosemite with or without hard walls! Thanks again.
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 06:27 PM
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Great! Are you there 2 nights? Since you saved on your lodging, you can dine one night at the Mountain Room at the Lodge, and one at the Ahwahnee, if you like. Make reservations in advance. You'll be hungry after your hikes.
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 07:20 AM
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Didn't think about dinner reservations! We will be there for two nights and did plan on having civilized dinners Just pulled up the dining page on the website and will call today to make reservations for Ahwahnee...maybe the Mountain Room. If you can remember - could you tell me the price range for entrees? Just looking for a ball park. Thanks so much.
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 09:03 AM
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Hi Doogs---I haven't eaten at the Ahwahnee since 1997, but I can tell you about the Mountain Room. Entrees were in the range of what I see here in Seattle---$18 to $26 or so. There were 5 of us at dinner; we each had a salad or appetizer, entree, and wine. The bill, with tax and tip, came to $250, or $50 per person, total. The menu was varied, and the food much better than what they served when I worked at the Lodge in (gulp) 1970.

But thinking back. . . they may not take reservations at the Mountain Room. We put our name in, and were given a pager. We sat out in the courtyard with a discreet bottle of wine, looking up at the falls, while we waited. It was maybe 30 minutes. This was in "high" season, mid-August.

But call the Ahwahnee and ask about their reservation policy. They may not take reservations from you if you're not staying "in house" until 30 days ahead. At least that's what they do at other national park hotels (thinking of El Tovar at the Grand Canyon). But they have different owners, so different policies may apply. For that 1997 dinner at the Ahwahnee, I was able to get dinner reservations about 2 weeks ahead (in July) with no problem.

Where are you thinking of hiking?
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 10:48 AM
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Yes - this isn't considered early for making reservations in Yosemite. When we go, we have our reservations a year in advance. Popular place. Fortunately, a lot of people make reservations really early and then can't go for whatever reason and people can snag last minute reservations. If you want the lodge instead of curry, check the cancellation policy and then call the reservation number as your trip gets closer to see if you can snag a last minute cancelation. I have known a lot of people who were very successful with this.
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 11:05 AM
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True--we called one night in August for a room the following night. (This was when we decided that was the best way to do a half Dome hike---up and down from the valley). We were offered rooms at the Lodge, but for our purposes the Curry tent cabin was fine (we were already camping out in tuolumne so the lodge room would have been a shock!)

So cancellations do show up, even at the busiest times.
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 12:26 PM
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Love some input on the hikes as well. We don't have a lot of time, but would like to make the most of the time we've got. Is Half Dome doable and worth it if we've just got two days? Are there others that you would consider just as worthy, but not 10-14 hours long? We're both in good shape, but I spend most of my time chasing my young children around - not hiking anymore....how tough is Half Dome?

Thanks so much for all this GREAT input. You're making me think of things I wouldn't have thought about and I'm definitely feeling like I'll be better prepared.
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 12:50 PM
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There is a nice thread on recommended hikes here; several people recommended the Panorama Point trail up to Glacier Point as one of their favorites, and I agree. Also to the top of Nevada Falls (crowded, especially toward the bottom, but spectacular) and Yosemite Falls.

Half Dome is incredible, but it is very strenuous---17.6 miles, and 4800 feet of elevation gain and loss (4400 feet if you don't do the last part on the cables). It took us 10 hours, including the hour we spent on top. But we actually ran on parts of the way down---through the sandy level stretches in Little Yosemite Valley, and the last, paved portion down from the bridge over the creek. We were motivated to get back in time for our dinner reservation! We were in shape for this because we'd been camping and hiking at 8,000 to 10,000 feet elvation every day for the week before this hike. coming down, we saw a lot of people who looked like fit hikers, but were either not going to make it to the top, or were going to be finding their way back down in the dark. So I wouldn't recommend it as a dayhike if you have limited time in Yosemite.

On the other hand. . . if you are avid hikers, I can think of few better ways to celebrate a 10th anniversary than by going up Half Dome. Or save it for another time. Our own hike was a celebration of somene's 50th birthday.

If you do have 2 full days in Yosemite, you might take one hike from the valley floor, and one starting above the rim---either drive up the Glacier point road and hike up Sentinal Dome (pretty easy), or drive up to Tuolumne and do one of the many alpine hikes up there (this would be 3 hours of driving RT, though).

Either way, by hiking or driving, you should definitely get up to Glacier Point for the views---including a famous profile of Half Dome.
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