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2 week trip - SF>Sac>Yos>DV>Seq>LA - Thoughts?

2 week trip - SF>Sac>Yos>DV>Seq>LA - Thoughts?

Old Feb 10th, 2020, 07:01 AM
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2 week trip - SF>Sac>Yos>DV>Seq>LA - Thoughts?

Hello, my wife and I are going to California in late September to early October of 2020.

We'll be flying into San Francisco and staying there for 3 nights. Then renting a car to drive to Sacramento to visit some relatives for one day. After that, things are up in the air. Our plan is to end up in Los Angeles with 3 days remaining in our trip, then fly out of LA. From Sacramento to LA we plan on visiting 3 national parks.

Parks we want to visit...
- Yosemite National Park
- Death Valley National Park
- Sequoia National Park

We would love to visit all the parks, but we understand if we can't. We want to get the most out of each park.
When it comes to which choosing which park to visit in order, the maps make it a little confusing. From Sacramento we plan on visiting Yosemite. After Yosemite is where I'm a little confused. If we drive down to Sequoia, we would have to go around and back track up to Death Valley, because the maps indicate there are no roads that go through Sequoia to Death Valley. Otherwise after Yosemite we would visit Death Valley then back track to Sequoia. I'm not sure which is the better way to go. Thoughts / Opinions?

We know there are plenty to do in all 3 national parks. I was thinking 2 days in each park to try to get the most of each. Any viewpoint you think is a good time frame we would need to get the most of out of each national park? Since we're going later in the year, I read that some sections of the parks won't be open due to unpredictable weather. So we wouldn't be able to see all of the park has to offer, which is fine. We do not plan on camping outside, we'll be getting a hotel. We do plan on hiking, sightseeing, and picture taking. - typical touristy things.

Another question is what type of car do we want to travel in? I'm thinking something around a Jeep Wrangler. Since we'll be going through mountains I would want something with some ruggedness to it.

Please feel free to ask any questions. Any advice is more than welcome.
Thank you
HomerEBW is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2020, 07:22 AM
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Welcome to Fodors "I read that some sections of the parks won't be open due to unpredictable weather."

There should not be any issues re access as early as you are traveling -- closures typically don't occur until late October at the VERY earliest. November is more normal.

"Another question is what type of car do we want to travel in?"

Any sort of car at all -- Wrangler certainly isn't required. If you want a 4WD fine but that definitely wouldn't be necessary. At various times I've driven every one of htose roads in a 2 seat Mini Cooper roadster, in a family sedan, on (the back of) a motorcycle, and in a mini bus. (and other vehicles over the years)

I'd devote a little more time to Yosemite than the other two -- three days (4 nights) in YNP and two days in the other two would be great if you can swing it. Do realize that September is the worst of our fire season. There may be none . . . or the Sierra could have serious fires/smoke that seriously affects air quality and scenery or could even close parks. You won't really know what's what until the time -- so have a plan B just in case. Like maybe the Central Coast.

Assuming no fire issues -- I'd do Yosemite, Tioga Pass, Death Valley, Sequoia in that order.
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Old Feb 10th, 2020, 07:29 AM
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If I'm understanding your time frame, I think you have a week for the parks. If that's the case, I'd skip either DV or Sequoia. As you've seen, including both means a lot of driving, and if you drive to all three you'd have less than 2 days in each park.

Have you looked into lodging in Yosemite for your dates? Reservations open a year in advance.

You're unlikely to encounter closures due to weather. I would drive whatever type of car that would be most comfortable for all that driving. It doesn't have to be an SUV.
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Old Feb 10th, 2020, 07:30 AM
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You are correct. There are no roads that go from Seq directly to DV. There is a mountain range (the Sierras) in between, including Mt Whitney (hightest mountain in the lower 48) at over 14,500 ft.

Any vehicle will do. You won't be driving on any roads that need "ruggedness".

You can see giant sequoias in Yosemite park. My choice of 2 parks would be Yosemite & DV. For me 3 days (nights) at Yosemite is ideal. Each of my numerous trips there have been 3 nights and it always works out well for me. We are hikers, and are happy to be out on our feet all day. Anywhere from 5-10mi hiking with moderate to significant elevation gain is a good / typical day for us. You will have time to get a good feel for valley, and if you drive over Tioga pass you can use that day to explore the high country en-route.

There is always more to explore, enjoy for your next trip.
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Old Feb 10th, 2020, 08:22 AM
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A couple of notes to consider. First, the famous waterfalls in Yosemite may well be trickles or even dry at that time of year. Second, the whole of the Sierras will be in peak fire season, and (God forbid) if there are fires the smoke situation can be very bad in the valleys, including Yosemite.

Third, there are giant sequoia groves in Yosemite, and/or you could visit Calaveras Big Trees State Park, just up the road from the old gold rush town of Murphys, now a big wine destination. (The whole gold country in the Sierra foothills is a big wine-producing region these days.) And fourth, September/October in Death Valley can still be extremely hot. In fact, early October is often the hottest time of the year in southern California and the desert inland. So plan your stay in Death Valley accordingly.

Because of the fire and heat scenarios, I'd have a couple of "plan B" alternatives in mind. I too would probably skip Sequoia. Google the places on this map - https://www.bing.com/maps?osid=38911...=2&form=S00027

Last edited by Gardyloo; Feb 10th, 2020 at 08:27 AM.
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Old Feb 10th, 2020, 04:06 PM
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It's unlikely that you'll run into snow that early in the season if that's your concern. There isn't an easy way to include both Death Valley and Sequoia. Either route will require a lot of driving but Yosemite to Death Valley via Tioga Pass and 395 is very scenic so that's the order I'd choose. There's actually quite a bit to see and do along 395 (several suggestions were made in this thread https://www.fodors.com/community/uni...amily-1677340/) so I'd probably add some time here and skip Sequoia.
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Old Feb 11th, 2020, 01:49 AM
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You can see giant sequoias at Mariposa Grove in Yosemite. I'd agree with dropping Sequoia NP.

Several of the vaunted sites in Yosemite (such as Yosemite Falls) are normally dry in the fall. However you can access Glacier Point and Tioga Pass, which are even better IMO.

The official website for booking lodging direct is https://www.travelyosemite.com/
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