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5 day trip to San Francisco with day at Yosemite

5 day trip to San Francisco with day at Yosemite

Old Aug 26th, 2020, 04:34 PM
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5 day trip to San Francisco with day at Yosemite

We have a trip planned for October flying in & out of San Francisco. The Redwoods will be our main focus. Hoping to go to the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite on a Thursday if I can get a day use pass. Sausalito is also on the list. Iím not sure how to put this together. We arrive on Tuesday & depart on Sunday. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks
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Old Aug 26th, 2020, 08:10 PM
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OK -- The logistics for Mariposa Grove specifically and YNP in general make a day trip harder. You must have reservations to enter the park, and the nearest parking to the Grove is a two mile walk each way. (strict limit to 300 parking spaces - first come basis only, which would be difficult after driving all the way from SF)

If you only want to visit the Sequoias and not Yosemite Valley (and visiting both in one day from SF is REALLY a difficult proposition even IF reservations weren't required) . . . I'd consider Calaveras Big Trees instead of the Mariposa Grove.

SF > Mariposa Grove > Yosemite Valley > SF would take at least NINE HOURS car time (and likely longer) plus stops. Whereas SF > Calaveras Big Trees > SF is 'only' about 5 hours car time.

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Old Aug 26th, 2020, 08:14 PM
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. . . Oh - and IF you omit Yosemite Valley - then just driving SF > Mariposa Grove > SF would take a minimum 8 hours
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Old Aug 27th, 2020, 05:25 AM
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For seeing the coastal redwoods (the taller of the 2 giant species) my go-to spot has always been the Santa Cruz mountains. Either Big Basin state park, or one of the numerous smaller county parks. With the horrendous fires there that are still burning, all bets are off whether an October visit is even feasible. Apparently the oldest, largest redwoods in Big Basin survived the fire, so see that amid the other devastation would be a marvel in itself. These trees need occasional fires to release seeds and create new growth so I'm glad CA hasn't followed federal advice to sweep up the forest floors of all debris.... but that's a lounge topic perhaps...

The shorter but wider sequoias in the Sierras - janis has already covered those in her well informed posts.
I would second the comment to NOT consider a day trip to Yosemite - given the 8-9hrs in the car, limited access, and closer (better) options.
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Old Aug 27th, 2020, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by J62 View Post
For seeing the coastal redwoods (the taller of the 2 giant species) my go-to spot has always been the Santa Cruz mountains. Either Big Basin state park, or one of the numerous smaller county parks. With the horrendous fires there that are still burning, all bets are off whether an October visit is even feasible. Apparently the oldest, largest redwoods in Big Basin survived the fire, so see that amid the other devastation would be a marvel in itself. These trees need occasional fires to release seeds and create new growth so I'm glad CA hasn't followed federal advice to sweep up the forest floors of all debris.... but that's a lounge topic perhaps...

The shorter but wider sequoias in the Sierras - janis has already covered those in her well informed posts.
I would second the comment to NOT consider a day trip to Yosemite - given the 8-9hrs in the car, limited access, and closer (better) options.
It is with great sadness that I report the main visitor center at Big Basin burned to the ground in a wildfire last week. The Coast Redwoods do have thick bark which means that a ground fire usually does not kill them.
There are YARTS buses that run on Rt. 140 between Merced and Yosemite Valley but the current schedule only runs until September 30 with no guarantee that they will be running in October. Tickets are available through YARTS.com. The first bus of the day that connects with an Amtrak train leaves the Merced Amtrak station at 9:10AM daily. Check the schedule of the first Amtrak San Joaquin train of the day for where to board (Oakland or Emeryville).
There is a small grove of Coast Redwoods not far south of the Pigeon Point Lighthouse that I hope has not been hit by fire this summer. On the west side of Highway 101 in that area is Ano Nuevo State Park with some great sand dunes.
Plan the trip to Yosemite sometime next year when I hope that not as much of California is burning. The air quality in large parts of California is bad now and may be into October.
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Old Aug 27th, 2020, 07:02 AM
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Thanks janisj. I was concerned about the drive & thought maybe we could stay somewhere along the way to Yosemite. Now I’m wondering if we should focus on the San Francisco area. Preferably outside the city. Small towns, coastal areas & parks. We were able to get a great deal on airfare, Any thoughts?
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Old Aug 27th, 2020, 07:18 AM
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Some says it's too commercialized, but we've been at the Muir Woods and enjoyed it. I't fairly small and condensed, perfect for a local trip. We've also been to Sequoia National Park and while it's a great place to visit, but it's more time consuming trip.
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Old Aug 27th, 2020, 07:19 AM
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So sad to hear about the visitor center in Big Basin. Thanks for the recommendations of other areas to check. I agree that next year may be a better time for Yosemite.
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Old Aug 27th, 2020, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by darnwright01 View Post
Thanks janisj. I was concerned about the drive & thought maybe we could stay somewhere along the way to Yosemite. Now Iím wondering if we should focus on the San Francisco area. Preferably outside the city. Small towns, coastal areas & parks. We were able to get a great deal on airfare, Any thoughts?
Staying close to San Francisco you can go to Muir Woods in Marin County. The shuttle buses are not running but you can make a parking reservation ($8.50) on gomuirwoods.com.
I/we have stayed at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse HI Hostel a couple of times. It is about 50 miles south of SFO. There is also a HI hostel in Monterey.
My favorite HI hostel anywhere is the one in Sacramento at the corner of 10th & H. It is the second oldest mansion in the city.
If you do decide to go to Yosemite, try for lodging in ElPortal if you can't get anything in the Valley.
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Old Aug 27th, 2020, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by andyg5056 View Post
Some says it's too commercialized, but we've been at the Muir Woods and enjoyed it. I't fairly small and condensed, perfect for a local trip. . .

I don't think I've ever heard it described as 'too commercial' . . . Typically quite crowded but there isn't much commercialization. With the reservation requirements for parking and shuttle buses (instituted a few years ago -- nothing at all to do w/ covid) it has become a real hassle. Added to that the capacity limits that are covid related, I'd avoid Muir Woods for the foreseeable future.
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Old Aug 27th, 2020, 09:26 AM
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You're right, I did use the wrong word. What I was trying to say that it feels more like you're in the "tree gallery".
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Old Aug 27th, 2020, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by darnwright01 View Post
Thanks janisj. I was concerned about the drive & thought maybe we could stay somewhere along the way to Yosemite. Now Iím wondering if we should focus on the San Francisco area. Preferably outside the city. Small towns, coastal areas & parks. We were able to get a great deal on airfare, Any thoughts?

There is no place 'along the way' that would make sense . . . HOWEVER if you are willing to stay overnight, thus giving you a little more that 2 half days for YNP - then stay in the park (or in El Portal which is the nearest outside-the-park accommodations). It will be about a 4 hour drive from SF so you could arrive in the mid to late morning and leave by late afternoon the second day. That would give you a few hours for Mariposa Grove and most of a day for the Valley.
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Old Aug 28th, 2020, 05:15 AM
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Thank you all for your sugges.tions. At this point I’ve reserved a room at Yosemite Valley View (will continue to search within the park). Also checking for day use pass. My daughter has some disabilities so we have a handicap placard. That will hopefully get us closer to Mariposa Grove. We will begin our trip in Larkspur (Marriott points) & then head towards Yosemite. Does that seem feasible?
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Old Aug 28th, 2020, 06:27 AM
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There are many properties that use the name Yosemite but may have a horrible location...

​​​​​​​Where exactly is "Yosemite Valley View"? I'm not familiar with that hotel.
Do you have a link for that hotel?
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Old Aug 28th, 2020, 08:03 AM
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Chiming in that the Calaveras SP suggestion is a great one, as I visited last year and enjoyed it immensely. Access to very large trees there is pretty much a snap for a slightly disabled person although the trails are not paved. I've read the best trees at Mariposa are a strenuous hike but not done that. It's entirely subjective but I have seen a few redwood groves from Big Sur to Muir Woods to Humboldt SP to Crescent City and the sequoias at Calaveras are more impressive, slightly shorter but much more massive and better lit for amazement, not jammed together in the dark.
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Old Aug 28th, 2020, 10:03 AM
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Do you mean YOSEMITE VIEW LODGE (need to be very specific with property names) in El Portal? If so that is fine for visiting Yosemite Valley and as long as you do get the day pass don't worry if you can't get a room in the Valley. (you'd need two day passes though for both your arrival and departure days unless you JUST want to visit the Grove) However IF your whole point is JUST to visit Mariposa Grove - then neither El Portal nor Yosemite Valley would be all that convenient. Both are about 1 hr 20 mins drive from the grove via a VERY twisty/turny road. Leaving from Larkspur . . . and again IF you are only interested in Mariposa Grove (though I couldn't/wouldn't understand that myself) then you would be better off heading down to the south entrance instead and staying in Fish Camp or Oakhurst (neither of which is practical for visiting Yosemite Valley)

As for disabled access to Mariposa Grove - yes with a placard you are allowed to drive to designated area closer to the grove. But there is less than 1000 feet total (About 450 feet out and back) with much if any disabled access.
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Old Aug 28th, 2020, 10:10 AM
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OOPS mis-spoke -- you'd only need the one pass since a 'day use pass' is good for consecutive days. Sorry a bit of brain freeze there
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Old Aug 28th, 2020, 10:26 AM
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I had to go back & check the name to be sure. Itís Yosemite View Lodge - El Portal. We would like to go to Yosemite Valley as well as Mariposa Grove if possible. Should I book a night in Fish Creek as well? We could head to YV Wednesday morning, stay overnight at YVL, then head to Fish Camp on Thursday to visit Mariposa Grove. Plan B would be to visit parks closer to SF & see Yosemite another time.

Last edited by darnwright01; Aug 28th, 2020 at 10:31 AM.
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Old Aug 28th, 2020, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by darnwright01 View Post
I had to go back & check the name to be sure. Itís Yosemite View Lodge - El Portal. We would like to go to Yosemite Valley as well as Mariposa Grove if possible. Should I book a night in Fish Creek as well? We could head to YV Wednesday morning, stay overnight at YVL, then head to Fish Camp on Thursday to visit Mariposa Grove. Plan B would be to visit parks closer to SF & see Yosemite another time.
The problem with any (coastal redwoods) parks near the Bay Area -- every single one has been impacted to seriously impacted by the many fires and even if there are no new fires between now and then - mop up will still be happening. Fingers crossed - so far YNP hasn't had much impact. There is one small fire in the back country but it isn't impacting the Valley or Mariposa Grove.

Unless you really want to cut back on activities in SF/Marin County, I think you'd be fine with just the one night in El Portal. (And this is from one who LOVES YNP and visit every year or two). I'd get an early start and try to get to El Portal/Yosemite Valley by mid to late morning. Spend the rest of that entire day on the Valley Floor. Maybe visit again in the AM, then head down to Mariposa Grove by mid day, then leave the park via the south entrance in the late afternoon and back to Larkspur.
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Old Aug 28th, 2020, 12:15 PM
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My preference would be to cut back on SF area, and spend the 2nd night near the south entrance of Yosemite. Tenaya lodge in Fish Camp is a very nice property there, but there are others.

But I've been to SF countless times so my own preference is open space....
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