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Advice on travel from San Francisco to Kings Canyon NP

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Jan 12th, 2005, 12:18 AM
  #1
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Advice on travel from San Francisco to Kings Canyon NP

I am looking for some help on routes and travel times from San Francisco to Kings Canyon National Park.

We fly into SF mid afternoon after a long flight so will need an overnight stop before driving onto Kings Canyon NP the next day (thanks to those who responded to my post on where to stay!). What I'm not clear on is the fastest driving route.

On the map it looks like we should we go over the San Mateo bridge and get on the 580 east, south on 5, east on 152, south on 99 to Fresno and to KC NP from there. Is this the fastest route? How long will it take? Or should we try to get onto the 99 around Manteca/Modesto and not go on Interstate 5 at all? Or something different?

Any advice will be appreciated.

Thanks.

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Jan 12th, 2005, 04:05 AM
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I'm not sure exactly where you are leaving from, but if youre leaving from near the airport the most direct way is to head over 101 to 92(San Mateo Bridge), Take 880 N, then take the 238 exit towards 580-East Stockton, 238 turns into 580 East and stay on 580 until you getover the Altamont pass. The get on 205 towards Tracy, the you can get on 120 East and go directly to 99. I don't like 5 as much becase of the heavy truck traffic and lack of facilities. If you have small kids its nice to have a town to pull into to go to the bathroom, or get a bite.
This route also has less merges and highway transfers than taking 5 to 99 which you need to be on anyway.
If you are leaving on a weekday morning, youre in for some traffic, on 880, but if you go the way I've described theres alot less traffic than heading south from San Francisco on 101 and 152, even on a weekday morning. Trust me 101 will crawl and will add probably 2 hours to your trip.
I would say if you go my way, it would probably take maybe 3-4 hours, depending on snow conditions in the mountains.
I hope I helped and didn't confuse you too much!
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Jan 12th, 2005, 01:07 PM
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I would almost do it your way. Instead of South on 5, E on 152, S on 99. I would go S on 5, East on 33, south on 99. There is no scenery to speak of on 5/99/152/33, by taking route 33 instead of 152 your cutover to 99 is shorter, the further south you go on 5, the further apart 5 and 99 become.

But, you will need to go N on 880 to catch the 238/580 junction as sak925 pointed out.

This trip is about 225 miles and 5 hours of driving from San Mateo to the park.
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Jan 12th, 2005, 01:13 PM
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Sorry can't advise - was driven there by a tour bus, just want to let you know that the Park is extremely beautiful, you've made the right decision to visit it. It's a huge place, allow plenty of time. And lots of film - the views are majestic.
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Jan 12th, 2005, 02:20 PM
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I've read both your posts and here are my suggestions.

Stay at SFO itself if you don't want to start driving. You can bid on Priceline and get some pretty decent hotels like the Sheraton or the Hyatt for excellent prices. These hotels offer shuttle services. Get the car the next day as this will save you the hotel parking fee of anywhere from $10-$15/night.

Since you will be arriving in the late afternoon, this would be a better choice, instead of starting out that afternoon and getting stuck in afternoon traffic.

If you really want to start driving, then consider driving all the way to Fresno and staying overnight there.

The route I'd suggest would be as follows: 101S to 152E. In non-peak traffic hours this will be an hour and fifteen minutes. Crossing 152 will take about an hour to an hour and a half. This should get you to Highway 99. Go south on 99 to 180, about 1/2 hour. Then you can take 180 to Kings Canyon, about an hour.

I live in Silicon Valley and drive to Fresno once in a while and this is the simplest and fastest route.

Enjoy your trip! Kings Canyon is, as Faina has said, really spectacular.
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Jan 12th, 2005, 03:18 PM
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Warning- believe what sak925 and I said above. 101 south even after the worst time of 6-10 AM will crawl all the way past Gilroy, which is just before you pick up 152. Taking 101 from SFO to Gilroy shows to be 66 miles on yahoo maps. It will be horrible before 10 AM, less so, but not good after 10 AM. The first 60 of those miles is the main artery right through one major Bay Area city after another.
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Jan 12th, 2005, 03:37 PM
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On several occasions I have had to travel south from San Jose on a weekday morning and haven't hit any traffic southbound on Hwy 101. There is traffic heading north into San Jose, but nothing south. In the evennings is when the southbound commute is heavy.
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Jan 13th, 2005, 12:19 AM
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Following from the previous post. Can't speak to Kings Canyon, only to SFO, Bay Area, etc. If you stay right near the airport you should also consider the Sofitel. I wouldn't go to HMB if you need to drive a long way in the morning, the morning commute over the hill to 101 is terrible. But if you stay in Palo Alto, you can get to Highway 92 in 20 minutes, just leave by 7 or 7:30am. That way you could also buy anything at Longs or Walgreens in Palo Alto that you forgot I live in Menlo Park, the next town up from Palo Alto, and commute to the exit right before 92 every day, and if I leave early in the morning I can get there in 15 minutes. And if you take 101 South you are already on your way. Just get on the road by 7 or 7:30.
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Jan 13th, 2005, 12:19 AM
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Following from the previous post. Can't speak to Kings Canyon, only to SFO, Bay Area, etc. If you stay right near the airport you should also consider the Sofitel. I wouldn't go to HMB if you need to drive a long way in the morning, the morning commute over the hill to 101 is terrible. But if you stay in Palo Alto, you can get to Highway 92 in 20 minutes, just leave by 7 or 7:30am. That way you could also buy anything at Longs or Walgreens in Palo Alto that you forgot I live in Menlo Park, the next town up from Palo Alto, and commute to the exit right before 92 every day, and if I leave early in the morning I can get there in 15 minutes. And if you take 101 South you are already on your way. Just get on the road by 7 or 7:30. Once you start going east you are going against rushhour direction.
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Jan 13th, 2005, 06:42 AM
  #10
maj
 
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Do the Mist Falls hike if possible. One of our favorites--and we almost didn't do it. Go up to the top of the falls--beautiful view looking back. Have a great trip.
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Jan 14th, 2005, 12:38 AM
  #11
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Thanks for all the opinions on the best route even (especially?) if they are contradictory! I have some questions before I make my mind up if you can help.

Parrothead - you say go east on the 33 not the 152. On my map (which is 6 years old) the 33 is only shown as a road that tracks roughly north/south parallel to the 5. Has a new road been built? Or is my map wrong? Could you give a few more details of this road?

LPC48 - you say the route over the hills from HMB to 101 is terrible in the morning. Around what time might it ease up on a week day morning?

Is the the 99 south mainly a 2 lane highway in each direction?

Assuming I've got to it which is the faster road - the 99 or the 5?

I think on balance I will avoid the 101 south around San Jose - my past experience of it is that it can be slow anytime.


We've got around 6 days in Kings Canyon and Sequoia and are really looking forward to it having not been before so its good to see positive comments about it. Then onto Yosemite for return trip number 4!

Thanks for all continuing help.
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Jan 14th, 2005, 01:03 PM
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Diz,
Good catch--I meant the 132 East, which crosses over 5 and 33. Be careful though, the signs on 580 will say "TO 5 South-Los Angeles" something like that. But when you exit the road to go east on 132, technically you are still on 580. The 580/5 merge is further south than the 580/132 junction. So you will never really even be on 5 at all.

Just go 580 east towards 5 south and get off at 132 east. For comfort level, do a Yahoo map driving instruction from Carbona, CA to Modesto, CA and move the map around a little bit. You will see there is a triangle of 580/5/205, plus it shows 132 and 99.
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Jan 16th, 2005, 09:16 PM
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My knowledge of the traffic comes from a good friend I had who lived over there for a year, and from driving over there for dinner etc in the evening. So while I know the traffic is bad, I don't know exactly when the morning lets up. If it's like the traffic on 101, not until 9am. But I will say HMB is one of my favorite little known getaways. Especially if you find a little fog and fishing boats etc. romantic.
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