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Beat high season crowds in Yosemite Valley ( not an oxymoron)

Beat high season crowds in Yosemite Valley ( not an oxymoron)

Old Aug 15th, 2014, 07:35 PM
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Beat high season crowds in Yosemite Valley ( not an oxymoron)

We go to Yosemite at least once a year (for me, since 1971, for my husband since he met me in 1993) and avoid the Valley between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the rest of the country and the rest of the world can turn it into a nightmare amusement park. BUT for the past two summers we have broken our rule because of young houseguests from Italy to whom we wanted to show "our" special place and rightfully named World Heritage Site. I hate crowds and this is the plan we have successfully evolved (tested successfully twice)

1) drive from SF to Oakdale Friday. Stay in Best Western Friday night or drive onto the Valley if you have the whole day. If in Valley, picnic supper in west meadows.

2)Sat. Either drive to park EARLY or eat breakfast at 7am at Ahwahnee hotel when it opens.

3) Walk WEST on Valley loop trail towards El Capitan. After trail crosses road, there are several viewpoints and wonderful places for picnic lunch on the river (if there happens to be one in this world of floods in Palm Springs and droughts in the High Sierras). Go back to room and nap or read in heat of afternoon. Around 4 drive up Glacier Point Road and take the 1 mile mini hike to Taft Point for great view of valley and picnic supper. Leave by six ish. Stop at viewpoint 1 mile before Glacier Point to see uncrowded spectacular view and then proceed to Glacier Point itself, enjoying the crowds and hundreds of different languages of visitors come to see the sunset.

4) Sunday. Breakfast in room or at Cafe Corner in Curry Village. Walk to Happy Isles and begin hike to Nevada Falls by 7 am if possible, not later than 7:30. Take Vernal Fall trail up to Nevada Falls, Muir trail down. Do not go down punishing stairs, the slightly longer way at south of Nevada falls has different view, is less dangerous, and though slightly longer, much easier and quicker. (unless you are 20) Rest in room in afternoon, then go for picnic supper in Valley picnic place or splurge on the Mountain Room.

5) Monday. Breakfast at the Ahwahnee again. Drive up Tioga Road east, stop at Lake Tenaya to gasp and swim or vice versa. Amazing beauty, water on the brisk side. Drive on to Tuolomne Meadows. spend some time there. If time, hike to Gaylor Lake by Tioga Pass. Eat wonderful meal at Tioga Pass Resort, (boysenberry pie to die for), then drive down east to magnificent and austere Mono Lake. Proceed on 395 north until you intersect with 108 to Sonora about 25 miles. Drive up over eastern Sierras through pass (scenery almost like southwest) until you rejoin 120. Spend the night in Oakdale before return to SF Bay Area.

6) Thank the gods of your choice (include just amorphous awe) to have been blessed with this beauty.

7) Oh, yes. The reservations you get either by calling a year and a day in advance or by repeatedly calling for cancellations. always works, but you have to call a lot. don't believe what they say about better to use internet. bring a book to be on hold with.
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Old Aug 16th, 2014, 05:09 AM
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Thank you for the great report and tips! We are going next weekend (staying in Curry Village tents) and be sure to follow at least some of the suggestions!
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Old Aug 16th, 2014, 08:18 AM
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Thanks for the plan, we went there and were totally turned off by the crowds. It was April so we couldn't hit the high spots, would love to go back and see what we missed.
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Old Aug 16th, 2014, 08:38 AM
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So thoughtful of you to share the tips and ideas. I have been trying to coax my family to plan such a trip, but they are not happy with crowds, so we keep postponing.

Now, I am encouraged and may show them your report and hopefully can plan something next year.

Since you know the area well, can you tell how difficult would be the walks and hikes for someone 70 years old in decent shape.

Also, do you think this would be a perfect place to have a mini family vacation comprising of our married kids with children under 4. Just curious if it would be a good place as they all enjoy outdoors, hiking, walking etc.

How far is Yosemite from SF area?

Thanks again for your report. Have a great weekend.
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Old Aug 16th, 2014, 10:12 AM
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I'm going to post my own trip report shortly along the same lines. We did it a bit differently, but also beat the crowds. We were first timers so not nearly as organized , some of it was pure luck.
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Old Aug 16th, 2014, 10:43 AM
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Hi ileen,
The walk through Yosemite Valley and short hike to Taft Point are easy, as is strolling through Tuolumne Meadow. The Nevada Falls hike is strenuous, but deservedly the most popular hike in the park. I am 66, experienced, but in only OK shape and I did it (but in a total of 7 hours with two mini picnics along the way and a rest at Nevada Falls). I highly recommend NOT walking down the Vernal Falls trail. I plan to be able to do this hike in my 70s.

We did not do the Gaylor Lake hike due to the fact that we (me alone and DH and godson together) accidentally swam across Tenaya Lake (long story), which left us tired, somewhat aghast at our stupidity and very proud. Lake was cold, so we headed straight for Tioga Pass Lodge for cocoa, wine and a knockout lunch.

Yes, I also think it would be a great trip for kids under 4, as long as parents watch carefully and make sure they don't pet various animals. In latter part of year, Merced river is calm and shallow enough for kids to wade in if supervised.

Yosemite is about 3 1/2 hours-4 hours from Berkeley. First two hours to Oakdale unpleasant and often trafficked (not always), last fun. Good food in Groveland at ___________Saloon and Bar (sure it's listed on TripAdvisor)

Don't try to drive back all the way to Bay Area if you do Tioga Road and Sonora Pass. It is a long drive, merits stops, perhaps one of the most beautiful drives I know. Obligatory part of our Yosemite tour to foreign guests (DH is from Europe).

Outdoor,
I'm looking forward to reading your post...
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Old Aug 16th, 2014, 04:38 PM
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Now I'm actually jealous of your swim across the lake. We stopped but didn't swim. I think the elevation was making us a bit lethargic at that point. I suggested swimming and the water felt fine to me.what do you think the temp was?
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Old Aug 16th, 2014, 04:52 PM
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interesting question. I swam one way and was not cold when I got out. My husband and godson swam both ways and were very cold when they finished. Maybe I'll call ranger station; I've been wondering myself.
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Old Aug 18th, 2014, 11:15 AM
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I've been doing some research on line about temperature and I read a blog of a master swimmer who swam the length of the lake and estimated it to be around 55F. I read someplace else low 50s. I did not have tingling hands and feet like I did after a swim in Lake of the Woods in Desolation Wilderness. I also had no idea that swimming so long in that temperature could be dangerous. I'm glad I do know now, glad I didn't know then.
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Old Aug 18th, 2014, 11:25 AM
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That is very cold.
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Old Aug 18th, 2014, 06:08 PM
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I swear it didn't feel that cold. I did have on a bathing cap and goggles, which I think make a huge difference in terms of holding in heat.
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Old Aug 18th, 2014, 06:10 PM
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Outdoor1--have you posted your trip report yet?
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Old Aug 18th, 2014, 06:55 PM
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Great information...thanks!
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Old Aug 18th, 2014, 07:20 PM
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I wish I had read your report before we went. We might have tweaked a few things, but by luck and willingness to hike a long time we avoided the chaos. . I don't think I'm jealous of the swim anymore. 60 maybe 55 is a deal breaker.
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Old Aug 18th, 2014, 08:51 PM
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Now I'm getting really curious about the actual temperature. Maybe I will try to telephone Tuolomne ranger station.
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