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Help with our CA itinerary during 1st week of November

Help with our CA itinerary during 1st week of November

Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 01:54 PM
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Help with our CA itinerary during 1st week of November

Hello,

We are travelling to CA with two little kids (8 and 4 yo) from NJ for a week . We are flying to San Jose on the 29th of October. Below is our plan :

Day 1- San Francisco (1 day)
Day 2 - Lake Tahoe (1 day)
Day 3,4,5- Yosemite National Park(3 days)
Day 6,7 - Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Park(2 days) .
then fly back from Fresno . Is this itinerary doable? How is the weather during the first week of November? Will it be really cold for the hikes in the national parks with kids?

Thanks in advance !
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Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 03:08 PM
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Kings Canyon/Sequoia is closed at this time due to wildlife https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/conditions.htm
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Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 03:38 PM
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Wow - that's a busy first two days!!

I did not find any non-stops from EWR to San Jose - so you'll arrive mid/late afternoon at the earliest (correct me if I am wrong). Then rent a car???, drive on Hwy 101 through the Friday "get away day" traffic, navigate through The City on a Friday (difficult), find parking, check in around 5-7 pm, & they "go play". Next morning, off to Tahoe for 1 night. You might want to re-think that plan & perhaps eliminate SF. You might consider driving east for a couple of hours to get closer to Tahoe. If you are the type that can drive after flying cross country, you might think about driving 2 1/2 hrs to Columbia in the Gold Country instead of SF (1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hr drive on a Friday). Kids might enjoy Columbia more than anyplace else on your trip. If this were my trip, I would skip SF and Tahoe and spend a good day (with less driving) in the Gold Country before visiting Yosemite & Sequoia.

You might get good weather and you might not. There may be some lingering effects from all of our fires in the Sierras.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 04:56 PM
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As Patty pointed out, Kings Canyon and Sequoia are currently closed due to wildfires. They may be open in a month, but it's unlikely all lodging and services would be up and running immediately anyway. I think this may be the year to skip these two parks.

Do you have lodging reservations for those Yosemite nights? Are you aware that many services, including the park shuttle and bus tours, are not available? Also, several trails are closed because of fires, maintenance work and bear activity. You should check the trail closures list, and it's always a good idea to check for road work projects that could cause delays. I know a major project was started on the Tioga Road that will continue until the road closes for the winter.

I agree with StuDudley's suggestion to skip both SF and Lake Tahoe. Near Columbia, I also like Murphys, Jamestown, Sonora.... There are some nice hikes in this area. Dragoon Gulch, Tuolumne Table Mountain...
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Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 05:09 PM
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""I also like Murphys, Jamestown, Sonora...""" and Sutter Creek & Nevada City.

Stu Dudley

Last edited by StuDudley; Oct 3rd, 2021 at 05:15 PM.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 06:11 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. I think your entire plan needs re-thinking - sorry

I presume you are flying in to SJC mid to late morning on Friday -- it will take you probably close to 2 hours to arrange the rental car pick up and get to your hotel in SF so you definitely wouldn't have a full day and maybe not even half a day for San Francisco. Then SF to Lake Tahoe is a 4 hour drive if everything goes well. So again just half a day for Lake Tahoe.

Where you are staying in Yosemite makes a huge difference - Is it in the Valley, in El Portal, or somewhere else (just about any 'somewhere else' will be an hour or more drive from Yosemite Valley).

And I would drop Seq. / KC entirely. Even IF the fires are completely extinguished by then I doubt the park will be fully open because there has been some serious damage and clean up will be extensive.

You are sort of in a box since you booked your return flight from FAT. If t wasn't for that I'd plan something like 2 days in SF, 3 days in Yosemite, 2 days at Lake Tahoe and fly home from SMF or RNO. It would help you can change your flights (flying in to SFO or SJC or OAK and home from SMF or RNO (or in reverse in to RNO/SMF and home from SFO/OAK/SJC)

Yes, some services in Yosemite are shut but it is still pretty much open so IMO you can still have a nice visit - but let us know where you are staying since that makes a difference if your visit is feasible..

The Gold Rush towns mentioned (Columbia etc) are great and could be substituted for Lake Tahoe for sure.

"How is the weather during the first week of November? "

Absolutely no way to know right now - could be great - or not.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 06:20 PM
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Oops, sorry meant to type wildfire.

I agree that Gold Country would be a good substitute. You can see giant sequoias at Calaveras Big Trees. Murphys is a cute town. I also like Angels Camp nearby.

Or you could do SJC to Central Coast to Yosemite. The weather on the coast is usually still OK in late October/early November.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 06:21 PM
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If you can only spare one day for San Francisco, I would skip it.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 06:35 PM
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Your plan might be okay depending on fire situation. You may need to give up on Kings/Sequoia entirely. Mariposa Grove in Yosemite has sequoia trees, but read the park notices. Do you think you will be able to walk to the grove (4 to 5 miles round trip). Do you plan to carry the 4-year old?

Weather is usually nice in early November, but it might be cold.

Of course I would not skip San Francisco, but you might take the days from Kings Sequoia and add a few at the beginning to San Francisco.Staying the first night closer to the airport is always an option.

Have you already booked hotels and airfare?. If you exit the south end of Yosemite it is not very far to Fresno Airport.

Last edited by mlgb; Oct 3rd, 2021 at 06:38 PM.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 07:08 PM
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Yes YNP is close to Fresno but the problem is they are leaving Yosemite 2 days before the flight so proximity to FAT doesn't help much.

(This is assuming the nights in YNP are booked)

Mariposa Grove may not be feasible with a 4 yo, but Calaveras Big Trees is a bigger better stand anyway, with more than twice as many Sequoias.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 07:18 PM
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Thanks everyone for your input. we are reaching on Friday night . Looks like KC/SNP is completely out of scope now. I checked the status after reading your inputs on this thread. What do you guys think about the below itinerary -
Day 1(Fri) -getting the rental car and staying with my Family in San Jose
Day 2(Sat)- San Francisco (1 day)
Day 3(Sun) - Big sur drive and check in at the Yosemite for the night

Day 4,5,6(M,T,W)- Yosemite National Park(3 days)
Day 7,8 (Th,F) - Lake Tahoe

Day 9 (Sat) - Fly out from RNO

The plan is to stay in any lodging inside the Yosemite park except Ahwanee as it is beyond our budget. I just started the trip planning, so i am behind in so many things.
So far , we booked our flights from PHL to SJC and yet to book my return flights.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 07:22 PM
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I would check lodging in Yosemite ASAP as you may need to book your trip around what might be available.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 09:10 PM
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Day 3 is just about impossible. San Jose to Big Sur to Yosemite Valley is a SEVEN hour drive without any stops or sightseeing.

"The plan is to stay in any lodging inside the Yosemite park except Ahwanee as it is beyond our budget. I just started the trip planning, so i am behind in so many things."

If you do not yet have accommodations in YNP you immediately need to determine if any rooms are available. There might be something since you are looking at Sun/Mon/Tues nights but it is also very likely they are completely booked up. I'd check for sure - fingers crossed - but Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal is probably your best bet at this late date. It is the nearest property to the Valley.

The Yosemite through Reno days are fine - totally doable. It is the front end of the plan that doesn't work. You could skip SF entirely and drive from SJ down to Monterey and stay there Saturday night. Depending on where in San Jose you are starting, the drive from SJ to Monterey is only about an hour so you'd have most of a day to explore Point Lobos, the north end of Big Sur, maybe the Mission. Then Sunday morning you could visit the aquarium and then drive over to YNP. Monterey to El Portal is about a 4 hour drive.


edit: One issue could be that most places on the Monterey Peninsula require a 2 night stay on weekends. But there are some chain hotels that might let you book for just Saturday night.

Last edited by janisj; Oct 3rd, 2021 at 09:14 PM.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2021, 10:31 PM
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Friday upon arrival ""drive from SJ down to Monterey and stay there"" Friday and "Saturday night"". I would stay in Carmel (much more interesting). "".Depending on where in San Jose you are starting"" (the airport) ", the drive from SJ to Monterey is only about an hour so you'd have most of a day" and a half "to explore Point Lobos, the north end of Big Sur, maybe the Mission" and Carmel, Pacific Grove, and Spanish Bay.

"Then Sunday morning you could visit the aquarium and then drive over to YNP. Monterey to El Portal is about a 4 hour drive." I would agree with this if it were in April, May, June, July, August, or even September. But not in November with the short daylight hours. The kids create extra challenges.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 07:07 AM
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Stu: You and I might prefer Carmel and have no need to stay over in SJ . . . However for this OP I really think Monterey fits better. They have small children and mention budget is a consideration. There are more budget friendly accommodations in Monterey. Plus they are visiting family in SJ on Friday. If they drive directly south they wouldn't be able to stay with the relatives.

Now -- if they don't care about seeing the relatives then you suggestion might work.

And in early Nov. sunset is just after 6PM and not dark til after 6:30 PM so they could spend a couple of hours at the aquarium, Be on the road by 1PM and be in YNP by 5:00 and still full daylight.

My post was specifically for this family. Not what I'd recommend for everyone.

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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 10:18 AM
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Has OP even said they want to go to the Aquarium? I just see "Big Sur drive". I agree that going from San Jose to the Monterey peninsula as a day trip is an idea, and for me Point Lobos would be a good substitute for Big Sur and more fun than the Aquarium, because you can see the sea otters in the wild. We often went to Point Lobos from Marin as a day trip (but in the summer).

Also, what do you want to see in San Francisco? If the priority is the Golden Gate bridge for example, it is relatively easy to drive I-280 from San Jose (avoiding rush hour).

But first you need to lock down your Yosemite nights then you can plan the rest of the stay around that.

If it's an option I would add more nights with the relative at the beginning, do Monterey as a day trip, and San Francisco could be a half day on the way to Marin or East Bay for an overnight, before driving to Yosemite the next day. It's about 4 to 5 hours from Marin or somewhere like Pleasanton.

Last edited by mlgb; Oct 4th, 2021 at 10:21 AM.
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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 10:57 AM
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"Has OP even said they want to go to the Aquarium?"

Nope -- my comment was in response to Stu's suggestion that the Aquarium in the morning and then driving to YNP isn't doable due to the short days the first week of Nov.

. . . However, with kids those ages, Point Lobos and the Monterey Bay Aquarium would be very very high on most family's 'must list'.
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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 12:13 PM
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Also keep in mind that the aquarium now requires an advance timed entry ticket (no ticket sales in person) and in case you're here past October, starting November 1st proof of vaccination or negative test is required for those 12 and over.
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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 12:19 PM
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Depending on the exact dates, there are rooms available at the Yosemite Valley Lodge the first week in November. (Including the one with the queen bed and the bunk set).

We always stayed in Curry Village in the canvas tents (shared bathrooms and food and toiletries have to go in the bear lockers). My parents had to send three kids to college so no hotel rooms for us, other than Motel 6 and HoJo.



Last edited by mlgb; Oct 4th, 2021 at 12:35 PM.
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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 12:28 PM
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Fire season, youll need a backup plan. Booking tickets out of Reno when there's a small chance you might not even be able to get to Reno is a little risky. And "wildlife" may not be that much of a misprint above. The behavior of wildlife post-major-fires is erratic and something that you need to be aware of with a 4 year old in tow.

With kids that age you could easily fill the time in Monterey at the aquarium and then enjoying the Big Sur coastline & parks. Are your tickets with Southwest so that you can change them and fly back from San Jose if need be?

Last edited by clarkgriswold; Oct 4th, 2021 at 12:30 PM.
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