May trip to Yosemite (Hopefully)

Old Jan 10th, 2021, 01:52 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 27
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
May trip to Yosemite (Hopefully)

Need help with order of trip to Yosemite. Tried to go last October & that didn’t happen due to COVID & fires! Flying into San Francisco on a Tuesday mid May. Not sure I want to drive directly to Yosemite after a 4 1/2 hr flight. Possibly stay in Larkspur first night then on to Yosemite View Lodge for 2 nights. Drive to Mariposa Grove & stay at Tenaya Lodge Friday night. Considering driving to Monterey/Carmel & stay 2 nights. We have 8 nights altogether. Should we drive an hour or so toward Yosemite once we land or stay near airport or Larkspur(points)? Any suggestions would be helpful.
darnwright01 is offline  
Old Jan 10th, 2021, 05:07 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 21,544
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Larkspur is north of SF, in the wrong direction of Yosemite is the ultimate destination. It would be better to go south, perhaps stay at a hotel just south of the airport, and then take CA92 east to connect with I580 and I205 to take CA120 to Yosemite.
Michael is online now  
Old Jan 10th, 2021, 05:15 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,916
Likes: 0
Received 17 Likes on 4 Posts
Originally Posted by darnwright01 View Post
Need help with order of trip to Yosemite. Tried to go last October & that didn’t happen due to COVID & fires! Flying into San Francisco on a Tuesday mid May. Not sure I want to drive directly to Yosemite after a 4 1/2 hr flight. Possibly stay in Larkspur first night then on to Yosemite View Lodge for 2 nights. Drive to Mariposa Grove & stay at Tenaya Lodge Friday night. Considering driving to Monterey/Carmel & stay 2 nights. We have 8 nights altogether. Should we drive an hour or so toward Yosemite once we land or stay near airport or Larkspur(points)? Any suggestions would be helpful.
Any chance you could fly to San Jose or Sacramento (SMF)? Depending on what time a flight arrives at SFO, It is hard to get out to the east. If you fly to SMF, the rental cars are cheaper and there is access to I-5 which has a better shot of getting to Merced. If you get to Merced without a rental car, I'm hoping that the YARTS buses are running into the park from Merced.
tomfuller is offline  
Old Jan 10th, 2021, 06:58 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 27
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Already have tickets Our flight arrives at 12:45 pm so we could drive east toward Yosemite but not sure I want to drive all the way. My daughter has some disabilities so that might be difficult. Is there any place on the way or should would stay in San Mateo or San Jose overnight?
On the way back, we would like to see Monterey/Carmel & drive up the coast. Any recommendations?
darnwright01 is offline  
Old Jan 10th, 2021, 08:10 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,482
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
Glad you are trying again. . . . and May is a much better time to visit YNP so lemons out of lemonade (I have a tentative trip there in mid March which is even iffier than May - fingers crossed)

OK Larkspur makes no sense on any level. With such an early arrival I would 100% drive all the way to El Portal. Several reasons. If you stay the night somewhere in the Bay area you would have to wait until late morning to get started on the drive -- otherwise you'll be stuck in really REALLY bad morning commute traffic. Even now in essentially total lockdown the traffic is still pretty busy during AM and PM commutes. By May if things have opened up my guess is the nasty/horrible traffic will have returned.

It would still be daylight long after you arrive at Yosemite View Lodge so you can relax, wander along the river, have a nice dinner, and be ready to hit Yosemite Valley first thing in the morning. By missing the traffic it will be less than a 4 hour drive total. You don't need to drive straight through -- you can stop for a leisurely lunch in the East Bay somewhere and then only have a 3-ish hour drive ahead of you.

janisj is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2021, 06:25 AM
  #6  
J62
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 10,720
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you don't want to drive all the way to El Portal there are plentyof chain motels along the route. Anywhere in the Central Valley, from Tracy to Modesto to Oakdale would get you far east of the Bay Area on the day of your arrival and make it a shorter drive to Yosemite the following morning.

J62 is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2021, 07:05 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 27
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Driving straight through does seem like the best choice. Thanks for reminding me about the morning traffic! Where would you suggest stopping in East Bay for lunch? I believe that being at Yosemite mid week will be a plus. Any suggestions for Monterey/Carmel accommodations? Would like to stay under $300 a night. Looking at The Hideaway or Carmel Bay View Inn. Thanks again for your help.
darnwright01 is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2021, 07:22 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,916
Likes: 0
Received 17 Likes on 4 Posts
I agree with janisj. Shoot for El Portal. If you can't get lodging in ElPortal or at the Yosemite Lodge, there is a place in Midpines that my wife and I stayed at. It is now known as the BUG Mountain Resort. It is up a gravel driveway from Rt. 140. At the foot of the driveway is a bus shelter for the YARTS buses. The Yarts bus also has at least 1 stop in ElPortal on the way to the Yosemite Valley.
Parking at times has been a problem in Yosemite, but there is no predicting what the situation will be mid-week in May. Do try to get to the Mariposa Grove in the southern end of the park instead of sticking to "the Valley". One of the most spectacular sights in the park is the vista at the north end of the tunnel. From there you see the whole valley including Half Dome.
tomfuller is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2021, 09:33 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,482
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
The quickest route would be 580 to 205 to 99 south to 140. So a practical lunch stop could be in Dublin/Pleasanton or Livermore or Tracy. Lots of casual places and chains near exit ramps. So you could just stop when you get peckish.

But if you are willing to take a little longer route (maybe 30-35 minutes longer drive in total) you could take 101 south, 152, 140. That would have you passing through Morgan Hill and Gilroy. Gilroy has a lot of decent restaurants convenient to 101/152. OR -- a bit farther east on 152 there is https://www.casadefruta.com and just south of the 152/156 junction is https://www.grovebargrill.com

janisj is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2021, 09:58 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 19,840
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Remember it takes a while to manage luggage and car rental before you are one the road. Not even counting flight delays, it could take as much as 5 hours to get to El Portal. Adding in hotel check-in time, and time to haul luggage and get settled, not sure that going the entire way gets you much time in the park or even to the overlook, if that was the thinking. (In my experience there is a lot of traffic heading into Yosemite for sunset.)

I guess it depends on just how tired you think you will be on arrival. I do think you'd want to decide now as rooms will book out for mid-May. Maybe the first night in Oakdale isn't a bad idea.

You can see by the bump up in rates for mid-May at standard chains, just how popular May is.
mlgb is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2021, 04:50 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,482
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
To clarify just in case. -- I didn't mean the river in Yosemite Valley nor the overlook. I agree that would be pretty ambitious. The Merced River runs through the grounds of Yosemite View Lodge.
janisj is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2021, 05:14 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,482
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
Oakdale might not be the best option because it is on 120 and is a really long twisty difficult drive to El Portal. Not a good choice if anyone in the car is subject to car sickness

One problem is most of the Central Valley towns that would make sense for your route (Tracy, Manteca, Modesto, Turlock, Merced etc. ) are not scenic wonders - I'm being really generous here But they do have the usual suspects -- Courtyard, Holiday Inn Express, Days Inn, Hampton Inn etc.
janisj is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2021, 07:48 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 27
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
So far, the plan is to arrive at SFO at 12:45, pick up car & drive directly to Yosemite View Lodge (stopping along the way for lunch and coffee breaks! Stay 2 nights then drive south to Mariposa Grove & stay 1 night at Tenaya Lodge. Next 4 nights are undecided. Maybe 2 nights in Monterey/Carmel & see Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park then 2 in Santa Cruz or San Jose? Thanks to all of you for the suggestions & advice.
Any other input would be welcome.
darnwright01 is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2021, 10:33 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,482
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
For the last 4 nights -- I would not stay in San Jose. Depending on what time your flight out is there are a couple of options

Three nights in Monterey or Carmel or Pacific Grove. and one night in Santa Cruz. Three nights only gives you 2.5 days and you'd need all of that to see a bit of Big Sur, Point Lobos (and absolute must), the Monterey Aquarium/Cannery Row, Fisherman's Wharf, Carmel town/beach/Mission, 17 Mile Drive (not a must but many visitors want to do it), maybe kayaking and/or lunch at Phil's.

Then its only about a 45 minute drive from Monterey to Santa Cruz or Henry Cowell. So you could drive to Henry Cowell in the morning and then in the early or mid afternoon down the hill to Santa Cruz (about a ten minute drive) to visit the Boardwalk / beach /explore, stay the night. Drive to SFO the next morning to catch your flight. This would work as long as your flight isn't early in the AM

If it is an early flight - I'd still stay 3 nights near Monterey, then drive up to Santa Cruz in the morning - check out the Boardwalk and head up to Henry Cowell after lunch. Spend the whole afternoon in the Redwoods, then drive up to SFO, have dinner, drop the car and check into an hotel near the airport - they all have shuttles.
janisj is offline  
Old Jan 12th, 2021, 04:03 AM
  #15  
J62
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 10,720
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Oakdale might not be the best option because it is on 120 and is a really long twisty difficult drive to El Portal. Not a good choice if anyone in the car is subject to car sickness >

One problem is most of the Central Valley towns that would make sense for your route (Tracy, Manteca, Modesto, Turlock, Merced etc. ) are not scenic wonders - I'm being really generous here But they do have the usual suspects -- Courtyard, Holiday Inn Express, Days Inn, Hampton Inn etc.
I think you're vastly overstating the appeal of the Central Valley towns.... so any stopover would be for coffee/meal break - nearly every exit as you pass through those cities has a strip mall with restaurants/supermarket/coffee shop... A little sparer in between but you're never far from population centers until you climb into the foothills of the Sierras.
J62 is offline  
Old Jan 12th, 2021, 09:57 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,482
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
"I think you're vastly overstating the appeal of the Central Valley towns...."

I guess you missed the sarcasm font and emoji . . .

( . . . and to clarify if necessary, I didn't recommend staying in any of them but only offered them up as an alternative to Oakdale and an urpy drive. But the OP seems to have decided to drive it straight through, so not relevant. )
janisj is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:08 AM.