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Quickest/easiest route from Sacramento to Yosemite

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Nov 12th, 2013, 04:04 PM
  #1
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Quickest/easiest route from Sacramento to Yosemite

What is the quickest/easiest way to get to Yosemite from Sacramento? We will be making the drive the first week of December. We won't go if the weather is bad.

I've checked Google Maps and it says 99 to 140 but I don't always find that Google gives the best advice. I've done a search here but didn't find an answer.

Thanks
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Nov 12th, 2013, 06:24 PM
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If you like I-5 better than 99, you can go across from I-5 to Merced on the "other" section of 140.
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Nov 12th, 2013, 07:04 PM
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99 is fine - you generally can't drive as fast on 99 as you can on I-5, but I-5 will take you farther west and you'll have to cut back over, so the overall length of travel is longer. Plus, unless you are starting from downtown Sac, you are probably closer to 99 than 5 to start with anyway.
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Nov 12th, 2013, 07:38 PM
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It depends where in Sacto you are staring from. I live west of Sacto. so I would take I-5 south and cut over to 99 on Hwy 4 cross town in Stockton or 120 at Lathrop. From there you would then head east from Manteca on 120 to Yosemite, NOT 140. 140 is way too south if you are coming from Sacramento.
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Nov 12th, 2013, 08:44 PM
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Makes a big difference where you are starting from . . .

From some parts 99 makes sense, from others - I-5, and from El Dorado Hills/Folsom hwy 49.

Yes - 120 is the closest route . . . but Hwy 140 is the 'all weather' route into the valley.
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Nov 13th, 2013, 12:10 AM
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It also matters where you are driving to within Yosemite. Are you staying overnight, and if so, are you staying in Yosemite Valley or El Portal? Are you staying in Groveland?

We went to Yosemite this summer. We drove through Sacramento on I-5 and cut over at Lathrop on 120 to Hwy 99.

I know this is against Michelle's advice, but we drove down 99 to 140. We were staying in El Portal and I wanted a pretty direct shot to our hotel as I knew it would be getting dark. I didn't want to wander around on multiple country roads looking for a turn.

Hwy 99 was an easy drive and fairly quick. 140 was easy from Merced until somewhere past Mariposa when it got windy near the river.

We went back on 120 because we went up to see the sequoias at Tuolumne and the staff recommended the route. We didn't think it was overall worth the extra time it seemed to take on slow roads behind large trucks.
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Nov 13th, 2013, 03:43 AM
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J62
 
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In December you also need to be mindful of chain control requirements. Rt 120 goes up an over some elevation while Rt 140 through El Portal does not. In December it is advised that you carry chains in your car regardless of route or weather as it can change at any time.

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/conditions.htm
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Nov 13th, 2013, 06:21 AM
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Thanks everyone. That is exactly the info I needed.

I will be in a rental so chains won't be allowed. We won't make the trip down if the roads are bad.
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Nov 13th, 2013, 06:46 AM
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Whether you put chains on the rental car is a secondary question. Depending on the status of the roads all cars may be required to CARRY chains to even be allowed to pass, even if the roads aren't bad, eg R1 status. It may not be your choice.

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/chains.htm
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Nov 13th, 2013, 07:01 AM
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It is my understanding that chain controls are not likely on Rt 140 up to El Portal since it does not pass over higher elevation, but may be required to enter the park.

If you can't get into the park you could park in El Portal and take the YARTS bus.
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Nov 13th, 2013, 12:23 PM
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Great info. Thanks everyone!
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Nov 13th, 2013, 01:31 PM
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Yes, in the winter time, it is a requirement that all vehicles entering Yosemite carry chains, regardless of the current conditions. The rangers don't always ask, but they can and if you don't have chains, they can refuse you entry to the park. You only have to use the chains if conditions warrant though. So, parking in El Portal or Mariposa and taking the YARTS into the park is a good idea.
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