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scoobydoo15 Jan 7th, 2006 02:42 PM

san franc, yosemite to la driving

We are planning a trip to SF from the UK in late August (2nd time visitor). We intend to spend 5 days in SF, drive over to Yosemite for 2 nights, then to Monterey for 2 nights, then drive down Highway 1 and stop 1 night in Solvang before our final 7 nights in Anaheim. With the exception of Yosemite, we have been to the other destinations. My question is, what is the best way to see Yosemite ( we are not hikers)bearing in mind it will be about the 24th/25th August. Is the open tram worth it or does anyone recommend the 2 day trips with accomodation from a number of SF tour companies. In addition how long is the drive from Yosemite to Monterey?
Thanks, would appreciate any advise

moneygirl Jan 7th, 2006 03:23 PM

I hope you have a lovely time in our wonderful state! I would amend your itinerary to stay one night in Santa Barbara rather than Solvang. So much more to do and see and much better lodging and restaurants!

The open tram at Yosemite is wonderful and another option for you might be renting bicycles... you can travel much of the valley thatt way. There are many hikes that are not strenuous... really just short walks that you may enjoy.

I would not pay for a tour. You can also do a horseback ride within the park that might be fun. (I haven't done that one for many years so I can't give a strong opitnion.

From Yosenite Valley to drive to Monterey will be at least 4 hours, maybe closer to 5 with a stop.

Michael Jan 8th, 2006 11:45 AM

Drive up to Glacier Point for an overview of the valley.

Surfergirl Jan 8th, 2006 12:41 PM

Unless you can't get accommodations in the Valley on your own (and you should book NOW), make arrangements on your own for Yosemite.

Even though I've been to Yosemite a zillion times, I found the tram tour very interesting and worthwhile. Hint, since it is open air and it gets really hot in Yosemite in summer, try to book it early in the morning or late in the day. Same applies to horseback riding, although I (who love horseback riding) hated doing it there. I've gone once on the 1/2 mule pack rides to the top of the falls and found the ride up pleasant and the ride down a horrible experience. The horseback riding was, in general, not fun because there's a lot of rocks and things the horse has to climb over and it is painful to the point where you can't enjoy the beauty around you.

Not being a hiker myself (and surrounded by a family of them), my favorite "hike" is to the base of Yosemite falls (which will be a drizzle as opposed to a fountain in August). That's a 10 minute walk, which is why I can deal with it. Another "hike" I can deal with is the trek to Mirror Lake, where you do have to walk about 5 minutes up a hill along a large paved path to reach. Best to rent a bike and ride it towards Mirror lake to the point where the hill starts, then get off the bike and walk up the path.

Another great way to see Yosemite, aside from renting a bike (which is something I highly recommend) is to do the river rafting. It is NOT white water rafting to be sure. You rent the rafts at Curry Village (I think it was $14 a day last summer), and it fits 4 comfortably. After dragging the raft (which is heavy, but not painful, since it's made of rubber) to the river at Stoneman's Bridge, there's someone there to help you get in and you float, using oars when you need to, 3 miles down river, during which time you have an amazing view of the valley and the mountains. You can also stop where you like, at various beaches along the way, can get out and hang out, relax, picnic, and play in the sand. You will also pass under a number of bridges, including one (Sentinel or Swinging) where you do have to watch out for kids jumping off the bridge into the water (it's prohibited, but is done anyway).

Finally, the free shuttle service (now in air conditioned and upgraded buses) is another good way to see Yosemite, by getting on the bus and staying on it until you want to get off.

ccrosner Jan 10th, 2006 04:41 AM

We are planning a similar trip for our family so I appreciate the answers. Would still love to hear about hotel suggestions from people.

To surfergirl: the raft trip in Yosemite sounds fun. Will it still be "doable" in late August? Or will the river be too low?

colombiana Jan 10th, 2006 09:36 AM

Great postings! I am also interested in the rafting can you tell me if itís open May 29? And if the river is deep? One of my friends does not swim. Thank you.

scoobydoo15 Jan 11th, 2006 03:48 AM

Thanks everyone for the help, as with the other replies,the white water rafting sounds good. Can anyone recommend a good hotel to stop in in Yosemite with 2 teenagers?

J_Correa Jan 11th, 2006 09:20 AM

columbiana - We usually go to Yosemite in mid-May - about a week before your trip. Rafts are not availible through the park at that time. We always see a few people in their own boats though. At that time of year, the river is still flowing pretty good and the water is very cold. The river is not deep, but I wouldn't want to take non-swimmers, maybe later in the year when the water is lower and slower, but not in the spring with the snow melt.

Surfergirl Jan 12th, 2006 11:08 PM

Rafting in late August should be fine. The amount of water in the river changes year by year -- just look at Yosemite falls when you get there and you will have an idea. Last summer, there was a huge snow with a lot of run-off, so the river was unsually high at the end of July and Yosemite Falls was pretty healthy looking. Some years around that time, or in late August, it's like a faucet dripping, at other times, it's like a running faucet.

Because the Merced is filled with water from melted snow, it is very cold. However, when hot outside, it's very refreshing.

I seem to recall the rafting starts over Memorial Day weekend, which is, of course, the last weekend in May.

It's not deep -- you'd more likely freeze than drown at the end of May, when the falls run at full speed and the river is colder than it is in late August. They do, of course, provide life preserver vests for everyone to wear, and there were many people who wear regular clothing, including jeans, not that I'd recommend this, having gone on log rides at amusement parks in jeans!

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