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kms4609 Mar 30th, 2008 01:47 PM

San Francisco, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia and Monterey
We will be flying into San Francisco on July 3rd and plan to spend 3 - 5 days in the city. We have a 14 and 18 year old traveling with us. We then plan on taking the train to San Jose Airport to pick up a rental car and then will head to Yosemite for 2 or 3 days. We would like to also visit Kings Canyon and Sequoia NP and end up the trip in Monterey before flying home on the 16th out of San Jose. Can anyone recommend how many days I should plan on each location and if I am missing any great spots that I should include on this trip. The only availability for lodging within Yosemite at this late date is the Curry Village tents. I am little worried about this option. We have stayed at the Maho Bay tents in St John USVI but this does not sound like that type of set up. We can also book a hotel/B&B outside the park in Oakhurst. Our family likes museums, hiking, National Parks, aquariums, beaches, science, gardens, etc... Thanks!

jamesr3939 Mar 30th, 2008 05:46 PM

Try Enterprise rental car and see if they will bring the car to you in San Francisco. The trip to San Jose just to pick up a car is a waste of time.

As for places around Yosemite I would look at Oakhurst, Bass Lake, and Mariposa. Kings Canyon you could stay in Fresno.

Stay in SF until after the 4th of July weekend otherwise the roads will be packed. I would do the full five days in SF, then 2-3 days in Yosemite, 1-2 days Kings Canyon, and 3-4 in Monterey.

enzian Mar 30th, 2008 06:04 PM

Curry Village is OK for a night or maybe two (we have stayed there several time), but for your family you might like something nicer.

Did you try the condos and cabins at Yosemite West?

These are about as close as you can get to Yosemite Valley without actually being IN the Valley. We haven't stayed there ourselves, but the location looks great and I'm going to check them out for our next winter visit.

You don't need to look as far as Bass Lake or Mariposa. That would involve too much driving back and forth.

You could also try Tenaya Lodge on the main Yosemite website:

The property is supposed to be very nice, but it is not as close in as Yosemite West. So I'd suggest trying that first. It seems like a good option for a family of four.

I would suggest 3 nights there to really enjoy Yosemite.

cabovacation Mar 30th, 2008 07:38 PM

It would be nice to see if you can pick up your car closer to san fran and still drop it off at san jose. However, I see that in the end you will definitely want to be able to drop it off in San Jose. So, if all else fails that train ride to San Jose is not a big deal at all. No problem.

janisj Mar 30th, 2008 07:51 PM

taking the train to SJ to pick up your car makes absolutely no sense IMO. Even if you are dropping the car back in San Jose - there should not be any extra drop off fees. Pick up you car near your hotel and head out. By they time you got to San Jose and collected the car you could be half way to Yosemite already. Then at the end of the trip you can drop the car at SJ.

Also - that is a VERY busy time of year in and around Yosemite and along the coast. You had better get accommodations ASAP.

If at all possible, I would 100% recommend staying in the Valley even if it is the tent cabins. If you stay outside the park you will face very heavy traffic in and out and it will take longer than usual. They sometimes even have to close the valley to incoming visitors.

november_moon Mar 31st, 2008 10:57 AM

Although the cabins in Curry aren't my favorite, I would choose them in order to stay in the valley - as others have said, traffic in and out can be difficult, so I would give up some creature comforts to avoid the drive. Also, early mornings and evenings are my favortive times in the valley :)

enzian Mar 31st, 2008 11:26 AM

I agree with both of you about staying in the Valley, and I generally urge people to stay at Curry if that is all that is available. The tents are clean and comfortable, and I love having the views of Half Dome right outside the tent.

But for someone like the OP, resistant to the idea of a tent cabin, particularly with teenagers along, I think the Yosemite West area might be a good alternative (and they could cook a few meals instead of relying on Valley restaurants for 3 days).

If the map on the Yosemite West website is correct, they are located right near the intersection of the Glacier Point Road with the main road into the valley from Wawona. So it wouldn't be a bad-traffic drive like the one in from the Arch Rock entrance or other areas outside the park. And it would be close to some nice hikes, like Sentinal Dome or the 4-Mile trail down to the Valley.

paula1470 Mar 31st, 2008 12:39 PM

enzian-My DD and I stayed in Yosemite West for a couple of nights, two years ago. They were fine and driving back and forth wasn't a problem. It's a little bit of a drive into Yosemite Valley but you don't have to deal with the lines coming into the park. We actually liked that they were in a quiet area. Although I have done camping in my day, I would pick Yosemite West over Curry Village. That time of year it will be packed and I have heard about how you hear all the noise of your neighbors. It is nice though to see Half Dome when you wake up in the morning.

The other good thing about Yosemite West is that when you are ready to head out of the park, you are a little closer to the south entrance. You make take Highway 41 through Oakhurst and head down to Fresno and then into Sequoia and Kings Canyon. I just checked your date and it looks like they have the loft condo's for your date. Go to The rate is from $165 to $205 which isn't bad. I would definitely stay here vs. outside the park.

paula1470 Mar 31st, 2008 12:50 PM

I know that Enterprise charged me a drop off fee of $50 when I returned the car to the San Jose Airport. But I just looked at Dollar Car Rental and you can pick up a car at their location in Fisherman's Wharf at the Sheraton and drop it off at San Jose Airport. They do charge a drop off fee but it's only $22. Your train tickets will cost more than that besides all the wasted time of getting to San Jose. I like Dollar because they are generally one of the cheaper car rental companies and I have never had a problem with them.

james makes a good point about not traveling until after 4th of July weekend. The 4th falls on Sat this year so people will be traveling home on the 5th. Definitely don't leave SF until at least Monday, the 7th.

kms4609 Mar 31st, 2008 03:25 PM

Thanks to you all for your advice. Yosemite West is a great suggestion. I think we will stay in San Francisco from the 3rd until the 8th, head to Yosemite for the 8th through the 12th, down to Kings Canyon and Sequoia for the 12th and 13th and then over to Route 1 N to Monterey for the 14th and 15th. We fly out at 1:00 pm on the 16th. Does that plan sound reasonable. After San Francisco we are completely flexible on route. Any recommendations for lodging in Kings Canyon and Sequoia? There is still availabilty at Wuksachi Lodge.

ccrosner Mar 31st, 2008 05:43 PM

Sounds like a great plan. I agree that you should just pick the car up in SF. We did that two years ago and dropped off in LA with no drop charges.

We stayed at the Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia with our two kids and liked it very much. Think nice Holiday Inn with a good sized room and bathroom. Not much to do at night (we played cards in the lobby, which is separate from the lodge) but I think there was a t.v. in the room. Be sure to make a reservation for dinner before you arrive. There's only one restaurant on site and they book up.

chewy5 Mar 31st, 2008 06:54 PM

I can't say enough about being in Kings Canyon and the Sequoia's one of our best vacations so far. There is one hotel/motel in Kings Canyon not upscale but has what you need but you are right on the river it is awesome. We spent 2 days there hiking and chasing waterfalls. You will not be dissapointed.

ccrosner Apr 1st, 2008 02:54 AM

Just thought of one other suggestion: Dramamine or Bonine. If either of your children suffer from car sickness, I would suggest bringing some medicine to help counteract it. Our daughter had trouble on the way into and out of Yosemite. She took Bonine, fell asleep for an hour and felt much better.

SuzieTrue Apr 18th, 2008 05:49 PM

Good resource for upcoming anniversary trip.

Janig Mar 27th, 2009 10:46 PM

We stayed in a beautiful home inside Yosemite NP. Check out & type in Yosemite.
We are heading from San Diego up to Sequoia, San Francisco & back down the coast this summer. Your questions are helping me too! Thanks

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