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modeb May 19th, 2012 08:12 PM

Suggestion for coach tour to Yosemite
We are a family of four with two children and would like to do a day trip to Yosemite from San Francisco. Looking for suggestions on which coach tour company we should take and these tours do pickup from various hotels: Viator , Extranomical and other bus tour companies offer similar day trips covering Glacier point, the waterfall etc. Pls suggest if u know of private tour companies as well and as we are four of us maybe a private car would cost nearly the same as price of 4 bus tickets; plus give the flexibility of what to see and where to stop for lunch etc. any other tips on what to cover in a day within Yosemite wud be most helpful. Thanks!

montereybob May 20th, 2012 07:26 AM

It's a four hour drive from SF to Yosemite. Thar would be a totally exhausting round trip in one day. Plus it takes at least a full day once you get there to see even the minimal best parts of Yosemite. I don't see how this could be a day trip. I would recommend spending a minimum of one night in Yosemite valley. Two nights would be better. Also weather is an issue, so which month are you going?

montereybob May 20th, 2012 07:27 AM

Sorry, thar = that.

Barbara May 20th, 2012 07:53 AM

Not as exhausting if you're not doing the driving. While I agree with montereybob that it's better to spend more time, that isn't always an option. As a huge Yosemite fan, I'd rather people saw it briefly than not at all.

I'm sorry I know nothing about tour companies, but I do';t want you to be put off the idea.

modeb May 20th, 2012 08:42 PM

We would like to do the day-trip in mid June. Unfortunately we have only 1 full day and would be unable to stay overnight in Yosemite. Perhaps one idea to spend more time at the resort would be to take a private tour ; rather than a standard coach tour. So say we get picked up from San Francisco at 6am-7am and would be dropped back at 9pm...what would you suggest could be seen within Yosemite in that timeframe? SOme of these coach companies suggest covering Half Dome,El Capitan,Yosemite Falls,Bridalveil Fall,Mariposa Grove ,Glacier Point etc. Some are even suggesting Giant Sequioia but since we would be doing the same in Muir Wodds, guess its not needed to repeat the same in Yosemite? Do let us know a suggested itinerary with some of the above places and which would give us a chance to walk around or hike a bit also;plus stop for lunch at Ahwanee etc.

MichelleY May 20th, 2012 10:10 PM

If this is your only chance to see Yosemite, then do a day trip. Being picked up by 6 am would be best to beat traffic out of the Bay area. The sites you mention such as Half Dome, Bridal Veil falls, Yosemite Falls etc. can be viewed at various places in Yosemite Valley, hence you are looking up. Glacier Point gives you views from above looking down into the valley. Mariposa Grove is out of the valley. Do not miss seeing these trees. There are two different species of redwoods in California. The coastal redwoods, like those at Muir Woods, are very big and tall, but the Giant Sequoias in Yosemite are massive and some of the oldest trees on earth. All the sites have nice hikes for viewing.

Sorry I cannot help with recs for touring companies. Check with your hotel ahead of time and perhaps they can help you out.

MichelleY May 20th, 2012 10:14 PM

PS: We have never spent the night at Yosemite and have always gone as a day trip. For our family, that was plenty.

richmond706 May 20th, 2012 11:53 PM

Hi I am going for the first time in 5 weeks but have been studying Yosemite at length.
Bridalveil Falls and Lower Yosemite Falls are both easy to see in 30 minutes or less and highly recommended. You can ride the valley shuttle if you won't have a car.

Both Glacier Point and Mariposa Grove are an hour's ride from the valley and may be on the opposite side from where you will come in from San Francisco. Just study your route on the map and realize that although it doesn't look far, it will be very slow driving and take a while from the valley.On the map, it looks like Glacier Point is right next to the valley, but it is actually up a tall mountain above it and so you have to go west and around to get to it.

If you can't make it to Mariposa Grove there is a smaller grove on the north side of the valley called Merced Grove. It could be a back-up.

Another quick walk that people have recommended as being beautiful is Mirror Lake which is a 2.5 mile walk, not hike, and Inspiration Point, a similar easy distance.
Although you may not have time for the Mist Trail/Vernal Falls, maybe you could do part of it. It is often recommended first or second to people like me that have asked.

I am listing my new favorite website for trail descriptions. It just gives more details than the NPS website so maybe read both. (You might need to hit refresh when you go to it.)

I can't remember all details but there is a museum and nature center somewhere in the valley that people have said kids enjoy. The calendar is up now for June with info. Just click on the June 2012 pdf.

Lastly, don't forget to make reservations for dining at Ahwanee. You can get the link on the NPS page. (It is a popular dining reservation company but the name escapes me this second.) I made some for the end of June and some dining times were already full.

Good luck and tell us about it afterwards!

richmond706 May 20th, 2012 11:58 PM

I don't know what you are doing the next morning or how adventurous you are but if it were me and I wouldn't get to such an awesome place again anytime soon, I would-
rent a car, leave really early, bring a pillow and blanket for the kids and stay at yosemite until 8pm or around sundown and then drive back while the kids slept in the car. (yes I know they have to stay buckled up but can be cozy)

I have 3 kids and we push it sometimes though to see the most we can. It may not be for you, but after you look at all of the Yosemite photos, you might want to do that.

richmond706 May 21st, 2012 12:17 AM

sorry at the risk of being annoying, let me leave one more post!
I looked at the Extranomical website to see the details. It costs around $500 for a family of four. After leaving at 7 am and driving 4 hours, you will be able to walk around the valley from 12:30 - 3:00 p.m. approx and then start reloading the bus to go back to San Fran?

My kids would die if they had to drive 8 hours to get to walk around 3 hours or less!! YIKES!! that sounds miserable to even my teenagers. I could handle driving for 8 hrs to see the park 8 hrs. Even better if they sleep back for as my son says "the sleeping riding doesn't count."
You could rent a car for less than $100 a day and check out more. When they say you get to see Half-dome and El Capitan, they just mean "look up" at it from the valley area b/c those are big all-day hikes.

modeb May 21st, 2012 08:29 AM

Thanks Michelle, Richmond and everybody else...extremely useful suggestions! Yes starting at 6am and maybe coming back at 9pm would give us enough time in the valley. Booking at Ahwanee was also a great suggestion; thanks! Don't mind the long journeys; if the time spent in the valley would more than make up for the time spent travelling. All of you have given such excellent ideas...that I surely would like to see all these scenic spots and keep my kids prepared accordingly.

modeb Jul 22nd, 2012 07:56 AM

Hello everyone,
A much delayed post about our trip to Yosemite...sorry for the delay! We finally went with a company called who put us in touch with Jeff Morgan of Golden Gate Getaways and we took a private SUV tour with him. We found Jeff an excellent tour guide: knowledgable, friendly and very accommodating to all our requests ! Plus the entire trip was at very reasonable rates. We were out from 6am to 11pm and managed to see all the touristy spots in the valley including Glacier Point. Weather was fantastic..bright and sunny and we loved seeing people rafting in the river, swimming and having picnic lunches by the river banks. But the highlight of our Yosemite experience was spotting a young bear as well as a fox.....too wild animals on the same day was really lucky for us!

Thanks everyone for all your suggestions and the Yosemite experience was all that we could have wished for and more!

MichelleY Jul 22nd, 2012 04:16 PM

Glad your trip worked out well!

Suzie Jul 22nd, 2012 05:07 PM

SOunds great! Thanks for reporting back

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