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Tahoe and Yosemite in June? Or, Tahoe & wine country?

Tahoe and Yosemite in June? Or, Tahoe & wine country?

Jul 25th, 2008, 07:21 AM
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Tahoe and Yosemite in June? Or, Tahoe & wine country?


My husband and I are planning our 10th-anniversary trip for June 2009. We will stay in North Lake Tahoe (where we were married) June 11-14 (Thursday Sunday). We are considering where to go for the rest of the trip, i.e., the 4-6 nights preceding this weekend.

One idea is to fly into Reno (from San Diego), drive to Yosemite, stay in or around the park, then to Tahoe, and fly back out of RenoWe love to hike, and we would want to get into the park and beyond the tourist sites to avoid crowds. However, we have never been to Yosemite, so Im sure we should see the valley, even if its crowded. I suspect we would be happier staying outside of the park to avoid crowds, even if it involves more driving but Im not sure about this, since weve never been to the area. What areas should we consider for lodging, given that we are driving from/to the Reno area? Is the Tioga pass likely to be passable in early-mid June?

Another idea is to fly into San Francisco, tour around the wine country (avoiding big Napa and crowds), then head to Lake Tahoe, and fly back to San Diego out of Reno. We love wine, food, B&Bs, etc. and I think we would really enjoy this area too. We have been to San Francisco many times, so thats not on the agenda.

Any thoughts on which combination of locations might make more sense, given the time of year, distances, etc.? Would it be out of the question to do all three e.g., 3 nights in the wine country, 3 in Yosemite, 3 in Tahoe? Would that involve too much driving?

At this point we are very open, but we would like to plan early since Yosemite seems to book so far in advance. I would be very grateful for any thoughts you may have about a possible itinerary, as well as places to see and stay.

Many thanks for your guidance!
vanessa21 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2008, 07:37 AM
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I haven't done Yosemite, but three days in wine country (yes, avoid Napa) would be wonderful. Maybe check out wineries in the Russian River area (our fave is Iron Horse) and stay in Calistoga? There should be some great hiking and even trail rides in that area, plus great food.
klta is offline  
Jul 25th, 2008, 07:41 AM
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Yosemite would certainly be far superior than Napa for hiking.

Tioga is usually open early-mid June. You can check the Yosemite National Park website or google Tioga Pass opening dates to find a list of the most recent opening dates. One of the nicest places to stay in Yosemite is Tuolumne Meadows Tented Camp, but you may already be too late for weekend reservations for next year. You would need to check, again, on the website for Plan Your Visit to see what accomodations are available.

Marginal is offline  
Jul 25th, 2008, 07:43 AM
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You can actually do it all. Tahoe is only about ninety miles from some amazing wineries in Amador and Calaveras counties and they are only about one hundred miles from Yosemite. The wineries are primarily along highway 49 which is in the mother lode and the wineries are small, friendly and don't charge to taste.The wines are reds such as zinfandels, barberas, petite sirahs, etc. and are every bit as good as Napa.There are about sixty wineries in this area.
twelveoaks is offline  
Jul 25th, 2008, 08:21 AM
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Actually Twelve has an excellent suggestion. You actually pass through the wine country area of Amador county as you travel from Yosemite to Tahoe.

I suggest that you consider finding lodging in Yosemite for the full experience. There are options and something should fall into your comfort zone.
cabovacation is offline  
Jul 25th, 2008, 08:38 AM
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twelveoaks beat me to it - I second the recommendation for touring the wineries in the gold country/sierra foot hills. No need to go to the Sonoma area, and since the OP is interested in avoiding crowds, these wineries might be just what she and her husband are looking for. There are some neat towns along Hwy 49 and some good state parks and places for hiking.
november_moon is offline  
Jul 25th, 2008, 08:38 AM
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You might want to consider flying into Fresno and leaving immediatlely for Yosemite (you really don't want to spend anytime in Fresno if you don't have to). Fresno is by far the closest airport to Yosemite.

After Yosemtite you can go ahead with the other suggestions on your way to Tahoe.

Curious is offline  
Jul 25th, 2008, 08:40 AM
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It's so much easier to fly into Reno from San Diego, and the drive from Reno to Yosemite is very lovely on Highway 395. You have time to stop and see the ghost town at Bodie State Park, and to see Mono Lake.
Marginal is offline  
Jul 25th, 2008, 09:39 AM
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I third (or is it 4th) the idea of Amador/Calaveras counties for your wine/B&B/food bit. It makes the whole trip much more doable.

"I suspect we would be happier staying outside of the park to avoid crowds" Staying outside of the park won't let you avoid crowds - it will force you to schlepp in w/ all the other day trippers every day. Stay IN the Valley - at Yosemite Lodge is fine but the Ahwahnee would be wonderful if it fits in your budget.

I'd fly into Sacramento. Travel an hour east to the Amador wine region and stay a night or 2 there or a bit south in Calaveras County. Then down to Yosemite for 2-4 days. Then over Tioga Pass to 395 and up to Tahoe. Then drive over to Reno to fly back to San Diego.
janisj is offline  
Jul 25th, 2008, 09:43 AM
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Another vote for Yosemite over wine country.
FainaAgain is offline  
Jul 25th, 2008, 09:50 AM
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There may be drop-off fees involved in a one-way car rental. Make sure you have a committment on a fee from the car rental before making open-jaw reservations.

You would enjoy Tuolumne Meadows much more than the valley floor accomodations if you want to avoid crowds.
Marginal is offline  
Jul 25th, 2008, 05:19 PM
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Tuolumne Meadows is usually not fully open until the middle of June (or later) in most years. Tioga Pass should be open but may not be if it's a late spring and there's been a lot of snow (we are due). So, I wouldn't plan your trip around these destinations this far out.

If you want to see Yosemite, then you might want to fly into Sacramento and then drive up to the Amador wineries and then visit Yosemite. Then if Tioga is open, you can get up to Tahoe that way. If not, you can head up US 50 or I 80 after going north on CA 49. Then after Tahoe, you can just drive back down to Sacramento and fly home.

Yosemite is a world class destination and you should see it if you haven't already.

However, the Napa/Sonoma wine country is also a world class destination. Other areas in California also make fine wine but none have the panache of Sonapanoma.

For those who berate Napa, it's still the most highly prized vineyard area in North America and it's wines have the hefty price tags to prove it.

You really can't compare the other wine areas unless you have visited Napa and Sonoma. There's a reason the crowds go there.

You could do all three - Napa, Tahoe and Yosemite in your time allotment. The drives are not that great but doing just two would be more relaxing.

If you decide to do the Napa/Sonoma area, I'd still fly into Sacramento instead of SF. It's a lot easier airport and it's closer to Napa than SFO. If you were just doing Tahoe, then Reno would be the best choice of airport.

You folks must not like to drive because if it was my trip and I had 9 or 10 days to do Yosemite and Tahoe, I'd drive my own car up from San Diego. The drive up US 395 to Tahoe is one of the most beautiful in the country.
Supercilious is offline  
Jul 26th, 2008, 08:17 AM
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Thanks to all of you for the many excellent, and incredibly helpful, suggestions!

Twelve (and others) I really like the idea of Amador around the Sierra foothills - I hear that area is beautiful. I think we will look into a one way car rental if it's not too expensive, fly into Fresno and head to Yosemite, then Amador, then Tahoe, or fly into Sacramento, then Amador, they Yosemite, then Tahoe, and fly out of Reno. But I will confirm the amount, and see if flying in/out of Sacramento would be better.

Janis, I think that's a good point about staying in Yosemite - so we can avoid too much driving and being stuck in traffic (Supercilious, I don't mind a road trip, but my S.O. travels every week for work, so would like to minimize that). Perhaps it will help if we schedule the Yosemite segment on less crowded days, i.e., maybe Tuesday-Thursday (so perhaps Amador first is best).

I looked at the Ahwahnee. Very expensive, but I wonder if it's worth a splurge for our anniversary? If anyone has stayed there, please let me know your thoughts.

Also, if anyone has suggestions on where to stay around Amador (towns or hotels/B&Bs), please chime in!

I know we would love the other areas of wine country as well - e.g., the Russian River valley (thanks Kita for suggestions), smaller vineyards of Sonoma Napa -but I think we will save that for another trip.

Again, thanks so much to all of you for your input! It's so nice to have opinions from people who have actually been to these places.

vanessa21 is offline  
Jul 26th, 2008, 09:33 AM
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Yes the Ahwahnee is expensive -- stay elsewhere if you'd like but DO GO to the Ahwahnee for a formal dinner or a casual supper in the bar area. It has beautiful views and lovely old-lodge atmosphere...with a lovely outdoor patio for cocktails.
ladystack is offline  
Jul 26th, 2008, 02:30 PM
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One more piece to the puzzle. I don't know how much time you wish to devote to wine tasting but there are 40 wineries in Amador county. They are in the Shennandoah valley close to Plymouth. Fourteen of them are open during the week but most are not open until Thursday or Friday for the weekend. I recommend you go to amadorwines.com for more detail as many of the best are not open until Thursday or Friday.For wine tasting in Amador I recommend you overnight in Sutter Creek. It is a great old gold rush town about ten miles from Plymouth and it has several B&Bs as well as a new very large Days Inn just north of town and several good restaurants. In Calaveras there are 21 wineries and almost all are in Murphys which is another great gold rush era town. Only seven are open during the week so go to the Calaveras vintners association web page for more info. Murphys has several great restaurants and hotels/motels.
twelveoaks is offline  
Aug 14th, 2008, 07:17 AM
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Thanks twelveoaks, for the additional information about the Amador area, which is very helpful. So this is our current plan:

Fly early on June 6 into Sacramento (? possibly) and stay the 6th and 7th in Sutter Creek (no reservation yet, but will look at B&Bs). This is the weekend, so hopefully that will work out well but I will double-check the websites. Spend the days touring around Amador wineries and the Sierra foothills. Depart on the 8th late morning or so...

Stay the 8th and 9th at the Blue Butterfly Inn B&B outside of Yosemite. We have reservations, and it appears to be relatively close to Yosemite valley, even though outside of the park. Hike Yosemite in/around the valley.

Stay the 10th at Ahwahnee. We have a reservation, but it is $535 for the night. We might stay all three nights at the Blue Butterfly Inn instead, and just have dinner at the Ahwahnee as Ladystack suggested. But it is our tenth anniversary so maybe it's worth the splurge! We hope to drive out along Tioga pass if the weather cooperates, with stops/shorter hikes on the way through.

Stay the 11th, 12, 13th at the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, at the B&B where we were married (the Shore House). Hike, enjoy the lake, eat, relax, etc. Fly out of Reno on the 14th.

If anyone has stayed at the Blue Butterfly Inn and has opinions about it's actual convenience to the Yosemite Valley and/or has any other specific suggestions about wineries, hikes in Yosemite, etc. please let me know. Otherwise, thanks so much to all of you, I am very excited already even though it's 10 months away!

vanessa21 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2008, 11:05 AM
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If you go to Yosemite, do not even consider staying out of the valley. You can park your car and just leave it....walking everywhere or taking the handy shuttle buses. Yes, it can be crowded (not as much in June, however) but you can always find a path, or spot where there are not a lot of people. The cabins in Curry Village are delightful and not expensive. Yes, save the Ahwanhee for a meal. This is one of the most incredible places in the entire world....period.
chrisbaron is offline  
Aug 14th, 2008, 01:19 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
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The drive from Tioga Pass and up 395 to Reno/Tahoe is one of my most favorite drives. It will be worth it! Lots of little side trips can be taken, along with hiking and exploring. I am not familiar with The Blue butterfly, but I recommend staying in the valley.
You can walk, rent bicycles,hike, take shuttle buses, etc..
You have a very nice trip planned out.
sharon62 is offline  
Aug 17th, 2008, 04:00 PM
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The Tioga Pass is usually open by mid-June. I would definitely go to Yosemite. I have lived in California my entire life and this is my favorite place. The huge granite mountains are totally awesome. I go backpacking at Yosemite for 5-7 days every summer and never stop marveling at the beauty of this area. I would recommend staying inside the park for one or two nights. Book now for next June. There are a variety of different types of lodging. Here's the website for making reservations: http://www.nationalparkreservations....FRNOagodXHPdPA

Have you considered visiting one of California's other wine regions? One of my favorite wine regions is Amador County in the Sierra Foothills....there are more than 25 great wineries with tasting rooms and they make great wines. The wineries are close together. The wineries are mostly small and family owned with friendly tasting rooms. We go often. Many times we are served wine by the owner of the winery. Wine tasting is almost always free. This region would be much closer to Tahoe. El Dorado and Nevada County also have wineries that you could visit in the Sierras.
Learn more about these wine regions at http://www.cheers2wine.com/Sierra-Foothills.html

Have fun and Happy anniversary!
howefortunate is offline  
Aug 17th, 2008, 04:36 PM
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Have been to Napa a few times and love it. Our relatives moved to Santa Rosa and I like it better. It is an ideal location to visit wineries in Napa and also Sonoma Counties. Good restaurants etc.
One-half hour drive to Bodega Bay and the beach.

There is a new winery which is very interesting but a bit expensive. We visited the wienry last October and enjoyed the tour and wine tasting but I hesitate to recommend it as it is $25 per person. All the wineries are charging some fee now so maybe it isn't all that much.

Yosemite is beautiful - you can climb Half Dome if you have the strength and the nerve. It is a very long day or a 2 day hike depending on your capabilities. I have never hiked it but my nieces and nephews all have hiked it and the top section to the top of the dome is difficult and dangerous if you don't follow the safety precautions.

The Ironstone Vinewyard winery is a neat winery to visit. It used to be the Kautz winery until they changed the name. They also have concerts there.
bratsandbeer is offline  
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