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Visiting Yosemite in early April

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Mar 24th, 2013, 03:33 PM
  #1
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Visiting Yosemite in early April

Hello,

We are travelling from Las Vegas to San Francisco, have 3 days to complete the trip and want to see Death Valley followed by Yosemite as it has been recommended.

After research it appears you have to have tyre chains (not possible as we have a hire car).

I am looking for recommendations of how best to experience Yosemite...
-stay in a nearby town reached without snow chains and get a bus/coach trip into the park (any suggestions here)
-See how far we can get along 41/140 (assuming you recommend approaching the park from the west and not the east)

Any suggestions here would be fantastic.

Thanks
jlab89 is offline  
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Mar 24th, 2013, 04:24 PM
  #2
 
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Keep your eye on the weather but it's a lot less likely to snow in April. That being said you will not be able to enter he park form the east as Tioga Pass will not be open.

If you stay in the towns along 140 like Mariposa or El Portal you can catch YARTS into the park.
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Mar 24th, 2013, 09:44 PM
  #3
 
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I don't think you *have* to carry chains in Yosemite, but it is advised to carry them from Nov thru March. In April, you could run into a storm, and then they will put chain control into effect, meaning you'd have to have and or use chains. So far this year the snow has been fairly light, except for a big dumping in December (during which we were actually in Yosemite!).

Not sure what is the issue with a rental car and chains. You can always buy chains if you need them (it's about $40, available at any auto parts store or Walmart). Perhaps the rental agreement says you're not allowed to use chains or something? If so, they're never going know that you used them.

I'd just go for it and check the forecast. If it looks like there's a chance of snow as you're approaching Yosemite, you can buy chains in Oakhurst.

You will not be able to enter from the east via Tioga Pass until mid May probably at the earliest. That means you'll have to make a big loop down through Bakersfield. Perhaps there's a road through the southern Sierras open in April; my knowledge of that area is a bit thin. Google shows Las Vegas -> Death Valley -> Yosemite -> San Francisco as 14 hours of driving, which is a fair amount over three days, especially since your Death Valley to Yosemite day is about 8 hours of driving. That gives you very little time to see Yosemite that day.
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Mar 25th, 2013, 02:59 AM
  #4
 
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"they're never going to know you used them [chains]" unless the chains break on a stretch of dry road and beat the crap out of the wheel wells.
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Mar 25th, 2013, 03:31 AM
  #5
 
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Even in April it may be necessary to have chains to get into the park with your own car. Call the Park the day before 209/372-0200 (press 1 then 1) You have to show them. They can be the cheapest cable chains that will fit. But the rules are the rules. Some places let you return unopened chains for a "return fee" call around in Fresno. The chances are excellent you won't use them in April. But I have seen them required in May.

I would not stay in Death Valley, but go on as far into the central valley as you can. Fresno is ~8hrs driving time from Vegas via DV. Fresno to Yosemite Valley ~2hrs.
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Mar 25th, 2013, 03:35 AM
  #6
 
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When we have gone to Yosemite in April, only the valley was open, you could not drive to the upper areas, so chains were not an issue.

There is plenty to see in the valley. If you enter through the southwestern end, spend a little time in the Mariposa woods area and see the huge trees. You will probably will have to go around and enter from the west in any case as roads into the park from the east are usually closed at that time of year.

Do spend some time in Death Valley. It is awesome and has some interesting hiking options.
emalloy is online now  
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Mar 25th, 2013, 10:49 AM
  #7
 
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>>If so, they're never going know that you used them.<<

Ridiculous . . . what happens when your insurance voided?

>>Perhaps there's a road through the southern Sierras open in April;<<

Not only is there no road open . . . There is no road.

jalb89: The drive from Vegas through Bakersfield and up to Yosemite is take your choice: 1) Butt ugly, 2) Gawd awful, 3) loooooong and boring, 4) a terrible way to spend an entire day, 5) all of the above.

Honestly you'd be better off dropping your car in Las Vegas and flying to Fresno, Sacramento, SFO, Oakland or San Jose getting a car there for the drive over to YNP - IF the weather is clear. Of course Fresno is by far the closest but it has much more limited service and Allegiant is one of those airlines that has 'cheap' fares but tacks on EVERYTHING as extra fees. The other airports have multiple flights a day on several airlines including Southwest.
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Mar 25th, 2013, 12:35 PM
  #8
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Thank you so much for all the repies and ideas.

We are going to look at hotels in El Portal, Fresno and Mariposo (any suggestions of which is nicest?) and then try and drive to the Valley, and if there is a heavy snowfall/tyre chains needed we can use the YARTS service from one of these towns instead.

From Death Valley - we will stay in Lone Pine to break up the journey, then take 395 South, cut through Highway 178/155 (looks scenic) and then continue North to Fresno area on 99.

We want to avoid extra flights as we have a 12 hour flight back to England on the 3rd day - and the rental car needs to go back to san Francisco Airport to avoid extra charges. Thanks for the suggestion anyhow.

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Mar 25th, 2013, 12:37 PM
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Instead of Fresno, try Oakhurst or Fish Ccamp. Both are close to the south entrance. Fresno is much too far away.
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Mar 25th, 2013, 12:50 PM
  #10
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Thank you, I will avoid Fresno. Mariposa looks like it could be an option too? YARTS definetely runs through there as well which could be a benefit.

Decision making time!!
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Mar 25th, 2013, 01:06 PM
  #11
 
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Yes in my first reply to you I did suggest Mariposa as YARTS stops there. Also seriously consider Yosemite View Lodge along the Merced River in El Portal. YARTS will pick you up there if needed.

http://www.yosemiteresorts.us/
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Mar 25th, 2013, 03:31 PM
  #12
 
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>> Ridiculous . . . what happens when your insurance voided?
Not sure what you mean by this. How is Hertz going to know that you put chains on? Sure if they break and hit the wheel wells, you might have an issue. But I've never heard of new chains breaking, only ones that people have used too much. Hertz and Avis have provided me with chains in the past, so don't think they'd mind you using them. Jlab89, maybe you should consider switching rental companies if you're really worried about this?

Any, Fish Camp is tiny, but very close to the south entrance. If it's really coming down, you might hit chain control before Fish Camp (we have in the past). Tenaya Lodge there is a pretty good place to stay. Oakhurst, a few miles down the road, is not terribly attractive but not awful either. The problem with both of them is that they're a long way from Yosemite Valley, which is the star attraction of the park. And Wawona Rd (from the south entrance to the Valley) goes up to 6000 feet, so you run the risk of serious snow up there, even if the Valley and Oakhurst are fine.

Mariposa is a fairly long way from the valley also. Suzie's recommendation of the Yosemite View Lodge is a good one, you're a *lot* closer, although still outside the valley. However it's about 1900 feet lower in elevation than the valley, so much less likely to be under chain control.

I'd recommend that you book yourself into lodgings in Yosemite Valley. You really want more than a day-trip into the valley, and especially since you're probably only going to be there one night, you'll want every hour you get in the valley. Then keep an eye on the forecast. If there's a storm moving in, your first option is to change from coming in the south entrance (41/Wawona Rd) to coming in from Mariposa and El Portal via 140. This will add 20-25 minutes to your drive, but you'll avoid that 6000' pass on rt 41, so it's a lot less likely to be under chain control (the peak of this drive would be 4000' in Yosemite Valley). Then if it's so bad that chain control extends into Yosemite Valley, you can try to rebook so you're staying in the Yosemite View Lodge, or Cedar Lodge in El Portal, and take YARTS. If those are full, you can get a room in Mariposa.

Personally, I wouldn't make my initial booking somewhere like Yosemite View on the off chance that you'd get snowed out in April. Book the best place, and just know what your contingency plans are.
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Mar 25th, 2013, 05:05 PM
  #13
 
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>>We are going to look at hotels in El Portal, Fresno and Mariposo <<

ElPortal - YES! Fresno - NO!!!! (under any circumstances) Mariposa - yes IF you can't get in to ElPortal.

>>I'd recommend that you book yourself into lodgings in Yosemite Valley. << Of course - IF anything is available which is a long shot.

>>Not sure what you mean by this. How is Hertz going to know that you put chains on? Sure if they break and hit the wheel wells, you might have an issue. But I've never heard of new chains breaking,<<

Since chain newbies almost invariably install them incorrectly the first time - there is a VERY good chance the car would be damaged.
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Apr 2nd, 2013, 12:55 PM
  #14
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Thanks again all for your suggestions. We went with a little lodge in Mariposa, enjoy driving so the hour or two to the valley shouldnt be a problem.
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