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nmbook Jul 21st, 2020 12:51 PM

Yosemite to Lake Tahoe
Hi all! I am trying to plan a trip for my family, 6 adults in total to Yosemite and Lake Tahoe. I've been reading as much as I can but still have some questions. My loose plan is to fly into Fresno, stay 2 or 3 nights in Yosemite and 3 nights in Lake Tahoe and then fly out of Reno. I would like to go in spring or fall but I think we are going to have to go in June do to college schedules and our jobs.

How do you feel about renting a cabin in West Yosemite? Is it still a nightmare to move around with the traffic and parking or do they have shuttles? Is worth delaying the trip for another year so I can get rooms at Yosemite Valley Lodge? They only have rooms available at the end of July 2021 right now. I'm assuming June might be a tiny bit less crowded than July so I'd rather travel in June. And has anyone stayed at the Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp? It looks like a nice hotel but I'm worried about traffic driving into the park and then finding parking.

We normally fly early and we will be coming from the east so we should arrive at Fresno decently early, my guess is around 11 or 12. Should we stop at Mariposa Grove on our way in? Or should we wait and go to Caleveras on our way to Lake Tahoe?

Is there a route from Yosemite to Lake Tahoe that is less windy/hilly? I realize we are traveling through mountains so that is unavoidable but we've got a few that don't do car rides well at all so I'd rather add 30 minutes to our trip if one route is a little easier than another.

The only other park we've done as a family was the Grand Canyon so I'm a little out of my element here. Thanks for any and all help and advise!

Michael Jul 21st, 2020 04:54 PM

You can take CA49 north to CA50 to cross the Sierra. That would be the least winding route unless you chose to extend the ride by going farther north to I80 to cross the Sierra and from Truckee take CA89 south to Lake Tahoe. Google will give you the mileage for the different options.

janisj Jul 21st, 2020 05:04 PM

"How do you feel about renting a cabin in West Yosemite?"

I assume you mean Yosemite West -- not 'West Yosemite'. If so, that is a fine place to stay. IMO the ONLY convenient places to stay other than in Yosemite Valley, are Foresta, El Portal and Yosemite West. El Portal is the closest. El Portal and Foresta are about 10 or 15 minutes closer to the Valley.

"Is it still a nightmare to move around with the traffic and parking or do they have shuttles?"

Not sure what you mean by 'still'. In normal times (every year) from mid June through August, Yosemite is very crowded but June is far better than July/August. But the situation next year who knows?? This year access is capacity limited. If Covid is still an issue next year crowd controls will likely still be be in effect. In 'normal' times' there are shuttles.

I would NOT stay in Fish Camp?. Fish Camp is nearly a 90 minute drive from Yosemite Village . . . on a very twisty/turny road. Yosemite West would be much much more convenient being about 40 minutes from the Village.

"Is there a route from Yosemite to Lake Tahoe that is less windy/hilly?"

The only route that is not curvy would be out west to Merced, north on 99, then I-80 east to Truckee/Tahoe - but that is a long way out an around. Easily a 6+ hour drive.

The best route would be hwy 120 over Tioga Pass then 395 north either to Gardnerville or Carson City. That is a 4+ hour drive through gorgeous country. You ain't going to visit Yosemite and Tahoe without winding mountain roads. ;)

janisj Jul 21st, 2020 05:08 PM

Didn't see Michael's post. Parts of the 120/Hwy 49/ hwy 50 route is quite windy and at least 50-60 minutes longer than Tioga Pass and north.

janisj Jul 21st, 2020 05:09 PM

. . . and do understand the google maps drive time calculations are somewhat to very optimistic

J62 Jul 21st, 2020 05:49 PM

Beware that the Tioga pass road from Yosemite to Lake Tahoe is closed in the winter due to snow. Most years it is open by the end of May, but some years the opening is as late as July. Be sure to keep abreast of the opening status if you plan a June trip.

janisj Jul 21st, 2020 06:09 PM

J62 makes a good point -- everything will depend on how much snow we get next winter. Most years by early to mid June Tioga Pass is open and clear. But no need to really worry about that now. By next May it will be pretty much known if the Pass might be still closed by your travel dates. If its open -- that's the way to go. If its closed, then you'll just have to take one of the longer longer drives to Tahoe.

nmbook Jul 29th, 2020 12:47 PM

Thanks for all of the information! Especially routes to take and locations to stay. I've only done research on Yosemite so far. Any quick tips on Lake Tahoe? What area to stay in? We will want to be in the area where the there are things going on, i.e. access to restaurants, boating, a little shopping maybe, etc. I realize Covid may change our plans about wanting to be around "people" and what year we go but for now I'll keep planning. Thanks again!

janisj Jul 29th, 2020 03:23 PM

"What area to stay in? We will want to be in the area where the there are things going on, i.e. access to restaurants, boating, a little shopping maybe, etc. "

The Lake has accommodations, restaurants, lake access, etc in spots around the entire circumference. The main 'towns' with most of the restaurants and shopping are Incline Village, Tahoe City, and Kings Beach along the north/northwest sides, and on the south shore on both sides of the State line (South Lake Tahoe on the CA side and Stateline on the NV side). I would MUCH prefer Tahoe City or Incline Village

tomfuller Jul 30th, 2020 08:44 AM

Our resident experts on Yosemite and Lake Tahoe have given good advice. Flying into Fresno is OK. During the summer Allegiant airline has one or two flights per week from Las Vegas to Fresno (FAT) if that would work for you. Stock up on food/drinks in Oakhurst before heading for the south entrance of Yosemite. Once you get in the south entrance turn right to go to see Mariposa Grove. I've heard that they have a shuttle bus system in the Grove now.
If you want to avoid a drop fee for the car you get at the Fresno airport you could return the car there and take a taxi/van to the Fresno Amtrak station and take a San Joaquin train to either Martinez or Sacramento. The last San Joaquin of the evening terminates in Sacramento instead of Emeryville.
If you stay overnight in Sacramento, you can take the California Zephyr to Reno leaving SAC a little after 11AM. Otherwise you can rent a car in Sacramento for the Tahoe jaunt. Is there something you or the others want to see in Reno or is it just a return airport? Consider flying home from the Sacramento airport (SMF).

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