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Flying into Sacramento -- Redwood Park or Yosemite?

I K
Baltimore, Maryland
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Flying into Sacramento -- Redwood Park or Yosemite?

Hi everyone -- we are planning to fly into Sacramento third week of August, 5 nights, family with 2 teenagers. We would like to visit Redwood National Park or Yosemite; would like to spend time on the coast/beach. Like outdoors more than city/shopping/museums. First time to Northern CA area, so it is all new and special to us. Any help in planning is greatly appreciated. Some specific questions --

(1) can we visit both Redwood and Yosemite in the time we have?

(2) if we should visit only one, which one is better?

(3) we are vegetarians so wondering about lodging at these parks and food.

(4) are we too late in planning a trip here for August?

Many thanks in advance!

Dublin, California
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1. Re: Flying into Sacramento -- Redwood Park or Yosemite?

No not enough time to do both parks. I'd suggest Yosemite, where the scenery is unique, whereas you can see redwoods in places other than Redwood NP. Also Yosemite is closer to Sacto than Redwood NP. Yosemite books up really fast, so check lodging availability now.

San Jose, California
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2. Re: Flying into Sacramento -- Redwood Park or Yosemite?

I love Redwood national park and the north coast, so visiting that area would satisfy your desire to see one of the national parks and spend time on the coast. Yosemite is in a class of its own though and has a huge "wow factor". It is very crowded in August, so lodging availability may be the deciding factor. With only 5 nights, you don't have enough time to do both though.

San Francisco...
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3. Re: Flying into Sacramento -- Redwood Park or Yosemite?

If you like coast, then it's Redwoods as they are by the coast. Yosemite is inland.

New Jersey
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4. Re: Flying into Sacramento -- Redwood Park or Yosemite?

Given the amount of time you have and when you are visiting, I would vote for Redwood National Park. Yosemite is beautiful, but I think a lot of its appeal disappears in August. It can be very hot on the valley floor. Waterfalls would be reduced to a trickle at best. I would imagine the Merced river would just resemble a large creek at this point. You add the crowds and limited lodging that is available, and it can be miserable.

Fortaleza, CE
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5. Re: Flying into Sacramento -- Redwood Park or Yosemite?

I agree with others 5 days isn't enough for both. There are some nice state parks near Redwood NP. If you go to Yosemite, would you want to stay inside the park? You might check that now. Results could help you decide. But first, why did you pick these two parks? What are your interests? Will you stay in hotels or camp?

The 5 days don't include any time spent in Sacramento, do they? I assume you had other reasons for picking SMF to fly to and are considering what to do with 5 free days. You say you want to go to the coast, so are you considering Yosemite only if you can also fit in Redwood National Park? I'm not sure, but I'd think you'd want to make advance hotel reservations even for the RNP area (they are an absolute necessity for Yosemite).

Driving distances may play a role in your decision.

Sac to RNP: http://goo.gl/maps/OIF9S

Sac to Yosemite: http://goo.gl/maps/J1Jav

Sac to both and back (random order): http://goo.gl/maps/4gl06

Edited: 05 June 2013, 20:43
I K
Baltimore, Maryland
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6. Re: Flying into Sacramento -- Redwood Park or Yosemite?

Thanks all for the wonderful replies! Really helpful.

We are planning on flying into Sacromento (yet to book) -- it appears that is the only place I can get to with award mile free travel! So while there, want to visit the best spots and I have always wanted to see the Redwood and the Yosemite, and do some hiking. Also want to spend time thru the coast - my children want to spend time on the beach.

Looking at responses, it appears Yosemite is out of the question due to lodging. So open to a 5 day trip plan visiting the top spots around the area.

Advanced thanks again!

Napa, CA
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7. Re: Flying into Sacramento -- Redwood Park or Yosemite?

Don't give up on Yosemite. Go to the Yosemite forum and read the top questions there. There are various lodging options. I don't know your dates but Curry Village has availability the third week of August. That's a pretty good time to visit because California kids go back to school then and the crowds mitigate some although it still will be crowded. Yosemite also has the big Sequoia trees. There are coastal redwoods and sierra redwoods. The coastal ones are somewhat taller but the sierra ones are much larger.

For beaches, our Northern California coast has very cold water in the summer and fog can be prevalent. The beaches are great for beachcombing but not for sunbathing. If you want warm beaches and clear skies, go to Lake Tahoe. Tahoe is just a couple of hours from Sacramento and then you can drive down the Eastern Sierra into Yosemite over the awesome Tioga Pass. On the way, you could visit Virginia City or Bodie and Mono Lake.

Oregon Coast
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8. Re: Flying into Sacramento -- Redwood Park or Yosemite?

Since you mentioned "beach" twice, I was wondering if you realized that far northern California beaches are not the ones you see in those ads where everyone is 'soaking up rays lying on the sand in bikinis' :-)

The beaches around Redwood NP are wonderful for walking, beachcombing, watcing the surf, bonfires at night (where allowed), camping . . . but they are very rarely hot and sunny. The few times it gets hot and sunny (by that I mean in the 80's) , everybody complains about the heat, LOL.

The redwood area will have probably 10% of the visitors that Yosemite will have. Maybe not even that many!

San Francisco...
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9. Re: Flying into Sacramento -- Redwood Park or Yosemite?

A good 5 day trip from Sacramento might be:

1) Sacramento to Medocino (rocky coasts, wine, skunk train, redwoods, etc)

2) Mendocino to Crescent City / Redwood National Park (wild beaches, tidepools, redwoods, ziplines, lighthouses)

3) Crescent City to Mt Lassen National Park (volcano, fumeroles, lakes, hot springs, mud pots, pitch black lava caves, star-gazing)

4) Mt Lassen to Sacramento (train museum, vestige of Arnold)

Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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10. Re: Flying into Sacramento -- Redwood Park or Yosemite?

Although SMF isn't the ideal airport for my suggested itinerary, it will work. (Free reward travel is great!) Spend 2-3 nights in a private property rental or Curry Village (both inside the Park) in Yosemite, then drive to the coast and spend 2-3 nights in Monterey. You can experience a bit of the scenic coast as well as visit a smaller grove of Coastal Redwoods.