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Scenic route from Yosemite to San Francisco

Adelaide
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Scenic route from Yosemite to San Francisco

I have read some incredible informative replies by Forum Experts in other Forums (Death Valley & Yosemite NP) but decided to open a new thread to ask my specific question in this Forum.

So, We are going to hire a car and drive from Las Vegas to San Francisco via Death Valley and Yosemite NP. We will be there from mid-September for two weeks and can allocate 4 days to this part of the holiday. I have read somewhere that a detour via Lake Tahoe to San Francisco would be very scenic and enjoyable and therefore worthwhile of some extra driving. If we don't do this loop we could stay an extra night in Yosemite. What is your opinion?

How are the road and trafic conditions approaching San Francisco from this direction? Where would you stay overnight, in Lake Tahoe, Sacramento or somewhere between? We would start a day from Lee Vining and visit Bodie on the way, apart from that I have other plans for the trip.

I would be very grateful of any help and/or succestions.

San Diego...
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1. Re: Scenic route from Yosemite to San Francisco

You are staying one night in Lee Vining and the next night in San Francisco? You won't have much time that day for sightseeing. You would drive through Yosemite National Park along Tioga Road, and drive down into Yosemite Valley for a brief glimpse at it, and then go on to San Francisco. All of that will take up the whole day. You won't even have time for Bodie that day. Your best plan would include one night in Yosemite Valley or nearby such as El Portal or possibly Groveland. That way you would have time to visit Bodie, then go up into Yosemite, see part of the park, then stay overnight in or near the park, then see a bit more of the park before going on to San Francisco. Bodie is a detour off your route, and Lake Tahoe is going even more out of your way, as is Sacramento. Try to have one night between Lee Vining and San Francisco, and make that night in or near Yosemite National Park. Be prepared for some heat in Las Vegas and real heat in Death Valley.

San Diego...
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2. Re: Scenic route from Yosemite to San Francisco

I would just add, if your goal is to see Yosemite National Park, then you should repost this question in the Yosemite forum, as you will probably get more answers, and the destination experts for Yosemite will help you with locating the right lodging for you and with planning out your time in the park. So if you want to see Yosemite, start a new thread with this same question at tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g61000-i315-Yosemi…

If your goal is to see Bodie and Lake Tahoe, and that is of more interest to you than Yosemite, I would instead start a new thread in the Lake Tahoe forum about this: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g155987-i338-Lake_…

I think you will have to make a choice: (1) see Yosemite National Park, or (2) see Bodie, Lake Tahoe and possibly Sacramento. You don't have enough time for both (1) and (2). You might have time for a quick trip to Bodie and then see part of Yosemite, but of course that will cut down the time you have for Yosemite. So you will need to choose what is most important for you for this trip.

Adelaide
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3. Re: Scenic route from Yosemite to San Francisco

Thank you for your answers,bw. I did not explain my itinerary well enoung, I'm sorry. We are going to stay at Lee Vinning for 2 nights, regardless, and one night in Death Valley before that. Hotel bookings have been already confirmed. The option now is either to stay an extra night in Lee Vining or stay that night somewhere else on the way to San Francisco.

What I really want to know is if that road via Lake Tahoe and Sacramento is so special that it is worth the extra drive.

Uden, The...
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4. Re: Scenic route from Yosemite to San Francisco

I'd spend the extra night in or near Yosemite. Reservations needed.

San Jose, California
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5. Re: Scenic route from Yosemite to San Francisco

Tahoe is spectacular and is well worth the visit.

Sacramento is in the middle of the central valley, it's a huge flat, largely agricultural area that isn't scenic. But you will have to pass through it to get to SF from all points east. It takes about 2 hours to drive across the valley itself. I would suggest spending the night at Lake Tahoe, then drive directly to SF. It's about a 4 hour drive from Tahoe to SF. The first part of the drive, down the Sierra Nevada mts. into the central valley is scenic. Then it's pretty dull until you get close to SF.

Traffic depends on time of day, day of week. Traffic is heavy heading west into SF on weekday mornings 6-10am. After that should be fine.

Edited: 23 February 2012, 17:32
Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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6. Re: Scenic route from Yosemite to San Francisco

Apologies to the SF folks for allowing this nonSF conversation on your forum. Hopefully Ramblergirl will have create another thread for you to discuss her time in your glorious city!

* * * * * * * * *

>>stay an extra night in Yosemite<< and >>stay an extra night in Lee Vining<<

We are suggesting something different. Spend your extra night IN Yosemite, not miles outside the Tioga Pass entrance. How about Yosemite Valley? Or maybe El Portal?

From Lee Vining, it's 2 hours of non stop driving (and you'd want to stop) to get to Yosemite Valley. It isn't practical to do this on your 'layover day' in Lee Vining.

My idea...........

Day 1: Death Valley.

Night 1: DV

Day 2: eastern Sierra Hwy 395, including Mono Lake

Night 2: Lee Vining

Day 3: Bodie State Park AND Tuolumne Meadows?

Night 3: Lee Vining

Day 4: quick drive thru Tuolumne Meadows, stopping at Tenaya Lake & Olmsted Point. (Need to see Giant Sequoias? Tuolumne Grove is on the way.) Yosemite Valley!

Night 4: Yosemite Valley or maybe El Portal

Day 5: more time in Yosemite Valley or maybe Gold Rush country / Hwy 49

Night 5: San Francisco

Adelaide
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7. Re: Scenic route from Yosemite to San Francisco

Thank you for your replies. I'm sorry if I was on the wrong forum, sometimes it's very difficult to know which is the right one to post.

Simbot, your answer was what I was looking for, but Pacific's answer gave us another option to look at. We still dont know which one to choose. Thank you all.

Corona del Mar, CA
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for San Diego, Orange County, California
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8. Re: Scenic route from Yosemite to San Francisco

I don't think a detour to South Lake Tahoe is worth it. It is like wanting to drive from Adelaide to Melbourne and someone says Broken Hill would be a good detour.

Lake Tahoe is four hours due north of Yosemite, San Francisco is four hours to the west. If you drive to Lake Tahoe you are still four hours from SF. PNWFamily's itinerary makes more sense.

Illinois
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9. Re: Scenic route from Yosemite to San Francisco

Having made the drive I would agree the Tahoe isn't worth the drive time, while it is a pretty lake, the area is very vacation home touristy...plus I-80 from Truckee to S.F. is not special at all. If you are into history Bodie is well worth a morning drive from Lee Vining. Maybe look into staying the extra night on the other side of the park so you are closer to the sites in the valley or spend the day in the park and head out toward S.F. in the afternoon, we did this and stayed in Dublin, about three hours from the park and one hour from the city. It was like having an extra day in San Francisco. (In the morning call your hotel and find out if and early check in would be possible, they usually are if you call ahead).

Adelaide
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10. Re: Scenic route from Yosemite to San Francisco

Thank you again for very good replies. It looks that the majority of you would spend a extra day in Yosemite or nearby, and I think that we will do too. Lake Tahoe detour was a good idea at the time, but maybe not worth the time and effort.