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Overwhelmed! Itenerary help please!

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Overwhelmed! Itenerary help please!

My boyfriend and I are considering a trip to Yosemite May 16th (Sat.)- May 23rd (Sat.) 2009. Neither of us have been to the park before, and we are overwhelmed by the volume of information available re: hikes, accomodations, etc.

We would like to see AS MUCH as possible! We're a very active couple, and we love to hike!

I do not even know where to start planning!

Can someone help me with a very rough suggestion for an itenerary for a week? What hikes/parts of the park should we "not miss"! Is a week too long to spend at the park (should we drive to a couple of other places in the surrounding area?). We do not need to stay in one place (i.e. one hotel/cabin/etc.) for the entire trip if it would be easier to change accomodations.

We're from Ohio, and neither of us have taken a "personal" trip to California (only "business" trips). We're clueless! Help help help!


Fremont, California
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1. Re: Overwhelmed! Itenerary help please!

You will have a wonderful trip.

Please note that there are limited lodging choices in Yosemite Park. As such, it is important to book in advance. Most people book according to their budget...i.e. least expensive is camping to most expensive is The Ahwahnee Hotel. There are some other chocies outside the park. Given your dates in May, Tioga Pass will in all likelihood be closed.

As such, it is best to look today (or tomorrow) and see what is available in Yosemite Park. If nothing is, there are cancellations closer to the time you will go. Best is to try to book now. There are some alternatives (limited again) if all is booked such as Yosemite West.



If both fail, there are others that right outside the park that are good alternatives....but your first thing should be to book.

If there is split availability among several properties, it is good to stay in the vally for a few days (Ahwahnee, The Lodge, Camp Curry, Housekeeping) and then stay at Wawona or Tenaya Lodge. Tenaya Lodge is directly outside the park and is a nice place to stay.

For information on these (plus some alternatives outside the park), see:


Now, there are some nice alternatives to consider outside the park if you want to split up your time further:

Seqouia and Kings Canyon National Parks


There are also state parks to consider such as Calaveras Big Trees.


For a comoplete listing of state parks (there are many many):


The next thing to consider is how comfortable you are in high altitude hiking. There are many great walks, and easy hikes in the area. There are also many complex and difficult hikes and rock climbs....spring can bring snow melts and lots of water (if we have a wet year....we might if the rain continues...or it could be dry again like last year.)

I would probably take a tram tour the first day just so you can see how wonderful Yosemite Park is....and get your bearings.

Be sure to see the falls (and do the short walks and hikes to each of them). See the web site for some additional information:


What we like to do is spend a week in Yosemite and then decide each day what looks great to do the next. Suggest taking it easy the first day or so to get used to elevation...Yosemite valley is actually rather low (3000 feet) but if you go to Glacier Point if it is open (and the views from there are glorious and grand) the altitude can get to you.

If you like rafting, rafting the Merced is usually good in May (if the water level is not too high.).

Also, plan on having dinner at both the Ahwahnee and Wawona - and make reservations in advance. The choices in the park are quite limited so that is the reason for reservations. Good to plan on doing some picnics if you are staying a week.

Washington State
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2. Re: Overwhelmed! Itenerary help please!

mini has some excellent suggestions. One correction ~ the Valley is at 4,000 ft elevation.

My two cents. In May, the fabulous waterfalls are flowing and the Park is crowded (well, it's always crowded.) Unfortunately, the Tuolumne Meadows high country is closed due to snow; some of the best hiking is up there.

How about flying in to San Francisco, visiting either SF or the Monterey area for two or three days, then going to Yosemite for three days? Or if you want more "mountain time" instead of beach time, maybe Kings Canyon/Sequoia? Another option would be to spend some time in the Hetch-Hetchy area; I have heard great things about the spring hiking, tho' I haven't been there myself.

Honestly, I love Yosemite, but my favorite hiking is in late July & August when the mosquitos are gone & the high country is open. However, if you want to see some powerful water, you'll have a great time in the spring!

This site has great general information: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/ This is the hiking page: www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hiking.htm I love this hiking book by Schaffer, but it includes more of backpacking trips than day hikes.

Yosemite National Park: A Complete Hikers Guide

Jeffrey P. Schaffer amazon.com/Yosemite-National-Park-Complete-H…

My favorite quick hike: Sentinal Dome near the Glacier Point Road. Add Taft Point and make a delightful 5 mile loop. Other great hikes: Vernal/Nevada Falls in the Valley, perhaps Upper Chilnualna Falls in Wawona, Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias (skip the tram and walk all the way up to Wawona Point http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/mgrove.pdf.)

My last thought (quite a bit for only two cents.) You need lodging reservations NOW. Yosemite books up a year in advance.

Happy Planning.

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3. Re: Overwhelmed! Itenerary help please!

We visited Yosemite late summer last year, what we did was stay at Housekeeping camp a few nights and took day hikes, glaceier point, nevada falls etc. we then got wilderness permits and hiked up near Tolumne and then.. I think it was called Saddleback, we really enjoyed that area. I would definately purchase a few Yosemite hiking maps before you go. Picking hikes "on Spot" to get wilderness permits is a tough decision. We then went to Lake Tahoe area and hiked there, stoppped in placer county for wine and gold lol. flew in and out of Sacramento. If you are not into wilderness camping, there are cabin options in all sections of the park, I would break up my stays, then hike the surrounds of that area. Definately make reservations NOW, as in park options go quickly.

Yosemite / Sierra...
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4. Re: Overwhelmed! Itenerary help please!

May should be a great time to visit the Park, but if the falls are flowing (and they usually are in May) it will be crowded. The Park will likely not be entirely accessible by then so you will be spending most of your time in Yosemite Valley. Glacier Point might be open as well as the Mariposa Giant Sequoia Grove.

You might try www.yosemite.com and click on lodging. It lists all of the entrances and the distances from those entrances to the various attractions inside the Park. As for hiking, my favorite site is http://www.yosemitehikes.com .

Enjoy your visit!

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5. Re: Overwhelmed! Itenerary help please!

I personally do not think a week is too long to spend in Yosemite. I could easily spend 2 weeks there.

Keep in mind that at that time in May sections of the park may be closed due to snow, but the waterfalls will be awesome.

One the most impressive hikes is the one to the top of Half Dome. The only problem is that the cables that help get you to the top may not be up yet (they usually go up in late May). If they happen to be up, I'd suggest trying this hike. It's 8.5 miles each way and will take 10-12 hours, but once you get on top the view and the feeling of accomplishment is incredible.

Another hike is to the top of Yosemite Falls. It's a very steep 3.5 mile hike, but well worth it. From the top you can also make your way over to the top of El Capitan which is 4.5 miles beyond the falls. This is a great hike if you want to get away from everything. When we did this we only saw a few people on the trail. Even the trail through Mariposa Grove is not heavily used.

I'd also suggest just spending a day in the Valley taking in the views. You can rent bikes or just walk around through the meadows. If you want to avoid the crowds just keep in mind that the most crowded areas are Curry Village and Yosemite Village.

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6. Re: Overwhelmed! Itenerary help please!

The most important advice.

Take advantage of the visitor centers and ranger stations. Stay as long as you can. Find out what is going on by taking advantage of these resources.

There are many resources for fun and information, including ranger-led campfires and 'lectures'....not really lectures, maybe 'true stories' of the area.

Have a wonderful experience. You will love it.

If there are crowds, go off and hike somewhere.

7. Re: Overwhelmed! Itenerary help please!

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