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Choosing the best time of year

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Wisconsin
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Choosing the best time of year

We are planning a trip to Yosemite in 2010. We plan to fly to SFO, spend a couple days there, then rent a car and drive through Yosemite on our way to DV, Las Vegas, and eventually the Grand Canyon. 2 adults, 3 kids -- girls ages 10, 12, and 13. The younger two are my nieces and have never travelled anywhere; but none of them have seen mountains.

While it's inconvenient to take them out of school, the younger two will be off in April for a week anyway and will only miss a few days. The oldest will miss 7 school days if we pick April -- do-able but will raise some eyebrows. If we go in June - August, it seems we'll hit a lot of crowds.

This trip is an "overview" designed to show them what's out there in the US, and we are not planning backcountry hikes.

1) Is Hwy 120 a reasonable route to cross the park -- coming from SF and on the way to Bishop, DV and beyond? Is this route usually passable in April? What are the odds of snowstorms? (wisconsinites - not afraid of snow but mountains do add a dimension of risk)

2) Given that I can't start making reservations until Feb (I get a bonus that is financing the trip and can't predict how much this year) is April even reasonable for hotels in the $150/under range?

3) Just based on scenery and 'experience' - what month would you pick? Any time of year, not just April vs. June.

4) Any other considerations or advice welcome.

Wisconsin
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1. Re: Choosing the best time of year

Sorry, just realized 120 *is* Tioga Pass -- obviously not passable in April. Seems Hwy 88 is the only year-round rd. from the north / west side, making the crossing from west side to Bishop a long day's drive.

Washington State
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2. Re: Choosing the best time of year

When Tioga Pass is closed, you might choose to drive south out of Yosemite on Hwy 41, then south on 99 and across on Hwy 58 to Death Valley.

I think Death Valley in April will be much more crowded than in June. The Grand Canyon in April is fairly cool. San Francisco can be quite chilly & foggy in May/June, but it's quite pleasant year round.

Just based on scenery and experience, I'd pick June - October so you can drive thru the beautiful Tuolumne Meadows high country. In June, the roads to Glacier Point and the road to Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias should be open as well. The waterfalls are starting to slow down, but I really think June is ideal for many visitors. You aren't planning "backcountry hikes", but are you planning to get out of the front-country at all? If you aren't even going to take some of the excellent 2 or 3 mile round trip hikes, I think you['ll miss lots of the National Park beauty.

Destination Expert marmot says that the crowds really pick up after Fathers Day. But almost all of the Park is open by then, so you can spread out. And a crowded Yosemite is better than no Yosemite.

Staying in Curry Village can be very fun for kids ~ a lot like camping without all the gear. Would this appeal to your three? There are other under-$150-range lodging choices outside the Park. Try looking here: http://jrabold.net/yosemite/lodgn.shtml

Wisconsin
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3. Re: Choosing the best time of year

We may be able to manage a 2 or 3 mile hike, one of us has mobility issues that could prevent it though - unless a motorized scooter is an option.

Washington State
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4. Re: Choosing the best time of year

There are several threads on the Yosemite forum addressing mobility issues. Frequent contributor bw92116 has offered some great ideas in the past; he always recommends beautiful Happy Isles area. Read any of his threads with a Yosemite and wheelchair topic; here is a good one: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g61000-i315-k29887…

The trail up to lower Yosemite Falls is wheelchair (motorized scooter) accessible. Here is some more info about Accessibility in Yosemite: nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/access.pdf

FYI ~ there was a recent thread posted on the San Francisco forum (I assume you are spending time in the city SF, not the airport SFO) discussing transportation and sidewalks for a wheelchair user: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60713-i30-k322375…

Mariposa, California
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5. Re: Choosing the best time of year

I'd also vote for early June if that's do-able. If you can visit before Father's day, the crowds aren't horrible yet, particularly on weekdays. The waterfalls will have plenty of water still, and the meadows will still be green. The park is awesome in all of its moods, but I have to say I think I see the happiest first time visitors in May and June.

Cedar Lodge in El Portal can be around $150 I think. It's 30 minute drive from the central part of Yosemite Valley, which is about as close as you'll get to the Valley without being in it.

Have fun whatever you decide to do! No matter when you visit, there will be things to do and see that you won't see or do anywhere else.

Corona del Mar, CA
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6. Re: Choosing the best time of year

For accomdations I would look at what you can find at Yosemite West or The Redwoods in Wawona.

Wisconsin
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7. Re: Choosing the best time of year

Thanks! I appreciate all the wonderful advice.

Placentia, CA
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8. Re: Choosing the best time of year

We try to make a trip up to Yosemite once or twice a year. My favorite times are late April or early May for the beauty of the falls and cool spring weather or Winter for the crosscountry skiing and ice skating. We like to stay in Yosemite West for the convenience to Badger Pass.

Washington State
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9. Re: Choosing the best time of year

To increase the chances of seeing a bear (mentioned on your SF thread), be sure to stay in Yosemite Valley. Bears may be wandering thru the parking lots to smell the cars (absolutely forbidden to leave any food in a vehicle at night), checking for unlatched bear boxes, and sometimes doing usual bear things like turning over logs.

Curry Village is probably a good choice for your group. It sounds like the girls will love being "in the woods" surrounded by cliffs, squirrels, deer, and such. Yes, you'll also be surrounded by other people, but you'll be in the middle of everything!

USA
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10. Re: Choosing the best time of year

Hi,

I am thinking about visiting the Park in February (13th-20th). Sometimes we just have to go at less ideal time because it's the only time available. Still, I may not want to do it if most of the trails or places are closed, and there are limited activities to do. So what can you advise?

thanks!