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Friday/ Saturday of memorial day weekend

St.Louis
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Friday/ Saturday of memorial day weekend

We ( family with 3 yo child) are going from San Francisco to Yosemite on Friday May 25 and will have a night stay at the lodge at the falls. I know that Saturday is typically very busy, but would like to spend more time in Yosemite. What time will be the appropriate to leave and head back to San Francisco with no traffic jam? Thanks in advance for the recommendation!

Nevada
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1. Re: Friday/ Saturday of memorial day weekend

Saturday - of the Memorial Day weekend - won't be so bad heading OUT of Yosemite. I recommend that you can pretty much leave YNP to give yourself 3.5 hours to drive in to San Francisco. PLEASE drive carefully!

* * * * * * * * * *

Now if it were MONDAY of Memorial Day weekend, I would say to leave YNP no later than 8 to 9 in the morning. Any later and it could easily take several hours to get to San Francisco. I've seen traffic take ONE HOUR from Sonora, CA to Jamestown, CA in the afternoon, a distance of only three miles, on Monday of that weekend and that is NO accidents. There are a couple of major major slowdowns on CA Hwy 108 about 20 miles east of Oakdale, CA. The CHP does what they can to keep traffic moving with several squad cars and flares, but there's only so much they can do with the number of vehicles pouring out of YNP and also coming down from the High Sierras further east on Hwy 108.

Mariposa, California
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for Yosemite National Park
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2. Re: Friday/ Saturday of memorial day weekend

The good news is that your car should be parked at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls on Saturday, and that's where the traffic jams end. Most of the traffic will be concentrated on the 1 way road in, around the Curry Village area, and the one way exit road out of the valley all the way up to the Lodge. Usually after that, the traffic will free up.

The traffic I mentioned above will probably be bad by about noon, if traffic patterns hold from last year. The traffic will last past 7pm in all likelihood. If you're going to explore on Saturday, don't move your car until you are ready to leave the Valley. Use bikes (the Lodge rents bike trailers) or walk because the buses will start getting stuck in traffic as well. In theory, the buses have special use lanes to use in certain sections, but they still get caught up in the traffic.

I know this is tough with a 3 yo, but if you can, I would try and do Glacier Point and anything on the east end of Yosemite valley (Happy Isles, Vernal Fall, Mirror lake) on Friday afternoon/evening. I'd then do Lower Yosemite Fall, Cook's Meadow, and the Yosemite Village area Saturday morning. If your 3 yo doesn't mind being in a car for forever, you could probably fit Glacier Point and Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in. Avoid those two places on Saturday unless you plan to get there by 8am.

If you haven't already read my article about memorial day weekend, here's a little section:

"By about noon on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend 2011, it was taking one hour to drive from Tunnel View down to Swinging Bridge. Normally this drive would take approximately 20 minutes. Again, bumper to bumper traffic. "

Good luck! Safe travels!

St.Louis
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3. Re: Friday/ Saturday of memorial day weekend

Thank you both of you for your kind suggestions. And yes, I have read the article about memorial day weekend. It's very helpful, and make me thinking if I should move my itinerary. Does it sound better If I could move my visit to be Monday May 28 and leave on Tuesday? I have just seen a last minute cancellation at the lodge this morning. So will keep watching the cancellation if it is worth to modify. Thanks again!

Mariposa, California
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for Yosemite National Park
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4. Re: Friday/ Saturday of memorial day weekend

Yes! Yes! Monday will still be crowded, but not as much later in the day as most will be leaving while you are coming in. If traffic patterns hold, it should be much better than Saturday. And Tuesday will be just fine.

St.Louis
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5. Re: Friday/ Saturday of memorial day weekend

Thanks marmot! Appreciate your answer. I will keep checking last minute cancellation. Any places we should avoid on Monday in case we could move our stay?

6. Re: Friday/ Saturday of memorial day weekend

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