Spending 3 nights in Mariposa (could not find closer) arriving Fri afternoon 7/20 and leave Mon 7/23 so we have 2 full days. Been reading these forums and info- still unsure of best plan but here is what I’m thinking for our family of four (2 boys ages 13 & 11.)
Rt. 40 to El Portal/Arch Rock entrance to valley floor, park somewhere, explore valley via shuttle. Drive down to Mariposa Grove, see trees, anything else? Pioneer museum? Exit South entrance and take Rt 49 back to Mariposa.
Rt. 140 to El Portal entrance – go up to Glacier Point, drive Tioga Pass Rd., Tenaya Lake, Tuoloumne Meadows…maybe as far as Mono Lake? Looks like same route back to Mariposa or is there a different way?
1. Is this a good way to divide up and see the park?
2. If so, which should we do first? Glacier Pt/Tioga Rd. or Valley/Mariposa
3. How early should we arrive to have best chance for parking/less crowds? (we’ll be on east coast time.)
4. What should we see in the valley? Is the visitor center worthwhile? Ansel Adams museum? (Have not had time to research valley sites)
5. Which day is the best to see Tunnel View?
6. Will there be any waterfalls to see this late in season?
7. 1 or 2 short not-too-difficult (or dangerous –my kids aren’t the most safety conscious) hikes?
8. Which day will probably take the most time?
9. I know there are places to eat in the Valley, but anywhere along Tioga Rd?
10. On Tioga Rd., should we turn around after Tuolumne Meadows or continue to Mono Lake?
11. I think these days will be pretty exhausting but should we consider staying in the park into the evening? (A little worried about the long drive back in what I have read will be very dark.)
If this is too much to fit in these days, we could potentially have time Fri pm and Mon am, but not sure about the extra drive time into the park with other long drives those days. Also, if we get to our lodging in Mariposa by 3 or 4PM, is there anything to see around there?
Thanks for any advice and suggestions. I normally have everything planned out far in advance so I am panicking a bit.