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How to start planning?

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Birmingham, AL
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How to start planning?

I've read a lot of the forum, but still need help! My husband and I did Yellowstone/Grand Tetons last fall and Grand Canyon the spring before that. I'm considering a 10-day trip next year with Yosemite as our focus, and we can go just about anytime. I'm not sure how to start. Would mid-May (before Memorial Day) be a good time to see the falls without awful crowds? We're southerners, so don't want to do the snow chain bit. We need passable roads. How many days does it take to really see the park, if you don't do long hikes? (We spent a week in Yellowstone, but only three days at GCNP and the Tetons, to give you an idea of our stamina/interest levels!) Would three full days be enough to see most of what's readily accessible?

If we're going all the way out there, we'd like to see other things, too. Which airport would give us the most options to see things before and after Yosemite -- Las Vegas, LAX or San Francisco? Should we work in Sequoia, Death Valley and/or Kings Canyon? My husband is a forester, and so our focus will be on the outdoors, not city attractions. Thanks in advance!

Washington State
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1. Re: How to start planning?

Hmmm. Lots of options.

With your husband's interest in forestry and your overall interest in the out-of-doors, I think visiting when Tioga Pass is most likely to be open is a great idea. But the later you visit, Yosemite visitor population increases and Death Valley temperatures increase.

Idea A: LAS - Las Vegas (just to pick up a car ... spend a night if you need to) - Death Valley NP - eastern Sierra - {Tioga Pass entrance} - Yosemite Valley - {South Entrance} - Sequoia Kings Canyon - LAS Traveler Article with LV -> Yosemite info: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c182361

Idea B: SFO - SF (great city that is quite accessible and outdoorsy, if you want that) - Yosemite - Cambria - Monterey - SFO There are some groves of Coastal Redwoods that your husband might want to see. A bit of Hwy 1 info: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c182763

Idea C: SFO - Lake Tahoe - Yosemite (hopefully in via Tioga Pass, but if the Pass isn't open, use the Big Oak Flat entrance from Groveland) - SEKI - SFO

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How many days in Yosemite? If Tioga Road is closed, you probably don't need as much time. But then you miss the eastern Sierra (unless you loop around.)

Read some of the Trip Reports linked to the Top Questions. A 'basic' visit is only 3 days, but with an interest in the outdoors, 3 days isn't enough.

I used to think that snow in May was quite unlikely, but it snowed in late May in 2012 and in 2011. Who knows what will happen in 2013? But if it snows, it will melt quickly.

Redlands, California
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2. Re: How to start planning?

Most years Yosemite offers you something of a choice: do I go early (May/June) to see the waterfalls in all their glory but risk too much mud, water, and even snow in the high country (Tioga Pass), or do I go midsummer or later when the wildflowers are blooming and the trails are (mostly) all dry in the high country (I believe even some of the trails around and down from Glacier Point, such as the Panorama, can have snow or certainly mud in May/June), but the waterfalls are petering out in the Valley? (I was lucky last year after a very wet winter, Vernal and Nevada Fallsl were still thundering in late September.) Some of the very best hikes are off the Tioga Pass road and they are much less crowded than the Valley, which can drive you mad. However, if you decide your focus is on the iconic sights of the Valley, then early would be better. If you can stay in the Valley you'll find that early evenings (and the days will be long in May or June) and the mornings are pretty calm and offer the best experience.

3. Re: How to start planning?

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