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Tioga Pass Road

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Chicago, Illinois
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Tioga Pass Road

Hello, My family and I (two adults and three teenage kids) will be traveling to Yosemite. We plan on spending one night in Oakhurst after coming from Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon and entering the south entrance of Yosemite early the next morning. This will begin on a Monday in July. We have the entire full day in Yosemite and would like to see Glacier Point, Tunnel View, and are considering driving the Tioga Pass Road. We have accommodations at Curry Village in tent cabins. The next day we are driving first thing in the morning to San Francisco. My questions - Do we have time for Tioga Pass Road? Is it worth it to fit this into our day? And noting this itinerary, are we better off staying outside of the park in the Groveland area instead of in Curry Village? One other question if anyone knows the answer, my daughter will be 8 months out of ACL reconstruction. Is the hike down to the valley from Glacier Point very strenuous? Sorry for a mixed bag of questions. I'm trying to create the perfect itinerary in little time.

Washington State
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1. Re: Tioga Pass Road

Hi

Curry Village is fine. You don't need to drive another 1.5 hrs to leave Yosemite at the end of a very long day.

I don't think fitting Tuolumne Meadows (Tioga Road) in with Glacier Point AND Yosemite Valley in one day when you're 1.5 hrs from your first destination (Glacier Point) makes sense. And I don't see where you're fitting the Panorama Trail into your itinerary. That's an all day undertaking. What is your tentative itinerary?

The Top Questions & Trip Ideas on the right might help.

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: Tioga Pass Road

Thank you so much for your reply. I am working on this itinerary now. It's very confusing. We will be staying Sunday evening in Three Rivers. Spending all day on Monday in Sequoia and Kings Canyon and driving to Oakhurst. I would go further but it seems that it will be a long day just to the Oakhurst point. I did consider going into Yosemite that day and spending two nights at Curry Village instead of the first night in Oakhurst. I'm afraid I don't know enought about the area and googling driving times doesn't help much. If we overnight the first night in Oakhurst, the next morning we will head into Yosemite from the south. I would like my family to see all of the most beautiful areas of the park. That's all I can say. I don't know what route to take or how to do this and would appreciate direction.

Uden, The...
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3. Re: Tioga Pass Road

If you want to take your time for Seki Oakhurst will be far enough imo. I agree with PNWF to stick to Mariposa Grove, Glacier Point, Tunnel View and the Valley. Driving Tioga rd will take too much time.

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4. Re: Tioga Pass Road

With just one full day in the park, I wouldn't go up to TM, either. You'll understand when you get there - there is more than enough to fill your day in the valley, Glacier Pt, etc.

Re Panorama Trail: You either need to get a bus ($$) up and hike down, or have two vehicles and do the drive up/drop off/drive back thing. Depending on which route you take at a couple forks in the trail, it's about 8.5-10 miles. There's one steep-ish section that climbs about 800' after you've crossed Illilouette Creek, but most of it is downhill. I have some knee issues, and I was really feeling it even with a brace. (I find downhill to be much more of a strain than up.) I don't know how long it takes to recover fully from ACL surgery, so I don't know if this will be trouble for her. Once you start this trail, you're committed - it isn't a loop. If nothing else, I would highly recommend the John Muir trail down at Nevada Fall - if you take the Mist Trail after Nevada Fall, it is really, really steep over slippery granite and sometimes uncertain footing. It's basically rock piled up into steps, then (after Vernal Fall) steps cut into the rock.

Definitely look at pictures of the trail and read some reports. Maybe someone else who's had knee surgery AND done it will reply?

Edited: 27 February 2014, 20:32
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5. Re: Tioga Pass Road

My guess is that it will be about 3 hrs from SEKI to Oakhurst. It will probably end up taking longer to get fuel & to stop for dinner. I recommend having some snacks & drinks (maybe picnic foods?) with you as well. Oakhurst has two large grocery stores.

First thing Tuesday morning, drive 1.5 hrs to Glacier Point. Stop at Washburn Point as well. The Sentinel Dome hike is popular and only 2.2 miles round trip. tripadvisor.com/Travel-g61000-d532061 So you may spend an hour or even two hours here, if this area is a priority for you.

Then drive an hour down to Yosemite Valley. Stop at Tunnel View (park on right after you exit the tunnel) and then Bridalveil Fall, also parking on right. Check into Curry Village or just park there and get ready for the next part of the day. Be sure all of your food is out of sight in your car. Maybe rent bikes, maybe hike up some of the Mist Trail, maybe hike some of the Valley Floor Loop Trail, maybe walk up to Lower Yosemite Fall (may be done flowing for the season.)

On Wednesday, you can drive about 1.5 hrs up to Tuolumne Meadows to enjoy some of this area. Maybe stop at Olmsted Point and Tenaya Lake on the way. Maybe only go as far as Olmsted Point. At the end of that tourism, drive an hour back toward Yosemite Valley, but turn right at Crane Flat instead of left back toward Yosemite Valley. Exit at the Big Oak Flat Entrance and drive about 3+ more hours to San Francisco.

If getting to SF first thing in the morning is more important, skip Tuolumne Meadows entirely.

In my opinion, enjoying the destinations you've chosen is more important than trying to stuff every destination into a tight itinerary. I don't know about your travel style. With teens, I think more doing and less driving/looking makes sense.

With that in mind, I might even do the longer Taft Point - Pohono Trail - Sentinel Dome loop when on the Glacier Point Road. It has a high country meadow, great views, 4 miles of walking, a huge granite dome, and more great views.

You could just as easily choose a trail or activity that would be perfect for your family. Maybe you rent bikes for 1/2 day and see the Valley that way. Maybe the raft rental would be open (water too low by then?) and you'd float the short section of the Merced River.

Pick one thing and savor it.

==============

Adding .. I "vote" to skip Mariposa Grove since you'll have seen some Giant Sequoias in SEKI.

Edited: 27 February 2014, 20:33
Uden, The...
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6. Re: Tioga Pass Road

Yes, that's right. Forgot about your visit to Seki.

Chicago, Illinois
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7. Re: Tioga Pass Road

Thank you all for this unbelievably wonderful information! This is so helpful. We plan on skipping Mariposa Grove because of the trip to SEKI. We are hikers but unfortunately will not be able to enjoy hiking because of my daughter's knee. I will be freaking out every time she steps on something slippery. She tore her ACL playing soccer and the doctor seems to think she can play after 8 months of recuperation. I am skeptical. But ... if she can play soccer, she can most certainly hike. I'll have to research the different hikes to see what "I" am comfortable with for her. I only want to travel the Tioga Road if we have time to go far enough to see anything better than what we are seeing already. I am open to doing this the morning we leave if it is worth it. If not, we won't.

Santa Cruz...
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8. Re: Tioga Pass Road

I agree with the others- don't try to cram in Tioga Rd. You have plenty for the day and a half in Yosemite. As for the Panorama hike down to the valley... I am inclined to recommend skipping that. While it is an amazing hike and the views are top notch, you mentioned that you would be worried the entire time and that will take away from the enjoyment considerably. Why not stroll some great (more flat) trails along glacier point rd. Up to Sentinel Dome is amazing, through McGurk Meadow, out to Dewey Pt, there are many stops to take in and they are not far from the car if the ACL is acting up. Plus they do not have as much elevation change.

Whatever you do will be great- just don't add stress and worry :)

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9. Re: Tioga Pass Road

It's not really confusing. But here are some questions to help.

What time do you usually get up and how long does it take you to get ready? Do you eat a full breakfast? Where ever you're staying in Three Rivers, it's unlikely to have a full breakfast - you'll have to go to a coffee shop/restaurant. Only a few/one will be open early in the morning. But if you can do with gas station coffee and pastries you bought the day before (or your motel offers coffee and packaged pastries), what time do you think you'll leave?

Are you the kind of person who stops to look at large granite outcroppings or your first glimpse of say...this:

…blogspot.com/-SXwB0e2W29c/…IMG_3402.jpg

or this:

…blogspot.com/-SXwB0e2W29c/…IMG_3402.jpg

Take the time you'll leave your motel and add time for breakfast, if required. Then add 1 hour to get to places like this (without stopping at the places above or any other place - there are lot more scenic spots, I just chose two):

…britannica.com/eb-media/40/100640-004-B4BF5…

There is very little that's slippery in Sequoia and, in fact, a place like Beetle Rock is exactly what your daughter needs to get over the slippery scare thing - not slippery, but still rock.

So "all day" in Sequoia either means...leaving 4 hours before you want to go to bed in Oakhurst or it means leaving in order to get to Oakhurst before dark (8:30, so leaving by 4:30, will be very dusk-like in Oakhurst because of the mountains at 8:30). That also encompasses most people's dinner times - so...you may be leaving Sequoia at 3:30 to allow for a meal (or get sandwiches to eat as a picnic).

If you are early risers, you have part of a day in Sequoia...enough to see what I posted above and much more. You should really hike the flat trail at Crescent/Log Meadow (see Tharp's log!) and you'll want to see General Sherman.

Similarly, it's an hour or a little more from Oakhurst to Glacier Point. Get your group up, breakfast, drive past some scenery, get to Glacier Point by X a.m. (depending on your habits). The Valley itself is worth 2 days of exploration, so you have choices to make for your one day in Yosemite (which is not a "full" day because you are not already in Yosemite when you begin). That night in Curry Village will be a highlight of your trip and you'll be very glad you planned the time for Yosemite Valley and its adjacent hikes.

If you are going to freak out if your daughter is on steep/slippery terrain, avoid Panorama Trail, but Sentinel Dome is fine. Stick to the Valley floor trails (there's enough slippery as you head up towards Yosemite Falls - use common sense). Lots of falls to see, btw, and a river, too. Kids love the river (rafting, etc.) Visitor center is excellent...Happy Isles area very popular with families. El Capitan Meadow a great place to use binoculars to spot climbers. Curry Village has a climbing store and school. Bouldering near Camp Four is great - and kids can be matched with rocks that won't damage them if they fall (use common sense).

Chicago, Illinois
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10. Re: Tioga Pass Road

I am so glad I asked my questions. I received my answers. Thank you all for the great information that I will most definately follow. I know now to definately stay in Oakhurst and that Curry Village is a great idea too. I wish we had one additional night - I think it would be perfect. But we don't so I have to make the best of the time we have and your answers are helping me to do that. We'll start early each morning and grab a quick breakfast along the way. I'll make sure to have snacks in the car. We will skip Tioga Road and focus on the Glacier Point and area and Yosemite Valley and area. Two questions - are we able to see El Capitan anywhere in my itinerary? And to LeBiscuit D - you seem to know alot about Seki and Yosemite. Do we have enough time to enjoy Sequoia and Kings Canyon? And is it worth the stop for the day on the way to Yosemite? The trees look so beautiful but I am wondering what would be better - to add a day to Yosemite and take out Seki or leave it the way it is? Thanks!