Our upcoming trip to California in July (7th-18th) is far from ideal timing as it is a week when many people are on vacation. In my planning I've tried to do what I can to lessen the crowds and was wondering if I am on tract. We are in our early 50’s and I am game for just about anything, but my bride is not. We are both early risers. She has issues (not severe, but issues none the less) with heights. Long hikes for her are also out. About 2 miles a shot would be good.
We arrive to the Yosemite area from San Francisco on Tuesday, July 8th. I will purchase and pack a cooler on the way out of San Francisco. We will be staying in El Portal for two nights. I am unsure on what time to leave San Francisco. If we leave about 6AM we should miss the bulk of the Bay area traffic I am assuming. Would that have us arriving in Yosemite about 10AM with many of the 'commuter' tourists? Not sure what to do this day in the valley.
Would it be a better idea to leave later in the day (about 10-11AM) and check into our hotel at 3PM? The Bay area morning rush should be over, and we can relax a little before heading into the Valley. Is traffic going into the park at about 4-5PM any better? I really don’t want our first impression of Yosemite to be one of frustration. Bumper to bumper traffic and then having difficulty parking would be annoying. (Living 30 miles east of Manhattan on an island we know traffic)
The following day (Wednesday) we can leave El Portal by 6-7AM and do some of the more popular tourist things in the Valley. I was thinking of doing the Yosemite Valley Floor Tour at 10AM. I am not sure about the tour as I am more of a ‘tour on our own’ kind of guy; but with the crowds I am hearing about moving around on our own might be problematic.
Once the crowds start to thicken in the valley (About what time do the crowds swell?) I was thinking this would be a good time to take a ride on the Tioga Road. We can visit Tuolumne Meadows and take a hike. We have 6:45 dinner reservations at The Ahwahnee Hotel Dining Room. I am sure my bride would like to go back to the room (El Portal) before dinner to clean up. Is there another option in the valley to wash up & change? I am not sure how far to go on the Tioga Road.
On Thursday we check out of El Portal. I would like to head straight to Glacier Point. If we get there by 8AM that should mean no line to get up the road; and I correct? On my agenda for this day would be stops at Washburn Point and of course Glacier Point. I would like to hike to Taft Point. I would also love to hike to Sentinel Dome via the shortcut. My wife has issues with heights, but as long as she does not have to get too close to the edges (10-20’ or so) she is ok.
I am thinking after doing that we should be out of the area early in the afternoon. We will be staying in Yosemite West the next two nights. A thought is to visit Mariposa Grove in the afternoon but I am unsure. (crowds) Asides from Mariposa Grove would other suggestions does anyone have for the area? After dinner in our rental I want to head up to Glacier Point again after sunset. I would love to sit up there for a couple of hours stargazing.
On Friday morning here’s where it gets dicey. I would love to hike the 4 Mile Trail down to the valley. This is NOT an option for my bride. My initial thought is to drive up to Glacier Point and have her pick me up in the valley. By then I will know but right now I don’t. (I did check Google Earth) Is the Glacier Point Road an ‘easy’ drive? By easy I mean are there many exposed switchbacks? It looks to me like it is mostly a tree lined windy road. It looks like it only opens up at the top. That would be fine; my wife would have a problem driving a road with switchbacks and sheer drop-offs. If I take the bus that just means more time on my own. Since it is our vacation I don’t want to abandon her all day.
I am assuming the hike down should take about 2 hours or so. It would be an hour or so drive so we were thinking she could drive back to the valley, have lunch, relax & read someplace nice until I get there. What would be the best place for her to pick me up? I was thinking of the Swinging Bridge but the map does not show that there is parking there.
Saturday morning I was thinking this would be a better time to visit Mariposa Grove and taking the first tram tour. (9:30AM) After visiting the grove we will head on to the rest of our California vacation. We are heading that general direction anyway. We will be then going to Pismo Beach, Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz, and end up back in San Francisco.
I will fill in the blanks as on what to specifically see / do while in the valley, but at the moment I am just working up a basic game plan. Any comments or suggestions are welcomed.