Planning a trip to yosemite & california

7:00 a.m. on July 17, 2008 (EDT)
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Hi,

Lookign for some advice, planning a trip bout 17 days to california and would like to take in a bit of Yosemite, I'm scottish and have done a good bit of walking/climbing/backpacking/etc so would like to take in some good trails etc in the park, can anyone recommend a good book with a list of trails they'd recommend, will have my better half with me so wont be camping (she hates camping) ideally day trails with some good views of scenery/wildlife.
Some quick questions:

How long (dist/time) by car to yosemite from san francisco?
Would you get accomodation in the park or outside the park?
What are the must sees?

Thanks for reading,
Gordon

1:10 p.m. on July 17, 2008 (EDT)
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Quote:

How long (dist/time) by car to yosemite from san francisco?

On a good day, 4 hours. On a holiday weekend, 8, 10, 12 hours, most of which is just getting out of the SFBay Area. I assume you would be coming into San Francisco International and renting a car (bus transport is possible, but not very flexible). I would suggest spending a couple days in the Bay Area to visit a few of the fantastic sights we have here, like the various redwoods parks.

Head out Interstate 580, pick up Interstate 280 after you get over Altamont Pass (through Tracy), which puts you on Interstate 5 heading north. Immediately turn off onto Highway 120, and follow that all the way into Yosemite National Park. You will go in the Big Oak Flat entrance. Be prepared for the rather stiff entrance fee ($40 for a single entrance, though if you are over 62, you can get a lifetime pass for $10. Don't remember what the season pass is).

Quote:

Would you get accomodation in the park or outside the park?

You won't be camping, so there are 3 choices in the Valley and one in Tuolumne Meadows. In the Valley, you can stay in the tent cabins in Camp Curry (comfortable, but maybe too primitive for your camping-hating spouse), Yosemite Lodge (expensive by US Standards, but cheaper than what I spent on hotels in northern Italy last October), or the Ahwahnee (top of the line both in accomodations and in price - but try to have a dinner there if you like fine dining - wear your coat and tie). There is one lodge in Tuolumne Meadows, though you can stay just outside the park at Tioga Pass Lodge. I highly recommend Tuolumne Meadows for any summer months in Yosemite for the hiking and climbing, rather than the Valley, which will be shoulder to shoulder tourists.

There are various motels and lodges on the roads leading into Yosemite, some just outside the park. But you would have a fairly long drive into the park each day if you stay at them.

Quote:

What are the must sees?

Where to start? Anything and everything in the Park is spectacular. The Valley is compact enough that you can get a good sample in just a day or two. Hikes around the Valley that I would suggest are the Nevada/Vernal Falls trail (the Mist Trail) up into Little Yosemite Valley, 4-Mile Trail (which is more like 5.5 miles) from the Valley Floor up to Glacier Point, the Yosemite Falls Trail, hike out to Mirror Lake right under the north face of Half Dome, and if you are really ambitious and in shape, do the hike to the top of Half Dome via the cables (start at midnight from Happy Isles, since it is a long way if you do it as a day hike).

In Tuolumne, the trails out to Waterwheel Falls, up Lyell Canyon, or up to Budd Lake and Cathedral Peak (the Peak itself is a moderate technical rock climb, requiring rope and chocks and cams). At Tioga Pass, the hike up Mt Dana is an interesting one. Just over Tioga Pass, the hike around 7 Lakes Basin out of Saddlebag Lake is quite beautiful, giving lots of views of the High Sierra and peaks with glaciers on them.

Then there are the giant sequoia groves on both the north and south rims of the Valley. To the south, go to Wawona (there is a lodge there) and the groves there. Also on the south side you can go to Glacier Point (another lodge there), from which you can pick up the Panorama trail. To the north, along the Tioga Pass Road, not far from the turnoff at Crane Flat is a parking area to hike to one of the tunnel trees and a spectacular grove - you used to be able to drive through the tree, but it was made a hiking trail about 20 years ago. At Tenaya Lake, there is a lot of rock climbing, including some of the most challenging rock climbs in the world.

I would be remiss if I did not point out that Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park is not far south of Yosemite, and every bit as spectacular. It is not as much visited, which actually makes it more pleasant.

I'm sure you already have the trip planned, but I would really suggest late September through late October to avoid the crowds. Try to go after Labor Day weekend, at least (Labor Day is the first Monday in September)

6:02 p.m. on July 17, 2008 (EDT)
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Thanks a million for the details.

I'm thinking on spending bout 7 days exploring the park, do you think thats to short to see/explore the park to any extent? what time wouuld you suggest for a first visit?

Thanks again,

Gordon

7:09 p.m. on July 17, 2008 (EDT)
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Gordon, I recommend the Rough Guides Yosemite guide book. Small, yet comprehensive. It has little maps in it too, which are helpful. They are an English outfit, so should be easy to find in the UK or online at
http://www.roughguides.com

The park's own website is http://www.nps.gov/yose
Lots of good info there as well on where to go, what to see, etc.

Harrison maps has a pretty good big map of the park. It is printed on plastic, so it's quite durable.
http://www.harrissonmaps.com

You can't see everything in a week, the place is just too big, but you can see the valley floor in a day or two and not just driving around like some people do, and then spend a couple of days hiking. One hike I have not done, but is quite popular is Half Dome-very strenuous and a bit scary-you climb up steps along the backside that have cable handrails-it is quite steep but from pictures I have seen and friends I have talked to, quite spectacular. That would be a long day in itself.

Accomodations-I have stayed at Camp Curry. It is a zoo-noisy and crowded. In summer, the valley floor is hot, so the tent cabins won't be all that comfortable.

My advice-rent a cabin at The Redwoods. http://www.redwoodsinyosemite.com
This is a complex of about 125 privately owned vacation homes that is inside the park near Wawona-the South entrance. They are great for non-campers. I have been there twice and enjoyed it each time. They have several levels of amenities and some are quite fancy. Worth the extra money and the drive to the valley floor. Like renting a condo instead of staying at a hotel. I like camping, but it is also nice to come back after a long day, make a nice meal and take a shower before sleeping in a real bed.

The Sunday brunch at the Ahwanhee is nice but overpriced. The Lodge has a nice dinner menu-fairly reasonable. There are various fast food places in the valley-pizza, sandwiches, that sort of thing.

Time to go-if you can, avoid the summer. Very crowded, lots of traffic. I would wait if possible until school starts-usually end of September in the US. It should still be warm, although I like it colder personally. I have only been there in winter the past few years. I was there in the summer as a kid a long time ago.

Fees-the entrance fee is only $20 per car and that is good for a week. You don't pay per person in the car, just the car itself. There are shops on the valley floor, supermarket, etc. (The annual pass is $40.)

Travel-avoid Hwy 140-the El Portal entrance. There was a massive rock slide a couple of years ago and it may still be one lane in parts (it was in February), which makes traffic worse than usual.

Bill's idea of King's Canyon is a good one. I did a short trip there a year ago and we rented little tiny cabins-nothing like the Redwoods-those are real homes-just basic shelters with beds in them. There are hikes to do there where you will see the giant trees.

If you belong to the AA, you may be able to get maps from the AAA, the American version, once you get here. I think they have a reciprocal arrangement. At least the NZ one does. I joined the NZ AA when I was down there and used my card in Hawaii when I came back. I'd check on that-they have the usual maps and guidebooks.

Don't forget-we drive on the other side of the road. :)

7:47 p.m. on July 17, 2008 (EDT)
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Quote:

the entrance fee is only $20 per car and that is good for a week. You don't pay per person in the car, just the car itself. There are shops on the valley floor, supermarket, etc. (The annual pass is $40.)

I thought they boosted the single entrance this year? Be aware that the single entrance and the Yosemite Annual Pass are just for Yosemite. There is another pass that allows entrance to all National Parks for the year and maybe one for some shorter term. I have had my Senior pass for several years now, so I haven't paid much attention to the entrance fees.

The Hwy 140 road has been widened, enough for cars, but closed to trucks and large RVs. The widened version was opened in June.

The south entrance highway is route 40 (120 from the north, 140 from the west through El Portal, and 40 from the south past Bass Lake and through Wawona - Tom comes from LA, where you will be coming from San Francisco in Northern California - NorCal is The Real California).

Yes, do remember we Yanks drive on the Right side of the road, not the Wrong (left) side like you Scots (well, you did have that imposed on you by the Brits, so not your fault - I have a bit of Scots blood from my mother's side of the family).

Tom is absolutely right that 7 days is nowhere near enough time to see Yosemite. Depending on how interested your significant other is about hiking, I would suggest at least hiking up to Nevada and Vernal Falls, with one of the directions being on the Mist Trail. I would suggest the 4-Mile Trail as a second hike, if you feel you have time. But I would strongly urge spending at least a day in Tuolumne and hiking out toward Waterwheel Falls. If you have a second day to spend in Tuolumne, hike up Mt Dana - fantastic views from Mono Lake to the east, Mt. Conness to the north, Lyell to the south, and all the way past Cathedral Peak into Yosemite Valley to the west.

Also, bring lots of film (or memory cards for your digital camera).

You should try to get reservations as far in advance as possible. It may be a bit late to get them for dates between now and Labor Day, but late September and October should have lots of space available.

9:41 a.m. on July 18, 2008 (EDT)
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When Bill S mentioned a $40 entrance fee, I nearly fell off my chair, and was going to ask when they doubled it. So I looked it up. Here's the scoop:

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/feesandreservations.htm

It's still $20/car (whew!) and that's good for 7 days. As Bill mentioned, there's the senior pass (good for all parks for the rest of your life) for $10. Then for us "regular people" (grin), there's an annual Yosemite pass for $40, or an annual all-parks pass for $80.

10:22 a.m. on July 18, 2008 (EDT)
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Thanks a ton for the info folks, been in the US a few times so no major hassles driving on the "wrong side of the road ;)", had a scary one time in san jose where I drove down an exit ramp onto the 101 (met with a few horns that day!!)I tend to concentrate a bit more after that one.

Planning in heading around mid september so hoping it might have quietened down a bit, will try to find the book recommended as a reference and get the booking made asap.

Thanks again folks,

Gordon

5:19 p.m. on July 18, 2008 (EDT)
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One advantage you will have is that the dollar isn't worth anywhere near what it was even a year ago, so even tourist prices should seem reasonable and gas will be a real bargain for you compared to UK prices.

9:04 a.m. on July 19, 2008 (EDT)
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During my one trip to Yosemite I stayed on the east side of the park and avoided the crowds except for the two days I spent in Yosemite Valley.

I think "must sees" for northern California include Pt. Reyes, Redwood National Park (north of Eureka on 101), and the drive along Highway 1 through Mendocino county. I've driven from Fort Bragg all the way down to Bodega Bay on Hwy. 1 but I don't like the housing developments once you get out of Mendocino County. A few other things to do might be a wine tour in Napa and spending some time in the Lake Tahoe area.

edit: I just realized you were probably talking about "must sees" in the park, not in CA.

3:14 p.m. on July 20, 2008 (EDT)
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Im spending abround 17/18 days in california, mostly around the bay area and yosemite (a week at least exploring yosemite), I would really like to head over to napa for a look around the wineries etc, My friend was there last year and came back thinking it was all very commercial i.e. bus loads of folks being wheeled in and out on the hour every hour, is there any areas around napa where its a bit more laid back?

again,

thnaks folks for the help here!

Gordon

8:11 a.m. on July 21, 2008 (EDT)
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If you feel like driving a little further north this might be a lot of fun.

http://www.mendocino.com/tastingrooms.html

I can vouch for the North Coast, Anderson Valley and Ukiah Brewing Co. beers being some of the best I have ever had. The Bluestar Winery (?) is north of Fort Bragg on a bluff overlooking the ocean and has some of the most incredible views around. There is also a small wine tasting joint in down town Fort Bragg on Hwy 1. Or you can spend an afternoon at Piaccis' in Fort Bragg drinking wines and beer from all over the west coast. You probably won't find better pizza anywhere on the north coast either.

5:45 p.m. on July 22, 2008 (EDT)
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drinking wine, beer with some pizza sounds good!! thanks for the tip, its looking like for the yosemite visit Im gonna stay in a small B&B just outside the west entrance big oak flat I think its called, then Im off to Tuolumne Meadows tent camp for 5 - 6 days, gonna use that as the base and head out each day hiking, this camp gets great reviews, anyone stayed in the tents and are they comfy? also how cold does it get up there at night? and finally what food/supplies should I take? can I get food up there? so many questions, probably be back soon with more!! thanks again guys.

-Gordon

2:57 a.m. on July 23, 2008 (EDT)
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Gordon, friends of mine have been up there a couple of times. I can check with them and see. Weather will depend on time of year. Check the Yosemite official site. I think they have a weather history posted that will give you highs and lows.

2:52 p.m. on July 23, 2008 (EDT)
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The Tuolumne tent camp is basically like the Camp Curry tent cabins. They have beds, with linens and blankets supplied, and a wood-burning stove. So you will be sufficiently warm and comfortable in the tent. http://www.yosemitepark.com/Accommodations_TuolumneMeadowsLodge_LodgingDetails.aspx

In Sept, you can expect anything from warm days (20-25C) to nights below freezing (negative temperatures C). But then, you are Scottish, so one of those wonderful sweaters will provide sufficient warmth in the evening.

Food and supplies - Note that the Lodge closes after breakfast Sep 21 (Autumnal Equinox day! Well, close enough), so you can get all meals there up to that date. After that, the grocery store will still be open for a couple more weeks. You will have to keep your food in the bear lockers (absolutely nothing in the tent, including any and all "smellables", which means toothpaste, deodorant, soap, etc). But you can cook in the picnic area. You can buy wood (no collecting of wood, even downed wood, is allowed). Or if you bring a camp stove, you can buy butane canisters (standard threaded type) - but check with your airline about their regulations, or buy one at one of the 10 REIs in the SFBay Area before you head up to Yosemite. Hmmm, maybe I can arrange to loan you one of my backpacking stoves, since you are going to be going through SFO and won't be too far from my house - although the extra gas for the rental car might exceed the price of a new stove. (SFO is about 25 miles from my house, in Palo Alto, which is where Stanford University is).

6:28 p.m. on July 23, 2008 (EDT)
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Thanks Bill for the tips and offer of a stove, I have a small butane stove (the screw type which punctures the canister) I could bring the burner and pick up gas?(I'm guessing the gas canisters are standard across europe/US?) My intineray has me in Yosemite (tent cabin) from 14th to 19th Sept, so sounds like the store and lodge will be open, can I easily get by without the stove etc? also do you recommend a sleeping bag for the tent cabin or are the cabin supplies sufficient?

Next part, (looks like after yosemite were off to tahoe for a day or two (is there much to see/do, is two days enough before moving on?) I'd really like to make my way back over to the coast so i'm thinking 2 days at tahoe then up early and a bugger of a day trip from tahoe to Mendocino county as recommended (mostly for some good food and wine and the views over the pacific look great & looks like some nice trails etc around the coast?) afterwards gonna meander down the coast back to san francisco bay area (do this over a few days) with maybe a trip out to monterey (finish up and home on the 28th Sept)

What do you think folks? appreciate all the help here, Its good to get tips from yourselves as books can be a disaster as a planning aid.

Again any feedback, tips on where to go/where not to go, etc, all appreciated.

10:37 p.m. on July 23, 2008 (EDT)
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Stove-if you have a true puncture style GAZ stove, it is unlikely you will find canisters here. Get one with the Lindal valve-the screw on valve (or borrow one of Bill's). If that's what you mean, you are okay. Don't try to bring canisters on the plane. Buy them here at most outdoor shops.

I'd bring a sleeping bag. I vaguely remember the tent cabins having sheets and blankets, but we were there in winter, so I slept in my bag.

The Lodge and shops were open when I was there in winter, but it was the Presidents' Day weekend so a lot more than usual was open. Still, I'd bring whatever for food and stick it in the bear locker. Do not leave anything remotely like food in your car. A determined bear can rip the door right off or break a window. A car just looks to them like a cooler on wheels.

5:39 a.m. on July 24, 2008 (EDT)
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Just found another stove I keep, its the screw type propane mix, Im guessing this is the type you mention so will pack this (less the gas of course), are bears a real risk in the park or are they few and far??

12:45 p.m. on July 24, 2008 (EDT)
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Sleeping bags - since you are planning to stay at a B&B outside the park, then in the tent cabins at Tuolumne, you don't need a sleeping bag. Linens and blankets are provided (you can get an extra blanket if you get cold), plus you have the stove in the tent cabin.

Stove - Check your airline to be sure it is ok to bring the stove top. Airlines vary on their policies, some allowing a butane/propane mix stove top, some absolutely forbidding them (and sometimes you run into airport personnel who take it on themselves to proclaim new rules). If you bring the Camping Gaz puncture top, you can get the canisters at Redwood Trading Post in Redwood City, about 8 miles south of SFO just off Hwy 101, on El Camino Real (= "The King's Highway", a major thoroughfare that runs the length of the SF Peninsula). I think you can still get them in the Tuolumne store, but you can certainly get the threaded connector butane-propane canisters.

Tom, I believe you are thinking of the Lodge in the Valley. The Tuolumne lodge closes, as do the Tuolumne campgrounds at first snowfall, and the Tioga road closes to all traffic in November until the road is cleared usually about Memorial Day (end of May). The Tuolumne store does remain open until the road closure for the season.

Gordon, yes there are bears, and you do have to keep your food and all smellables in the provided steel bear lockers. But the bears tend to be quite shy of humans (black bears, with no grizzlies in California since the 1920's, despite the state flag having a grizzly on it). See, bears are smart - really smart. They know that if they get caught breaking into cars (yes, really, especially if you leave any food or smellables in the car) or stealing human food, they will get exiled (or, unfortunately, put down).

Tahoe is a fairly long drive from Yosemite. If you do this, I would suggest that when you leave Tuolumne, you head east over Tioga Pass to Highway 395, then turn north until you get to one of the turnoffs to Tahoe (you can go to South Tahoe or further north over to the the north part of the lake). Warning - Tahoe is very touristy, with the Nevada side on both the north and south shores having big, glitzy casinos. However, you can avoid the touristy sections and go to some wonderful hiking trails.

If you are interested in hostel-type accommodations, I would suggest going all the way up to Donner Pass (Interstate 80) to the Norden/Soda Springs area and staying at the Sierra Club's Clair Tappaan Lodge. They will have plenty of openings at that time of year. Call them at 1-800-679-6775 (800-series numbers are toll-free). If you go, tell Peter I sent you. The accommodations are hostel-style, though there are 2-person "cubbies", as well as bunkrooms and men-only and women-only dorms. The meals are great (3 meals a day included in the $50/person/day for non-members). You would need a sleeping bag for the lodge. The lodge itself is a huge log building, built in the 1930s by members of the Sierra Club, with a huge "living room" with a stone fireplace and a smaller library, plus recreation room and hot tub. There are a number of hikes you can take directly from the lodge (including out to Peter Grubb Hut, about 3 miles out through Castle Valley and over Castle Pass, or south along the Pacific Crest Trail as far as you care to hike).

3:38 a.m. on July 25, 2008 (EDT)
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Bill, you are right. I forgot that there is another Lodge up at Tuolumne. I haven't been up that way since I was a kid. Maybe I will try and get up that way this winter. I know they close the road so I'll have to check on how close I can get to the roadblock.

12:46 p.m. on July 25, 2008 (EDT)
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Tom, the 120 from the west is closed at Yosemite Institute, about a mile from the Crane Flat turnoff. From the east, 120 is closed sometimes as low as a mile or so above the Lee Vining turnoff, but sometimes as much as 5 miles up the road. If you stay at Tioga Lodge (the commercial lodge just below Tioga Pass), they will haul your gear up in their snow cat, though you will have to hike the 9 or 10 miles to the Lodge. You will need snowshoes or skis for most or all of it, but it is a luxo way to ski Tuolumne Meadows. They won't take your gear if you aren't staying at the Lodge, though. So if you want to camp in the Meadows or do the traverse to the Valley, you have to do it on your own, plus arrange your drop-off and pick up. I keep intending to do this traverse, but have only done the two ends. Arranging point-to-point transportation is always a problem. If you intend to do it, you can drop a food supply and gear at the Tuolumne Ranger Station before the road closes (be sure to pick it up very early after the road opens if you cancel the trip, or the rangers will dump it in the trash).

7:38 p.m. on July 25, 2008 (EDT)
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Thanks Bill, I got out my maps and guidebook and perused the park website. It has a winter trails map for the area on it. Judging from the map and what you said, it looks like I could drive up 120 to about the Crane Flat Lookout trail or the Crane Flat Campground area and then ski either to the lookout or do the campground loop. Not sure where to camp though-maybe at the campground if it's open. I emailed the park, so maybe I'll get some answers in a week or so.

11:14 a.m. on July 28, 2008 (EDT)
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hi all,

decided against the trip to tahoe and instead going to spend some extra time around yosemite and the coast line north of san francisco, so trip looks like:

First few days in san francisco getting over the 13hour flight.
Then a week exploring yosemite (staying in B&B & tent cabin @ Tuolumne Meadows)
Then back to west coast (plan is to make our way north up the coast from Monterey stopping for a few days at any spot that has nice coast and some trails worth exploring (any recommendations?)
We'll travel north for 10 days or so.
Then head back to san francisco and home

Got from 11th sept to 29th sept so hopefully plenty time to take in yosemite and the northern californian coastline.

Thanks again everyone for the help, I have a small notebook full of the ideas suggested in the thread so all suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Gordon

2:12 p.m. on July 28, 2008 (EDT)
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Gordon -
The current major fires near Yosemite is along Highway 140, which is the west entrance through El Portal. The road is still open, and by Sept, it should be under control, even though it is in very rugged terrain. So, except for smoke, it should be no problem. Your approach from the SFBay Area, as I recommended before, should be Hwy 120.

On the coast, Monterey is a good place to start. The Basin Fire Complex, in the Big Sur area, should be long out by the time you are here. So I would suggest you consider going south along Highway 1, exploring as far down as Hearst Castle. That's a wild section of coastline, much less urban than the first hundred miles or so heading north. There are several state parks that are worth visiting, some having B&Bs or lodges. Pfeiffer Big Sur and Julia Pfeiffer Burns are nice parks with great hiking trails, as is the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, near Aptos a bit north of Monterey and close to Santa Cruz.

Monterey itself is interesting, though in an urban sort of way. Carmel and Monterey have lots of chichi shops to drop huge amounts of money in, and the golf courses are world famous (with huge greens fees). But the Monterey Aquarium is justly world-famous. 17-Mile Drive is quite nice.

Heading north, there are some nice beaches. I mentioned Nisene Marks already. When you get to Santa Cruz (typical beach resort), you can tour the University of California Santa Cruz campus. It used to be famous as a "surfer school", but it does have several world-caliber science departments. Inland from Santa Cruz, you will find Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Good camping, plus some cabins. Great hiking (we used to have orienteering events there, until the rangers started restricting off-trail travel, due to the "herbal farmers"). If you follow Hwy 9 from Santa Cruz, you reach Skyline Drive at Saratoga Gap. South from Saratoga Gap along Skyline, you reach the main parking area for Castle Rock State Park, a world-class bouldering area, where such climbing superstars as Chris Sharma got their start (I run sessions of my Climbing Instructor for scout leaders there). Lots of good hiking there as well.

Heading north from Saratoga Gap, you pass by many miles of open space preserves, all of which have scenic hiking. Eventually, Skyline drops you into San Francisco.

Staying with Hwy 1, north out of Santa Cruz, you pass a number of state parks on the beaches, including some scenic lighthouses (and lots of little towns like Pacifica with the usual plethora of shops). Several of the parks have numerous sea lion colonies, some sea elephants, hundreds of varieties of birds (Ano Nuevo State Park is a good one to stop at). Eventually, Hwy 1 goes into San Francisco, passing through Golden Gate Park (a SF City park with great museums) and the Presidio (now part of Golden Gate National Park), and across the Golden Gate Bridge. This puts you at the Marin Headlands part of Golden Gate National Park.

If you wind your way up the coast on Hwy 1 (you are on Hwy 101 as you cross the Golden Gate Bridge, and have to spot the turnoff), you pass a number of famous beaches and redwoods parks (Muir Woods is excellent - the trails up Mt Tamalpais are nice), eventually getting to Redwoods National Park. Ooops, forgot about Point Reyes National Seashore - great hiking, and some unique deer herds. Actually, Redwoods National Park is probably a bit far for the time you have available, unless you head pretty directly for it.

Oh, what I have described is a 3 to 4 week trek if you do all the hikes in all the parks.

5:02 p.m. on July 30, 2008 (EDT)
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Thanks again Bill for taking the time here, the information is greatly appreciated, quick one for you, any recommendations on a B&B near the big oak flat entrance to the park? would like to stay maybe two nights in a B&B to explore that side of the park before heading over to Tuolumne, theres a few around Groveland that look nice, any particular spots that you or friends may have stayed at and would recommend?

Had a look at a few of the park camps/cabins at the entrance but they dont seem to get great reviews..

Thanks,
Gordon

8:44 p.m. on July 30, 2008 (EDT)
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Sorry, I can't help on that one. Since I very rarely use B&Bs in the US, I don't have any recommendations. Years ago when I was a Scoutmaster, one of my scouts' parents had friends who ran a B&B somewhere near Mariposa (which is where the Telegraph Fire is, and which is still out of control, currently something like 50 square miles burned). But I don't have that information anymore. Keep in mind that I and most of my friends are dirtbag climbers, which likely means that the B&B owners wouldn't allow us in. The 2 B&Bs I stayed in regularly in Alaska catered to climbers, and the one where my son and I stayed in the Dolomites was run by a couple who are both climbers. The ones near Yosemite are a bit more up-scale than my "lifestyle".

11:34 a.m. on July 31, 2008 (EDT)
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Ha ha I see, here in scotland B&B's around the highlands would go out of buisness if they turned back climbers/hikers so were usually welcomed anywhere.

1:54 p.m. on August 18, 2008 (EDT)
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This is an interesting travelogue discussion!

If you're still looking for something in wine country I like Sonoma rather than Napa. They have wineries, tastings, tours, etc. The Sonoma town center is interesting. It was a Spanish military baracks originally so it has a spacious central square which is now a park surrounded by cute shops an eateries on 4 sides. There is also a mission and barracks that you can tour through. Take any chance to tour a spanish mission. It shows you a much older historical side to Cali that I never expected when I moved here.

(The missions are strung out along highway 101 which was the original spanish colonial road through California.)

9:29 p.m. on September 28, 2008 (EDT)
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the annual pass is well worth it.. almost all the national parks I've been to so far are at least $20+. It adds up quickly to $80. I even use it for local wilderness pass as well too. Great investment if you plan to hike some more in other states, not just cali

5:41 p.m. on November 16, 2008 (EST)
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well folks, back from the vacation and had a great time, final intineray ended up with my girl friend and I travelling from San Francisco to Yosemite, we spent a few night in Groveland at the groveland hotel (I must recommend this for anyone interested in a comfy bed for a few nights before hitting the wild of the park, great hotel, good price @ $110/night I thought and close to the park.
We then stayed in Yosemite at White wolf camp for 5 days and for me this was fantastic, at an elevation of little over 11000ft it felt remote but was really cosy at the same time and met so many nice people, we then headed to Toulomnemedows and spent a couple of nights at the camp (good but not a cool as white wolf IMO)
Then it was onto monterey and big Sur, only had a few days there but what a stunning coat line and a perfect excuse to ensure I return, we then moved onto Senoma (a break from the roughing it stuff, and welcomed by my girl friend) had plenty wine and top notch food and finally we meandered back to san francico for a few days then home to wet/cold Scotland.

All in we had a fantastic time, we met so many nice people, was my girl-friends first time in the US and she has fallen in love with it and californina, just wanna thanks the folks who helped me plan the trip and will speak soon.

Thanks

Gordon

7:17 p.m. on November 16, 2008 (EST)
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Gordon, Thanks for the trip report. Glad to hear you two had a great time. Which way did you go into Yosemite? I'm curious to find out what's going on with the road at El Portal.

8:48 p.m. on November 16, 2008 (EST)
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Tom -
going from Groveland would have put him in at Big Oak Flat entrance station on 120. So he would have missed the El Portal road situation.

Gordon,
White Wolf is one of the nicest of the Tioga Road campgrounds, and you got it at the right time of year. Where did you hike while there and in Tuolumne?

Sonoma is sure a long ways from "roughing it", but touring all the tasting rooms at the wineries can be fun and educational. Some of the best wines in the world come from there (though the French seem to have a hard time admitting it).

Hope you missed the demonstrations in SF while you were there - they did get a bit out of hand.

-- Bill

12:45 a.m. on November 17, 2008 (EST)
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Thanks Bill, I now remember driving through there on one of my trips down from Sacramento. The road was really winding and narrow as I recall.

8:47 a.m. on November 17, 2008 (EST)
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Indeed we came through the big oak flat entrance, we hit some road works on the way to the valley but to be honest there was no real traffic, got stuck a few times behind big construction trucks (ye know the type with two trailers) heading into yosemite the first few days from Groveland they were really slow!

Whilst in Tuolumne we hiked the trail up to Elizabeth Lake on the first day then up Lambert Dome the second day, the view of the surrounding area from Lambert Dome was fantastic, it was a clear day with patchy clouds casting shadows across the great meadows, stunning! Met the rangers at the small hut by the natural soda fountain, she recommended so much more in the area as did most people, with only five days in the park it was tough but as I say we shall return soon to pick up where we left off!!
One of my favourite treks was a trek out to the waterfalls from the valley floor (cant remember the name but they took in a large pool "mystic pool" if I remember) was a really hot day and we came down from the montain to be greeted by this stunning pool fed from a waterfall a bit further back leading onto another fall, it was beutiful and a great point to relax for an hour or so.

Didnt see any bears either but seen a cayote down in wawona which was cool.

Will upload a few pics from the park and post the link.

-Gordon

December 24, 2014
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