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Yosemite - 1st Time
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Nick Garcia
(saltamontes) - F

Locale: South Florida
Yosemite - 1st Time on 07/24/2012 17:08:28 MDT Print View

Going to Yosemite for the 1st time in two weeks. Looking for some suggestions and thoughts:

1. Flying into San Fran and driving to Oakhurst to spend the night outside the park, which is the best way to Oakhurst, and any cool places or town to check out on the way there for lunch, etc, and to pick up last minute camping fuel and food?

2. The next morning planning on driving into the park to explore, and get our permits. Since we have a reservation confirmation, i beleive we can stay in one of the backpackers campgrounds behind North Pines Campground, is this our best bet for camping prior to our hike?

3. The reservation we have is for entry at Mono Meadow, and exit Glacier Point - Illilouette. Plan is to leave the car somewhere near Glacier Point, and get a ride to Mono Meadow trail head, hike to campsite for the night, next day hike to Little Yosemite Valley for the night, and the following day do Half Dome, and back to LYV, pick up camp and hike out to Glacier Point. Any tips on this route?


steven franchuk
Re: Yosemite - 1st Time on 07/24/2012 20:16:32 MDT Print View

You might want to check out the YART bus schedule .
I haven't used this sevice myself but I appears you could leave your car at glacier point, hike down to the valley, catch the valley schuttle to the YART stop, catch the shuttle at 5PM and arrive at Mono medows at about 7PM. YART may be more reliable than "catching a ride". If the timming is not to your liking you could instead leave your car at Mono medow, do your hike but exit at the valley instead of glcier point and then ride YART back to the car.

The john Muir trail from navada falls to Vernal falls is in my opinion more scenic then the navada falls to glacier point trail.

As to the drive to Oakhurst I would take hyway 120 from I 5 to the park and then drive south past the valley to Oakhurst. Don't know oof any places to check out in Oakhurst.

Brandon Guy
(brucky) - F

Locale: Central Cal
Oakhurst on 07/24/2012 21:20:37 MDT Print View

I'd just use google maps to plan your San Fran to Oakhurst drive. How long are you in Oakhurst? There isn't a lot in Oakhurst. Bass Lake is not far, you could have a picnic. They have a couple short hikes around the lake.

I've only day hiked in yosemite, so I'll let others respond to 2 and 3

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
Mono Meadows on 07/24/2012 22:44:11 MDT Print View

You could also just hike back up Illilouette Canyon and right to Mono need to go to Glacier Point at all...

David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Yosemite - 1st Time on 07/24/2012 23:19:55 MDT Print View

There is nothing wrong with staying in Oakhurst but why fly into SF (which is 4 hours north of Oakhurst)and then use the southernmost of the three entrances to the park? You could use CA 120 or 140 to more directly access the park.

The quickest way from SF to Oakhust would likely be CA 120 to CA 99 to CA 145 to 41. This would not be a very exciting drive.

I personally think CA 140 up the Merced River Canyon is the most scenic entrance to Yosemite. This would take longer but its a nice drive.

There are two supermarkets in Oakhurst where you can stock up on food. I think there is a small outdoors store for camping fuel. I have never stopped at the outdoors store so I am not sure what they stock. I think there is also an outdoor store in Mariposa if you go up CA 140.

I cant think of any eating place in Oakhurst that gets me excited (except Ernas Elderberry House but thats fine dining). I used to get a traditional post hike ostrich burger at Pete's in Oakhurst but they haven't had them the last few times I went. I usually just pick up a sandwich at one of the markets. Ducey's at Bass Lake is a nice atmosphere.

Have a great trip.


I know many on this forum that would say it would be a crime not to try hamburger at In N Out if you have not already had one. There is one in Manteca, Modesto and Merced all right off the freeway depending on which way you go.

Edited by Davidpcvsamoa on 07/25/2012 10:16:30 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Yosemite - 1st Time on 07/25/2012 00:03:34 MDT Print View

I agree with David. CA 140 is very scenic. CA 120 is quick. Going by way of Oakhurst may be interesting. I've gone that way only a few times when I was headed to the extreme southern end of the park.


Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Yosemite - 1st Time on 07/25/2012 11:43:48 MDT Print View

the YART bus is a very plush, very reliable bus, tries to stay right on schedule.
I have used it several times, very satisfied.
if it works for your trip plan its well worth it.

Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
some adjustments on 07/25/2012 15:12:10 MDT Print View

Your hiking plan as its stands looks like this:
Day one - driving from San Francisco to Oakhurst.
Day two - driving from Oakhurst to Yosemite Valley, sightseeing, camping in the BP campground in the valley.
Day three - hiking from Mono Meadow trailhead to a campspot 2.8 miles.
Day four - hiking from Mono Meadows to Little Yosemite Valley 7.5 miles.
Day five - hiking from LYV to top of Half Dome and back, picking up camp and hiking to Glacier Point 15 miles. Camping in the BP campground.
Day six - drive back to San Francisco.

Maybe adjust your hiking distances to even it out a bit. And yes, as others have said, skip Oakhurst.

Day one - drive from San Francisco to Yosemite on 120, it's 190 miles and should take you no more than 4 hours, so gets you to Yosemite Valley by lunch time. Pick up your permit at the wilderness center, drive to Glacier Point to check out the fabulous view, drive back to the Mono Meadows trail head, hike the one or two miles to a lovely camp spot just beyond Mono Meadows.
Day two - hike 8 miles to Little Yosemite Valley.
Day three - hike up to Half Dome and back, 7 miles. If you have energy left and are sick of the busy campground at Little Yosemite Valley hike on two miles towards Morain Dome and camp there instead.
Day four - hike back out to Glacier Point 7 miles, or Mono Meadows 10 miles. Camp in the BP campground in the valley.
Day five - drive back to San Francisco.
That leaves you an extra day, so maybe you can spend that on the trail by hiking a little further to either Merced Lake or up to Clouds Rest.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Yosemite - 1st Time on 07/25/2012 17:56:10 MDT Print View

If you haven't bought or could change your air flights, check about flying into Fresno (FAT) instead of SFO. You'll save 3 - 4 hours (depending on city traffic) in getting to Oakhurst (I used to do that trip twice a week). Rental cars are probably cheaper, too. There aren't a lot of flights into FAT, but sometimes you get surprised and the airfare is close or even lower.

Do you have your Half Dome permits in hand? If not, you've missed the lottery by many months. (RANT WARNING) Due to a couple of morons offing themselves in afternoon thunderstorms, the Park Service is experimenting in how they can wring all the joy and fun out of a kick-in-the-pants dayhike to the top of Half Dome and they are succeeding. You have to get on-line months in advance, get in a lottery, pay fees, and the whole experience is more like buying tickets to a Springsten concert than a hike in woods. NPS says >400 people a day increases the risk and while that's true, it misses the bigger point: No one who leaves Happy Isles at 6 am (5 am is better), ever gets caught in an afternoon thunderstorm. Partly, they summit earlier. Also, someone being smart in one way, is smart in other ways. It is people who leave the trailhead at 10am who hike in the heat of the day, carry a honking big knife, go slowly, and (often) hadn't conditioned for the hike who can get caught on congested cables at 3 pm when thunderstorms can happen. END OF RANT.

We'll be going on August 16th. My 12-year-old has done the Grand Canyon in a day and won't have a problem. My 7-year-old has great strength to weight, but will want to climb every rock along the way. Mom might have to turn around with her. We'll leave Happy Isles at 6 or 6:30am. With adults only, I'd leave at 5 am. I've enjoyed departing at 2:30 am with a headlamp and seeing sunrise on top. I don't schlep water out of LYV, I use the spring on the way up. Post if you haven't read the guidebooks about that and PM me if I don't follow-up on said post.

Editted to add: I lived in Oakhurst in 1982, have been up Half Dome maybe 20 times, including 3 times in the last 3 years. Both sides of my family have been going to Yosemite for 4 generations. I understand that it can be "loved to death", but NPS's responses are so uncreative and unhelpful even if you accept their premise that idiots shouldn't be allowed to improve the gene pool by their actions.

Edited by DavidinKenai on 07/25/2012 18:01:08 MDT.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
what Katy said on 07/26/2012 15:14:05 MDT Print View

Katy made you a great hiking itinerary.

Since you are probably permitted to start your hike on Day 3, your Days 1 and 2 could look something like:

Day 1: From San Francisco, take the 120 to the Evergreen Road turnoff (there will be a sign to Hetch Hetchy) a couple of miles before the Yosemite entrance station. You can camp for free alongside Evergreen Road (you may have to drive 3-4 miles in to find a good pullout, but they're there). Your tent just needs to be 100 feet from the road. If you have time to kill, go see Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.

For camping supplies: Do a search for northern CA REI store locations and hours. There is one right off the freeway in SF, one in Berkeley (a couple of miles out of your way), and maybe one along the 120 (Manteca?).

For groceries, if you don't get them in the Bay Area, you can stop along the 120 in OakDALE (not to be confused with OakHURST), also a good place to top off with the last cheap gas you'll see in a while.

Day 2: Get up early and drive up the 120 towards Tioga Pass. Do a dayhike somewhere up there, like in Tuolumne Meadows, or even Saddlebag Lake (just past Tioga Pass). This will give you a sense for the Yosemite "high country", and will be very different than what you see on your backpacking trip. You can probably pick up your permit (for the next day) at the Yosemite entrance station; check hours. If you are 100% sure you can make it to the visitors' center in Yosemite Valley by the end of the day, that's another place to pick up your permit. Enjoy the drive into the Valley at end of day, take some good photos and bunk down at that North Pines backpackers' campground.

Last day: Leave the park via Highway 140. I agree that this is a scenic way to return to San Francisco, and it barely takes longer than the 120.

- Elizabeth

Edited by mariposa on 07/26/2012 15:19:01 MDT.

Nick Garcia
(saltamontes) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: what Katy said on 07/26/2012 19:58:13 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone, this is very helpful, i am reading up on all the suggestions, we have already decided to skip Oakhurst on the day we arrive, and just drive directly to the park that same day, that will save us one hotel night, and give us more time at the park or the surrounding area.

Elizabeth, thanks for your suggestions for day 1 and 2, I was thinking on our 2nd day before we get our permit, checking out May Lake & Mt. Hoffmann, looks like 6 miles round trip. I guess it depends on where we finally decide to spend the first night. May Lake from the valley is like 38 miles, and from east entrance 21 miles.

Nick Garcia
(saltamontes) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Re: Yosemite - 1st Time on 07/26/2012 20:02:29 MDT Print View

David, are you in Kenai, one of our favorite all time trips, was a few years back going to Denali and Kenai Fjords, it was simply amazing, i would put it with are top two favorites including the grand canyon.