|Subject: Re: Yosemite|
My local moms' group just did a summary on Yosemite. Because Yosemite is just 3 hours away from here, we've all been there, and some families own vacation homes near Yosemite. So there are a lot of tips that you probably won't find in standard guidebooks. You may have a tough time getting accommodations inside the park, but there's a 3-day cancellation window--so if you check 3 days before you plan to arrive, some spaces might have become available.
JoAnne in Silicon Valley
Tenaya Lodge just outside of Yosemite, is GREAT
Taft Point Trail. It's off of the road to Glacier Point, at the top of the mountain. So you drive toward Glacier Point and stop along the way, at the Sentinel Dome parking lot. There are unusual rock formations and an overhanging lookout point with great views over the valley. The trail is mostly flat and just over two miles round trip. We also went on a hike on the valley floor, that included a stop at the Ahwahnee Hotel. There's a trail that hugs the base of the cliffs which is flat and pleasant.
We stayed in the Hounds Tooth Inn in Oakhurst outside Yosemite and it was really nice B& B. The Mariposa grove was a nice place to walk. There was a guided tour of about 3 miles that talked about the redwoods.
HI there. We have a cabin near Yosemite, and its been years since we've stayed in the Park. There is a newish Marriott near the South Entrance of Yosemite. I hear it's very nice and has a pool and other nice amenities.
The hotels and lodges in Yosemite are ok...depends on what you like. We've stayed in the lodge and it was fine. Meals are a challenge.
Here is my best recommendation. About 30 minutes outside of Yosemite (between Palo Alto and Yosemite main gate), is a community called Groveland which has a vacation community called Pine Mountain Lake. There are houses and condos to rent at PML - and the prices are very competitive. More importantly, PML has a pool, a fantastic lake with sandy beach and warm water this time of year, a golf course, and of course, houses with kitchens.
We camped in the valley. Yosemite Lodge is great if you can get in at this point. There are some nice easy walks to Happy Isles and to the bottom of Vernal Falls. You can walk to Mirror Lake. You can walk out by the Swinging Bridge. And, you can walk in the valley of Tuolomne Meadows.
My daughter forwarded your email about a trip to Yosemite. I live in Groveland, which is on 120, 23 miles from the gate (and 45 minutes!).
I can't advise you on hiking . . . there are so many wonderful trails, but I just haven't done them! You know, they are just too available. Have you been to Yosemite before? If not, then you'll definitely want to spend time in the valley visiting Bridal Veil Falls, other falls, Half Dome, and a very interesting Visitors Center. It will probably be crowded. There's a $20 entrance fee for a day. The better hiking trails are 'up country' in the higher parts of the park. The park is ENORMOUS!
A wonderful thing to do is to visit the valley and then take 120 up into the high country. There are beautiful granite formations and a lake and places to stop. That would be a long day. It would take another hour to get up to Tioga Pass, at the top.
The fanciest place to stay is the Ahwanee Hotel in the valley. It is very old and very grand, in a woodsy way. Sometimes they have a pianist in the lobby. Lots of history there. Another hotel, the Wawona, is at the south end of the park, and probably not worth driving down. It's not quite as nice but much less expensive.
Outside the park on 120 there are a couple of RV-type places and several wonderful B& Bs. If you go to our Chamber of Commerce's website, www.groveland.org, and click on the button for lodging (or something like that), you will find links to them. They are mostly yummy. Sunset Inn is a bit rustic but in a wonderful location. I've visited Manzanita, and it's really nice. All have amazing views of the foothills.
Groveland is the last town you pass through (don't blink!), and there is a small grocery store at a strip mall on the way out of town (turn left on Ferretti and then right). We have expensive gas, but not nearly as expensive as that in the Park. (Fill up at one of the two stations on the way out of Oakdale.) There's also a drug store on the way into town, on the left.
Good eats several places: Sandwiches and good soups (and baked stuff) at Grandma's Garden, left on Ponderosa lane before the photo shop, great hot dogs at Hot Doggie on the right just past ReMax realty, a Mexican restaurant in the middle of town, and PJ's Cafe, sort of like the old diner . . . lots of yummy comfort food, generous with fat, just past Ferretti Road on the left. If you turn left on Ferretti, in 1/4 mile you'll come to a passable pizza place, Two Guys Pizza. The Iron Door Saloon in the middle of town is open to families and is the oldest saloon in California, an interesting stop. And they have an ice cream shop as well as a good coffee shop.
At the intersection of 120 and Ferretti there is a new building we built a couple of years ago that houses a public library and a museum. The museum is well worth a stop there. The focus is, of course, both gold country and Yosemite. I believe the hours are 11 to 4.
If you've seen the Park and want to try something different, places where there won't be so many people, I suggest you stop 8 miles east of Groveland at the Stanislaus National Forest Ranger Station. They can make good suggestions for trips there.
Another interesting place not many people go to is O'Shaugnessay Dam, part of the Hetch Hetchy water system that services San Francisco. You can walk across the top of the dam and then down a nice trail on the other side of the lake. It's in the Park, but nowhere near the valley or the summit!
We had a great time in the northern part of the park. The drive to Tuolumne Meadows and Tioga Pass was spectacular. I would also recommend a trip to the Mariposa grove of Sequoias. You can catch a free bus into the grove, where for about $10 you can ride a tram through the forest, and choose to continue on the tram back or get out and walk. T
What fun! I think it's unlikely you will find any accommodations in the park proper at this date unless you are willing to wait until cancellations free up 3 days beforehand.
One place that you may be interested in is the Yoesmite View Lodge. It is just outside the park entrance and has many rooms with fridges and kitchenettes. I have not stayed there personally, but I got married in Yosemite and arranged for many of my wedding guests who had kids to stay there. It's also reasonable compared to the park accommodations.
As for activities, there are few paved paths in Yosemite. One is by the Visitor's Center and Ansel Adams gallery and goes for a mile or two. Off-roading, you might consider strolling to Mirror Lake. You can make a 3-4 mile trip out of it but for various reasons I do not recommend you do this when the sun is setting (despite how pretty it is at that time). Two other short hikes you could do with a backpack include the vernal falls trail (stop at the bridge, it can get slippery after that point) and the bridalveil falls trail.
On your way up there, if you are traveling on a weekday, you could stop at the Hershey's chocolate factory in Oakdale and take a tour. Also, at the top of the grade on the 120 route, there's a place called the Iron Door Saloon which boasts is the oldest still-operative saloon on the west coast,filled with history.