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Old 04-30-2015, 01:45 AM   #1
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Yosemite first timer

OK folks...I could use some solid advice about our first trip to Yosemite. My wife and I and our two dogs will be pulling a toad with a 26 foot Winn View (equipped with a supp brake system in the toad). We want to head up to Yosemite from San Diego the morning of Wed, May 13 and leave first thing in the morning on either Sunday May 17 or Monday the 18th...which ever would be less stressful ref traffic. (please offer your input on that as well)

I tried to do some research but the more I read, the more confused I've become. I've read some stuff where folks talk about a "valley floor", parking problems, the need for a toad or bikes, one poster says take Hwy 140...another says avoid Hwy 140 and the list goes on. I'm absolutely in a fog on many fronts and also about picking an RV park. (if they're not already full)

Let me start out by asking a few questions:
---Do I actually drive my RV into the park to get to "a" RV campground or
are they outside the park?
---Is 3 (or 4) solid days between arrival date and departure date adequate?
We love to walk but because of old war wounds, and a dog with a bad
leg, we don't do strenuous hikes. We ride our bikes on casual
(non-challenging) rides, and we don't fish.

We just want to get away to a literally fresh area and relax and experience much of what I heard about Yosemite.. Any and all help is very much appreciated!!

---Art---
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Old 04-30-2015, 09:08 AM   #2
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If you haven't been there before, it is easy to be a little confused.

First, the park "entrances" are many miles from the most popular part (or at least, the most heavily visited) portion of the park, ie., the "valley floor." Most visitors rarely make it to any portion of the park, other than the valley floor. From the valley floor, you can visit the Awanahee, see Yosemite and Mist waterfalls, see the meadows, wildlife and rivers. As the term "valley floor" suggests, the valley floor is surrounded by the granite monoliths of Half Dome, El Capitan, etc., all visible from the valley floor.

As the most heavily visited portion of the park, the valley floor can be very noisy, crowded and unlike the quiet that one might find in other NPs. Bicycling is popular on the valley floor. It is also the launching point for many of the more popular hikes (Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, Half Dome) but none of those hikes are recommended for those with limited mobility (however, consider Vernal Falls hike and if you start feeling uncomfortable, just turn around and go back).

There are campsites (RV) on the valley floor (reservations are essential except during the off season), as well as campsites (RV) outside the park on both 120 and 140. I have no recommendations as to any particular RV park. It will probably be easier to find an RV park outside the park at this late time, less expensive and better value (remember, most of the concessions in our NPs have been turned over the "low bidder" at the expense of the taxpayers).

Parking on the valley floor can be scarce at times, especially on the weekends, especially in the spring when the waterfalls are full (not so much this year) and more so for RVs. Unless camping on the valley floor, definitely drive your toad into the valley for you day visits.

Entering or exiting the park, whether on 120 or 140, you will encounter more traffic on Friday-Sunday, than other days of the week.

Because you are not doing strenuous hikes, I would think 3-4 days is plenty of time. My inlaws thought one hour on the valley floor was long enough to see everything, but I still don't understand that.

The only big difference between 140/120 is, 120 has height restrictions coming from Crane Flat into the valley floor (see the NPS website). I am not aware of any similar height restriction on 140 or leaving on 120. 140 has no major grades. 120 has two grades, one between Highway 49 and Groveland (if I remember the location correctly), and one between Crane Flat (inside the park) to the valley floor. The latter is the lesser of the two and I wouldn't even worry about it. The former is the longer and steeper, but keep speeds slow (you have no choice, both are very windy), and you'll be fine. Coming from San Diego, it would be a waste of fuel to enter/exit 120 unless you feel strongly about a particular RV park on the 120 side. Use 140 to enter/exit from the south.

Safe travels.
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Old 05-01-2015, 01:28 AM   #3
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It's best if you can stay at one of the valley floor campgrounds. I doubt you'll be able to find a site this late. However look often on the Web for cancelations (several times a day). If you can find a site on the valley floor I would ditch the toad some where in fresno. I never take the toad to yosemite as their transportation system there is amazing and definitely bring the bikes.
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Old 05-01-2015, 11:07 AM   #4
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We stayed outside the park last July. We drove our car into the park and always found parking at the Ahwahnee. From there, we used the park shuttle or our bikes.
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Old 05-01-2015, 12:20 PM   #5
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Also read this about pets in the park...
Pets - Yosemite National Park (U.S. National Park Service)
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Old 05-01-2015, 07:13 PM   #6
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I just dress my dog to look like a Bear and he gets to go everywhere. LOL.
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Old 05-06-2015, 10:49 PM   #7
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You are coming up from San Diego. I don't know if you will need reservations for the valley floor yet, but no one has mentioned Highway 41 through Fresno into the park. 120 is way the heck out of your way and 140 is a pretty drive but farther for you also. We traveled 41 many times in our 36'er on the way over to the Mono Lake area. Easily done with your set up. There are a few campgrounds outside the park on 41 also; some state campgrounds around Bass Lake and Summerdale NF Campground just 1 1/2 miles from the park entrance. Once inside the park on 41 the first campground you will come to is Wawona right along the South Fork of the Merced River. Again the entrance to the park on 41 is about 40 min from the valley floor coming through the mile long tunnel to the famous view of the park(below).
But 41 goes right by the road to Glacier Point on the way to the valley floor. The view from there makes you feel insignificant!
IIWM it would be 41 especially if you are wanting to decompress. But if you are staying outside the park 120 has more options. 140 has a KOA "Yosemite West" about 20 miles from the entrance station.
The road is open now to Tuolumne Meadows on 120. Take a drive up there and pack a picnic lunch to have on one of the small domes. Stars at night are unbelievable from the high country.
Enjoy!
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Old 05-08-2015, 10:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom and Patty View Post
You are coming up from San Diego. I don't know if you will need reservations for the valley floor yet, but no one has mentioned Highway 41 through Fresno into the park. 120 is way the heck out of your way and 140 is a pretty drive but farther for you also. We traveled 41 many times in our 36'er on the way over to the Mono Lake area. Easily done with your set up. There are a few campgrounds outside the park on 41 also; some state campgrounds around Bass Lake and Summerdale NF Campground just 1 1/2 miles from the park entrance. Once inside the park on 41 the first campground you will come to is Wawona right along the South Fork of the Merced River. Again the entrance to the park on 41 is about 40 min from the valley floor coming through the mile long tunnel to the famous view of the park(below).
But 41 goes right by the road to Glacier Point on the way to the valley floor. The view from there makes you feel insignificant!
IIWM it would be 41 especially if you are wanting to decompress. But if you are staying outside the park 120 has more options. 140 has a KOA "Yosemite West" about 20 miles from the entrance station.
The road is open now to Tuolumne Meadows on 120. Take a drive up there and pack a picnic lunch to have on one of the small domes. Stars at night are unbelievable from the high country.
Enjoy!
Thanks so much Tom and Patty...this is great info!
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Old 05-08-2015, 11:31 AM   #9
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Let is know how your trip went. I'm guessing the flowers will be blooming in Tuolumne Meadows.
We miss living in Fresno and having Yosemite at our back door.
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Old 05-08-2015, 03:37 PM   #10
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Coming from San Diego I would take HWY 41 from Fresno. RV parks in Coarsegold or Oakhurst as I think its too late for reservations in any of the 3 valley campgrounds. Take puppies and bikes into the park. You might want to visit the Redwood Forest at the Mariposa Grove as well as the Valley Floor. Bike trails in the Valley are pretty flat with the exception of the road to mirror lake. Puppies are ok on the Valley paths but not on the hiking trails. Deli sandwiches are great but $$.
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Old 05-09-2015, 09:45 PM   #11
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Art, I forgot about this one. We checked it out but never stayed. I imagine if it is open it will not have many campers just because of where it is.

Bridalveil Creek Campground is on the way to Glacier Point.

No reservations walk-in......drive in only.
May not be open yet, but this winter was mild.
Might be worth checking out if you have no definite plans yet.
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Old 05-09-2015, 10:09 PM   #12
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I live in the Fresno area and would suggest you use 41 to enter the park.

Have $30 available when you enter the park unless you have a seniors pass. It's $30 whether you are going to stay for an hour or five days. Used to be $20 but some friends just went up there last week and the price has gone up.

Don't know what to tell you about RV parks and reservations. Pretty popular area.
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