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Old 03-31-2010, 10:43 PM   #1
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Yosemite Approach and Departure

We are planning our first big trip out west starting in a bit less than a month. Sometime the first week of May we plan to arrive in Yosemite. We already have reservations in Lower Pine campground, and now I'm just over thinking driving in and out of the park. I have a few questions and was wondering if someone could answer them.

1st -- Tunnels. The NPS web page says this

Quote:
"Wawona Tunnel, into Yosemite Valley: 10 feet 2 inches at curb; from Yosemite Valley, 13 feet 6 inches at curb (the height of the tunnel at the white fogline is higher and full sized tour buses are able to drive through the tunnel while remaining in their lane)."
I'm going to assume that I will fit, as my Itasca is shorter than a bus, and I've seen pictures of rigs in the campsites taller than mine, but.... what they heck is the "White Fog Line." Is that the official name for the solid white line that marks the right side of the traffic lane?

2nd -- Our approach will be from Fresno, after spending some time with at Sequoia National Park. I am assuming that the best route is strait up CA-41?

3rd - On departure, we want to head to Salt Lake City. We will leave by the 10th of May, so I don't think that CA-120 and the Tioga Pass will be open. What's the best way out? Is it Big Oaks Road to CA-120 and then to Sacramento? or is CA-140 good, or should I just go back down CA-41 to Fresno and then on to Sacramento to head over to SLC.

I imagine all these roads are passable, but what kind of drives are these. We will be in a 35 ft Itasca, pulling a Saturn Vue. Being a Florida flatlander, the mountain driving is a bit of a challenge, and I'd like for the family, motor home and car to all survive.

Thank,

Steve
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Old 03-31-2010, 11:40 PM   #2
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We visited Yosemite last May. There are very few spots inside Yosemite to park a large RV. We stayed outside the Park in Oakhurst and drove into the park in our toad each day. We have a Senior pass, so admission to the Park was free. Hwy 41 is a good route in from Fresno, I don't know about the other roads you mentioned.
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Old 04-01-2010, 07:59 AM   #3
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Steve,

We went to Yosemite in 2003 with a 35 foot Itasca Suncruiser and had no trouble with the Rt. 41 route and the tunnels. It was July so we left via Tioga road but you won't be able to do that in May. We were pulling a minivan on a tow dolly.

As for the White Fog Line: Many drivers do not understand the purpose of the far outside white line. They falsely believe it is to indicate where the road ends or to separate the road from the shoulder. However, the truth is this white line is to help you navigate the road during periods of heavy fog. By keeping this line in sight, you avoid oncoming traffic, you potentially slow down to help to avoid any obstacles in the road and you keep moving toward your desired end result. Hence the name for this white stripe is the Fog Line.

There are actually a ton of sites for a 35 footer (relatively speaking) but only about 12 sites in the whole valley for a 40 footer. Since you have reservations in Lower Pines, you should be all set.

We will be there again in April and in July this year with our 40 footer and were lucky to get sites in North Pines that fit. I will also be interested in what everyone says about the exit routes as we'll face a similar situation in the next few weeks. We'll be heading for SF for some business meetings after our April Yosemite trip.

PS - If you get a chance while in Yosemite, go to the Ahwanhee Hotel for dinner and ask for Matt. Our middle son will be working there as a chef for the summer as his externship with the Culinary Institute of America.
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Old 04-01-2010, 08:20 AM   #4
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If you have a little time, CA 120 to Big Oak Flat, pick up CA 49 northbound. You will be traveling through some of Californias gold rush country. Highway is good, but there are several quaint old towns you must pass through. You can pickup Hwy 50 east of Sacramento to cross the Sierras.
Your motorhome will pass thru the tunnels into Yosemite. Yes the "fog line" is the solid white line at the edge of the driving lane.
If you haven't driven the motorhome much in the mountains, just take it slow and easy, enjoy the ride, and use lower gears when necessary, especially going downhill on long steep grades. Try to avoid riding the brakes.
Hope you have a safe, enjoyable trip.

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Old 04-01-2010, 09:35 AM   #5
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FWIW -

In addition to what has been mentioned above, I would add that, with our 39' Suncruiser and Saturn Vue, we have twice used Hwy 120 going east to Yosemite and stayed at a 1000 Trails near Buck Meadows. Upon leaving, we went through the park and south on 41.

There was lots of twisting and turning but using lower gears, caution and not worrying about the traffic behind you, you will be just fine. The tunnels presented no real problem.

Enjoy the trip!
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Old 04-01-2010, 09:57 AM   #6
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Your choice out of Fresno is right on. Leaving the park you are correct about Tioga Pass which normally opens in June, but with the late snowfall could be later. The routes mentioned Hwy 120 and 49 are drivable. 120 has one very steep curvy descent just West of Groveland...low gears and pac brake is advised. The easiest exit is to take Hwy 140 to Merced and then Hwy 99 to Stockton. In Stockton take Hwy 4 to I 5 to Sacramento where you will hit I 80.
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Old 04-01-2010, 11:21 AM   #7
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I agree with Ronnie. I live just outside of the Park. 120 has many small towns as compared to 140 south out of the parkto Merced one item of concern is total length of frig mh and tow.The bridge at the slide area is nothing longer than 45ft. The drive is along the Merced River coming out of the park until u drive to Briceburg wher u will loose the river when climp out of the canyon. The river will mostly be on passenger side (sorry)it should be flowing quite well with snow run off.Might even see a few rafters. Enjoy the Park and the drive along the river Fyi when u leave the park cell phone service is very spotty until u come out of the canyon When u drive in Mariposa wave as I might be in town If u need more info just ask

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Old 04-01-2010, 08:11 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone. I now know what a fog line is.

The extent of my mountain driving experience is north Georgia and southern Tennessee in both the motor home, and with our old 5th wheel. We never had any problems, but I know those are hills compared to the elevations out west. Sounds like just taking it slow on any of the routes is the key.
One question. Joe said
Quote:
one item of concern is total length of rig mh and tow.The bridge at the slide area is nothing longer than 45ft
Which of the roads is the bridge on, and just for grins why does a bridge dictate the length of MH + toad that can traverse the bridge?


Thanks again,

Steve
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Old 04-01-2010, 09:16 PM   #9
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Here is the information on the length limit from the CA trans website:

Truck Network Map

Click on zone 10.

NOTE: Rte 140 has been
closed temporarily due to a
landslide. A temporary detour
was constructed; however,
vehicles MORE THAN 45 feet
in length MAY NOT use the
Rte 140 detour. All vehicles
more than 45 feet in length
MUST use Rte 120 or Rte 41
to enter Yosemite.
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Old 04-01-2010, 09:42 PM   #10
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If you travel west on 120 out of Groveland, please, please, please, put it into 1st gear and leave it there. You will be going down hill at a rapid rate. Don't touch your brakes or you will burn them up. Travel about 15 miles per hour and just pull over at the frequent spaces to let traffic go by. Do NOT go into second gear or your will not make it down that hill.
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Old 04-02-2010, 10:36 AM   #11
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I also agree with the 120 info. Ihad the brakes on a class c catch on fire going down the old Priest grade. Isaw all warning signs of the decent ,was confused as which one I was on What part of northern Ga are u refering to our son lives in Rome One comment on fog line when u approch exit there are white reflectors spaced along line starting at three.two, and one at exit Fog can become a big problem in Central Vally in the winter after the rain arrives
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Old 04-02-2010, 03:14 PM   #12
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The Hwy 140 length restriction is the result of a rock slide in 1997. I believe that if you decide to exit Yosemite from this route there are many opportunities to disconnect and reconnect your toad after crossing the bridge with this restriction.
Maybe ka6bud can comment on whether the toad would require disconnect. I personaly think it would be OK as the toad does turn at the hitch.
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Old 04-03-2010, 08:05 AM   #13
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Thanks again.
It sounds like I would prefer the 140 route for the exit. 1997, wow, that seems like a long time for a detour.

Could someone please answer the question about unhooking the toad on the decent on 140 before the detour and reconnecting after? I don't think that Lady CurbCrusher is going to want to drive down the mountain in the car and since I'm going to be heading north, it just seems wrong to go back south on 41.

ka6bud, back when we had the 5th wheel we made a couple of trips into north east GA, the area around Suches and Blairsville. After we got the motorhome, we were over on the west side of the state around the south end of Lookout Mountain in Cloudland Canyon State Park.

Thanks to everyone for the replies,


Steve
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Old 04-03-2010, 10:50 AM   #14
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The entire side of a mountain for about 1/4 mile came down across the hwy and into the Merced river. As I understand the remaining soil and rocks cannot be stabilized to make it safe. The initial bridge across the river was two tight 90 degree turns and the length limit was 25'.
The new bridge allows 45'. As you descend out of Yosemite on 140 you are in El Portal. This is probably about 20 miles from the bridge and the drive is flat with some curves along the river. There is plenty of room here to disconnect (there are pullouts closer to the bridge but I'm not certain of the locations). I know there are long pullouts after the bridge that provide enough room to re-connect. Heading South to go North is a little longer but a much easier drive in my opinion. The most important aspect of the drive no matter which route is to take your time and do not let others pace you on descents.
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