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Old 11-22-2010, 05:46 PM   #1
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Trying to Plan CA Travel Times

Trying to plan a trip out to Cali next summer, and am stumped as to how to plan travel days and amounts of time to stay. I know the days we want to be in DL, so I am trying to backward plan.

We want to go to Yosemite, Sequoia/Kings Canyon and then DL. We will probably try to fly into San Francisco and out of somewhere in Southern California. I have read that it takes about 5.5 hours to get from Sequoia to Anaheim. But how long from SF to Yosemite? And from Yosemite to Sequoia?

Any suggestions as to how long we should stay at each park? I have an 8 year old and a 5 year old who are not real nature lovers, but mom and dad want to see the highlights of the national parks and the "carrot" is DL at the end of the trip! LOL.
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Old 11-23-2010, 06:11 PM   #2
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OK, I see nobody has responded, so I'll give it a try.

SF to Yosemite is about 4 hours. Yosemite to Sequoia is just about as long, depending on what part of each park you're talking about.

Yosemite must-see's include the waterfalls - Yosemite Falls, Bridal Veil Falls. You should definitely hike the Mist Trail at least as far as Vernal Falls. Go a little further so you can at least spot Nevada Falls, if the kids can do it. "Hike" is too strong a word for the walk to Vernal Falls. It's about a mile each way, and on an asphalt walkway. Once you go past the bridge below Vernal Falls, it starts to turn into an actual trail.

The drive up to Glacier Point is an absolute must-do. The views from Glacier Point, across to Half-Dome, Cloud's Rest, and back to El Capitan, are breathtakingly beautiful. If your kids are up to it, you take the kids and hike back down the 4-mile trail back to the valley, while DH drives the car back. Or vice versa ;-) Yes, it's 4 miles, but downhill is fairly easy, and it's a beautiful hike.

You should also get out of the valley and check out other parts of the park. Drive up to the high country, at least as far as Olmsted Point, which has breathtaking views down Tenaya Canyon, past Cloud's Rest, looking down into Yosemite Valley. Also check out Tenaya Lake, very nearby. Ideally, you'd go as far as Tuolumne Meadows, and do a little hiking there.

Also, go see the grove of Giant Sequoias at Mariposa Grove, at the south entrance to the park.

My one real piece of advice? If you don't have time for all the above, skip Sequoia Nat'l Park, and make time for them. Yes, Sequoia is beautiful. But Yosemite offers everything that Sequoia has, plus a lot more. By skipping Sequoia, you'll have lots more time to see Yosemite, which is a real gem. And you'll cut out a bunch of driving.

ETA - If you're going in summer, make reservations now! Accomodations in the park fill up very quickly. I'd probably plan on at least 4 days in Yosemite.


Last edited by GrandBob; 11-23-2010 at 06:16 PM.
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Old 11-23-2010, 06:42 PM   #3
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I'm with Bob on skipping Sequoia in favor of more time in Yosemite. If you only want to hit the highlights, you can tour the valley floor one day, maybe hike to the Vernal Fall bridge, and and drive to Glacier Point the next day. If you're going to Sequoia there's no reason to stop at the Mariposa Grove, but if you're not, then you should stop there.

It's probably already too late to make reservations for any lodging in the Valley, unless you're willing to stay in a tent cabin in Curry Village. (Those have no bathroom, and any food/toiletry items must be stored in a bear box and not in the tent or in your car.) Other places to look at are El Portal, The Redwood Cottages (at Wawona), Yosemite West and Fish Camp.

On the Vernal Fall hike: it is about a mile from the shuttle bus stop to the bridge, and while yes, it is a paved asphalt trail, it is also fairly steep. Quite doable, but it's not just a flat easy walk. You can see Vernal Fall from there. If you go up the Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Fall that's another .7-.8 miles, and that is even steeper, and you climb up a bunch of uneven-sized granite steps. Depending on what time of year you go, it will probably be "raining" on the trail - the mist from the fall can make it pretty wet, and a little bit slippery. You definitely want hiking shoes for that.

Your kids might be of an age where they would enjoy the Pioneer History Center at Wawona - there's old buildings and wagons and stuff to prowl around. It's not very extensive and wouldn't take very long. They might also enjoy the Indian Village exhibit that's behind the Visitor Center in Yosemite Valley.
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Old 11-23-2010, 11:00 PM   #4
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Thanks for the heads up...you are right -- the NP accommodations are pretty much booked up. Now looking in West Yosemite. Yikes. And some of these places make you pay up front with NO cancellation policy. It's just hard for us to plan out so far b/c my husband's military. But we have been meaning to make this trip for a while and have put it off several times. This time I'm going to try my hardest and make it work!
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