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winter at yosemite and lake tahoe

Petaling Jaya...
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winter at yosemite and lake tahoe

We are planning a trip to yosemite and lake tahoe early dec, probably second week of december. We are a family of 5 with children aged 9-15 arriving at los angeles. Please help with the following:

1. We are renting a so called full size SUV, (we have another adult joining us from LA so will need a 7 seaters). Is this a 4 WD or van? Do we still need snow chain in early december?

2. We are planning to drive from LA, stay at Evergreen Lodge. Is this at a conveneint place on our route? Should we take the I-5 then 140, or should we stop at Fresno for one night?

3. I understand Tiago Pass may be closed, there are various route to lake Tahoe, we prefer to stay at nourthstar, which route is better, safer and quicker?

4. from tahoe we are visiting san Francisco, which is a better route to take?

Thank you so much.

Washington State
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1. Re: winter at yosemite and lake tahoe

1. My best guess is that you will be required to carry chains in December, but it's really too early to tell what the winter weather will be. Once this winter folks were stranded in Yosemite because they were not carrying chains (as required) and when a storm hit, it was required to put chains on your tires to travel. The folks without chains could not drive their vehicles.

Check with your car rental agency to see what kind of vehicle this will be. Not all SUVs are 4WD or AWD; you need to specify which you want from the agency.

2. Evergreen is about 45 minutes from the Valley out the Big Oak Flat entrance and Hwy 120. It is the farthest from Los Angeles.

Take I-5 to Hwy 99, then Hwy 41 in Fresno. Spend the first night in Oakhurst (or Fresno, if you can't get all the way to Oakhurst.) Enter via the South Entrance. It might be possible to get to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias just to the right of this entrance. It's 2 miles to the parking lot, then 0.8 mile walk to the first of the biggest trees. Then continue on about another 45-60 minutes into Yosemite Valley.

If it's a stormy day, you may want to skip Mariposa Grove. The south entrance is at 5,000' elevation and this road continues up over 6,000' as you head for the Valley at 4,000'. (Hwy 41) For stormy weather, I'd recommend driving I-5 -> Hwy 99 (Merced) -> Hwy 140 (stay in Mariposa for the night?) -> Arch Rock Entrance. This route has a more gentle incline and does not go above 4,000'; the road is called the "all weather route."

3. Extremely likely that Tioga Pass will be closed. Travel to Tahoe from the Evergreen Lodge wil be easy. If you have a bit of time, use Hwy 49 and visit at least one Gold Rush town.

4. The best info about Tahoe is on the Lake Tahoe forum, but from northshore travel west on I-80, and from southshore travel west on Hwy 50. Once in Sacramento, continue west on I-80.

GoogleMaps is a good tool to use for route planning & mileages. Locals on destination forums can give you a better idea for driving times.

Petaling Jaya...
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2. Re: winter at yosemite and lake tahoe

Thank you very much. It seems that 4wd or not we better carry the chains with us, would not want to turn back after all those driving. It is a Chevy Tahoe or equivalent, do you know whether that is a 4wd or not?

I am encouraged by the fact that driving to tahoe from yosemite is reasonably ok despite tioga pass being closed. How long will the alternative journey be?

I think we may book some other place since evergreen is the furtherest from LA.

Since we cant really know how the weather will be, whether to stay the first night at oakhurst, fresno or Mariposa, is it ok not to pre book the room? Will we have problem finding a place to stay on the day itself? I guess early dec isn't really a peak season.

Washington State
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3. Re: winter at yosemite and lake tahoe

Here is the mileage/driving time chart from Yosemite Valley. If it's foggy or poor weather, driving time will increase. nps.gov/yose/…mileages9-2007.pdf

I believe the Chevy Tahoe is sold as both 2WD and 4WD models.

With your large group, you might want to rent a cabin in the Park. Read the Lodging question on the Top Questions about Yosemite link in the upper right. Foresta is closest to the Valley. Staying in the Valley (Yosemite Lodge at the Falls?) is a good choice for first time visitors or folks who want to be close to all the beauty.

I agree about not needing to prebook travel lodging. I don't think it will be all that busy in mid December. Folks don't travel as much between Thanksgiving (Nov 25 2010) and Christmas.

California
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4. Re: winter at yosemite and lake tahoe

Yosemite to Tahoe when Tioga Pass is closed:

Take 120 out of the park to 49 to Jackson. In Jackson turn right on 88 then after about 90 miles turn left onto 89 and right on 50 when you get to Meyers. In South Lake Tahoe at the big intersection, 50 is to your right and 89 is straight ahead. Now it will depend on the weather and how you feel about driving around Emerald Bay. My son drove it in the snow last month and said it was very scary. If it’s not snowy it should be fine.

Go around the Lake to 267 in Kings Beach to get to Northstar.

If it is snowy or you don’t want to go via Emerald Bay then go through South Lake Tahoe on 50 to 28 heading to Incline Village. Go past Incline to Kings Beach and turn right on 267 to Northstar.

Northstar to SF is easy. Take 267 to 80 going west. Stay on 80 to San Francisco.

Fremont, California
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5. Re: winter at yosemite and lake tahoe

Evergreen is NOT a good place to stay to see Yosemite. This is far off the road and will take 2 hours or so one way to get to the places you want to see in Yosemite. You will also be going through the tallest part of the western side - which means if there is snow, you may need to drive through snow multiple times. It does not make any sense this early to stay at Evergreen. You really do want to stay in the Valley - check the National Park lodging site. Given the size of your group, I would either look into lodging at

Yosemite West

http://www.yosemitewest.com/

or

The Redwoods

http://www.redwoodsinyosemite.com/

I know that the Evergreen Lodge is running lots of ads currently - but this is in no way a convenient place to see Yosemite.

Washington State
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6. Re: winter at yosemite and lake tahoe

Here is a bit more information about Evergreen: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g61000-i315-k32892… It is 45 minutes to the Valley Floor.

Here is a winter weekend trip report from Lorenky: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g61000-i315-k32748…

California
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7. Re: winter at yosemite and lake tahoe

There seems to be a consistent over estimate on the drive to Evergreen Lodge. Don’t really understand that. Lots of people who live in the area provide drive times in the 35 to 45 minute range for one way to the valley.

Even the drive times provided by the park, admittedly on the slow side, put the drive to Groveland less than the overstated times above.

nps.gov/yose/…mileages9-2007.pdf

Washington State
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8. Re: winter at yosemite and lake tahoe

If you click the link I gave in Reply 6, you'll be able to read this information first-hand, but here it is:

"I'm Lee, one of the owners of the Evergreen Lodge. Thanks everyone for taking time to talk about our lodge, and for your thoughtful comments. I just wanted to clarify that unless there's unusual traffic or a long wait at the entrance gate, we're actually 45 minutes from the Valley Floor, not 90. Also, you can get to the Yosemite High Country (Tuolumne Meadows, etc) more quickly from our lodge than you can from the Valley Floor, so we like to think that we're well situated to visit several amazing areas of the park. We also feel our location and lodge give folks a wonderful hub and a nice respite from the often busy feel of the Valley Floor, but we don't dispute that staying on the Valley Floor is amazing. Cheers, Lee" tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g61000-i315-k32892… from TA member The_Evergreen_Lodge on Jan 13, 2010

Groveland addresses cover such a large geographic region that it's usually best to ask the lodging folks directly just how long it takes to get to your destination at the legal speed limit.

Petaling Jaya...
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9. Re: winter at yosemite and lake tahoe

Thank you very much for all the useful info. Suzie, may I ask on snowy weather, how long will it take for the route you described to go to Northstar from Yosemite?

I think from LA to Yosemite we will probably take the all weather route described so the west of Yosemite seems to be a better place to stay then the south? The article on the right of the yosemite forum on tripadvisor recommended west yosemite and the four season yosemite, any preference?

We would love to stay in the valley. However when I email to enquire about the yosemite lodge and make reservation I was told they dont entertain e mail and i have to call which is so inconvenience because of the 16 hours time difference, i would have thought that in this century all can be done electronically. I thinki maybe they dont accept overseas tourists!?

Washington State
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10. Re: winter at yosemite and lake tahoe

Many people book park lodging with the official concessionaire, DNC. Go to www.yosemitepark.com , enter your dates, select the lodging you prefer (Yosemite Lodge at the Falls?), and see if it's available. Right now it looks like there is a lot of availability. You can also call, but using the website is probably much easier to make your reservations.

Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is in Yosemite Valley and is closest to the Arch Rock entrance on Hwy 140. Staying in the Valley is a great choice.

Yosemite West is a private property development accessed in the Park, about 30 minutes from the Valley between Wawona and the Valley on Hwy 41. There are several rental companies that assist owners in renting out their cabins or condos.