3 days 2 nights in Yosemite..things to do??
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Jul 30, 2012 5:41 PM Last Post By: shepp
Jul 26, 2012 3:18 AM
3 days 2 nights in Yosemite..things to do??Hello,
my family of five would be travelling to the Yosemite National Park in mid-December, and will be staying at the Cedar Lodge. We would be renting a 4 Wheel Drive. The first day would be mostly gone by the time we reach the motel as we will be taking the Hwy140 from Las Vegas. However I am not too sure how to plan out the following days. We don't have snow in Singapore, so hopefully we will see some there:)
Is there any suggestions as to how should we spend the limited time we have in this beautiful park(assuming from the pictures) to its fullest potential. My family are not so good at snow sports but are willing to try/ learn, and we have a thing for nature. From what I gather, the park offers a service that brings you around the park for free? Snowshoe walking or something like that?
Jul 26, 2012 3:51 AM
1There is a free shuttlebus around the valley. The ranger station offers guided walks/snowshoe walks in the Park (they provide free snowshoes during the walk). If there is no snow in the valley, there may be snow on the rim of the valley at Badger Pass, and there is a shuttlebus to that location. If there is lots of snow, Badger Pass does have ski lifts for alpine skiing. There are nearby trails for cross-country skiing.
Be prepared for rain if it is not cold enough for snow in the valley. Wear good walking shoes, preferably waterproof, such as Goretex or leather hiking boots. It is easy to walk around the valley to the scenic spots, such as Yosemite Falls, Ahwahnee Hotel, Mirror Lake/Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls, El Capitan -- flat, paved paths throughout the valley and you can catch a shuttlebus at most points if you become tired and want to ride back to your lodge/car. I don't know exactly where Cedar Lodge is located; is it in the valley or on the outskirts of the valley? Be sure to visit the Ansel Adams Photo Gallery next to the grocery store and ranger station.
Jul 26, 2012 5:26 AM
Jul 26, 2012 7:35 AM
3The $20 entrance fee is good for 7 days, so you can go in & out of the park as you wish.
The shuttles are only in Yosemite Valley, so you'd need to drive to other places in the park.
Here is Last year's Guide to December Activities, so you can see what is likely to be happening.
Even without snow there will be ice skating at Curry Village. Badger Pass is a good place to take a beginning ski lesson, if there is enough snow.
Jul 26, 2012 4:49 PM
Jul 26, 2012 5:28 PM
5BTW, walking in snow shoes is a LOT of work. Be prepared to sweat.
And the drive from Vegas to Yosemite can easily be 10 hours, with pit stops, so leave early.
Jul 26, 2012 11:36 PM
6MId December is a little early for dependable snow in Yosemite. You might have some or none or a lot, and as mentioned, rain is a possibility. The more normal weather is sunshine and mild temps during the day. It
is a shame you are staying in El Portal, it is such an ordinary little place, staying in Yosemite Valley is so much better. The Ice rink at Curry may not be open yet. I would suggest driving into Yosemite Valley ASAP in the morning and eating breakfast there at either Yosemite Lodge or Camp Curry so you can get a better sense of the place and how special it is. Then walk to the Village where the Visitors Center is (about a 1/2 mile), so much of the valley is not visible from a vehicle because the roof and pillars limit upward sight, walking enables you to see and sense the place much more fully. The visitors center will have much information about what else there is to do and see in the park. Lots of great walking in the valley, and lots of hiking if trail conditions are good. Vernal and Nevada falls are a must see if the trail is not too icy or snowy, it is not a "flat walk" it is a pretty good climb up to see the falls. Conditions permitting I would suggest a walk along the river and through the meadows from around Yosemite Lodge to up around the Awahnee Hotel. If the road is open ( a big if) the drive to Glacier Point is essential for the tremendous view. After the view at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon this is next best in my opinion.
Jul 27, 2012 3:48 PM
7Though snow in December is iffy in the valley, elevation 4,000', there will most certainly be snow at higher elevations in Yosemite -- and every other point in the park is higher than the valley. Roads will be closed in the truly high elevation areas, but you will be able to get to Badger Pass -- base elev. 7,200, top 8,000'.
Jul 27, 2012 10:02 PM
8As #6 said, I'd rethink staying in El Portal. It's a half hour drive to the heart of Yosemite Valley on a good day, and days in December are not always good. (Even in June, I went for 6 hour hike on a beautiful day and was hit by a heavy hailstorm on the way back.) Staying in the Valley is non-stop beautiful, even at night, and gives extra flexibility - you can go back for a mid-day rest, and if the weather is bad, you'll have easy access to your room. The free shuttle buses that take you around the Valley are great, and if there's snow at Badger Pass ski area, the free transport there from the Valley cuts down on hassle. (You can rent snowshoes and skis once you get to Badger Pass.) If room cost is a major consideration, there are heated tent cabins at Curry Village that are cheap in mid-December.
Oh, and the hike to Vernal and Nevada Falls mentioned in #6 not only involves elevation gain, but a long ascent up a narrow, rocky, often slippery staircase beside a gorge - make sure all your family is up to it and wear decent boots..
If you're not used to driving in snow, there are things to keep in mind, even with a 4WD. MId-December is still early in the winter, but if there's a snowstorm, you may face tire chain requirements. Highway 140 is much less likely to post them than 120, but be prepared for the possibility. Unfortunately, most car rental companies will not officially permit you to put chains on their cars, so if there any possibility, get a ski-equipped 4WD with snow tires.If it's cold and wet, you also face the possibility of "black ice" (invisible and slippery) if you drive at high elevations at night. And there's always the possibility of white-out conditions from a snowstorm.
Yosemite in the Winter is beautiful, and much less crowded than in the summer. Wonderful, really. Just don't go underprepared.
Jul 28, 2012 3:31 AM
9Vernal and Nevada falls are a must see if the trail is not too icy or snowy, it is not a "flat walk" it is a pretty good climb up to see the falls. Conditions permitting I would suggest a walk along the river and through the meadows from around Yosemite Lodge to up around the Awahnee Hotel. If the road is open ( a big if) the drive to Glacier Point is essential for the tremendous view.
We have three nights (two full days) in Yosemite 10-12 May next year ... according to the NPS information, this is a transition time when things may still be snowy or icy or not. Assuming we do not drive to Glacier Point because of road closure, how do we best divide up our time? We do not need to go to the Visitors Center especially (having been there many moons ago) - unless on the way to something else.
Ideally, we would like two 3-4 hour walks on each day (or perhaps three 2-hour hikes on one day, if that is more suitable). We will be up very bright and early each day. So if we commit to Vernal Falls / Nevada Falls on one day, what else would be neat to add to that day, and then if we commit to Mirror Lake the other day, is it sensible to include a walk to Yosemite Falls on that day as well? An alternative approach?
Any thoughts on a plan would be appreciated (I didn't think the question warranted a new thread, given the expert responders on this one).
Jul 28, 2012 7:29 AM
10Yosemite Falls is one of the main scenic attractions in the valley, you can walk/stroll to the base of the lower falls 2 or 3 hundred yards from Yosemite Lodge. The Yosemite Falls trail starts a little further west and, conditions permitting allow you to climb to the top of the Upper Falls. Many times in winter the upper part of the trail is impassable but the lower 1/3 to 1/2 of the trail will be accessible and is a spectacular hike (and a good climb), the north wall of the valley gets maximum solar exposure all winter and can be quite mild and spring like in it's many niches and microclimates. It also provides spectacular views of the valley along with great picnic spots. Figure 3 or 4 hours with a nap afterward.
The Glacier Point trail provides similar views but because it is on the south wall (north facing) it gets no solar exposure and accumulates ice and snow that last most of the winter.
A shorter walk would be to "Happy Isles", with the bridges and there used to be a Nature Center there (not sure if it is still open or open in the winter), but you can view the debris field from the massive rock fall that occurred there a few years ago, this can also be part of an upper valley loop walk from the Awahnee to Mirror Lake to Happy Isles to Camp Curry. There are exploring opportunities all over the valley and outside of it, check at the visitors center. Have a good visit.
Jul 28, 2012 8:17 AM
Jul 30, 2012 11:18 AM
12Thank you all so much for your valuable inputs!!
I am personally extremely excited to visit Yosemite Valley, especially after reading all the the rave reviews. Unfortunately cost of lodging IS a major consideration, and last I checked, the heated cabins in Curry Village are all booked full.:(
@shepp, I 100% agree about being underprepared, but it really is rather difficult to find out the actual situation at the Valley (the weather, transportation and what to do etc). I now have a great task to present the best itinerary to my family as my aunts went there last December and complained it was BORING!! This actually got my parents worried that 3 days is too long...
Now that I am equipped with all you guys' awesome REALLY AWESOME information, I think I should be able to come up with something. We will be renting a large SUV from Enterprise in LA, hopefully a GMC Yukon( Dad's dream car), so we should ask them beforehand about our trip to Yosemite?The actual dates are actually 19-22 Dec, not really sure if they are 'mid-December', but I really am grateful for all the replies I got.
Jul 30, 2012 11:48 AM
13One reason the place is booked may be a series of special events called the Bracebridge Dinners. they don't have the 2012 calendar up, but there will definitely be some held during the time you are there.
The notion of your bored aunts is rather mind-boggling, but if they were looking for evening activities more exciting than a ranger talk, or if they are big shoppers, then maybe I could see why. Last December was also exceptionally dry, so if they wee hoping to ski or snowshoe, they were out of luck.
Jul 30, 2012 4:06 PM
14The notion of your bored aunts is rather mind-boggling ...
Perhaps not so rare ... my BIL&SIL did a Southwest trip (at our urging) and were very so-so about it. After checking out the geological wonders, they were then on a hunt for neat bars, good restaurants, and fancy shopping. Needless to say these are in short supply in remote parts of Utah. They had the same sense of un-excitement travelling through New Zealand (which we love and go to often).
On the other hand, I would take a day hiking in Zion NP ahead of a day walking through Paris, any time. Different strokes, I guess.
And OP, don't let the lack of in-park affordable accommodation deter you ... even if you stay outside the park, 40-60 minutes of driving in each morning is a small price to pay ... and go very early (like not long after sunrise) - take snacks and lunch and a Thermos of coffee with you, don't hang around for breakfast. You will be able to park where you want, and have an hour or more before crowds arrive (to the extent that 19-21 Dec will be crowded - December receives less than 20% of the August total).
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