Trip to US parks in August
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Apr 2, 2013 11:30 AM Last Post By: trekker502
Mar 30, 2013 10:11 AM
Trip to US parks in AugustHi
My partner and I are traveling to the States in August. We plan to spend a few days in San Francisco. Then head on to Yosemite National Park, before going on to the Grand Canyon then flying on to New York.
While we are in Yosemite and the Grand Canyon we would like to do some Hiking. We have done quite a lot of long hikes in the past in both the Himalayas, Thailand and Peru.
From the research I have done it look like all the 2 or 3 day hike in these parks require carrying camping gear, is this correct? As we are a bit limited as to what we can bring with us. I don’t think that is an option for us this time.
If we are going to have to do day hikes can people suggest any good, strenuous ones?
Any thoughts and tips would be appreciated .
Mar 30, 2013 10:31 AM
1If you are backpacking into the outback in the American sense of the term you will need to pack in all your gear (food, sleeping gear, tent if you want one, clothes). Or, you could do a guided trip with burros or horses which carry all your gear for you. Contact the U.S. Park Service for licensed outfitters that do these trips in the various national parks and reserve a trip immediately.
As for camping in developed campgrounds around the parks, particularly Grand Canyon and Yosemite in August, you'll need to make reservations NOW.
Any hike down into the bottom of the Grand Canyon from the rim will fill your bill for strenuous. I'd look for hikes that offer shade from north, or northeast-facing cliffs as it will be hotter than the hinges on the gates to hell hiking into the Grand Canyon in August and south or west facing areas will be in full sun all the way (take plenty of water). Yosemite has more hiking variety between easy and strenuous and you will generally start off going up rather than down as at Grand Canyon and it will be considerably cooler than the Grand.
You can download hiking guides for both parks from the U.S. Park Service.
Mar 30, 2013 10:40 AM
Mar 30, 2013 11:42 AM
3You can rent camping gear at some sporting goods stores, such as REI
For Yosemite, for overnight trips, you must have a wilderness permit. Permits are limited and go fast. For the most popular trails, many days in August are already full for advance reservation and you will have ot hope you get lucky for permits issued on the day before you want to begin your hike.
A bear proof food canister is mandatory for overnight hikes.
More information Backpacking in Yosemite
Many Yosemite campgrounds (not in the wilderness) are already fully booked for August 1-14. Reservations for August 15-31 will be taken on April 15, beginning at 7AM Pacific Time. The park service notes reservations for that time of year "are filled the first day they become available, usually within seconds or minutes after 7 am! " Campground Reservations tells you how to reserve.
Yosemite Sites shows what is available. Green or blue bars mean that sites are still available. Nothing shows after August 14, because reservations aren't yet available.
For day hikes YosemiteTrail Descriptions. You don't need a permit if only doing a day hike.
Strenuous Yosemite Valley Day Hikes
One strenuous hike is climbing Half Dome, but permits can be hard to get. March 31 is the last day to apply for the pre-season lottery. "Approximately 50 permits will be available each day by lottery during the hiking season."
The plural of anecdote is not data.
Mar 30, 2013 1:23 PM
Mar 30, 2013 11:32 PM
I don't know about Yosemite, but at Grand Canyon you can also rent backpacking gear at the general store in the park village.
You might also be interested in this option.
As for day hikes, I can personally attest that the Mist Trail to Nevada Falls will be crowded like a Christmas shopping mall in August. There also appeared to be a steady stream of hikers coming down from Panorama Trail as well. You can do these Yosemite Valley hikes and see some wonderful scenery, but do not expect anything resembling a wilderness experience, or even much peace and quiet. It is a busy place in summer. You'll find a somewhat less bustling atmosphere in Tualumne Meadows, or further afield, one of the trailheads along the Eastern Sierra, off of Hwy 395 near Bishop and Lone Pine. Worth looking into and considering. I enjoy the backcountry hiking in these areas (specifically the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness Areas) more than I do the backcountry areas of Yosemite Park.
As for Grand Canyon, others here are correct to make a point about the heat. The rim areas have comfortable summer temperatures, but the inner canyon can get hotter than the devil's pants. IMHO, hiking to the river is not really a recreational experience in summertime. But you can still do a fair bit of hiking, even some overnight trips, without dealing with the unpleasant and potentially dangerous inner canyon.
The most ambitious day-trip I'd recommend is to Plateau Point, off the Bright Angel Trail. This is probably the best easily accessible day-hike from the south rim. It features a spectacular view of the river, a lot of scenic variety, and if you get started early and are strong hikers, you can side-trip to some cool bathtub-like pools along Garden Creek. Other challenging trails worth doing are Hermit to the Lookout Point or Dripping Springs, and the Grandview Trail to Horseshoe Mesa. This latter option makes a good overnight, as there are many potential side-trips and historical features along the Grandview Trail.
If you decide you simply must get to the bottom and back...well, first off, I'd never recommend you do this August. Second, I'd never, ever suggest you do this as a day-hike in August. People do it, but its just stupid. I used to do it, but I was getting paid, and it was still stupid. Camping at the bottom in Bright Angel Campground is unpleasant in summer (it doesn't even start to cool off until long after dark), but there is shade and creek to cool off in. Start down from the rim on the Kaibab Trail really early, and arrive at the bottom just as the heat of the day is starting - just in time to spend the rest of the afternoon floating in the creek. Spend a day at the bottom, exploring up Bright Angel adn Phantom Creeks, which at least is shady, and there's plenty of cold water. On the day you leave, start really, really early, and be up high before things really heat up, and the blazing sun cooks the meat from your bones. That's the best, and to my mind, only, way to enjoy a summer hike to the river in GC.
Mar 31, 2013 4:25 AM
7Use this site to explore options..
Mar 31, 2013 12:52 PM
Mar 31, 2013 6:01 PM
9There are no refugios or alpine huts or guest houses along the trails in California and Arizona as there are along the Mt. Everest trail in Nepal; Tiger Leaping Gorge trail in China; Swiss Alps; or Patagonia, Chile. There is a tent-campground near trailhead and parking area at the base of Mt. Whitney, near Lone Pine -- Whitney Portal. If you are in excellent condition and start very early in the morning, without any backpack, you can hike to the top and down again in one day. You may get altitude sickness at the 14,000-ft elevation, though. There is access to beautiful trails, including the John Muir Trail, from Mammoth Lakes, just off of Highway #395. You may need a pass if you wish to camp overnight along the trail, and the area may also be quite popular during August. Lake Ediza and Thousand Islands Lake are beautiful, with Ritter and Banner rugged peaks that climbers enjoy attempting, towering above. I have not been there recently, but there may still be a tent-campground near the highway, since Mammoth Ski Resort is quite expensive year-round. Palisade Glacier trail is spectacular and steep. There are also several other trailheads into the interior Sierra Nevada range that may be accessed from Highway #395. These are all on the east side of the Sierra, which you will reach easily after touring the Grand Canyon.
Apr 1, 2013 1:22 PM
Thanks for all the tips and ideas. To answer some of the questions. Firstly we will have a car. As to carrying stuff, we certainly are prepared to carry our own things and hike without Pony’s etc. I was interested to know about huts and lodges etc. So good to know they don't have them.
So when thinking that the temperature of the Grand Canyon might make it a no go any other suggestions. After about 3 days in San Francisco we then have 11 days until we fly late from Las Vegas no New York. For me a few days in Yosemite is a must.
Apr 1, 2013 1:41 PM
Apr 1, 2013 10:44 PM
12If this is your only chance to see the Grand Canyon, I wouldn't completely skip it, there are still many excellent hikes to do. Only adjust expectations, and plan with the conditions in mind. OR, do skip it and plan to come back another time, in say, October or April.
You could easily, very easily, spend all 11 days in California's Sierra Nevada. You spend 11 weeks in the Sierra. Or 11 months. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have somewhat less to offer the more casual tourist than their iconic neighbor Yosemite, but for backcountry hiking these parks are unsurpassed. You may want to spend your extra time hiking there.
Or, if you are very set on seeing one of the southwestern parks, you could spend more time in the Sierra, and then go to Zion and hike the Narrows (one of the best hikes in the region, and perfect for hot summer weather). The only catch with the Narrows is that August is flash flood season - the risk is definitely elevated in general, and if a stormy period is forcast the narrow are sometimes closed to entry.
Apr 2, 2013 11:30 AM
13I just flew over the Sierra Nevada en route between Denver and San Francisco. Lots of snow -- more snow than on the Rocky Mountains. Really spectacular scenery. I attempted to identify the landmarks below me. I don't know if it was Lake Crowley. There were several very deep canyons and I also saw a tall waterfall. The Sierra range is quite broad across and does look very rugged from above. I tried to see where the John Muir Trail contoured over the canyons and peaks. I don't know if I saw Le Conte Canyon. That's another one accessible from the east side of the Sierra.
Check out all our reviewed and recommended accommodation and book online.