Sequoia & Yosemite Park

Regional discussion and conditions reports for the Golden State. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the California Climbing Partners forum.
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by rhyang » Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:36 pm

Sequoia would be accessible from the south entrance, on 198 from Visalia into Three Rivers.

The drive up from the foothills to Giant Forest (~6400') and Lodgepole (~6700') is quite scenic, but there are often chain controls at the higher elevations after storms and there will be a lot of snow around. Here's a webcam from Giant Forest - ... ekicam.cfm

Check out the winter edition of the park newspaper -

It is still winter in the high country and to get anywhere away from the car you will need snowshoes or skis.

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by JHH60 » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:35 pm

Yosemite is spectacular, and would be my first suggestion if you had several days off. If you only have two days and that time involves a full day of driving (as San Diego <-> SF does), then you have to consider the quality of the scenery on the drive, and I would suggest the coast is way more scenic. Getting from LA to SF via Yosemite involves a lot of driving through the central valley, which is farmland and not especially scenic (this is one of the prettier photos I found).


On the other hand pretty much the entire drive up from LA to SF via the coast is epic.


On the way you will pass (and can hike up) mountains like Cone Peak, which is only three miles from the highway and rises over 5000'.


Another option you could consider is to drive up from LA along the east side of the Sierra via 395, and then head down to San Francisco via hwy 50 or hwy 80 from Lake Tahoe. The east side of Sierra is very scenic, as is Lake Tahoe, and there's good winter climbing in and around the Owens valley.

Last edited by JHH60 on Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:09 pm, edited 8 times in total.

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by drpw » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:36 pm

As much as I love the Sierras, a two day trip really does seem hardly worth it. San Francisco has so much going on, I would vote to stay there and see the city. The Academy of Sciences is really great, the SFMOMA is an unbelievable art museum that I could spend two days in by itself, you have the bridges and fort and china town and a million different things to see. I do love the mountains, but I am also a huge fan of big cities (I've never lived in one, just visited). And if there happens to be a late season big swell in the water you could drive an hour south and see mountains of water coming at any of the numerous big wave surf spots down the coast. My vote is for the city, easier, less time invested in driving (San Francisco has a great public trans system), and SF is such a unique city.

That said, you could still see a lot of the Yose Valley in the time frame that you have, and with the snowfall predicted for this spring, I bet you'll get to see a really snowy sierra.

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Re: Sequoia & Yosemite Park

by jspeigl » Fri Mar 12, 2010 5:00 pm

joachim0ds wrote:Hi there,
i am quite confused as to what i should expect in those parks.

In Yosemite, expect increadible scenery. Like with most landscapes, pictures do not do justice. In Sequoia, the scenery is not quite as good, but the sequoia groves are interesting. The largest, by volume, tree in world is there.

joachim0ds wrote:The websites say there is still bad weather in the parks.

This could be. However, the forcast for next week is dry. If this holds up, you shouldn't have any problem accessing the parks. Keep an eye on the forcast as next weekend draws near.

joachim0ds wrote:In Belgium, everything with 3 trees is a park, so the weather is the same everywhere. I am quite aware that US national parks are a bit bigger and that conditions can vary.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon is huge, but most of it is inaccessible by car, and many roads close for the winter. However, the main road through the park is plowed after snowstorms. After snowstorms, chains are required.

Yosemite, is also huge. However, the Yosemite Valley, the most popular part of the park, is only a small part of the park. Most of Yosemite outside of the Valley is inaccessible by car. However, the major tourist sites of the valley are open year round.

joachim0ds wrote:Is it possible to just take a car, drive to the parks on main roads, look around and leave?

joachim0ds wrote: Or will the main roads be filled with huge amounts of snow and tires are really necessary?

Again, if the weather is clear for a few days before your visit, it shouldn't be a problem.
joachim0ds wrote:Btw, any other suggestion between LA and SF that takes 1 or 2 days is welcome :)

Check out Yosemite, you won't be disappointed.

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by fatdad » Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:46 pm

Just go to Yosemite. Anybody who claims that two more days in SF is better spent than going to Yosemite Valley is plain wrong. SF is a city, and while it's a nice city, much of would you'd do there you could just as easily do in any other large, cosmopolitan city. There's only one Yosemite.

BTW, Sequoia is wonderful too. Walking thru the Giant Forest is really a remarkable experience--like an outdoor cathedral--but you'll be able to enjoy much less of the park this time of year.

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by inconsolable » Sat Mar 13, 2010 8:01 am

If you decide to drive up the coast, take a look at for updates on road conditions. Wildflowers are out everywhere, so, while you may encounter some delays, you may not care. If you decide to visit Yosemite, keep in mind that most of the mountain passes between the Sierra & SF are closed by snow, so you have to take a longer route around (eg., via Tahoe). This can make for a very long day of driving. But Yosemite is unique & magnificent, & even a one-day trip will be unforgettable.

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by Bob Sihler » Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:36 pm

As a non-Californian who has to plan his limited time there carefully, I offer this:

The drive up the coast is beautiful, but it is long and slow. If you are primarily auto touring, it all begins to look the same after a bit. If you're getting out to hike and climb, that's different.

If I lived overseas and had to choose between the coast and Yosemite, I'd choose Yosemite. Everyone should see Yosemite Valley at least once.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon are pretty boring for auto touring. I actually like their backcountry better than I do Yosemite's, but that's the backcountry. The drives through SEKI really aren't that interesting.

I once drove down the coast from SF to Morro Bay in one day and then shot out east to Fresno to visit SEKI the next day. In your shoes, I'd consider driving north to Morro Bay or so, getting a nice taste of the coast, and then heading out to Yosemite Valley. If you're up for really long days, that would give you a little of both in your very limited time.

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by butitsadryheat » Sun Mar 14, 2010 8:13 am

Bob Sihler wrote: I'd consider driving north to Morro Bay or so, getting a nice taste of the coast, and then heading out to Yosemite Valley. If you're up for really long days, that would give you a little of both in your very limited time.

That would actually be a great idea. You could cut over at Paso Robles on Hwy 46, and then take Hwy 41 all the way to Yosemite. You could enjoy the central coast wine country, see some beautiful California Coast (go a bit north to see Cambria, San Simeon, then go back south few miles to catch Hwy 46). Once you leave Yosemite, you can take the Hwy out to Merced, then up to I-80, which would take you over to SF.

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by Peak Baguette » Mon Mar 15, 2010 1:02 am

Personally, I'm biased toward the Yosemite option. In the interest of time, you may wish to consider flying from San Diego to Oakland via a low-cost carrier like Southwest and drive to Yosemite via 580 & 120, to maximize your time in the park. As long as you don't attempt the drive during evening commute hours or mid-morning on a Saturday, your drive will be a quick and fairly painless one (although not very scenic). If you are interested in seeing both the coast and Yosemite, you may wish to consider flying from San Diego to San Jose and driving to Big Sur. Then driving from Big Sur to Yosemite via Monterey, as I think that will be both a great sampling of the coast while leaving you enough time in the park.


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