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Re: Camping at the end of March, please help!

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Camping at the end of March, please help!
March 04, 2008 12:28PM

It will be my first time in Yosemite camping (first time for the people I'm going with too). I'm pretty sure that there is snow there, has anyone been recently? I just want to know how much snow.

How does camping in the snow work? I know we're allowed to have fires. Is it worth it?

Which campsite do you recommend... I know Wawoma and Upper Pines is open. I know Upper Pines is huge but I have a feeling it won't be too crowded, plus I just want to be close to the big sights -- Half Dome, some of the falls --- Do you guys have any suggestions for what trails, that probably would be open, for first timers at Yosemite? The must-sees?

ANY advice would be great! Thanks!

Lilian
avatar Re: Camping at the end of March, please help!
March 04, 2008 12:49PM
i camped in Upper Pines 3 weekends ago.. so much snow at the time, that the fire pits were covered in snow (and everything around it).. there was about 2 feet of snow in the campgrounds at the time... you can call up there and find out.

http://www.recreation.gov/campsiteSearch.do

1-209-372-8502



Post Edited (03-04-08 12:53)



Like I always say, "if you can't laugh at yourself, let me do it".

My Yosemite Blog: http://yosemiteforrest.blogspot.com/
avatar Re: Camping at the end of March, please help!
March 04, 2008 03:44PM
lilianchan wrote:

>
> It will be my first time in Yosemite camping (first time for
> the people I'm going with too). I'm pretty sure that there is
> snow there, has anyone been recently? I just want to know
> how much snow.

http://www.yosemite.org/vryos

The view from the Ahwahnee Meadow webcam should be typical of the current conditions in Yosemite Valley. I don't see a lot of snow on the trees, so it probably hasn't snowed recently.

Re: Camping at the end of March, please help!
March 04, 2008 08:51PM
I prefer Upper Pines for the valley access reason you mentioned. Wawona is very nice, and had virtually no snow when I was there last week. It's a whole different environment, but the valley waterfalls should be pretty impressive by then, so I'd (and we are) pick the valley.

March weather is extremely unreliable. It can be sunny and warm, rain, snow, or be cold dark and foggy, or all of them within a few days. Just be prepared for all of it...bring warm stuff, shorts, and perhaps a tarp or two to stretch over tents if it rains much.


Through March you should be able to have fires during the day, but if you can do without, please do. The valley gets very smoky, and if you keep busy you really might not need a fire like some folks seem to...burning and smoking all day and evening. I bring a few presto logs and an armful of wood, but often never use it. If anything, just in the evening before retiring. They sell wood at the Village, about $9 a box but if you use it sparingly, there's quite a bit.

Besides hiking around the valley loop trails, you can go beyond Mirror Lake on about a six mile loop, which is a nice non-strenuous but scenic hike in the shadow of Half Dome and next to the Tenaya River. You can get to Vernal and Nevada Falls via a combination of the John Muir and Mist trails...both of them have parts closed in winter, but you can go from one to the other above Vernal Falls. You won't be able to go up Half Dome, but there's no reason you couldn't do the hike up TO the base of the cables (long and strenuous, regardless).

The easier trails to lower Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil falls are a must see, though they're very busy. There's an upper Yosemite Falls trail, you might set your goal to as high as Columbia Rock, which is about a mile, but seemingly straight up (well, zigzag straight up 8^). You may get up beyond that to the base of upper falls, really worth seeing. Above that is possible that it will still be snowy and icy, it's hard to predict.

You can drive up to Badger Pass for snow fun or scenery (bring chains) and though Mariposa Grove is way down at the South entrance, it's a nice walk with some giant redwoods as a reward (2 miles uphill along a possibly snowy road). If you're there around the full moon (21st) they may have some nighttime ranger snowshoe walks.

Those, with a couple of days spent just doing the valley loops between the campground and El Capitan, should keep you very busy. Don't expect too much 'green' or wildflowers, it's a bit early for that, but hopefully there will be some sunny weather and things look great regardless.

If you have bikes, most definitely bring them. You may be able to rent them in the valley, but having one at the campground is great, and frees you from the shuttle bus wait.

There's food and showers at Curry Village nearby, and food at the Lodge and Village, should you not want to cook a lot. Enjoy your visit!



Post Edited (03-04-08 22:42)



Gary
Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo
Re: Camping at the end of March, please help!
March 05, 2008 01:37PM

Hi Gary--

Thank you for all the advice! If we're heading down from Sacramento, are snow chains required for any portion to get to the Valley?

Any favorite campsites in Upper Pines anyone?
Re: Camping at the end of March, please help!
March 05, 2008 02:24PM
Hi Lillian - Gary is right the weather during March is very unpredictable. I've gone there expecting arctic conditions and ended up wishing I had brought shorts! There is still snow on the valley floor now, which is pretty unusual, and it could be gone by the end of the month or there could be more. Yosemite kinda does it's own thing in regards to weather. You most definitely should carry tire chains with you. You don't want to have to buy them there, believe me! have fun.........Chip
avatar Re: Camping at the end of March, please help!
March 05, 2008 02:49PM
lilianchan wrote:

>
> Hi Gary--
>
> Thank you for all the advice! If we're heading down from
> Sacramento, are snow chains required for any portion to get to
> the Valley?

Snow can drop at any time. Rangers will be manning chain checkpoints if California R2 chain conditions are declared. I've been stopped before and had my tires checked for adequate tread depth.

If you have to install chains, I'd recommend the diagonal type - especially the kind that come with specific chain tighteners. They're supposed to be in contact with the snow/ice longer than radial/ladder chains. When I was leaving through the south entrance in Feb 2007, I saw some guys entering the park installing Security Chain Super-Z tire cables on their 2WD pickup. I've tried playing with a set in a store. They have an easy installation technique where they're clipped once at the bottom before clipping them twice at the top. They'll still be loose, but chain tighteners (essentially a big rubber band) take up the slack. Once installed, they don't need to be readjusted because the tightener makes sure there's no slack. Unlike maybe I-80 through Donner Pass or I-50 to Tahoe, there aren't many licensed chain installers (in Tahoe they call them "chain monkeys"winking smiley working in Yosemite.

http://www.scc-chain.com/Traction%20Pages/Trac_SZ6.html

I've got a Subaru and ladder-type (radial) chains which are a pain to install, and need to be rechecked after driving for maybe 20 feet. It's nearly impossible to reach them around on the back, although some people drive over them and fasten them at the top. I could use bungee cords as chain tighteners. I've tried this once in my garage, and I'm not sure I'd be 100% good to go if I had to do it in real snow conditions.

What kind of car? If it's AWD/FWD you're still required to carry chains if chain conditions are declared, but might not need to install them. If it comes to driving with chains on, just drive slowly (the speed limit is always 25 MPH in any chain condition) and you might even want to drive slower. Chains can quickly fly off and destroy your wheel well if you go too fast, as well as run the risk of chains breaking. You'll also want to remove the chains as soon as you find dry pavement, because that can quickly destroy the chains, or at least make your ride uncomfortable. Brake gently (you can lose traction if you brake too quickly) and well ahead of when you need to stop. Take turns gently (I took out a snow bank at Chinquapin when I took it a little too fast) and be safe. It's a lot of fun, but driving in the snow requires a lot of respect for your vehicle's new limits.



Post Edited (03-05-08 14:53)
Re: Camping at the end of March, please help!
March 06, 2008 10:53PM
lilianchan wrote:
> Thank you for all the advice! If we're heading down from
> Sacramento, are snow chains required for any portion to get to
> the Valley?
>
> Any favorite campsites in Upper Pines anyone?

If you don't have anything reserved, you'd best get on the phone right away and see what you can get; the end of March is spring break for many, and it's always crowded. You may not be able to get multiple nights in the same spot by calling now, but it's possible that there will be cancellations once you get there.

The website for reservations is
http://www.recreation.gov/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=70925 and I think you'll find that there are just a few sporadic single nights if you're going at the end of March. If you can put it off until Mid April, you can still find sites for 3-4 nights. Go to May and good luck finding a single night anywhere.

Wawona campground is first-come, first-served in March so that might work as a backup, though you'd have to commute to the valley.
http://www.recreation.gov/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=70924

If you can get a couple of nights reserved somewhere at Upper Pines, even in different sites, and you go right to the campground office and find out about cancellations, you probably have a good chance of getting in (I'm assuming you don't have a reservation since you asked about favorite sites).

As for chains, I think that through March, you're supposed to have them in the car, but you might be able to get by. If you think you might be visiting Yosemite again in the off season, a trip to Walmart for a set of chains to stick in the trunk can bring peace of mind...at least if you're trying to high-tail out of the valley before chains are required, you have the chains if needed
http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/image/47838927

Chain requirements:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/chains.htm





Gary
Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo
avatar Re: Camping at the end of March, please help!
March 05, 2008 03:48PM
i was there not this last monday, but the monday before.. sunny and nice, BUT... on the way out (hwy 120), they were making you chain up if you didn't have 4WD because the roads were so icy (with snow).
avatar Re: Camping at the end of March, please help!
March 07, 2008 08:52AM
Here are a few pics I took in Feb 2007. This would be typical winter conditions with light snow.





Apparently bears are still active in winter:



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