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Re: An Autumn in Yosemite Valley

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avatar An Autumn in Yosemite Valley
July 08, 2010 05:10PM
I know, it's hard to think about Autumn in the early days of summer, but I'm looking ahead and already planning our next visit. In this case, we'll probably be bringing a friend or two who aren't "hardcore" hikers, and so we'll want to stay in the valley and take shorter, easier day hikes. Like I've said in other posts, we need to be a bit frugal, and won't be staying in Camp Curry like we have in the past. I have no experience with valley campgrounds, though. Are there some that are better than others? There's a possibility we might have a borrowed tent trailer.

I've seen the valley in a spectacularly high-water spring (early May 2005*), in regular a spring (June 2007), and a light winter (Feb 2010). This will be my first trip in Autumn. What's special about the Valley in Sept/Oct? Also, if you had to pick, would you go in late-Sept or mid-Oct?

*After seeing all of the falls at such ridiculously high water rates, I had trouble recognizing them in the postcards in the gift shops.smiling smiley
avatar Re: An Autumn in Yosemite Valley
July 08, 2010 05:14PM
The three car campgrounds in the Valley aren't all that different from each other. You can see pictures of all the sites at http://yosemitecampsites.com/
Re: An Autumn in Yosemite Valley
July 08, 2010 06:16PM
I'd go to Bridalveil or one of the grounds on Tioga Pass, if still available. They are less parking lot, more foliage. The very last place I would go would be Wawona Campground.

Really, I don't like car camping in Yosemite at all. I'm only doing it under duress this weekend. Much preferable to be backpacking and able to camp far from the crowds. So perhaps I should not have answered at all. eye rolling smiley
avatar Re: An Autumn in Yosemite Valley
July 08, 2010 06:37PM
Quote
AlmostThere
I'd go to Bridalveil or one of the grounds on Tioga Pass, if still available.

They'll all be close by October 15th. So it'll depend on what's meant by autumn.
Re: An Autumn in Yosemite Valley
July 08, 2010 08:11PM
I'm often there with less avid hikers. They certainly don't want to go off bushwhacking with me....

Here is my recommendation for things to do:

Stay in the Valley, if your friends haven't been there before. It's a lot less crowded in the Fall than it is now, and newcomers will want to see it first. Try to not use the car to get around in the Valley.

Start them off by hiking down the Four Mile Trail. It has the best easy-to-get-at views, and doesn't depend so much on full waterfalls for enjoyment. If the daily bus going up to Glacier Point is stopped for the season, you can hike up the trail to retrieve their car while they hike down.

If you can bring or rent bicycles, they are the best way to sight-see in the eastern half of the Valley, from Happy Isles to the Lodge. Cross over from north to south side trails at Swinging Bridge, near the Lodge. Don't bike in traffic on the main roads....stick to the bike trails.

Yosemite Falls Trail and the Snow Creek Trail both get good views as soon as you get above the valley floor. Weaker hikers can turn around whenever they want to. Really strong hikers can consider going up one and then down the other, but that's a long day. You can get an easier, mostly downhill hike by getting someone to drop you at the trailhead east of Porcupine Flat on the Tioga Pass Road, hike to North Dome, then back up a bit and go down the Snow Creek Trail. You'll need an early start for that one.

If you do the Four Mile Trail first, you will get a much better idea of what these people can do....

Have fun.
Re: An Autumn in Yosemite Valley
July 08, 2010 08:30PM
October is going to be better than Sept. The later in the month, the better. I prefer Upper Pines, simply because I have a 31 ft. fifth wheel and it is easier for me to maneuver around in Upper Pines.
avatar Re: An Autumn in Yosemite Valley
July 09, 2010 08:51AM
It's hard to predict in advance what the weather will be like at that time of year, and I have been camping there in the
Fall for years. As a very general rule, I have found the deeper you go into October, the greater the likelihood you will
encounter some rainy days and nights, and temperatures also drop the deeper you go into October. Rain is not such an issue
if you have an RV or trailer with a hard roof, more of an issue if you have a tent or tent trailer. But as I said, very hard to predict
from year to year what the weather will be, can be a warm and sunny period at that time of year, or a cold and rainly period,
or a mixture of the two.
All three Valley campgrounds are similar, but Upper Pines is the largest, and tends to be the noisiest as well: more large groups
occupying multiple campsites, and having boisterous gatherings at night. Lower Pines is the smallest campground of the three,
and North Pines right behind it. But it's really a matter of personal preference, you can have good and bad experiences in any of them.
Re: An Autumn in Yosemite Valley
July 09, 2010 09:54AM
If they aren't hikers, then having them do anything over about 3 miles will just be miserable for them. Trust me, I have been there, done that. The best hikes for non hikers are the valley loops, the short loop at the base of Yosemite Falls, the short hike to the Tuolumne Grove (uphill on the return), Mirror Lake, the base of Bridalveil Fall and to the bridge below Vernal Fall. Bringing bikes is a very good idea. If people in your party have never been to Yosemite, then I recommend the Valley Floor Tour. It is given in an open air tram and really gives a great introduction to the valley. Check before booking that they are still using the open air trams, as they switch to buses at some point in the year, and it is not nearly as enjoyable.
Re: An Autumn in Yosemite Valley
July 09, 2010 09:26AM
Fall colors in the Valley usually peak around the last week of Oct. (give or take a week).
avatar Re: An Autumn in Yosemite Valley
July 09, 2010 04:43PM
Thanks for the info! We always bring bikes when we visit the Valley, so I'll make sure our friends do too. It really makes it nice to get around and see more. I think our friends will be up for hikes in the 4-6 mile range. I've never done the Four Mile Trail, so that's on the list. Although, honestly, as much as I enjoy hiking, I think we'll all be happy to just hang around in the valley itself and enjoy the sights.

It looks like we'll probably be aiming for the latter part of Sept at this point because of scheduling conflicts. We might miss the color, but we'll still enjoy the late-summer vibe.
avatar Re: An Autumn in Yosemite Valley
July 09, 2010 04:44PM
Quote
itchbay
It looks like we'll probably be aiming for the latter part of Sept at this point because of scheduling conflicts. We might miss the color, but we'll still enjoy the late-summer vibe.

If you head out over Tioga Pass you might get some color in the Aspen during late September.
avatar Re: An Autumn in Yosemite Valley
July 09, 2010 05:04PM
itchBay,

The first two miles of the Four Mile Trail have some very nice views. You could just do half of the four miles.



Old Dude
Re: An Autumn in Yosemite Valley
July 09, 2010 10:35PM
Good call Bill about Sentinel. A trip to Taft Point on the same hike is well worth it too.
avatar Re: An Autumn in Yosemite Valley
July 09, 2010 08:11PM
I'd take someone up Sentinel Dome before taking them on the Four Mile Trail.
Three spots to park and jaunt up there depending on what you're looking for.

Have fun
avatar Re: An Autumn in Yosemite Valley
July 09, 2010 09:46PM
We're just roughly sketching it out, depending on how much time we have to spend. It's a dual-duty trip: a dear friend is having her birthday the weekend we're going, and it's also the weekend of her wedding anniversary yet she's getting a divorce. What better way to celebrate the one and distract from the other.

Since this is her first time to the park, we'll probably try to split our time between the highlights and maybe an easy hike in each of the "regions": Valley, TM, Hetch Hetchy.

I think we'll aim for a campsite in the Lower Pines, just for the quiet factor. And the rest we'll play by ear. Unless there are any super-secret-don't-miss spots you all wouldn't mind sharing with us. smiling smiley
Re: An Autumn in Yosemite Valley
July 10, 2010 12:26PM
You may want to reserve a Lower Pines campsite NOW. Looks like there is some availability now but they'll be gone soon.
avatar Re: An Autumn in Yosemite Valley
July 11, 2010 10:07AM
I agree, I think you're already too late for Lower or North Pines (outside of one-day reservations) but there are still multi-day
reservations available on the system for Upper Pines. Of course, if you're diligent and keep checking the reservation system
often, you might find a cancellation before someone else swoops down on it! Good luck, I hope you find something you like.
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