Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile Recent Posts
Yosemite Valley

The Moon is Waxing Crescent (18% of Full)


Advanced

Re: June or September?

All posts are those of the individual authors and the owner of this site does not endorse them. Content should be considered opinion and not fact until verified independently.

June or September?
April 29, 2011 09:54AM
Hi,
I am trying to plan a trip to Yosemite for next year (2012) and am hoping someone here can give me some advice. I am a major planner when it comes to vacations, and depending on when we go, the window for reservations could be opening up very soon, so I need to get this worked out!

A little info...We are a family of 4 (kids will be 1/2 and 8/9 depending on when we go). We all enjoy hiking, and that is the main reason we want to go. My husband is planning to do a 1 or 2 night backpacking trip with my daughter while we are there (she is an experienced backpacker and can hike about 9 miles now on moderate terrain, probably more by the time we go) Other than that, we will probably stick to short, relatively easy hikes as we will have the little one with us. Though my husband might take off for a day on his own to to half-dome. We will stay inside the park, probably at Yosemite Lodge or maybe a cabin at Curry Village. We homeschool, so are not limited to school schedules as to when we can go. That is where we are having trouble though. One of our main priorities is to avoid the heavily crowded times, as we find that very stressful. But we also want to be able to do some hiking.

So we were initially thinking late September. Everything would be open, it would still be warm, and the crowds should have lessened. I know the waterfalls will be mostly gone, but we can live with that. However, from doing some research, it seems that September is a prime month for prescribed burns, and possibly natural fires as well in the park, both of which create a lot of smoke. Or so I have read. Both my husband and daughter are pretty sensitive to smoke, and I'm afraid that will be a real bummer if it is going on while we are there. Has anyone been there during this time? Is the smoke really bad????

The other time we were considering was late May or early June. But what are hiking conditions like then? Will most trails still be snowpacked? We have Kahtoola microspikes, so we could deal with some icy trails but I don't want to be wading through tons of snow all the time. And will there be any options for a short backpacking trip? (They wouldn't need a ton of options since they are only doing one short trip anyway.) And what are the crowds like the first couple weeks of June? I am assuming it is more crowded than late September, but is it enough to be a hassle?

I'm afraid July and August would be miserably crowded, and October might be getting too cold for backpacking, so I'm not sure what else to do. I know there isn't a "perfect" time, but want to have as much info as I can before we decide. If we were to decide on May or June, I need to be ready to make reservations in just a few weeks. If anyone can give me any feedback or suggestions I would much appreciate it!

Thanks!
avatar Re: June or September?
April 29, 2011 10:36AM
The correct answer(s) are:
- Go week before or after Memorial Day.
- Have your husband take your daughter backpacking to Little Yosemite Valley (you can hike with them for some of it if you wish)
- Stay in Yosemite Lodge
- Don't worry about seeing everything
- Have fun
- Eat Your Vegetables
- Have a nice day



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: June or September?
April 29, 2011 12:10PM
If this is your first visit to Yosemite and want to see Yosemite Valley, I would avoid September since it's the waterfalls that make Yosemite Valley extra special. Late September is an excellent time to explore the high country of Yosemite with backpacking trips starting from the trailheads off of Tioga Road, but it's close to my least favorite time to visit Yosemite Valley itself.

In regards to prescribed burns and wildfiles, yes the smoke can get bad in Yosemite Valley, especially in the morning (as dense as a heavy fog one time I was there), though most of the time, it isn't that bad though the smell of smoke will still be in the air.

If your husband and daughter are very sensitive to smoke then staying at the Yosemite Lodge would probably be a safer option than at Curry Village, because depending on the wind currents of the day, the smell of smoke from the campfires from the campgrounds that reside east of Curry Village can sometimes drift over Curry Village itself, though I usually don't think it's that bad (but then again I'm not sensitive to smoke). Otherwise staying in a cabin with a bath (or a standard room) in Curry Village wouldn't be a bad option either.

Overall, Yosemite Valley will be crowded in May and June too, especially during the weekends, but if you like to backpack or even just do day hikes it's super easy to avoid the crowds. Almost all of the crowds are on just several of the most popular trails (Lower Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Falls, the road to Mirror lake and the Mist trail, and Half Dome trail) or stopped at roadside pullouts, while other trails are rarely ever that crowded even during the peak of the summer season. And if you want to hike one of the popular trails during your May or early June visit and avoid the crowds, just plan to start your hike before 9:00 AM in the morning and even the most popular trails in Yosemite Valley won't be crowded at that time.

If next year is like this year (or any heavy snow year), yes, there could still be snow on the trails above Yosemite Valley, but the fallback if you don't want to deal with snow in late May or early June during an overnight backpacking trip would be to base your backpacking trip out of the Hetch Hetchy region since the Hetchy Hetchy region, due to its lower overall elevation, has less snow and becomes snow-free earlier than the high country surrounding Yosemite Valley (or Tioga or Glacier Point Roads). But in many years, snow will not be a major problem in late May or June though snow will remain on the ground at the highest elevations in the park during most years even in June.

Again, to avoid any major crowds during a late May and early June visit, plan a mid-week stay, and also explore the west-end of the Valley (west of the Yosemite Lodge).

And one last thing, backbacking in early October wouldn't be too bad temperature-wise. The temps in the first two weeks of October can be very similar to those of late May and early June (though mostly likely with a lot less snow to deal with), and all the roads to the high country (Tioga Road and Glacier Point Road) will still be open too (though they might be closed a day or two due to an early season snow storm).
Re: June or September?
April 29, 2011 02:42PM
Even though it may be a bit more crowded, I'd suggest you aim for the first or second week of June instead of late May. Usually Tioga Pass is open around Memorial Day weekend, and it would be great if you were able to see and enjoy Tuolumne Meadows for your visit. Typically the number of visitors picks up after mid June (Fathers Day weekend) as most schools are out for the summer by then.

(Note: it is not possible to predict when Tioga Pass opens, but here is the historical data.)
Re: June or September?
April 29, 2011 03:51PM
If you could go for the 3rd week of May that would be an ideal time to go, unless you want to do high country hiking, then go for September. May gives you the waterfalls and green meadows. Midweek of course is the best option. Weekends bring the local traffic from the San Joaquin Valley. In Sept. you don't have that problem. I think it comes down to what elevation do you want to be hiking at and what temperature versus the elevation do you want to be at (and how much water in the rivers and falls are you intersted in. Yes hikers will probaly be less of a number in September, but the area is very dry at that ime. And forget June).
Re: June or September?
April 29, 2011 11:47PM
June, mainly because I prefer the waterfalls and rivers.
Re: June or September?
April 30, 2011 07:25AM
September.

No mosquitos, no snow. It won't be warm at night - unless you mean 20-40F is warm - any time of the year, tho that varies and it can get up to 50s in the valley camps. There are more options for easier backpacking trips with little ones from Tioga or Glacier Rd.

Plus, no one gets to decide whether waterfalls are important to you or not. Everything's beautiful, all year, it's all worthwhile. For first trips to Yosemite tho I'd want to spend at least a day in the valley, a day visiting Glacier Point and Wawona and Mariposa Grove (easy walks around Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome, Wawona meadows, and the lower grove of sequoias), a day driving out Tioga Road - visit Tuolumne Meadows and walk to the Soda Springs, among other things.

Mosquitos can be misery for toddlers. DEET is bad for them.
Re: June or September?
April 30, 2011 09:49AM
Thanks for the feedback everyone! We are thinking now that we will go right after Memorial Day, so basically the first week of June. If by chance it's a really snowy spring and nothing is going to be open, our back-up plan is to postpone until October. I'm just not willing to risk a September trip with the possibility of smoke, no point in going if most of the family will be miserable the whole time. And I think our chances of Tioga Rd and Glacier Pt being open are better after Memorial Day than before. The mosquito issue is a little concerning, but we're going to have to deal with something no matter when we go I guess.

Thanks again for all the responses, they were a huge help! I'm sure I'll be back with more questions in the next few months as we begin planning in more detail smiling smiley
avatar Re: June or September?
April 30, 2011 09:59AM
You will have plenty to keep you busy regardless of how much snow falls by then.
By then you will have all the trails out of the valley avail except top portion of 4 Mile.
Wawona and Mariposa Grove certainly open. Glacier Pt. road probably open.
Honestly, I wouldn't worry about Tioga Road.... if it's open, cool... if not.. don't sweat it.
You will have an incredible time in the Incomparable Valley.



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: June or September?
April 30, 2011 09:02PM
I think the possibility of smoke being a problem is being overblown... I was in the park while several forest fires were raging. It made the pictures a little hazy, but I still hiked up out of Pate on that #$^& steep trail without wheezing, even tho the helicopters were dropping fire retardant on the fire not five miles away from us. You'd have to hike in the fire. The smoke disperses with the wind. While we were on Tioga the fire near Hetch Hetchy and the other on Old Big Oak Flat were both active, and only impacted the shots of panoramas including those areas.

Of course, if you are asthmatic, all bets are off....

I sleep in the open in September - the mosquitos are 99.9% gone by then.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/30/2011 09:03PM by AlmostThere.
avatar Re: June or September?
May 01, 2011 07:31AM
Everything is overblown*





Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: June or September?
May 06, 2011 01:06AM
I usually have better luck with not getting mosquito bites earlier in the year. Scientifically, when are the mosquitos least? What month?
avatar Re: June or September?
May 06, 2011 12:15PM
Quote
nyberg_d
I usually have better luck with not getting mosquito bites earlier in the year. Scientifically, when are the mosquitos least? What month?

January
Re: June or September?
May 06, 2011 02:31PM
Few people and few mosquitoes :-)
Re: June or September?
May 09, 2011 12:04AM
but its freezing!
avatar Re: June or September?
May 09, 2011 12:01PM
Quote
rick
but its freezing!

Really? Didn't notice.Mosquito biting
Re: June or September?
May 09, 2011 09:31AM
Can the smoke be from the campfires? The valley is always so smoking if I drive into it during the evenings.
Re: June or September?
April 30, 2011 12:12PM
If you have the luxury and time, plan both months. Best of both worlds.
Re: June or September?
April 30, 2011 05:03PM
+1 for June
Re: June or September?
May 21, 2011 05:26PM
Avoid Memorial Day Weekend like the plague. It is the busiest weekend of the year. Two years ago on Saturday late afternoon it took us 2 hours to go from Bridalveil to Housekeeping Camp where we found a parking place. We had our bikes on the car so we took them off and biked to where we were staying because the shuttles were also stuck in traffic. My husband had to wait until 9 pm to get the car.
avatar Re: June or September?
May 21, 2011 06:53PM
Quote
parklover
Avoid Memorial Day Weekend like the plague.

Last time I tried Memorial Day I ended up driving home in disgust.
avatar Re: June or September?
May 24, 2011 11:24PM
The absolute worse Memorial Day weekend was once back in the 1990's or late 1980's (can't remember which year) when both Tioga Road and Glacier Point Road were still closed due to snow (it was a very snowy May that year). Everyone was packed into the Yosemite Valley like sardines.
Re: June or September?
May 23, 2011 02:37PM
I didn't even read your post, I just saw June or Sept, and I will NEVER go in Sept again. June all the way.

OK, I read more of your post. I don't know, late sept? Hmmmm, I know Sept can be HOTTER than Hell here in Calif. I went to Yosemite once in early SEpt and it was miserably hot and all the employees were cranky and the water falls were dry, we couldn't raft, it wasn't as much fun as other months.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/23/2011 02:42PM by hotrod4x5.
avatar Re: June or September?
May 23, 2011 03:44PM
Quote
hotrod4x5
I didn't even read your post, I just saw June or Sept, and I will NEVER go in Sept again. June all the way.

OK, I read more of your post. I don't know, late sept? Hmmmm, I know Sept can be HOTTER than Hell here in Calif. I went to Yosemite once in early SEpt and it was miserably hot and all the employees were cranky and the water falls were dry, we couldn't raft, it wasn't as much fun as other months.


Try the high country.
You'll be amazed how different it is from Downtown Yosemite.
Re: June or September?
May 24, 2011 12:49PM
Quote
hotrod4x5
I didn't even read your post, I just saw June or Sept, and I will NEVER go in Sept again. June all the way.

OK, I read more of your post. I don't know, late sept? Hmmmm, I know Sept can be HOTTER than Hell here in Calif. I went to Yosemite once in early SEpt and it was miserably hot and all the employees were cranky and the water falls were dry, we couldn't raft, it wasn't as much fun as other months.

You did it wrong... go over 7,000 feet in elevation, you do better there in summer.

Unless you want to swim in the river or really like tourists, no point in trying the valley after May. We drive through as early in the morning as we possibly can, and go from Fresno to Oakhurst to Mariposa to El Portal to avoid the valley loop entirely - get up to elevation and you are fine.
avatar Re: June or September?
May 24, 2011 01:43PM
Wow. Really? You avoid most by taking the El Cap crossover. I'd go 41 just to see Tunnel View and El Cap in all it's glory.
I don't think I'll ever get sick of looking at the "heart" of El Cap.

(btw you just said avoid the valley in Sept.... but the original asker has NEVER been to Yosemite... )

On a related note.... nothing finer than hitting the High Country in late July and/or early August and then when come
back down to "earth" and find out we missed entirely the big heat wave.



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: June or September?
May 24, 2011 11:32PM
Quote
AlmostThere

Unless you want to swim in the river or really like tourists, no point in trying the valley after May. We drive through as early in the morning as we possibly can, and go from Fresno to Oakhurst to Mariposa to El Portal to avoid the valley loop entirely - get up to elevation and you are fine.

Nah, that's too extreme. Yosemite Valley is fine most years through the end of July, and just about all years, through mid-July. Just avoid the big holiday weekends (Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day weekends) and you'll be fine.

Even in the summer, outside of those holiday weekends, it's super easy to avoid the crowds even within Yosemite Valley if you want to. And if you're visiting just for the day, just be sure to arrive in the Valley before 10:00 AM on weekends to find a convenient parking space. And on most summer weekdays, parking is rarely that difficult to find. And once out of the car, it's ridiculously easy to avoid most, if not all, of the crowds within Yosemite Valley.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/24/2011 11:33PM by plawrence.
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login