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Re: crane flat or wawona?

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crane flat or wawona?
June 20, 2011 07:15PM
Hi! We've never been to Yosemite so I don't know whether Crane Flat or Wawona would be better homebase for a 3 day visit?

The particulars: Me, Wife, 3 boys (15,13 and 10) will be visiting in late July. We have moderate hiking experience and like to do day hikes in not too crowded areas. We'll be staying in an RV.
If I understand the websites, the Yosemite shuttle doesn't service either campground, but the YARTS bus comes to Crane Flat, but maybe only once a day?

Is it just better to drive the RV to the Valley each day? What time in the morning would we need to get there to avoid most traffic?

Thanks for sharing all your knowledge!

We're really looking forward to the trip!

Doug
Re: crane flat or wawona?
June 20, 2011 07:24PM
I would choose Crane Flat because of its location. Wawona is about an hour drive from Yosemite Valley. Crane Flat is maybe a 30 minute drive from Yosemite Valley, and it is also at the start of Tioga Road. So Crane Flat would be the better location if you were planning to visit both Yosemite Valley and the sights along Tioga Road including Tuolumne Meadows. Crane Flat has a gas station and a small convenience store with snacks and drinks, and the people who work there are friendly and helpful. There are no showers at Crane Flat, so you would probably have to go down to Housekeeping Camp or Curry Village in Yosemite Valley to take showers (at $5 per person). Other than that I think Crane Flat is a good choice. Wawona would only be a good choice if your trip was focused on the southern end of the park.
Re: crane flat or wawona?
June 20, 2011 07:31PM
You will fight traffic everyday leaving the valley if you are going to drive out. If you leave early in the morning before breakfast it should be fine. My family is early risers, we are out at 7am and exploring before anyone else. I normally either stay in the valley, if exploring the valley, or i backpacking by myself. If you are going to stay at one of those choices, i prefer Wawona better. They are both a considerable drive to the valley, i would say leave early in the morning, head back after lunch and explorer up where you are staying.
Re: crane flat or wawona?
June 20, 2011 07:32PM
Crane flat might be closer, but where would you camp at Crane Flat?
avatar Re: crane flat or wawona?
June 20, 2011 08:05PM
Quote
Roadrash
Crane flat might be closer, but where would you camp at Crane Flat?

I would presume they would be camping at the Crane Flat Campground:

Yosemite National Park Info: Crane Flat Campground
avatar Re: crane flat or wawona?
June 20, 2011 08:16PM
I think that staying at the Crane Flat Campground would be better than the Wawona Campground if planning to visit the valley. It's approximately a 20 to 30 minutes drive to the west end of Yosemite Valley from the Crane Flat Campground. From the Wawona campground it would probably be from a 45 minutes to a one hour drive.

Also there are more places to see and hike around Crane Flat than Wawona. And as an added bonus, there are reliable (almost daily) bear watching opportunities in the meadows surrounding Crane Flat.

But be aware that both the Wawona and Crane Flat campgrounds require reservations. If you don't have reservations already, it could be very hard to land one (though it's possible because of last minute cancellations).

If you leave either campground by no later than 9:00 AM in the morning, you should be able to beat most of the traffic heading into Yosemite from outside the park. And more importantly, you should be able to find a parking spot for your RV at the main Day Use Vistors parking lot located near Yosemite Village.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 06/20/2011 09:06PM by plawrence.
avatar Re: crane flat or wawona?
June 21, 2011 07:01AM
Quote
plawrence
IAnd as an added bonus, there are reliable (almost daily) bear watching opportunities in the meadows surrounding Crane Flat.

The park is REALLY cracking down on this area. They REALLY don't want you to stop and bother the bear.
When you go into the park next time you'll know what I mean when you see the 100 cones and signs that say
no stopping/no parking/keep your butt a moving people. wink



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: crane flat or wawona?
June 21, 2011 09:38AM
I saw the cones last week when I was at the park. Didn't work. People parked beyond the cones (south of gas station entrance on Big Oak Flat Road) where there were NO pullouts. So vehicles traveling down the road in BOTH directions had to drive down the center of the road, alternating in a northbound/southbound direction. BIG MESS.

The Park Service has to think these things through better.
avatar Re: crane flat or wawona?
June 21, 2011 10:04AM
Quote
plawrence
I saw the cones last week when I was at the park. Didn't work. People parked beyond the cones (south of gas station entrance on Big Oak Flat Road) where there were NO pullouts. So vehicles traveling down the road in BOTH directions had to drive down the center of the road, alternating in a northbound/southbound direction. BIG MESS.

The Park Service has to think these things through better.


One of my favorite variations of Murphy's Law:
"Nothing is foolproof... because fools are so ingenious."
avatar Re: crane flat or wawona?
June 21, 2011 10:48AM
People never cease to amaze me.

What else you want them to do?
They even added MORE cones and pylons from one weekend to the next.
It's blatantly obvious that they want the bear left alone.

I guess what is needed: Enforcement Ranger

In response to original poster question: Crane Flat, hands down



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: crane flat or wawona?
June 21, 2011 11:27AM
Quote
chick-on
People never cease to amaze me.

What else you want them to do?
They even added MORE cones and pylons from one weekend to the next.
It's blatantly obvious that they want the bear left alone.

I guess what is needed: Enforcement Ranger

I don't think the Park Service minds people watching the bears from (or near) the road if they are able to park safely off to the side of the road and they don't try to approach the bear(s). On the same day, there was another "Bear Jam" I passed on Glacier Point Road. There, most (not but not all) of the cars were parked off the road, and there was even a ranger present keeping things flowing, more or less.

In regards to Crane Flat, I think what they did last year was probably the best solution. They coned off the beginning of the right lane of southbound BOFR before the junction with Tioga Rd, then permitted vehicles to park in that lane (making the left turn/merging land lane a through lane in the process on that small section of the road. And they usually had a park ranger (but not an enforcement ranger) parked nearby monitoring the situation and telling people who tried to stop in the middle of the road to move on.
avatar Re: crane flat or wawona?
June 21, 2011 09:17PM
Quote
chick-on
I guess what is needed: Enforcement Ranger

They're all busy with radar on Tioga Road.
Re: crane flat or wawona?
June 20, 2011 08:42PM
If you don't want to drive your RV around the park, there are buses and shuttles in some areas; some are free and run by the park service, others are paid trips.

The YARTS bus might be an alternative for you to get to/from Yosemite Valley from Crane Flat, since a YARTS bus stops at the Crane Flat gas station at 11:30 am and arrives at Yosemite Valley Visitor Center at 12:05 p.m. But then it leaves the visitor center at 5:00 p.m., and stops (on demand only) at Crane Flat at 5:30. So using that would give you only 5 hours in Yosemite Valley. The round-trip fare for that would be only $5 for adults and kids over 12, $3 for the 10-year-old, so it would cost you $23 for the round trip, but it would save you having to drive the RV into Yosemite Valley.

That same bus leaving Yosemite Valley stops at Tuolumne Meadows about 6:45 p.m, so that wouldn't help you to visit Tuolumne Meadows because you'd be stuck there overnight until the next YARTS bus bound for Yosemite Valley comes to Tuolumne Meadows at 10:15 a.m. That doesn't seem like a workable plan for visiting Tuolumne Meadows.

There is a Delaware North Corporation (DNC) bus that leaves Yosemite Lodge in Yosemite Valley at 8:20 am, stops at Crane Flat at 9:05 am, arrives at Tuolumne Meadows store at 10:20 a.m. Then it leaves Tuolumne Meadows store at 2:15 p.m. and stops at Crane Flat at 3:25 p.m. So that would give you just under 4 hours to do a hike in the Tuolumne Meadows area, such as the relatively easy hike to Pothole Dome and back. The roundtrip fare would be $19 per person, except the 10-year-old would ride for $9.50 round trip. A total of $85.50 seems like a lot to pay for just 4 hours of hiking time, though the drive along Tioga Road is highly scenic and enjoyable the whole way, still I don't know if it's worth $85.50 to have someone else drive you.

The park runs a free shuttle bus along a portion of Tioga Road, from Olmstead Point to Tuolumne Meadows and back, but to use that you would have to at least get from Crane Flat to Olmstead Point somehow. It runs every 30 minutes between 7:30 am at Olmstead Point to 6:00 p.m. I don't know what the policy is about parking an RV at the parking lot at Olmstead Point, so I don't know if that shuttle would be a workable solution for you.

If you were to stay at Wawona, there are a couple of free park shuttles that would be helpful. The park runs a free shuttle from Wawona to the parking lot of the Mariposa Grove, so you would not need to drive to the Mariposa Grove and search for parking there. That shuttle guarantees you access to the grove even if the parking lot at the grove is full.

The park also operates a free, once-a-day shuttle from Wawona to Yosemite Valley. It leaves Wawona at around 8:30 a.m. every day and goes to Yosemite Village. It leaves Yosemite Village every day at 3:30 p.m. and goes back to Wawona. It is mainly designed for the benefit of people staying at the Wawona Hotel, the campground or other accomodations in the Wawona area (there are privately-owned cabins in the area as well). But anyone can ride it for free. However if you use that, you will be limited by its schedule and you will have to leave Yosemite Valley by 3:30 p.m or else you will be stuck in the valley.

There is no free shuttle up to Glacier Point, but you can take a paid DNC-operated bus tour from Yosemite Valley up to Glacier Point and back, the round-trip fare for that is $41 for adults, $23 for children. Some people just buy a one-way ticket for that bus ($25/$15) and the hike back down to the Valley Floor using either the Four-Mile Trail or a combination of the Panorama Trail and Mist Trail. That bus tour runs 3 times per day, leaving Yosemite Valley at 8:30 am, 10am and 1:30pm.

Or, you can always just drive up to Glacier Point on your own. There is a large parking lot at Glacier Point with some RV spaces but I don't know how many. Washburn Point, 1/2 mile before Glacier Point, is also well-worth seeing since the view from it is more to the east, while the view from Glacier Point is mainly to the north. And Washburn Point is quieter and less crowded. The parking lot for Washburn Point is much smaller than that for Glacier Point and I don't know if there are any RV spaces there or not.

There are also 2 free shuttles on the floor of Yosemite Valley, the Yosemite Valley shuttle which covers the center and east end of the valley, and runs from 7 am to 10 pm, and the El Capitan shuttle which covers the west end of the valley (but not the extreme west end or Bridalveil Fall, it only goes as far as the El Capitan Bridge), and it operates from 9 am to 6 pm. The two routes overlap at 2 stops in the center of the valley. If you drive in to the valley and park at the day use visitor parking lot, you can use those 2 shuttle routes to get to most locations on the valley floor. Those shuttles are free but can be crowded.

Is the RV one you own, or are you going to rent one? Have you considered the possibility of just getting a van or SUV, and buying some cheap tents and sleeping bags and camping in tents instead of staying in an RV? The van or SUV may make driving around and finding parking a lot easier, then you would probably not need to use any paid buses.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/21/2011 02:17PM by Bob Weaver.
Re: crane flat or wawona?
June 21, 2011 08:19PM
Thank you everyone for all the great information! Crane Flat it is!
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