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Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows

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Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
July 20, 2011 01:58PM
I need practical info from the Santa Cruz area folks.

I am going to a wedding near Santa Cruz in August. The Monday morning after the wedding, my kids and I are driving to Tuolumne Meadows. What is the fastest route factoring in traffic, winding road, etc?
Various map sites have me either:
Go up 17 to 880, 580, 205, 5 to the 120, or
Go down the 1 towards Watsonville, then the 129, then 152 through the Pacheco Pass, 59 to the 140, then to the 120.
The mileage is pretty close to the same for both routes, about 260 miles, about 5.5 hours.
I am from Los Angeles; we usually take the Pacheco Pass route to the relatives in Capitola.
Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
July 20, 2011 02:32PM
Go south on 1, go east on 129, go east on 152, go 99 to 140.

It will take less time. Go into the Bay Area and you risk being stuck in traffic jams.
avatar Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
July 20, 2011 02:51PM
Quote
AlmostThere

Go south on 1, go east on 129, go east on 152, go 99 to 140.


If taking Pacheco Pass (Hwy 152) over into the Central Valley, I've found in my experience that it's faster to take I-5 North to Hwy 140 East, than to stay on Hwy 152 East through Los Banos (with a lot of stop & go traffic through the town) and then take either Hwy 165, Hwy 59, or Hwy 99 to connect with Hwy 140. Avoiding Los Banos in my experience saves a good bit of time.
avatar Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
July 20, 2011 02:43PM
On Monday morning, it would depend how early you leave.

If you leave AFTER 10:00 AM, you'll miss the morning rush hour traffic, and the fastest route to Tuolumne Meadows would be to take Hwy 17 North to I-280 South which in a few miles will become I-680 North. Take I-680 North to I-580 East then to I-205 East which will then merge with I-5 North. Take I-5 North for just a couple of miles to Hwy 120 East. Stay on Hwy 120 East to Tuolumne Meadows.

If you planning to leave the Santa Cruz area BEFORE 9:00 AM on Monday, then you'll want to avoid Hwy 17 (very heavy commute stop & go traffic during weekday mornings), and instead take Hwy 1 South to Hwy 129 East to US-101 North to Hwy 152 East (but then ignore the map sites advice) and take Hwy 152 East to I-5 North.

From there you have two choices: continue north on I-5 until you reach Hwy 120, and then take Hwy 120 East to Tuolumne Meadows. This would be the fastest and most freeway oriented route.

Or you could take I-5 North to the start of Hwy 140 and then take Hwy 140 East into Yosemite and then take Big Oak Flat Road from Hwy 140 to the Hwy 120 East junction at Crane Flat. This would be the more scenic, but SLOWER option.
Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
July 20, 2011 05:54PM
If I get on I-17 by 6 AM going north, will I miss the traffic congestion?
I was planning to leave by about 7 or 8 AM anyway, so that I get a campsite(no reservations) and settled in Tuolumne before dark.

I know that Hwy 17 always seems congested. Taking the second route, I-5 to 120, route adds about 40 miles but the speeds will be faster.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/21/2011 03:29PM by snorkus.
Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
July 31, 2011 07:40AM
If I get on CA 17 by 6 AM, will I miss most traffic?
avatar Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
July 31, 2011 09:50AM
Quote
snorkus
If I get on CA 17 by 6 AM, will I miss most traffic?

Not necessarily.

Traffic starts getting heavy on Hwy 17 around 5:00 AM every weekday morning.

If there's no accident on Hwy 17, you ought to be fine going over Hwy 17 if you leave by 5:30 AM. But that's a BIG if.

So you can roll the dice, and leave by 5:30 AM and see what happens.

Leaving by 6:00 AM, I would say it's at least a 50/50 chance you'll hit congestion, especially once you enter Los Gatos and approach the Hwy 85 interchange with Hwy 17.
avatar Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
July 31, 2011 12:10PM
Quote
snorkus
If I get on CA 17 by 6 AM, will I miss most traffic?


Personally, I'd leave at 2 AM and get to the park early in the morning. Stop in Oakdale for coffee. Seriously.
(When going up to Yosemite from the L.A. area, I normally leave around 12 AM, go up the Eastside, stop in Bishop for gas and coffee, and get to TM in time to obtain a Wilderness Permit when the Wilderness Center opens.
avatar Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
July 31, 2011 12:14PM
Quote
szalkowski

... stop in Bishop for gas and coffee, ...

What's your favorite place to stop for coffee in Bishop?
avatar Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
July 31, 2011 12:26PM
Quote
plawrence
Quote
szalkowski

... stop in Bishop for gas and coffee, ...

What's your favorite place to stop for coffee in Bishop?


Usually stop at the Vons supermarket, which opens at 6 AM. There is a Starbuck's inside, which is acceptable but would much rather have Peet's. Also pick up a bagel and whatever food may have forgotten to throw in a plastic food bin in the mad scramble to get out of the house on time. (Most always end up doing a final food sort at the trailhead and the labelled plastic bin is all set to toss in the trailhead bear box.)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/31/2011 12:26PM by szalkowski.
avatar Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
July 31, 2011 10:12PM
My favorite place to get coffee or espresso in Bishop is at Spellbinders Books & Coffee. Their espresso drinks are simply divine.

Unfortunately, for your needs they don't open early enough. They're open at 9:00 AM weekdays & 10:00 Saturdays. But if you're ever around Bishop while they're open, I highly recommend that you drop in for a coffee (or espresso drink).
Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
July 31, 2011 08:06AM
Quote
snorkus
If I get on I-17 by 6 AM going north, will I miss the traffic congestion?
I was planning to leave by about 7 or 8 AM anyway, so that I get a campsite(no reservations) and settled in Tuolumne before dark.

I know that Hwy 17 always seems congested. Taking the second route, I-5 to 120, route adds about 40 miles but the speeds will be faster.

A word about Tuolumne - if you get there about 7-8 am you will be behind a bunch of people waiting in line. We did this a couple weekends ago and didn't get a site. The other campgrounds on Tioga Rd were still closed and I suspect that had a lot to do with it. I note that they are open now so hopefully this will help.

In any case, it's a weird year - if it's as busy as it was a couple weeks ago, you'll end up on a waiting list, come back at 2 pm - and you may or may not get a site right away, it's the luck of the draw. We waited til 3 pm and people were still vacating sites so we got two sites. But it was a wait! I wouldn't place bets on getting a site if you get there 10-12 in the day, even on a Wednesday, that would put you pretty far down on the waiting list.

As for I 17... if you are trying on a weekday keep in mind commuting hours between 6 am and 8 am are going to mean heavy traffic.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/31/2011 08:12AM by AlmostThere.
Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
July 31, 2011 09:22AM
Can I ask what day of the week that you went? We will be arriving on a Monday. With my experience, most people leave their campsites on Sundays. Early in the week is an easier time to get a site.
Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
July 31, 2011 09:33AM
We had folks going up in stages. One person showed up Thursday and was #23 on the waiting list.Two people showed up Friday and were #5 and 6, and had to wait longer for campsites. All three got sites eventually. The ranger told them it's an ongoing thing, happens every day. People are leaving every day of the week, btw. There were empty sites on Saturday. Of course they all filled by nightfall with folks on the waiting list.

And it may be different now that other campgrounds are open, but it's hard to say - the season is so delayed.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/31/2011 09:34AM by AlmostThere.
Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
July 31, 2011 10:51AM
Once the airport is built on TM, that will be the way to go...

j/k
Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
July 31, 2011 11:49AM
Quote
Ohnivy-Drak
Once the airport is built on TM, that will be the way to go...

You know, there is a big flat area up there. Will anyone really care if an airport takes up part of the space?
Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
July 31, 2011 10:13PM
Quote
snorkus
Quote
Ohnivy-Drak
Once the airport is built on TM, that will be the way to go...

You know, there is a big flat area up there. Will anyone really care if an airport takes up part of the space?

What would the wildlife think about all the excess noise, pollution, and human activity?
avatar Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
August 01, 2011 01:18PM
Quote
Ohnivy-Drak
Quote
snorkus
Quote
Ohnivy-Drak
Once the airport is built on TM, that will be the way to go...

You know, there is a big flat area up there. Will anyone really care if an airport takes up part of the space?

What would the wildlife think about all the excess noise, pollution, and human activity?

If the planes came with food, the bears would be happy.
avatar Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
August 01, 2011 07:13PM
Oh GREAT, the bears will start associating planes with food and breaking into the planes parked on the tarmack!
I wonder how well a plane will fly with teety/claw rips in the aluminum skin?
I wonder if they've ever had a grizzly rip apart a plane in Alaska?
avatar Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
August 01, 2011 07:52PM
Quote
qumqats
Oh GREAT, the bears will start associating planes with food and breaking into the planes parked on the tarmack!
I wonder how well a plane will fly with teety/claw rips in the aluminum skin?
I wonder if they've ever had a grizzly rip apart a plane in Alaska?

I'll leave it up to someone else to say something randy.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Best route from Santa Cruz area to Tuolumne Meadows
August 01, 2011 09:03PM
Quote
qumqats
I wonder how well a plane will fly with teety/claw rips in the aluminum skin?
I wonder if they've ever had a grizzly rip apart a plane in Alaska?

It'll be fine if the pilot has duct tape:



http://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com/2010/01/bear-vs-plane.html
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