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Yosemite

I am possibly planning on taking a day tour from San Francisco to Yosemite. I have a fear of the edge (of mountains).
How bad is the ride from 120 into Yosemite?
Thanks!!
Ellen

Posted by
5664 posts

It's been a while but we use to be frequent visitors from the Bay Area. Hwy 120 isn't as precipitous as some section of Pacific Coast Highway 1. The grade up to Groveland is pretty steep and the descent into the Valley is pretty scenic with the drop offs being on the passenger side east bound. If you are really uncomfortable take Highway 140. If you go off the road its the Merced River instead of a plummet into the canyon.

You do realize its a 4 hour drive each way. Reminds me of German tourist not having a sense of the vastness of the American west. They would plan on a one day drive from LA to SF by way of Yosemite Valley.

Posted by
5049 posts

There is no way I would take a day trip to Yosemite from San Fran. It's a long drive and the park deserves much more time.

Posted by
48 posts

There are tour groups that do the driving...yes it is a long day but it is either see it or don't . 2 days is not an option this visit.

Posted by
1051 posts

I agree that it is a long trip for a one day visit, but I would still go. I never take Hwy 120 into the park as it is out of the way from Southern California, but if you sit on the driver's side of the bus, you shouldn't have any problems. If my time was limited like yours, I would sign up for the 2 hour open tram ride, providing that you are going in the summer.

I think Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places to visit especially if you are going when the falls are full. It will be crowded and unfortunately you won't have a chance to seek out the less crowded areas of the park, but you definitely will get see an amazing place.

Posted by
48 posts

Thank you Yosemite1 !!! I would rather see the park for a few hours than not at all.

Posted by
3194 posts

My first visit to Yosemite was just for a day. I had recently moved to the Bay Area, and a couple of my colleagues proposed the excursion. I didn't regret it then, and I still look back on it with pleasure. If you aren't the one driving, you can just close your eyes, if the curves on 120 bother you. I don't think it's all that bad, and the drivers are pros.

Posted by
5664 posts

A coach tour with someone else doing the driving makes sense. You will be doing a biological life zone cross section of California starting with the Coastal Range, crossing the San Joaquin /Central Valley to just short of crossing the Sierra Nevada into the Great Basin. It should be a good trip.

http://www.myyosemitepark.com/landscapes-and-life-zones/

The Yosemite region encompasses a diversity of life zones, rising from
the foothills of California’s Central Valley (just above sea level)
into the high country of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where craggy
peaks tower over 13,000 feet. This enormous diversity is what makes
Yosemite’s landscapes so memorable: rushing rivers, deep canyons,
wildflower meadows, giant sequoia groves, alpine lakes, glacier-cut
valleys, and polished domes are just a few of park’s awesome natural
features.

http://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/handbook_of_yosemite_national_park/life_zones.html

The curious and interesting thing is that the changes in faunal
constitution across the Sierras are not perfectly gradual but take
place at intervals, abruptly. Several belts or "zones" of life result,
in each of which conditions are relatively uniform. These belts have
been described and named. and it is useful to know their names so as
to be able to state the distribution of species in more exact terms
than would otherwise be possible. These life zones are correlated
roughly with altitude, and from bottom to top are called Lower
Sonoran, Upper Sonoran, Transition, Canadian, Hudsonian, and
Arctic-Alpine. As will be recognized at once, these zones are in the
nature of temperature belts, the warmest at the base of the mountains,
the coldest at the crest, on the highest peaks. It will be further
seen that they correspond roughly to the transcontinental belts of
climate, and that they bear names significant of their location—Sonora
(in northern Mexico), Canada, Hudson Bay, etc.

Posted by
12585 posts

Coming in on 120, you will pass through the area that was burned in the 2013 Rim fire, after you pass through Groveland. We drove out of the park that way in 2014, and at some viewpoints all you can see is black and burned stumps. Hopefully a few young plants have started to re-grow.

Posted by
48 posts

Thank you so much everyone!! Love the webcams. It is tough having the driving on mountain road phobia since those are often the most beautiful places to go
Ellen

Posted by
10309 posts

In my early tour days, over 20 years ago, I led tours that went from Yosemite to San Francisco (and vice versa). If I remember correctly, the road wasn't bad. You may stop at one viewpoint that looks down towards Yosemite Falls but you don't have to leave the coach. And, if there is an area you aren't happy with, close your eyes. Yosemite is a beautiful park and shouldn't be missed. Just realize a one day tour will be a very long day.

And depending on when you are going, the park could be very crowded. Best to go on a weekday than a weekend.

As stated earlier, the road is nowhere as scary as parts of U.S. 1 in a large coach.

Posted by
12585 posts

The viewpoint mentioned by Frank II that "looks down on Yosemite Falls" is not on 120; it is up at Glacier Point on the other side of the Valley. This viewpoint may be on the tour, but it is ot on the route in or out from San Francisco. If the tour does include Glacier Point, the road does not go near the edge and the bus stops in a large parking lot. You can go as close to the edge as you wish---or not. There is a webcam that shows the views from there if you want to check it out.

Highway 120 has a reputation for being scary because it includes Tioga Pass, but that is going out the eastern gate (toward Nevada) and you will not do that. Coming from SF, between Chinese Camp and Groveland there is a section with steep grades and curves, but it is pretty short. Do sit on the left side of the bus so you are not near the edge.

Posted by
10309 posts

I wasn't talking about Glacier Point.

This place was before getting to Yosemite Valley. It was an overlook that I thought looked down on Yosemite Falls in the distance. It was right after one of the tunnels. .

Posted by
5697 posts

I think the lookout Frank II was referencing is on the road in from Fresno/Merced -- my parents drove us up from LA in the 1950's and we had photos of the site. Yosemite, even for a day (with someone else driving) is spectacular, especially if the falls are full in the spring/early summer.

Posted by
5664 posts

There is a Big Oak Flats (Hwy 120) tunnel but I don't remember seeing Yosemite Falls from Big Oak Flats.

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/viewpoints.htm

Tunnel View provides one of the most famous views of Yosemite Valley.
From here you can see El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall rising from
Yosemite Valley, with Half Dome in the background. This viewpoint is
at the east end of the Wawona Tunnel along the Wawona Road (Highway
41).

Regardless, I would expect the tour bus guide to call out the views.

Posted by
12585 posts

Tunnel View is not on the Big Oak Flat Road (120).

It is on the other (south) side of the valley, if you come in the so-called South entrance on Highway 41 from Fresno. So Frank's tours must have come in from the south, not on 120.

Driving toward Yosemite Valley on this road (41), you pass through a short tunnel and see the view as you exit the tunnel. There is a parking lot there so one can stop and enjoy the view of the major features of Yosemite Valley, including Capitan and Bridleveil Falls ( not Yosemite Falls which is too far up the valley). This is an iconic view of Yosemite Valley seen in many photographs.

Posted by
5664 posts

Tunnel view by Ansel Adams:
http://archv.sfmoma.org/explore/collection/artwork/9933

My big regret was not buying a Ansel Adams print in the late 1960s, but $25 was a lot of money on a student income.
http://www.anseladams.com/

From its origin in 1902 in a tent in the California wilderness, Best’s
Studio, dba The Ansel Adams Gallery, has evolved into a center that
celebrates the arts and the natural grandeur of our environment. The
Ansel Adams Gallery Village Mall Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

Posted by
1051 posts

Edgar,
I bought one of the $25 prints that was initialed by Ansel Adams. It is now worth $2,000. A friend of mine was very good friends with Ansel Adams. He knew I was a big fan and asked Ansel if he would send me a signed print. Ansel passed away before he mailed it. His biographer sent me a copy of his book instead. After Ansel's death, a picture that was for sale in 1969 in his Valley studio for $8,000 sold for $450,000. It's too bad we didn't have the money to buy a number of his prints.

Posted by
48 posts

Wow those are great stories! Any other up and coming photographers I should know about ?LOL

Posted by
12585 posts

Maybe Kevin Abosch. His "Potato #345" sold for over €1 million. You can scroll through to see what else he has done.

http://www.kevinabosch.com/pg02.html

But you do not need to spend big bucks to have a beautiful Ansel Adams photograph on your wall. Very good reproductions are available as prints, posters, and in calendars. They just aren't signed originals.