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Yosemite suggestions
  
 
Kenj8246
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Yosemite suggestions


I'm Kenny, an old fart from College Station TX who likes to fool around with large format cameras and film. I'm tentatively planning either a mid- to late-April or mid- to late-October 2017 driving trip out to Yosemite. Driving because I don't care much for what flying has become and the idea of baggage-checking a case full of camera/lenses/filters/etc. fills me with dread, as I'm not independently wealthy. Mostly, I just love to ride thru the countryside and see what there is to see.

Considering my two target 'seasons', what can I expect weatherwise and otherwise? I reckon I want to shoot the tunnel view--I feel like I want those shots just because I'm there--and would like to know of other possibilities. Bear in mind that, while I'm still fairly mobile for the age of 70, I do have two prosthetic knees(my second set) and a prosthetic right shoulder and don't wanna beat myself up unnecessarily with a lot of packing. I plan to be there from a Sunday to a Wednesday; I'm renting a property for 4 days in Oakhurst; anything closer to the park is prohibitively expensive.

Thanks in advance for your knowledge and assistance. PMs work equally well if you're so inclined.

Have film, will waste it,
Kenny Johnson



Dec 14, 2016 at 02:33 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Yosemite suggestions


I photograph all over the park year-round. I would generally pick October over April myself.

It will be early spring in The Valley in April. Meadows will be starting to become green but there will still be winter-brown and wet areas. In early April you could even catch a snow flurry or two some years, and it could rain. When it is nice, you'll find generally comfortably warm temperatures. There will likely be some snow on the surrounding peaks. Crowds will not be nearly as bad as they are when the summer hordes arrive, though they have gotten bigger in the out-of-season times, too, recently. Water will likely be flowing on waterfalls, but not yet at peak. Tioga Pass Road will likely still be closed.

The first half of October is my very favorite time of the year in the high country. Crowds have diminished and fall colors are in place. You might see a snow flurry or two at this time, but more often the weather is beautiful though not terribly warm. Tioga Pass is likely to still be open. Mosquitos are gone for the season. In The Valley there are some fall colors by the end of the month. It will likely be dry and meadows will be golden brown. There won't be much water in the waterfalls unless a good sized rain storm comes in.

Dan



Dec 14, 2016 at 07:23 PM
Kenj8246
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Yosemite suggestions


Thanks, Dan. This tracks with what I've heard from others and is making me warm up to the October timeframe.

Kenny



Dec 14, 2016 at 08:08 PM
Craig Gillette
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Yosemite suggestions


We made a trip in mid to late April one year and stayed in Mariposa. Not as convenient as some of the other possibilities but not too bad. One advantage is that it's less likely to be a snow problem. That particular trip e actually had some snow issues and the Wawona Road was closed temporarily then had chain controls for a while. Also just missed snow lasting in the valley overnight as the family wasn't great at rushing to the car in the morning. There was snow in the high country and Glacier Point and Tioga Roads were, as expected, closed. The trails were open and roads clear to Mariposa Grove. That won't be the case until summer 2017? now. Other groves are available and also several other parks' groves are accessible as well. It happened to be a particularly good wild flower year in the hills/canyon below the Park and on our approach routes.

Otherwise, I do think October is a better choice, keeping in mind the fall time frame may be very dry for the water falls although some streams and river flows are pretty much year round if greatly reduced by then. The high country should be open for the most part. Interestingly enough, looking quickly at a few of the old pics from April 2002 and the more recent trips, there is a lot of similarity to the clouds and snow on the higher portions of the rocks and cliffs surrounding the valley in post storm pics. There also is the potential for fall colors, the oaks and big leaf maple in the valley and sometimes maybe even some yellow up the cracks in the cliffs, etc. dogwood offers color in the higher elevations as well.

As others have pointed out, storms aside, the high country roads and especially Tioga Road access to the high country and eastern Sierra is generally possible in October and almost certainly not going to be available in April. That includes Mono Lake and areas like Bodie that can be explored as well, although that can be a bit of a drive from lodging west or south of the valley. But that's a possible entry route coming from the east though maybe even Death Valley and Owens Valley.



Dec 16, 2016 at 06:27 AM
Greg Campbell
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Yosemite suggestions


How much total time will you have? Driving from Texas in October opens up a wide variety places to visit en passant. Death Valley, White Mountain Bristlecones, Alabama Hills, fall color along the Eastern Slope of the Sierra Range, etc. It time allows, you might even schedule a few leisurely days in northern Az and N.M, and/or S. Utah. The possibilities are just about endless.



Dec 16, 2016 at 06:21 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Yosemite suggestions


Speaking of the east slopes of the Sierra, the time frame for best autumn aspen color there is roughly the first two weeks of October, though in the right locations it can extend perhaps a week (in many cases) either side of that. This is not a great time for fall color in Yosemite, though, generally speaking. There is some aspen color in the Yosemite NP high country, but overall not nearly as good as that along the eastern escarpment of the range, and Yosemite Valley color comes much later, more likely the last week of October or even the first week of November. (There can be fall color along roads come into the Valley from the north and south a bit earlier.)

If one wants to do a sort of fall color grand tour, this is also possible. Great aspen color in the Rockies (and other places, such as some Utah locations where I photograph) comes a week or two before the good color in the Sierra. More great low country color comes to places like (again, my favorite) Utah later in the month of October, following the Sierra aspen color.

Of course, we are now moving pretty far from Yosemite Valley... but around November 1 The Valley can produce some interesting subjects with its own fall color and the potential reinvigoration of waterfalls if early rains come.

The Valley can be good any time, but here are a few of my thoughts connected to seasonal changes.

January through first half of March is pretty much winter in the Valley. Snow in the Valley is not the norm, but it does happen. Snow on surrounding mountains is typical. Winter in the Valley is very special.

April to early May, the Valley is coming into spring, but the waterfalls are not generally yet consistently at their strongest, and spring plant life is coming up but not yet fully established. Especially in April, some winter weather is still possible.

Mid-May through June (and possibly into the beginning of July, depending on the season's precipitation) is the time of peak waterfall flow. The Valley is typically warm and sunny, there is water everywhere, meadows are green, and wildflowers are starting to appear. The hordes of tourist are also beginning to arrive.

July and August are hot and crowded times in the Valley. There can be a lot to see, and Yosemite is always a place of beauty, but it can feel more like urban rush hour at times. The temperatures can be quite warm. Waterfalls still flow but are noticeably diminishing, and meadows are going to begin to go brown later in this period.

September is a transition time. There are still crowds, particularly through Labor Day, and in recent years the crowds have dropped less after this weekend, unfortunately. Weekends can be especially busy. September is a hot time in California, and it is also the peak wildfire season, so it isn't unusual for wildfire smoke to have some effect on visibility at times.

October typically begins to bring some winter-type (but still usually quite mild) storms to the Sierra, occasionally dropping snow flurries on the high country, but typically not affecting the Valley that much, at least until the end of the month. Crowds diminish and things seem to slow down, and the weather moderates, with comfortable or even cool days becoming more common. The wildfire season culminates, typically with the first real rain that might come by mid-October.

November is a real transition month. While October still felt summer like in many ways, November days begin to feel more and more like winter. Valley autumn color peaks in perhaps the first week of the month, if not a bit earlier. Rain is likely at times. If they didn't close in late October, high country roads almost always close in November.

December brings winter conditions as Pacific weather fronts appear more regularly. The high walls of the Valley can make parts of it remain quite cold. Snow will be present on surrounding peaks. The day after a snowstorm can bring some of the most beautiful conditions to the Valley... along with miserable driving!

Dan



Dec 16, 2016 at 07:21 PM
Kenj8246
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Yosemite suggestions


Greg Campbell wrote:
How much total time will you have? Driving from Texas in October opens up a wide variety places to visit en passant. Death Valley, White Mountain Bristlecones, Alabama Hills, fall color along the Eastern Slope of the Sierra Range, etc. It time allows, you might even schedule a few leisurely days in northern Az and N.M, and/or S. Utah. The possibilities are just about endless.


Hey, Greg. I'm giving myself 2-3 driving days either way and from a Saturday to Thursday on location. Yeah, those endless possibilities will have to be, mostly, ignored this time. I only have a finite amount of annual leave.

Kenny



Dec 16, 2016 at 09:00 PM
 

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Kenj8246
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Yosemite suggestions


Dan, as of right now, I'm looking at being on site October 21 thru October 25, 2017 with 2-3 days either side for driving from and back to College Station TX. Also thinking I may take Dan(dswiger) up on his offer to serve as a guide. We'll see on that.

I'll be shooting mostly 4X5 film in a Chamonix field camera and, although I can pack it, I'm not interested in doing a bunch of packing. I'm mobile enough at my age but I usually wind up paying a price for a lot of hiking. I hiked McKittrick Canyon in the Guadalupe Mtns this past October and it took me a couple days to 'get right'. Rheumatoid arthritis can be a cold-hearted bitch.

Kenny



Dec 16, 2016 at 09:11 PM
Greg Campbell
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Yosemite suggestions


Kenj8246 wrote:
Hey, Greg. I'm giving myself 2-3 driving days either way and from a Saturday to Thursday on location. Yeah, those endless possibilities will have to be, mostly, ignored this time. I only have a finite amount of annual leave.

Kenny


OK.

Socorro or Roswell NM are about a day away from home. On first Saturday of October, tour the Trinity Site, then check out the VLA open house west of Socorro as you head west on 60. Or head to Albuquerque for the Balloon Fest dawn lauch. Continue to somewhere near Flagstaff for the night, leaving a tolerable (~9 hour) dive to Mariposa / Oakhurst on Day 3.

Or maybe spend a few hours at one of the badlands in N. New Mexico?
Bisti, Ojito, and half a dozen other areas beckon!
http://www.americansouthwest.net/new_mexico/index.shtml

Any of these would offer a few hours of needed leg-stretching without greatly impinging on your Yosemite time.



Dec 17, 2016 at 12:08 AM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Yosemite suggestions


Kenj8246 wrote:
Dan, as of right now, I'm looking at being on site October 21 thru October 25, 2017 with 2-3 days either side for driving from and back to College Station TX. Also thinking I may take Dan(dswiger) up on his offer to serve as a guide. We'll see on that.

I'll be shooting mostly 4X5 film in a Chamonix field camera and, although I can pack it, I'm not interested in doing a bunch of packing. I'm mobile enough at my age but I usually wind up paying a price for a lot of hiking. I hiked McKittrick Canyon in the
...Show more

October 21-25 is past the time for East Side color, at least for the most part, but color should be starting in The Valley. On the roads into the Valley from either Oakhurst or Groveland (but not Mariposa) you'll see dogwood and oak and other color.

Once in The Valley you'll be able to get to plenty of lovely places without a long hike for which you'll likely be grateful with that gear on your back! Have a great trip.

Dan



Dec 17, 2016 at 07:16 PM
dalite
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Yosemite suggestions


Greg Campbell wrote:
How much total time will you have? Driving from Texas in October opens up a wide variety places to visit en passant. Death Valley, White Mountain Bristlecones, Alabama Hills, fall color along the Eastern Slope of the Sierra Range, etc. It time allows, you might even schedule a few leisurely days in northern Az and N.M, and/or S. Utah. The possibilities are just about endless.

_______
Either April or October (the consensus is October), driving the Southern route is safer and avoids high country and snow conditions.




Dec 24, 2016 at 01:02 AM
Greg Campbell
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Yosemite suggestions


dalite wrote:
_______
Either April or October (the consensus is October), driving the Southern route is safer and avoids high country and snow conditions.



If being 'safe' is the primary concern, the OP should skip this recklessly DANGEROUS driving trip altogether!



Dec 25, 2016 at 05:00 AM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Yosemite suggestions


dalite wrote:
_______
Either April or October (the consensus is October), driving the Southern route is safer and avoids high country and snow conditions.



Most of the time in October the road conditions are fine in the Sierra. You might get a bit of snow and perhaps a one-day closure, but that is typically the exception rather than the rule.

Dan



Dec 26, 2016 at 01:49 AM
Kenj8246
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Yosemite suggestions


Greg Campbell wrote:
If being 'safe' is the primary concern, the OP should skip this recklessly DANGEROUS driving trip altogether!


reckessly DANGEROUS? You can't be serious, Greg. You don't even know me and you make assumptions. tsk, tsk.



Dec 29, 2016 at 05:48 PM







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