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2 day trip to Yosemite for Veterans Day

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2 day trip to Yosemite for Veterans Day

I'm planning a trip to Yosemite for the Nov 10th Veterans Day weekend. This will be my first solo trip ever to a big national park. November seems to be a good time to beat the crowd and enjoy the views with solitude. I know I have to do a lot of homework to see what I can explore in the park, how to commute and where to stay but thought this will be a good start to get a decent idea. I want to spend 2 full days in the park. So far this is my plan.

Fly to SFO from Dallas on Thursday the 9th and reach there by 4 PM. Rent a car (preferably a midsize SUV with bendable back seats) and head to Yosemite by 8/9 PM. Park the car near the park somewhere safe, sleep in the car inside a sleeping bag for the night and probably head to Wawona early morning the next day where campgrounds on first come first serve basis are offered. Spend the next 2 days in the park and return to SF early morning on Sunday the 12th.

I'm thinking I can sleep in my car for the next 3 nights as well in one of the campgrounds. I want to do some moderate hikes during my stay. I have done a 10 miler in Big Bend, Narrows and Angels Landing in Zion in the past, so would like to do something in that league again. Have to research what will be open in November without any snow; don't have any plans to hike in the snow but if there are any exceptional viewpoints, might consider that.

I'm looking for advice on the following things:

1. How practical is it to sleep in the car in a warm sleeping bag for 4 nights in November?

2. If relying on a campground search on the morning of Friday the 10th is a wise option? If so, what alternatives apart from Wawona can I look for?

3. I know snow chains will be required during that time of the year. I've seen few posts where people have expressed concerns about using snow chains on rented cars, is this a problem? If yes, what alternatives do I have?

4. And finally, how can I better plan my 2 days to get the best experience hiking?

This is my first post here so kindly excuse me if I missed any community rules here. Looking forward to hearing some tips.

Cheers,

Vinay

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Dallas
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Texas
Wawona
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Yosemite National Park, CA
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1. Re: 2 day trip to Yosemite for Veterans Day

Hi Vinay, and welcome to TripAdvisor forums

1. Too cold for me! And where do you plan to 'wild camp' on the 9th when it's dark and you don't get to the area until late? Note that if your flight lands at 4 pm, you won't get that far by 8 pm (getting the rental car & afternoon Bay Area traffic.)

2. Try to snag a campsite reservation in the Valley. Read the camping info in the Top Questions on the right.

3. Chains are required to be carried as they may be made mandatory on any park road at any time. But if you install them on your rental car, you void the insurance. Your choice, but if the roads are bad enough to need tire chains, you might not want to be driving. Some folks ride the YARTS bus on Hwy 140 to access the Valley during snow. Some folks just stay put (don't drive) when there is snow and use the free Valley shuttles or their feet.

4. The Top Questions on the right has ideas. You need to be on the full TA website to see the Top Questions. Also check www.YosemiteHikes.com and the current newspaper. https:/…yg17-8.pdf

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2. Re: 2 day trip to Yosemite for Veterans Day

Welcome to trip advisor!

That weekend is a 'free' national parks weekend, so it will be a bit busier.

1. Have you looked into renting a van or SUV with seats that fold down? Or better yet a van conversion, like Jucy or Escape? Do you have a nice wam sleeping bag, extra blankets, etc?

2. Keep checking for campground cancellations, they happen. (Check 1 night at a time, and make the reservation if you see it. I currently see availability in Upper Pines on Sunday only)

3. Early November- you should be OK in Yosemite Valley. Of course check the weather... You can use YARTS Bus and stay in Half Dome Village or the Hostel in Midpines

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Upper Pines Campground
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150 Reviews
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Yosemite Valley
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Half Dome Village
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3. Re: 2 day trip to Yosemite for Veterans Day

Did you see the NPS website? FCFS camping in your car in November-- Wawona and Hodgdon Meadow. And since Friday is a holiday for many folks, you might have some difficulty finding a campsite on Friday-- I don't know, probably depends a bit on the weather forecast.

https:/…nrcamping.htm

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Wawona
Wawona
Yosemite National Park, CA
Hodgdon Meadow Campground
Hodgdon Meadow Campground
78 Reviews
Yosemite National Park, CA
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4. Re: 2 day trip to Yosemite for Veterans Day

Thanks for those questions. I searched a bit and found this on the NPS camping page. This pretty much rules out my wild-camping plan. Will look for a camping spot that night and for the rest of the nights.

"Within Yosemite National Park, you may not sleep in your car or RV except in a campsite that you're registered to stay in (except at Camp 4, where sleeping in cars is not allowed because it's a walk-in campground). Sleeping in your car along the side of the road is also not allowed."

One question regarding the commute. Do you know if snow chains are needed to enter Yosemite? If conditions are not right that day, I will take the YARTS or the shuttles. I have to anyway rent a car for traveling from SF.

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5. Re: 2 day trip to Yosemite for Veterans Day

I'm not planning to rent a minivan or big SUV since it is just me traveling and would also like to keep the expenses low. At the maximum, I might rent an AWD midsize SUV. And even if I do decide on what car to rent, I pretty sure I can't be guaranteed that vehicle at the airport rental car centers. As a backup option, I will carry a 2 person tent and a sleeping bag. Any suggestions for a warm tent? I already have a Coleman sleeping bag although I doubt if it would be enough for those temperatures.

I will keep looking for campsites as you mentioned on a 1-night basis.

Sleeping Bag:

https://www.amazon.com/Coleman-Trinidad-Warm-Weather-Sleeping-Bag/dp/B00363X1DQ/ref=sr_1_6?s=outdoor-recreation&ie=UTF8&qid=1507354819&sr=1-6&keywords=coleman+sleeping+bag

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6. Re: 2 day trip to Yosemite for Veterans Day

Sorry for posting too many responses. I can't seem to find a way to edit and add to my existing responses. I did found many open camping spots for Thursday night (9th) in Upper Pines. I have a flight landing in SF at 5 PM and will start maybe around 6 PM through highway 140 to Yosemite which means I'll be at the park by 10:30 PM hopefully.

Is it easy driving along that route in the dark? I drove many times during road trips in the past till late into the nights but being alone this time, I'm kinda feeling a bit over cautious. The thing with snow chains is another cause of concern. Looking for some words of encouragement :D

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Upper Pines Campground
Upper Pines Campground
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Yosemite National Park, CA
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7. Re: 2 day trip to Yosemite for Veterans Day

I would suggest taking Amtrak/Yarts for less than $40 San Francisco Transbay Temporary Terminal to Half Dome. No park entrance fee on Yarts.

Do not drive in dark. Animals on road.

Look for cancellations on campsites Fri Sat. Move back camping to Sun /Mon??

temperatures will likely be 35 F at night. I would get a mummy bag thru Wal Mart/Target rated to about 20 F just to be comfortable. likely $30/$40 Stay at a hostel in SF.

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Half Dome
Half Dome
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Yosemite National Park, CA
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8. Re: 2 day trip to Yosemite for Veterans Day

I have driven in the dark on Yosemite roads many times and have seen few animals. I've seen lots more icy curves and folks spun out because they were driving too fast for the conditions.

I don't think you'll encounter many animals though Merced, Mariposa, and alongside the Merced River to the Arch Rock Entrance. At that point, you'll be in the Park where the speed limit is 35 mph, but you may not want to travel that fast.

But using public transit might be easier for you. There isn't a "wrong" option.

That Coleman Trinidad sleeping bag you linked says "For temperatures 40⁰ F to 60⁰ F" Not warm enough. The Coleman Brazos is rated for temperatures 20⁰ F to 40⁰ F. I'd still bring warm "sleeping clothes", a warm hat, clean dry socks, and knit gloves.... all just to be worn at night.

If all this sounds too cold for you, consider the Yosemite Bug hostel in Midpines. It's about an hour from Yosemite Valley and is on the YARTS bus route, if it's snowy and you don't want to drive.

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Merced
Merced
California
Mariposa
Mariposa
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Yosemite Valley
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Yosemite National Park, CA
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9. Re: 2 day trip to Yosemite for Veterans Day

Chains-- keep an eye on the weather, have a back up plan. YARTS and Yosemite Bug Hostel is a good backup plan.

Sleeping Bag- I agree, with lows around freezing, you want something rated to 20 degrees to be comfortable. If you already own that sleeping bag, bring a warm blanket too.

Campsites- check for cancellations multiple times per day. But have a couple of back-up plans for FCFS Campgrounds. First choice in Yosemite, second choice one of the BLM Campgrounds outside of Yosemite?? https:/…

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10. Re: 2 day trip to Yosemite for Veterans Day

Public transport is the best option but the only reason I'm not inclined towards it is the lack of time. I only have 2 days to explore the park and that too with shorter days being winter. I will monitor the weather conditions and will take public transport if needed. Thank you for the tips.

Will buy a warmer sleeping bag for lower temperature ratings and carry some warm clothes. Dorms in Yosemite Bug Rustic seem like an excellent backup option. Cheap and comfortable. Did anyone stay in these dorms before? Are they good for solo travelers?

Will also look for BLM sites around Yosemite. I will go early in the morning to one of the FCFS campsites in the park to get one if can't find a reservation. Don't want to lose the camps both inside and outside the park due to commute between here and there :)

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