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Yosemite in Winter? + Driving in America

Travel Forums North America Yosemite in Winter? + Driving in America

1. Posted by MaxineK (Budding Member 45 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!


I was thinking of heading to Yosemite National Park in mid December - is it recommended? Below is an excerpt from their Website. I'm not familiar with the different sections of the Park so I'm not sure if it is worth visiting at this time of year...Does anyone have any suggestions?

"Areas to visit: While Yosemite Valley and Wawona remain accessible by car all year, the Tioga Road is closed (usually by sometime in November). Once closed for the season, vehicles are not permitted between Crane Flat and Tioga Pass, including in the Tuolumne Meadows area. The road to Glacier Point is also closed (usually sometime in November). However from mid-December though early April, the Glacier Point/Badger Pass Road is plowed to the Badger Pass Ski Area, where both downhill and cross-country skiing are popular. Tire chains are often required on park roads. When they are, you must carry and know how to use them, regardless of the type of vehicle you are driving"

Also, I was thinking of driving between Los Angeles and Las Vegas as well as between Las Vegas and San Francisco (spending a few nights in Las Vegas)- what's the drive like in both of these legs or am I better just to fly?


2. Posted by Ham Radio (Respected Member 285 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

As a Californian, I like Yosemite off-season due to lack of tourists. The park can be stunning in winter. That being said, many scenic parts are closed for the season so you should weigh the importance of those portions to the overall experience you are seeking. Personally, if you can time a future trip to see Yosemite in mid-to-late April you will be rewarded with great weather, all the waterfalls flowing with snowmelt and light crowds.

Going between LAX and Las Vegas then on to SFO, consider flying. There is major road construction occuring on the California portion of Interstate 15 which causes periodic delays. Each airport in LA area has many convenient flights (recommend Southwest Airlines) and the flight is about one hour.

You'll find the trip from Las Vegas to SFO much easier by air unless you like spending a lot of "windshield time" driving long stretches. This will give you more time in the Bay Area to enjoy the sights.

No matter your choice, have a great trip.

3. Posted by Jim Colyer (Budding Member 27 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

I have been to Yosemite but not sure I would want to be there in winter.

4. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2012 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

While winter sports are great in Yosemite in winter, one of the main attractions/points of great beauty are the many waterfalls, and they freeze solid then! You might consider Lake Tahoe also (on the California-Nevada border) - also a winter sports area but the bonus is top casinos in S. Lake Tahoe, Nevada (you can fly into the Reno airport and shuttle to the lake).

5. Posted by MaxineK (Budding Member 45 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Thank you all for your responses!
I guess it depends on whether it would fit into my itinerary without too much hassle as well. I plan to do the following:

LA for 3 days
Las Vegas for 4 days
San Francisco for 4 days
Sacramento for 3 days
New York for 7 days

If I was to visit Yosemite, would it be better to do it between Las Vegas and San Francisco?
Also, if anyone has any suggestions on places to visit/things to do in any of these cities, I would be greatly appreciative :)


6. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2012 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

I'm sure you don't want my input, but here it is anyway:

LA for 1 day
San Diego for 2 days
Las Vegas for 3 days
San Francisco for 5 days
Sacramento for 1 day
Washington or Boston for 5 days
New York for 4 days

7. Posted by mugsy10 (Budding Member 19 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

i know that it is matter of opinion but, whilst in california, i would definately recomend joshua tree national park (which i just loved) and lake tahoe (beautiful place and i imagine ten times more beautiful in winter)

i would probably not bother with sacramento, i did only spend the day there but it did nothing for me.

new york is just awesome, but, i agree with daawagon, four days is a suffiecient amount of time, which could be better spent taking in another place.

8. Posted by melwurmus (Budding Member 22 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Regarding the road closures in Yosemite, that's mostly the eastern entrance side of the park.

I drove from Santa Barbara (N of LA) to Vegas in roughly 6 hours last November.

As for Vegas to SF, you could go via Lake Tahoe and Sacramento or through the Death Valley, up to Yosemite and then Sacramento.
Personally at that time of year I would go via Lake Tahoe, we only stopped in Sacramento for a few hours and had a good time, I'm not sure about spending more time there.
So you could use the 3 days instead for a leisurely drive from Vegas to SF, and either way the scenery is awesome.

We always drive to the Valley of Fire (W of Vegas) and I love the Death Valley.


9. Posted by MaxineK (Budding Member 45 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Thank-you all for your input!

I will be staying in Sacramento for a few days as I know some people who live there. I will most likely take a day trip out while I'm there so I can see a bit more of California.