Mid April: Redwood NP or Yosemite NP?

Old Mar 7th, 2022, 08:50 AM
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Mid April: Redwood NP or Yosemite NP?

I will be flying into Reno (spending no time there), and visiting one of these two NPs + SF (2-3 days), then drive back to Reno. Trip total is 10 days. I should have at least 4-5 days for the NP. Yosemite is certainly more spectacular but higher portion of the park will be closed. I'm not sure if trails in the valley will be doable (we will bring spikes but no snowshoes or xc ski). There is no lodging available in the valley but some availablity 30 minutes away. Which one would you recommend in April?

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Old Mar 7th, 2022, 10:01 AM
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Both are great but with Reno in the mix I'd probably do a mixture of Yosemite + some of the gorgeous Gold Rush country along hwy 49 north of YNP. April is the best time of year in teh Gold Rush foothills when everything is green. Columbia, Amador City, vineyards/wineries, wildflowers - just wonderful that time of year.

By 30 minutes from YNP --- where do you mean exactly. Some places that are '30 minutes from Yosemite' are actually 90 minutes to 2 hours from Yosemite Valley. Stay in El Portal at Yosemite View Lodge -- it actually is less than 20 minutes from Yosemite Valley (and 5 minutes from the park entrance)
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Old Mar 7th, 2022, 10:05 AM
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If you decide to go to Yosemite, you might keep checking for in-park lodging. People often book ahead and then cancel when it gets closer to the arrival date.
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Old Mar 7th, 2022, 10:10 AM
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Redwood National Park was actually designated long after the State of California had "cherry picked" some of the best redwood groves for inclusion in various state parks such as Jedediah Smith Redwoods, Humboldt Redwoods, etc., most of which - but not all - are accessed off US 101. From Yosemite and Reno, it's a major schlep at any time of year.

I agree with Janis that the gold rush country plus Yosemite is a fabulous destination in April. If you want to see some spectacular trees, drive to Calaveras Big Trees State Park, on CA 4 up from the gold rush town of Murphys. The giant sequoias there will knock your socks off.
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Old Mar 7th, 2022, 10:40 AM
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I was actually looking at Yosemite View Lodge; it has availability and looks great. The other option is Yosemite West. Mariposa would be the last resort.

I have not heart of the Gold Rush Country. Will have to do a bit more research on that. Calaveras Big Trees State Park also looks nice, I appreciate the recommendation.
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Old Mar 7th, 2022, 12:56 PM
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You can satisfy your taste for redwoods at Mariposa Grove of 500 sequoia trees in Yosemite.
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Old Mar 7th, 2022, 03:18 PM
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Sequoias are not the same species as coast redwoods.
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Old Mar 7th, 2022, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by PrairieHikerII View Post
You can satisfy your taste for redwoods at Mariposa Grove of 500 sequoia trees in Yosemite.
Nope -- as Gardyloo says they are different animals. Coastal redwoods are the really really tall ones along the coast, and giant Sequoias are the really really big around ones in the Sierra.. Plus the grove at Calaveras Big Trees is more impressive . . . plus plus Mariposa Grove is only accessible by snowshoe at that time of year.
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Old Mar 8th, 2022, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Nope -- as Gardyloo says they are different animals. Coastal redwoods are the really really tall ones along the coast, and giant Sequoias are the really really big around ones in the Sierra.. Plus the grove at Calaveras Big Trees is more impressive . . . plus plus Mariposa Grove is only accessible by snowshoe at that time of year.
Okay, I stand corrected. They are different species but look similar in a way. I've only been to Sequoia National Park. Calaveras Big Trees State Park is about 2.5 hours from Yosemite but might be worth a day trip.
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Old Mar 8th, 2022, 07:41 AM
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We visited Yosemite last year in April and stayed in Oakhurst and it was a fairly long drive both to and then into the park, so I think staying inside the park is a good idea. You are right that much of the park still had snow, including the highway 120 across Tioga Pass to Lee Vining which is supposed to be a beautiful drive but last year anyway they were estimating that it wouldn't be open until after Memorial Day. If you get near there the semi-famous Whoa Nellie Deli at the Mobil gas station is a fun stop:
https://sierranevadageotourism.org/e...3-ae0b472bbc03

Also, I just wanted to add the drive on highway 49 can be very slow and extremely challenging with hairpin turns. When we drove it last year, we so a large truck going then other way and commented that we couldn't believe seeing a truck of that size and about 10 minutes later saw an ambulance, fire trucks, etc. headed that way. So give yourself time is you decide to take that route. Just be sure to check out the route and now that some portions are challenging. We have driven the CA coast roads, scary roads in Spain and Italy, and the drive along 49 is right up there on the white knuckle chart
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Old Mar 8th, 2022, 07:45 AM
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"Calaveras Big Trees State Park is about 2.5 hours from Yosemite but worth a day trip. "

But it is only 20 miles from Angels Camp and Colombia gold rush towns and hwy 49 which is what we were recommending. Not as a day trip from Yosemite but in addition to Yosemite.

(Actually, In April it is easier to get to Calaveras Big Trees than it is to Mariposa Grove).
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Old Mar 8th, 2022, 07:51 AM
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jpie: We were posting at the same time -- I am truly curious which parts of hwy 49 you found so difficult. Now, IF you were talking about hwy 120 (one of the routes from hwy 49 to Yosemite) I could understand. But IME/IMO most of hwy 49 is totally benign. Highway 120 is as you described.
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Old Mar 8th, 2022, 07:53 AM
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Mariposa Grove is in the opposite direction of Reno. Calaveras Big Trees is on the way. Check out the cute town of Murphys or even spend a night. Wine tasting opportunities all along the way: Murphys, Plymouth, Sutter Creek, to name a few.
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Old Mar 8th, 2022, 10:57 AM
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Jedediah Smith State Park has an astounding redwood grove. This is more notable than Redwood NP, which has some great walk-in campsites near the beach, but is not as impressive. The experience of visiting this grove is very different from the sequoias.
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Old Mar 8th, 2022, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by shelemm View Post
Jedediah Smith State Park has an astounding redwood grove. This is more notable than Redwood NP, which has some great walk-in campsites near the beach, but is not as impressive. The experience of visiting this grove is very different from the sequoias.
The coastal redwood forests feel like pacific NW.
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Old Mar 9th, 2022, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by bh2367 View Post
The coastal redwood forests feel like pacific NW.
But they are not as majestic.
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Old Mar 9th, 2022, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
jpie: We were posting at the same time -- I am truly curious which parts of hwy 49 you found so difficult. Now, IF you were talking about hwy 120 (one of the routes from hwy 49 to Yosemite) I could understand. But IME/IMO most of hwy 49 is totally benign. Highway 120 is as you described.
First of all, sorry for my typos on my earlier post-I was headed out the door and didn't spellcheck. The stretch we drove was from Copperopolis to Oakhurst, which according to google maps is the highway 120 or 49 depending on which stretch you talking about. I think it was the stretch between Coulterville and Bear Valley on 49.

Here's what a travel blog says:

"Yet, parts of the 49 Highway are still quite curvy, with the section between Mariposa and Coulterville especially twisty with impressive and a bit intimidating steep drop-offs to the river canyons below."

And this is from two accident attorney sites:

"This 40-mile long highway in Merced County has a 15-mile stretch that can be hellish and often sees head-on collisions. From Bear Valley to Coulterville," a driver will encounter sharp turns and twisting roadway, which can be intimidating for unfamiliar drivers who drive cautiously slow. On the other hand, drivers who regularly use Highway 49 know how to navigate the turns at a faster speed, including motorcyclists who routinely ride on this scenic road. Faster drivers and motorcyclists pass slower drivers on the left side, which is an invitation for head-on collisions should an oncoming vehicle suddenly come around a bend."

"Although it ranks 84th for the number of deaths, California's state Route 49 is the most deadly road by the number of people killed per accident. For every 100 fatal crashes, 146.4 deaths occurred."
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Old Mar 9th, 2022, 07:31 AM
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SR 49 is twisty in places, but I certainly don't find it intimidating nor dangerous feeling. Of course using caution on 2-lane roads is always a good idea, and slow down in inclement weather. One of the benefits of touring the gold country is that there are numerous places to stay, and every little town offers unique lodging and dining experiences.

And while SR 49 is the principal highway through the area, there are numerous side roads that offer their own little towns and outstanding scenery. Here's a hotel in the tiny town of Volcano, for example. Map showing these samples - https://goo.gl/maps/zSt1yCsPnk4fFqph9 Also use Google's "street view" to preview some of the roads. Here's the approach to Volcano - https://goo.gl/maps/beT43b8Qnw378YkS7



Last edited by Gardyloo; Mar 9th, 2022 at 07:42 AM.
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Old Mar 9th, 2022, 07:50 AM
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jpie: "I think it was the stretch between Coulterville and Bear Valley on 49. "

Between Coulterville and Bear Valley is just about the most 'winding' section of the entire 300 mile length of Hwy 49 and there is a VERY twisty section between Bagby (south of Coulterville) and Bear Valley - much worse than anything on hwy 120. You did survive a really white knuckle section Even in the roadster I try to avoid that bit.

However that section isn't really relevant to this itinerary. It wouldn't affect the OP if he was driving from Yosemite Valley up to the Gold Rush towns because he'd join Hwy 49 north of Coulterville at Moccasin. (Now, there IS about 4 miles of very twisty road on 120 between Groveland and Moccasin but after that the rest of the drive is easy)
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Old Mar 9th, 2022, 10:32 AM
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Gardyloo, I stayed in that Volcano hotel many moons ago! We had "moose milk" at the bar, ate delicious prime rib that we could smell cooking all day, and thoroughly enjoyed the old-timeyness of it all. I went to a private boarding school in Sutter Creek in 6th grade, and one of my classmates' family ran the old Jug & Rose Confectionary just up from that hotel. If you know whereof I speak, you'll recall those wonderful sourdough pancake breakfasts and the fancy ice cream sundaes. Some great memories.
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