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Tunnel vs. El Portal...same thing?

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Seattle, WA
posts: 56
reviews: 70
Tunnel vs. El Portal...same thing?

Hi...a little confused about the best entrance to come thru...staying in Oakhurst, but don't mind driving farther to go thru the "tunnel" everyone talks about...is that El Portal? Which hwy do we take...140 or 41? :)

7 replies to this topic
San Diego...
posts: 8,347
reviews: 29
1. Re: Tunnel vs. El Portal...same thing?

If you are staying in Oakhurst, you will go north on Highway 41 for about 15 minutes to the park's entrance, and then to get to Yosemite Valley just continue north on Highway 41 for about 45 minutes. You will come to, and go through, the Wawona Tunnel, which is 4,233 feet long, and when you emerge from the tunnel you will be at the famous "Tunnel View" viewpoint with the classic view of Yosemite Valley from its west end. The last time we were there, there were new signs calling it "Yosemite Valley Overlook" but it is still widely known as "Tunnel View." Turn right into the small parking lot and walk to the wall to see the view of Yosemite Valley including El Capitan on the left, Bridalveil Fall on the right, and Half Dome visible in the distance in the middle. www.yosemitehikes.com/images/tunnel-view.jpg

Other optional side trips and sights you could include, after entering the park on Highway 41 but before getting to Yosemite Valley, include the Mariposa Grove (very near the park's entrance), the Wawona area with the Yosemite Pioneer History Center, and Glacier Point Road, which includes such sights as Washburn Point, Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome.

El Portal is a village on Highway 140, a different route into the park, and you will not be going through it on your way from Oakhurst to Yosemite Valley.

Edited: 12:09 am, May 06, 2012
Seattle, WA
posts: 56
reviews: 70
2. Re: Tunnel vs. El Portal...same thing?

Thank you so much! That really helped! :)

Tempe
posts: 4
reviews: 26
3. Re: Tunnel vs. El Portal...same thing?

I just returned from a trip going from Phoenix to Yosemite and back. We entered from the Tioga Pass entrance, drove the whole upper part, then stayed at a wonderful B & B just outside the Big Oak Flat Entrance. We stayed at Blackberry Inn which is between Yosemite and Groveland. It was just a short ride back to the park the next day. We headed back into the park, drove to Yosemite Valley, going through the "tunnel" then parked the car and rode the free shuttle bus. It was perfect. Just remember to take your backpack and water with you if you plan to hike. When we returned to our car, we headed down to exit out the Oakhurst area. I'm so glad we didn't enter there. It is a VERY long drive from there to the valley. I loved our trip and would suggest that route to anyone. Oakhurst doesn't offer much.

San Diego...
posts: 8,347
reviews: 29
4. Re: Tunnel vs. El Portal...same thing?

I'm confused as to which tunnel you are referring to in reply #3. If you were coming from Groveland, you would enter the park on Highway 120, then go to Big Oak Flat Road, then briefly on Highway 140 into Yosemite Valley, then turning left on Southside Drive through Yosemite Valley. That route wouldn't go through the Wawona Tunnel. If you wanted to see the "Tunnel View" overlook you would have to take a short detour after entering Yosemite Valley, turning right to go up to the Tunnel View overlook. If you enter the park from Oakhurst, you are on Highway 41 and you will automatically go through the Wawona Tunnel and emerge at Tunnel View on your way into Yosemite Valley.

Tempe
posts: 4
reviews: 26
5. Re: Tunnel vs. El Portal...same thing?

HMMMM! Guess you might be right. I'd have to look at our Yosemite map again. I didn't realize there was another tunnel near Wawona. It was such a long day of driving. I have pictures of us emerging from a tunnel just after entering from the Big Oak Flat Entrance so it must be another one. Sorry for the confusion.

San Diego...
posts: 8,347
reviews: 29
6. Re: Tunnel vs. El Portal...same thing?

The Wawona Tunnel isn't really close to Wawona. It is at the far western end of Yosemite Valley. Highway 41 goes through it. It's a very long tunnel, 4,233 feet if I recall correctly. That stretch of Highway 41 was also called Wawona Road and still may be called that on some maps.

There are, I think, 3 tunnels along Big Oak Flat Road between Groveland and Yosemite Valley, so you definitely did go through those on your way to Yosemite Valley. But the most famous tunnel in Yosemite is the Wawona Tunnel, which takes Highway 41 into Yosemite Valley and at the east end of it is the "Tunnel View" viewpoint, also called Yosemite Valley Overlook on the signs there now.

Tempe
posts: 4
reviews: 26
7. Re: Tunnel vs. El Portal...same thing?

That makes sense now! Thanks for clarifying. Either way, it was a beautiful experience.

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