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Route 49 to Yosemite?

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new hampshire
posts: 227
reviews: 37
Route 49 to Yosemite?

We will be leaving on a Sunday morning for Yosemite and then on to Death Valley and Las Vegas. It looks like rte 49 will be more scenic than the other routes so was thinking of going rte 49 to 140. we have reservations in El Portal for the night. I believe I'll have plenty of time to see any sights on this rte, which appear to be gold rush towns?

Thanks

41 replies to this topic
San Francisco...
posts: 3,178
reviews: 109
1. Re: Route 49 to Yosemite?

Where are you leaving from?

new hampshire
posts: 227
reviews: 37
2. Re: Route 49 to Yosemite?

sacramento...coming in on Saturday night via Amtrak

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
posts: 39,525
reviews: 74
3. Re: Route 49 to Yosemite?

Well, you could drive over to Hwy 49 around Coloma and enjoy some of the Gold Rush Country. Here is a past thread with ideas that *might* apply. tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28926-i29-k4475035

However, most folks would drive into Yosemite's Big Oak Flat Entrance and enjoy some of the National Park on Sunday morning and then head out the Arch Rock Entrance to El Portal for the night. Or maybe they'd head down to Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and then work their way north.

How many nights will you be staying in El Portal?

new hampshire
posts: 227
reviews: 37
4. Re: Route 49 to Yosemite?

We are only in El Portal one night and I was actually thinking of going 49 to 120 then to El Portal for night. We will then be heading out Monday morning over Tioga Pass after spending more time in Yosemite. We aren't hikers so seeing the beautiful country by car and stopping to see sights is what we do.

California
posts: 803
5. Re: Route 49 to Yosemite?

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park is in Coloma, CA.

Go to www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=484

This is the very first place where gold was discovered in California. James Marshall was the first person to discover gold. He was working for John Sutter at Sutter's sawmill - in what is now called Coloma - when he spotted flecks of gold. Both men agreed to keep it a secret but Mr. Sutter was not good at keeping his mouth shut.

A HIGHWAY 49 TIME SAVER TIP LEAVING SACRAMENTO:

If you want to condense your drive time along Highway 49 (and prefer to not start exploring Highway 49 as far north as Coloma or Placerville), here is a "locals" short cut from Sacramento to Highway 49, linking you to 49 just a mile south of Plymouth, CA. This route avoids approximately 20 miles of slow-n-go stoplights along Highway 16 and saves gobs of time. (In my opinion, Plymouth is an unremarkable little town although it is in a region of 25 to 30 wineries, most of them along Stiner Road.)

________________________________________

Leave Sacramento via Highway 50.

EAST on 50.

EXIT Highway 50 at LaTrobe Road in El Dorado Hills, CA.

SOUTH on LaTrobe Road to Highway 16.

EAST on 16 to Highway 49.

SOUTH on 49 to Highway 120.

EAST on 120 through Groveland, CA to Big Oak Flat Entrance of Yosemite

_________________________________

NOT TO MISS is SUTTER CREEK and AMADOR CITY. In their vicinity, Highway 49 was straightened out a few years ago and in so doing, it by-passes these hamlets. Be sure to look for their turn-offs. Hands down, you will definitely enjoy these villages.

Concord, California
Destination Expert
for Sacramento, Puerto Vallarta
posts: 9,043
reviews: 105
6. Re: Route 49 to Yosemite?

Definitely do 120 (not 140 --- that took us much of the day a few years ago as 49 gets fairly slow and narrow at a point) and Notafan's shortcut looks interesting (we usually take 16 and do spend the day in Plymouth, having friends with a vineyard in the Shenandoah Valley but thanks for the shortcut info).

Good advice about taking off from the main part of 49 near the villages though ---- the new Highway 49 saves time but skips the treasures on the old highway. Worthwhile to slow down and take the old highway.

Just a side note on the above post though. John Sutter and James Marshall did agree to keep the news of the January, 1848 gold discovery secret (and they did) but they sent a colleague who was there at the time of the discovery (Charles Bennett) down to Monterey to speak with Gov. Mason about getting a land grant for the area around Sutter's Mill. It was Indian land at the time.

Even though Bennett wasn't supposed to tell anyone about the gold, he stopped for the evening at the Von Pfister Store in Benicia (which served as a General Store by day and tavern/hotel by night). In his excitement (or tipsiness), Bennett shared the *secret* with several men at the bar. He had gold samples with him and showed them to the men. The word got around fast (almost like having social media then) and shortly, the entire population of able-bodied men in Benicia was headed for the hills. Upon his arrival across the bay in San Francisco, he did the same thing. The rest is history.

So, it wasn't John Sutter who couldn't keep his mouth shut. It was Charles Bennett. And, immediately after that, Sam Brannan (very influential) heard about it in San Francisco and blabbed about it, all while Sutter was trying to keep it quiet.

Having lived in Benicia much of my life, that is the official history presented by the Benicia Historical Society and the Benicia Historical Museum --- also according to State of California records. Additional side note --- there is an effort currently (unless they've finished it lately) to preserve the Von Pfister Store on the National Register of Historic Places. Very important to California history --- so, for this trip, Coloma and Sutter's Mill is out of the way on the way to Yosemite, but maybe another time. ;=))

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
posts: 39,525
reviews: 74
7. Re: Route 49 to Yosemite?

I'd recommend a totally different plan. (Your current plan allows about 3 hours in Yosemite National Park. It's 1200 square miles!)

From SF, drive to the South Entrance of Yosemite NP (Hwy 99 to 145 to 41.) Enter the National Park and park here or 4 miles away in Wawona. Take the shuttle to Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Then walk around a bit among some huge Giant Sequoias or take the $26 audio tram tour. Back to your car.

Drive about an hour to Glacier Point for some absolutely fabulous views. Very little walking required. Stop at Washburn Point as well. You'll see famous waterfalls with a great "overview" view.

Drive down toward the Valley, stopping at Tunnel View and maybe Bridalveil Fall. Then continue to El Portal.

The next day, maybe make a scenic drive to Yosemite Valley again or maybe skip it. Then head out Tioga Road / Hwy 120 through Tuolumne Meadows.

California
posts: 803
8. Re: Route 49 to Yosemite?

I believe the OP are leaving from Sacramento, not SF.

If leaving from SF, the directions and itinerary of PacificNWFamily work very well.

________________________

Marly,

Thanks for the official story about who spilled the news about finding gold. That's cool!

And you're welcome about the *locals* secret time-saver from Sacramento to Highway 49. It's a real pretty drive, too. There is one stop sign about mid-point in the middle of nowhere -- just keep going straight til you meet up with Highway 16.

It's interesting -- I remember when the LaTrobe exit had a boulevard stop sign at the bottom of the off-ramp. And just pastures with cattle everywhere you looked. That same off-ramp today? OH MY GOSH --

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
posts: 39,525
reviews: 74
9. Re: Route 49 to Yosemite?

Ooops. Sorry about that detail. (Thanks for the catch, Nota.) Just head down Hwy 99.

Concord, California
Destination Expert
for Sacramento, Puerto Vallarta
posts: 9,043
reviews: 105
10. Re: Route 49 to Yosemite?

No problem, notafan. After studying Cal history for years in the university system and also living in Benicia and belonging to those two organizations I mentioned, I just couldn't let that one sit. Thanks for understanding.

Yes, the OP is arriving in Sacramento tonight (I think, by the way the second post was phrased) via Amtrak and I like that shortcut. If I didn't have to periodically go to Plymouth to see my friends (who sell their old vine Zin to Renwood), I'd be spending more time on the backroads of 49 myself. I miss going through Sutter Creek and Amador City these days. We used to take those week=end trips several times each year, mostly in the Spring to also go to Daffodil Hill.

Hope we haven't confused the OP too much and I hope they arrive from their train trip rested and ready to hit the road! I'm jealous. Could use an Amtrak/Yosemite/Death Valley trip (would skip Vegas). ;=))

Edited: 12:13 pm, June 29, 2013
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