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Do I need a car in Yosemite - First week in April

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Do I need a car in Yosemite - First week in April

Hi There,

We are flying in from Europe to SF and then catching the Amtrak to Merced.

We are planning to stay at the Yosemite Valley Lodge for 4 nights.

A number of questions :

1. As I suspect access outside of the valley is pretty limited due to snow, does it make sense to rent a car into the valley at this time?

2. Without a car are there any innovative ways to get to the western area of the valley - apart from walking of course ( seems to me no car excludes the awesome tunnel view, gates of the valley, bridal veil falls, el cap, etc.. )?

3. The Yosemite Valley tour would get me to the western side of the park, but is anyone aware of exactly where this tour stops, enabling people to get out and take photos?

4. As a very keen photographer, I was wondering how easy it is to catch lifts with other likeminded individuals to these parts of the park ( is there a noticeboard posted at the ansel adams studio for this purpose for example? )

Logic tells me that only having a car will provide me the full level of access I want, but I just wanted to check first with the Yosemite guru's out there!

Thanks in advance!!!


Oakland, California
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
posts: 6,198
reviews: 26
1. Re: Do I need a car in Yosemite - First week in April

You pose an interesting question. In general, I would tell most people thatthey don't need a car this time of year. There are free shuttle busses between Curry Village, Yosemite Lodge and Yosemite Village/the Ahwahnee. There are also shuttles that can take you to Badger Pass and even to the Wawona. If you take the valley tram tour, your stops will include all the major photographic spots in the valley, including spots like the Tunnel View, El Capitan and Bridal Veil Falls.

However, if you are a serious photographer, you may want more time at some of these locations than the tour bus allows. Of course, you can always keep walking- the valley isnt THAT large- and a short walk form many of the populated spots can give you some great vistas (and a car wouldn't help you in that regard anyway) Nonetheless, you may be an example of someone who could benefit from having a car, especially if you want to stop for some views outside of the park. Just remember that you may still be deling with driving in inclement weather in April, if you decide to drive.

I don't know about the liklihood of catching a ride from fellow photographers, but I do know that there are regularly scheduled photography walks that usually start right there at the Lodge. You can find out about them at the "Yosemite Today" section at the parks's website, which is also published in a newspaper from when you arrive at the park. (If you take the bus there, you may have to ask at the lodge for a copy of it, and a map of the valley that are handed out to drivers when the enter the park.)

Saint Germain...
posts: 2,511
reviews: 76
2. Re: Do I need a car in Yosemite - First week in April

One day we decided to take a road trip up to Glacier Point, had a lovely little hike, tooks some photos and were returning to our car when we stumbled across a pair of our hotel guests who had a assumed a bus ride back down the hill they just climbed that had stopped running a few hours earlier. Needless to say, 1. its a small world! 2. They got a ride.

I don't suggest one goes out with the plan of hitching a ride with strangers, but if your phography session overwhelms you and you just can't leave with the bus, you might not have too great a problem finding like minded individuals on a whim. Perhaps you might meet up with folks at the museum, over dinner, maybe talking at breakfast...We have seen many shared events happen from here on a whim.

Have a great holiday!