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Big Sur and Yosemite

Level Contributor
8 posts
Big Sur and Yosemite

Hello trippers!

I've searched thru the forums on advice to plan a trip covering Big Sur and Yosemite but I'd really benefit from those of you well-traveled in the region.

My husband and I are planning a 7D6N trip to the West Coast from NYC. We have seen San Francisco a few times, we've also done Napa. So we decided to fly into San Jose instead. Our tix are booked -NYC-SJC-NYC = Landing 1pm on June 29th, Departing 10:35 pm on July 5th.

We plan to drive from San Jose to Monterey, Carmel making our way down as far as Pismo Beach (We're aware of road closures on Highway 1). We plan to turn west to Sequoia National Park/Forest and head up Yosemite, then back to San Jose in time for our flights.

So far, the only reservation I have is for Half Dome Village for the night of the 4th. Everything else is open. Would love an itinerary suggestion for everything in between, including stops, food, lodging.

Our background - we are foodies, like being outdoors,and scenic drives and easy hikes (easy because this is our baby moon :) which will limit us somewhat).

We are also open to driving as far down as LA and Joshua Tree but we realize it might be pushing it a bit. Then again, I'm active and will happily watch the sights as we drive along.

Please help us plan an unforgettable trip. TIA.

11 replies to this topic
San Luis Obispo...
Level Contributor
664 posts
1. Re: Big Sur and Yosemite

A 6N trip from SF to include both Yosemite and Big Sur, is like flying into NYC with plans to see the city with trips to Boston and Philadelphia thrown in for 6N. Big Sur and Yosemite are accross the state from each other, and each sould take 3 nights in a rush. To add thoughts of extending to Pismo Beach or Joshua Tree NP is incomprehensible.

First, consider that 6 nights is in reality a trip of 5 days, not 7, as the end days are lost to air travel. I would build on your Yosemite reservations, perhaps adding Lake Tahoe or Sequoia, and omit the coast, considering constraints of your schedule.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
72,895 posts
133 reviews
2. Re: Big Sur and Yosemite

HI

I am not sure you're entirely familiar with the Hwy 1 road closure. Your drive would be more like ...

We plan to drive from San Jose to Monterey / Carmel making our way

...

down Highway 1 and stopping at the most scenic spots that we have chosen. Then we will drive north on Hwy 1 back to Monterey. We'll detour to Salinas on Hwy 68 and then head south on Hwy 101 to ...

Pismo Beach.

That much is at least a few nights.

Yosemite could easily fill 3 full days. As this is the holiday, expect lots & lots of traffic. Try to find another night's lodging in or near Yosemite.

Friday Jun 29: Arrive SJC. Pick up reserved rental car and drive to Santa Cruz? Moss Landing? then Monterey/Carmel.

Sat Jun 30: All day enjoying Hwy 1. Back to Monterey area

Sun Jul 1: Detour to Pismo Beach. Afternoon tourism.

Mon Jul 2: Across the state to Sequoia National Park. Afternoon tourism.

Tues Jul 3: 4 hour drive to Yosemite.

Wed Jul 4: Yosemite tourism. Sleep Yosemite Valley (booked!)

Thurs Jul 5: Yosemite in the morning, then drive back to San Jose, fly out of SJC

Level Contributor
8 posts
3. Re: Big Sur and Yosemite

As I already mentioned in my post, I understand that going all the way to Joshua Tree was prob pushing it - thank you for confirming that.

However, I do actually have 7 full days (see my flight times in the first post) + I have to take the detour once I hit Lucia on HW1 to get anywhere further south. I'm also open to skipping the rest of the coast (I've read on this forum that most ppl think monterey & carmel are the most beautiful parts of the coast). Once I take the detour toward Paso Robles, I could head over to Sequoia, which is a 3hr drive (4 hrs if i go directly from Lucia). Not sure what I am missing in terms of 'drive feasibility'

Please tell me more so I can plan this better.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
72,895 posts
133 reviews
4. Re: Big Sur and Yosemite

Hi

I think a map may help. https://goo.gl/images/4twLdb

You drive from Monterey down to the road closure or as far south as you need (you choose your 'must do.') That's the most beautiful parts of Hwy 1 ~ not the cities of Monterey & Carmel ~ the coast.

THEN you drive back up the same road. North on Hwy 1 to Monterey.

The next day, you detour to Salinas and then south on Hwy 101.

San Francisco, Ca
Level Contributor
22,340 posts
79 reviews
5. Re: Big Sur and Yosemite

There is no feasible detour from Lucia... you return on Hwy. 1 to Monterey, then connect to take Hwy. 101 south. You may be looking at Nacimiento-Ferguson Road, but for a variety of reasons, locals who are familiar with that road discourage visitors from driving it. In any case, when you consider that it saves very little time and adds some risk, it's really not recommended.

PNWF's itinerary accurately reflects the detour. The only change I'd make to her itinerary is the following:

Sat Jun 30: All day enjoying Hwy 1. Back to Monterey area (same)

Sun Jul 1: Across the state to Sequoia National Park. Afternoon tourism.

Mon Jul 2: Sequoia tourism. Sleep Sequoia.

Tues Jul 3: 4 hour drive to Yosemite. Afternoon tourism.

Wed Jul 4: Yosemite tourism. Sleep Yosemite Valley (booked!)

Thurs Jul 5: Yosemite in the morning, then drive back to San Jose, fly out of SJC

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
72,895 posts
133 reviews
6. Re: Big Sur and Yosemite

SFSusan ~ I put the detour drive to Pismo Beach in my suggested itinerary since it seemed that the Original Poster wanted it. I like your itinerary better!

Level Contributor
8 posts
7. Re: Big Sur and Yosemite

Thanks for the details. When I looked at Caltrans website, it seemed like I could go as far down as Lucia. Is that still the case? The closures start south of Lucia.

A blog mentioned the Nacimiento-Ferguson road as a detour from Lucia and that was exactly what I had in mind when I posted my previous reply.

I will go back and rethink my itinerary and looks at the one just posted - thankyou!

I’m the mean time, pls give me recommendations for things to do, places to see/eat at/stay..

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
22,330 posts
10 reviews
8. Re: Big Sur and Yosemite

Nacimiento-Ferguson Road is a twisty, narrow mountain road with sheer drop offs, not a major highway. Sections of it are so narrow that if you encounter another vehicle, one of you has to back up until there's a safe area where you can pass each other. It isn't a fast drive, nor for the faint of heart. Plan on it taking at least an hour and a half to get over to Highway 101.

Seriously, though, those of us who know Highway 1 suggest going only as far south as McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, then turning back for Monterey and taking Highway 68 East toward Salinas. You would be on more major roadways with greater cell service.

Elk Grove...
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong
Level Contributor
20,463 posts
4 reviews
9. Re: Big Sur and Yosemite

July 4th is Independence Day. Yosemite Valley will be like a zoo that day. It is a patriotic thing to do. You will experience parking problems and long queue issues on everything that day. On July 5th, those who book June 30 - July 5 as an extended vacation will be leaving for home. There will be slow moving and car queues exiting the valley. Allow lots of extra time to drive to San Jose. Lots of car causes slow traffic, slow traffic causes impatience, impatience causes people to do stupid things which lead accidents, accidents cause blockage and make the traffic even worst. All it takes is one car buckling another car in front of him on a 1-lane-each-way highway with double yellow lines, you will be blocked for hours. A normal 4-hour drive is not going to be 4-hour on July 5th. That day you cannot count as your "full" day.

Edited: 1:54 am, June 10, 2018
Level Contributor
8 posts
10. Re: Big Sur and Yosemite

Gosh Thank you!

I certainly didn’t keep that last one in mind. I might have to rethink this trip altogether.

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