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3 days in early december.

Toronto
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134 posts
11 reviews
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3 days in early december.

Hi,

We're planning on visiting Yosemite in early december for 3 days, based out of El Portal. Will have a rental car - no chains.

We're from Canada and are quite comfortable with cold weather, mountains and changing road conditions.

I'm looking for suggestions of the best way to make use of our time in the area. Any specific hikes that are doable this time of year, best vantage points for views and photos and any other advice would be great. We're in good shape and have done lots of long hikes, but would prefer to stay away from anything over 5 hours (roundtrip) at a time given the uncertain conditions.

Aside from hikes, any interesting drive suggestions would be appreciated as well.

Also, are there any notable places that we can't get to with a car due to closures but that can be gotten to using other transport?

Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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1. Re: 3 days in early december.

First, if the ranger at the Arch Rock entrance asks if you have chains and you don't, you will be turned away. Luckily you can purchase seats on the YARTS transport if this occurs; YARTS runs from Merced thru Mariposa & El Portal into the Valley.

The only place that I can think of that might be worth your time if the road is closed is Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. In the winter (starting now?), the 2 mile road into the grove from the South Entrance is closed. You might be able to walk on the road; later in winter folks will cross country ski or snow shoe up to the grove.

I haven't heard if the Glacier Point road is closed yet. If it's open, head up there for some great views. The 2.2 mile roundtrip hike to Sentinel Dome is one of my favorites. The Sentinel Dome trailhead is just a few miles before reaching Glacier Point.

Any Valley hikes that interest you are do-able... Yosemite Fall, Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall. Of course as you hike up in elevation the weather will be cooler and snowfall more likely.

Have a wonderful trip.

Mariposa, California
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for Yosemite National Park
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2. Re: 3 days in early december.

I'm thinking the Mariposa Grove road is going to close as of tomorrow...but that's a guess. We'll see what really blows in with this storm. If you're willing to walk, hiking the 2 mile one way up the road is a great experience. And you'll probably have the sequoias to yourself. You can park across from the south entrance gate, if the road is closed.

Road conditions number is 209-372-0200. If hwy 140 is R1 or R2, as mentioned above if you don't have chains with you, you may be turned away. If conditions are R0 and the weather looks good, then you won't be asked if you have chains. However....weather can change very quickly and can be unpredictable. YARTS is a great option if the weather is bad.

If you're up for a strenuous hike, give Upper Yosemite Fall a try, at least to the first view of the waterfall. It's 2-3 hours roundtrip, and a lot of work. But you'll have spectacular views of Yosemite Valley, and closer to the upper part of Yosemite Falls. Generally this trail is in the sun each morning, so the trail tends to stay in decent condition. Check at the visitor center and see if they've heard anything about trail conditions...they may or may not have, but they can tell you if there have been recent storms that might contribute to any ice on the trail. The trail starts back behind the parking lot of Camp 4, across the street from shuttle stop 7.

Stop by the Ahwahnee Hotel and enjoy the big fireplace, maybe grab dessert at the bar with some hot chocolate.

Have a grand time! The crowds are gone, and valley is beautiful.

Toronto
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134 posts
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3. Re: 3 days in early december.

thanks so much for the advice from both of you. I had read about the hike to the Sequoias, definitely on the list. Upper Yosemite falls is too now, just because I can't resist the phrase "2-3 hour strenuous hike" - my favourite flavour of hike.

4. Re: 3 days in early december.

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