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Yosemeti in January

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San Antonio, Texas
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162 posts
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Yosemeti in January

Hello,

We plan to visit Yosemite from January 6 - 9 (we'll drive from San Francisco). I have seen some posts about driving with chains. What does it mean? What can we do in the park? We don't ski, :-). Any suggestions?

Saint Germain...
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1. Re: Yosemeti in January

Driving with chains means

A. For safety sake, have them in your car so that if it does snow you can...

B. Put the chains around the tires to provide traction and avoid the slipping that fresh snow can cause.

Not every day of the winter actually requires chains on the tires. Generally only if it is actively snowing or has just snowed and sometimes in the mornings before the sun has come up to warm & melt the snow pack off the road.

If you like hiking, you might also enjoy snowshoeing. You can rent snowshoes on your way into the park at Mountain Sage in Groveland. If you follow the main pathways in the Valley (Bridal Veil Falls and Yosemite Falls come to mind) the routes will be clear of snow, but possibly wet.

Iceskating in Curry Village under the shadow of Half Dome is a surreal experience.

The Valley at only 4500 feet can be quite mild through most of the winter, dress in layers and take lots of pictures.

Oakland, California
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2. Re: Yosemeti in January

You can also take the skier's bus from the valley floor up to Badger PAss ski are, and rent snowshoes there and take a snowshoe trek through the mountains. Some are ranger-guided tours.

I agree with the ice-skating- very cool.

At night, head over to the ahwahnee where you can get a light dinner at their bar, and/or a spiked hot chocolate which you can take into the great room and drink by the ginat fireplaces.

We don't ski but we love our winter Yosemite vacations. For less chance of needing to actually use chains, you may prefer to take 140 into the park instead of 120, although I think 120 is much prettier!

TCA
Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: Yosemeti in January

Hi ttvmail2004 - just checking, are you driving a rental car? Most rental agencies don't allow you to use chains at all and in fact don't allow you to drive on roads where chains have been recommended... I understand an exception is Dollar car rentals.

Anyone else got comments on this?

San Antonio, Texas
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162 posts
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4. Re: Yosemeti in January

Yes, we're going to rent a car. We'll drive to Yosemite from San Francisco (SF). Any suggestions on which routes to take? Few more questions

1) If the rental car allows us to drive with chains, where do we get the chains from? We're from upstate New York, so we know how to drive in snow, but we have never used/heard driving with chains before.

2) We booked our travel plan to be in SF for the first week of January, and our co-workers suggest spending 2 days in Yosemite. But if it's going to be too much driving troubles, then we might need to change our plan. Any thoughts?

3) My husband reserved a hotel in Oakhurst. How far is it from the park?

Thanks.

Saint Germain...
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5. Re: Yosemeti in January

TTVmail,

Do go to Yosemite, but switch your lodging to anything along 141, Mariposa-El Portal. That entrance follows the river into Yosemtie Valley and avoids the climbing of the other entrances. It is with the elevation that one often finds the snow and possible chain requirements.

Saint Germain...
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6. Re: Yosemeti in January

Oooops, typo! The highway is called 140!

Oakland, California
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7. Re: Yosemeti in January

I agree with HC. Oakhurst is on the southern entrance ot Yosemite on 41, which is WAAYY out of your way. Stick with 140 and anything between Mariposa andEl POrtal, or, of course, in the park itself which is best. They have some wonderful winter specials at yosemitepark.com

San Antonio, Texas
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162 posts
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8. Re: Yosemeti in January

Thanks for your suggestions.

Napa, California
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9. Re: Yosemeti in January

Rent an SUV and you won't have to worry about chains. Chain requirements apply to cars but not 4WD with snowtires. Chains are a pain to put on and take off. All the 4 wheel drives just skirt right through the chain requirements without them and as far as I know this is totally legal. Of course if you do need chains there are sometimes "chain monkeys" who charge at least $20, maybe more to put them on for you along the side of the road.

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