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Yosemite in late March

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Plymouth, United...
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Yosemite in late March

Hello there,

Myself and boyfriend are looking to visit Yosemite in late March (29-31st) from the UK after visiting SF and the coastline beforehand. We have researched in weather conditions and what will be open etc. but still have a few things that we're a bit unsure about.

Re. accommodation. We would like to stay in a cabin/lodge with kitchen facilities and have found some lovely cabins in Foresta, however, we are concerned about the driving conditions here due to the possibility of snow (needing chains etc.). Is this a high enough elevation to be worried about snow at this time? Alternatively we have looked at the option of staying in the Bug Mountain Resort and catching the bus into the valley if Foresta is out. However, we would prefer to be closer if possible??

Additionally we would like to do some trails/hiking and possibly rent a bike over our stay and are trying to work out what would be open at this time. We would like to do the Vernal Fall/Mirror Lake/Upper Yosemite Valley - is this accessible/doable at this time (we are relatively fit and in early 20s) and do we need any specialist equipment?

Many thanks for your help it is much appreciated! :)

Mariposa, California
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1. Re: Yosemite in late March

Yes, march is definitely fair game for heavy snow storms, and Foresta is at an elevation where tire chains would be needed in snow storms. I will say that March is very much hit and miss...I've been around for some very sunny and relative warm March months...I've also been around in March months where it snowed for more than half the month. so it's a toss up. you're also visiting at the very end of the month so hard to say. Lodging wise....personally I'd go for lodging in El Portal over the Bug Hostel purely for convenience...you're cutting of a 20-30 minute drive to Yosemite Valley. Bug Hostel has great atmosphere though as far as place to linger and meet people in the common room. El Portal lodging definitely more like standard lodging. Any chance you'd consider an AWD or 4WD rental option? If the weather is forecast to be bad, you can get an awd/4wd, still keep your lodging in Foresta (or Yosemite West, another option). You need to have tire chains/cables with you still but you most likely not need to put them on. In conditions where awd/4wd is required...you don't want to be on the road at all, and in Yosemite generally at that point they just close the road. I've seen maybe 2 or 3 exceptions to that in the last 7 years.

Bike rentals will also probably be right on the edge of opening, and it will depend on how the weather patterns have been.

Same deal with Mariposa Grove Road (which is an hour south of Yosemite Valley)...sometimes it can be open to driving, but other years because of snow/wet road you'll need to walk the 2 miles one way up to see the Grove.

Mirror Lake shouldn't be an issue for walking, and should look fairly decent at the time of year. Watch the forecast, and if lows are dipping into the 20's F, there may be some ice around. But generally it's a mellow trail so should be ok.

Same with the Vernal Fall trail to the footbridge. If it's been snowy or icy recently, it may be tough maneuvering and yak traks would be helpful. You'll knwo pretty quickly on that trail if you want to proceed to the footbridge. Beyond the footbridge will also be completely dependent on how the winter goes. You may be able to get yourself to Clarks Point (Mist Trail will likely be closed still), but there's a section of trail between the Vernal Fall footbridge and clarks point that often collects snow/ice...and can be difficult to cross. That section of trail doesn't close...but it's upto hikers to decide if they're comfortable with it. Visitor center usually has heard recent trail reports.

Upper Yosemite Fall trail to the first view of the waterfall may be another trail to consider tossing in. It's a south facing trail, and stays decently ice free in the winter time (usually), and gives you spectacular views of the valley. The upper part of the trail can still be sketchy with ice/snow at the end of March, again depending on how the winter has been.

Happy planning!

Mariposa, California
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2. Re: Yosemite in late March

Also see this description of visiting yosemite in the winter (which includes march) if you haven't already:

www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/winter.htm

DeWitt, Michigan...
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3. Re: Yosemite in late March

I am also planning a trip with our family flying into SF then driving out to Yosemite March 30 staying till Wednesday th 3rd. We have 3 kids,11, 10 , & 5 would like to try to see the sequoias at Mariposa Grove, this seems so overwhelming, nwhat else is a must see and where would be the most convenient place to stay?

Mariposa, California
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4. Re: Yosemite in late March

Holly s, you might get even more advice if you post your question separately in the forum. But up to you.

During that season, with a young child (plus other older children), I'd say Yosemite Lodge would be the most convenient place to stay. It would minimize driving, would mean you have your own bathroom in room, and means you have a food area in the same place. But that's just me. You could do a private rental as the above individuals were going to do in Foresta (do a web search for yosemite and foresta...things should come up), just know that you will be driving to reach Yosemite Valley...about 30ish minutes or so. Maybe a little less.

So another option might be The Tenaya Lodge, which is supposed to be family friendly with activities on site. It is at the southern end of the park though, and a 1 hour 15 minute drive from Yosemite Valley, one of the main sightseeing areas of the park particularly in the winter/early spring. But it might be a good tradeoff? If you're considering this, I would call Tenaya Lodge and clarify what activities they will definitely have running at the end of March.

Will have to wait and see how the Grove is. With an 11 and 10 yo I would say tackled the walk, but not sure with the 5 yo. The Tenaya Lodge rents snowshoes throughout the winter if the road is covered in snow...but it is definitely a trek with younger children.

As far as Yosemite Valley, this is where I would guess you will spend the majority of the time. You can intermix short walks with indoor activities. Lower Yosemite Fall, Cook's Meadow, Mirror Lake, and Happy Isles are all great areas for your to explore with 1 hour or less (mostly less) easy roundtrip walks. The visitor center and Indian Cultural Museum have hands on areas. There are ranger walks running usually in the afternoon that are open to all...you could do a section of one and see how the attention spans go. When you drive into the park, they will hand you a park newspaper that has all current activities and ranger programs...keep it...read it over dinner. Have a look at the old one to get a sense of what there is to do:

nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/yg12-2.pdf

Happy planning!

Plymouth, United...
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5. Re: Yosemite in late March

Many thanks for your help, it is much appreciated!

As you said I think it will be a case of looking at the weather nearer the time and fingers crossed for a mildish winter! We did consider the 4WD option, however we are still a bit nervous about the possibility/hassle of needing chains for the park at this time. Think we may have to go for the safe option and stay further out so that we have the option to avoid driving into the park ourselves if necessary.

Good to know those trails will be available. We want to make sure that there will be enough to do with sightseeing/hikes/trails available at this time for our stay (3 days)?

One more question with regard to Hetch Hetchy. This appears to be open on the map (no road closures) and features in the Yosemite winter guide, however, I've stumbled upon information that says this may also be unavailable at this time? Would anyone be able to shed light on this?

Mariposa, California
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6. Re: Yosemite in late March

Soooo we had some massive rain storms earlier in the winter, and the Hetch Hetchy road suffered some significant damage. As of now, it is not open and it is unknown when the road will be repaired (the park is working with the City of SF....there just isn't at time frame available right now).

I don't think you'll have a problem finding things to do for that amount of time.

Also, I just remembered, you might be in the area for good wildflowers in the foothills outside of the park. On hwy 140 in particular, just a few minutes west of Cedar Lodge, is the Hites Cove trail. This can be a longer train (8 miles roundtrip I think?) but if you just do the first 1/2 mile or less, you can find spectacular wildflowers. Of course the time changes ever year depending on weather, but generally the last two weeks of march sees the best of the flowers.

Happy planning!

DeWitt, Michigan...
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7. Re: Yosemite in late March

Thank you so much for your feedback. I will post for the whole forum too!

8. Re: Yosemite in late March

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