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Driving time and mileage advice for a potential October trip

Miami Beach, Florida
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Driving time and mileage advice for a potential October trip
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Just hoping for some context and perspective regarding driving and mileage to Yosemite National Park from either Mammoth Lakes or Oakhurst which are about 30 miles away according to hotel websites,

We are considering a 3-4 day trip and if so, it seems that getting to the park and exploring it might be about an hours drive just to get to the visitor center,,,and beyond and potentially

at least 2-3 hours back to our hotel depending on how far into the park we get. So easily 4-6 hours of driving each day. While we can potentially find a closer hotel, just wondering if hours of driving is the reality. I realize too it's probably a beautiful and scenic drive and maybe its all part of the experience.

Any perspective would be appreciated.

6 replies to this topic
San Francisco...
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1. Re: Driving time and mileage advice for a potential October trip
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https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/mileages9-2007.pdf

Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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2. Re: Driving time and mileage advice for a potential October trip
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Mammoth Lakes is a poor choice for two big reasons. (1) it is 2.5 hours to Yosemite Valley (2) In October, it is possible that Tioga Road will be closed for a day or two when a snowstorm moves through.

But Mammoth is more scenic than Oakhurst. Note: Oakhurst is 1.5 hours to Yosemite Valley.

El Portal is the closest out-of-Park town. Midpines or Mariposa might be a good option.

This is a good example of deceptive advertising "Mammoth Lakes or Oakhurst which are about 30 miles away according to hotel websites" The problem is that the tourism is not generally at the entrance gate. You want to be at one of the highlights of Yosemite ... in some cases far far inside the Park.

The Top Questions on the right includes a lodging topic, maps, planning a fall visit, trip reports, and more.

Atlanta area
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3. Re: Driving time and mileage advice for a potential October trip
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On my first trip to Yosemite I stayed in Oakhurst, and I found I could make it work with some careful planning and special circumstances. It still involved long drives, definitely a lot more time in the car than if we had stayed in Yosemite Valley.

On the plus side, Oakhurst is closest to Mariposa Grove and Wawona and not too bad to get to the Chinquapin junction where Glacier Pt Rd starts (however, Wawona was not of interest to us, and this year Mariposa Grove is not as attractive a destination in Yosemite because the shuttles aren't running).

So, we woke up and left for the park early every morning, and I planned days around minimizing making the longer haul to Yosemite Valley.

As for TIoga Rd, Tuolumne Meadows and the east gate, Oakhurst is a terrible location to try to drive there and back in a day. We planned our itinerary so that we exited Yosemite out the east gate at the end of our trip, so we only did that long drive one way.

The other consideration is that it was just my daughter and me on this trip, she was 11 years old at the time and was very good about sleeping in the car, and I am fine with driving into the night. So we would stay in the park until late in the day, sometimes having dinner in the park, then start to drive back to Oakhurst at 7:00 or 8:00 or 9:00 at night. My daughter slept while I drove. I did not consider this to be time that was taken out of our time to visit Yosemite. Yes it's time on the clock, but it was time taken away from relaxing in the hotel room or getting to bed early rather than time taken away from visiting Yosemite. But it's dark, the roads are windy, you're tired at the end of a long day -- it definitely isn't for everybody but we were able to make it work. If you would want to start the drive back to Oakhurst in the afternoon in order to have dinner there and then relax for the evening at the hotel, then staying in Oakhurst definitely will cut your day short.

Also, my visit was in May/June when there were several more hours of daylight than you will have in October, so plan accordingly.

Edited: 15 September 2021, 02:15
Miami Beach, Florida
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4. Re: Driving time and mileage advice for a potential October trip
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Thanks to all for your replies and perspective, especially JRinGeorgia for the detailed information.

All very helpful as we consider our options.

Washington State
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5. Re: Driving time and mileage advice for a potential October trip
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There is a link to JR's 2012 report in the collection of Trip Reports. In addition to his great writing style, it has good info about staying in Oakhurst and traveling with a child. Some of the info is outdated (no trail rides) but it's still a good report.

Redlands, California
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6. Re: Driving time and mileage advice for a potential October trip
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Mammoth (or June Lake, which is somewhat closer) can work if you plan to focus on the eastern side of the Park. Bear in mind that in October, most of the waterfalls will be dry or at least drastically reduced, and "Mirror Lake" will be a large puddle. OTOH, the area around Tuolomne Meadows contains several real and beautiful lakes, including Tenaya Lake which is right on the road. There are also plenty of hiking options, from easy to strenuous. By October the weather should be ideal--there is the possibility of an early storm, but snow really isn't likely. You would also have access to some spectacular fall color in the eastern Sierra region--leafpeepers come from everywhere! Personally, at that time of year I would plan on staying 2-3 nights in Mammoth or June Lake, then driving down to the Valley for a brief exploration and seeing the iconic views before finishing in Oakhurst.

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