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Trip report: 2 days in Yosemite Nov. 17-18, 2021

Penn Valley...
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Trip report: 2 days in Yosemite Nov. 17-18, 2021
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I would like to share some of our experiences, thoughts and photos during our two night stay a the Yosemite Lodge last week. I think I probably need to say first that we've been to Yosemite so many times over the years that we don't go there now to 'do' stuff, we go just to be there, relax, drive around, and take some walks. At 75 and 73 years of age our get up and go got up and went a few years ago ;-)

We live near Grass Valley, Ca., so we decided to drive down Hwy. 49 and spend the night in a motel in Mariposa so we could get an early start into Yosemite the next morning. Over the years the one stretch of Hwy. 49 we had not been on before is from where 49 splits off of 120 at Priest Grade down through Coulterville and then on to Mariposa. Having now done it, I can say that despite the great weather and NO traffic, I would not recommend that road to anyone! Been there, done that, but not again!

Unfortunately the pandemic had impacted staffing at two of the restaurants in Mariposa we had looked into for dinner, so they weren't open. But we did find a nice little family owned/run Mexican restaurant not far from our motel, so we did have a good dinner. Then after a good night's sleep we had a great breakfast at a local favorite restaurant before hitting the road into the park.

It's been years since I've seen such light traffic between Mariposa and Arch Rock entrance (NO line), and then from the entrance up to Glacier Point. What a pleasure to relax and enjoy the road/views and not have to worry about a slow driver in front of me or a fast one behind! There were some very clean port-o-potties at the turn-off up to Glacier Pt., so that was nice. The restrooms at GP were also open, but they were SMELLY! The view from GP was spectacular, with the only negative being smoke hovering low in the Valley from some controlled burns.

After getting back down to the Valley se spent about an hour at Cathedral beach (our favorite picnic spot!) just enjoying the beauty and peacefulness. It was also a great place for a glass of wine ;-) There was only ONE other car in the parking area...amazing. We then drove around the Valley for a while going by Curry, through Upper Pines campground, made a stop at the Village store, and then the obligatory walk-around at the Ahwahnee. While there we checked out the bar as a dinner option (we weren't about the spend $59 for a buffet in the dining room!) But we couldn't see driving back over there for the bar's limited menu offering.

Around 3pm we went to the Lodge just to see if by chance our room might be available before the stated 5pm check-in time. It was not, and they said they would call when it was ready. So we walked around the Lodge, checked out the gift shop shop, the Mountain Room Lounge as a dinner option, and also checked out the Base Camp Eatery. By then we weren't up to do any more driving, hiking or walking, so we just sat in the car and read our Kindles for a while. At about 4:30pm after watching other people carrying luggage to their rooms I checked back at the front desk. A different clerk said our room would not be available until 5pm because they had shampooed the carpets. I then just sat in a comfortable chair in the lobby reading until they called me. Once we got into the room it was exactly the room I had called and asked for (2nd floor, corner room, Hemlock Bldg.), so we were pleased with that. But they had the heater turned up so it was VERY hot (to dry the carpet I guess), and it took quite a while to get cooled down to a comfortable temperature. So we just sat out on the balcony and had our happy hour...not too bad!

My observations about the rooms at the Lodge are the same as always...the walls are paper thin and some people don't keep their kids from running the halls and/or have them use their "indoor' voices. Oh well. We brought our white noise machine (and the room had 2 floor fans) so we were able to 'mask' the noise. The rooms do not have A/C, but they have a ceiling fan and those floor fans I mentioned. The wall heater worked VERY well, but with no thermostat you just have to guess what the room temperature is. We always travel with an indoor/outdoor thermometer, so that really came in handy. The bed was very comfortable, but the pillows were hard as rocks...good thing we also bring our own pillows ;-) The room had a small frig, which was nice (no microwave). There was also an ice machine downstairs at the other end of the building.

For Mid-November (16th and 17th) the weather could not have been better (highs in the upper 60's and lows in the 40's), and the only thing that kept it from being a photographers dream were the controlled burns. On our one full day they were burning just a few hundred yards from the Lodge, right along the trail from the Swinging Bridge back to the Lodge, and it was really quite smoky.

For dinners we opted for take-out from the Base Camp Eatery. Due to staffing issues they did not do the daily rotation of dinner menus like advertised (the grill choices stay the same each night), We both opted for chicken (w/mashed potatoes and veggies) the1st night and meatloaf (w/mashed potatoes and veggies) the 2nd night. I guess we lucked out because the meats both nights were freshly cooked and very hot, and had not been sitting around like some buffet style food can at times. We thought both meals were quite good. Out of curiosity I checked between 4 and 5pm, and the line for food was quite long in the Disney like queue. But when we went over around 6:30 the wait wasn't bad at all. We did check out the Mountain Room Lounge the 1st night, but as we got in line around 6pm, the lady in front of warned us that she had not moved in about 20 minutes. That's why we opted for the Eatery.

The only breakfast we had was on our one 'full' day in the park. I walked across the street to the Eatery and got us a couple of breakfast burritos (with fried potatoes) to go. OMG...they were very very good, and also very very large. We should have just gotten one order and split it!

All in all our trip was great. The only way the word 'crowd' could be used in the context of our trip is that there weren't any. No matter where we went (Glacier Pt., Curry, Village, Lodge, Ahwahnee, Swinging Bridge, and Sentinal Rock trail parking area) there was plenty of parking. Of course there were some minor issues coming and going by the Bridalveil Fall parking lot with the construction going on, but that area will sure be nice when it is done!

I'm a bit of an amateur photographer, but for this getaway with the DW (of 53 years) I decided to leave my 'real' cameras and equipment at home, and just took (a lot of) pics with my phone (wherever we went). I won't bore you with all the pics, but if you like, here is a link to some of my favorite pics from out 3 days in the Park. Just copy and past this link into your browser:

photos.app.goo.gl/BkHTWrUeShfUiJhKA

NOTE: When I first tried posting theisI got a message that it could not be posted at this time and to try again later. So I tried again and got the same message. Then later I tried a 3rd time and it worked. But now it looks like all three posts came through. Can someone delete two of them??? Thx

Edited: 28 November 2021, 05:55
11 replies to this topic
Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
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92,625 posts
197 reviews
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1. Re: Trip report: 2 days in Yosemite Nov. 17-18, 2021
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As this report was posted three times, I hope one remains on the forum. It is an excellent report and worth reading!

Penn Valley...
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148 posts
12 reviews
6 helpful votes
2. Re: Trip report: 2 days in Yosemite Nov. 17-18, 2021
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Thanks. I made a note at the bottom of one post that I got error messages twice, and then success on the 3rd try. But it looks like all three attempts actually went through ;-(

Steve

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3. Re: Trip report: 2 days in Yosemite Nov. 17-18, 2021
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I recall going to Yosemite Thanksgiving week 1966. Barely a sole around. Great report. Nice pics. You have filters on some of those for the blue sky, yes?

Penn Valley...
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148 posts
12 reviews
6 helpful votes
4. Re: Trip report: 2 days in Yosemite Nov. 17-18, 2021
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#3

Yes, I did some 'post processing' with both Picasa and Photoshop.

I was a waiter at the Lodge in the Fall/Winter of 1965. I had been working as a waiter at Tuolumne Meadows for the summer, and when I came down to the Valley after TML closed there was a staff of 27 waiters. In November around this time there were only 3 of us. The hours were reduced of course, but there just wasn't the head count at the Lodge to support any more....except when an unscheduled tour bus stopped, and then all He double hockey sticks broke out ;-)

Santa Clarita...
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5. Re: Trip report: 2 days in Yosemite Nov. 17-18, 2021
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How did you know to call & ask ahead for a particular room? We'll be there two nights this weekend and don't know anything about the layout of the Yosemite Valley Lodge. Though an upper floor with a balcony sounds very nice.

Hunter Valley...
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1,691 posts
6. Re: Trip report: 2 days in Yosemite Nov. 17-18, 2021
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Thankyou for the great trip report and the lovely photos. Camera phones have come a long way haven’t they 😁

Fremont, California
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7. Re: Trip report: 2 days in Yosemite Nov. 17-18, 2021
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fun trip thanks for your trip report.

Penn Valley...
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148 posts
12 reviews
6 helpful votes
8. Re: Trip report: 2 days in Yosemite Nov. 17-18, 2021
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#5

Mark, to answer your question, I don't know HOW I know to call, it is just something I've learned through our timeshare ownership experiences. Kinda like there is no such thing as a dumb/bad question, there also is no penalty for calling and asking. And when I check in at the Lodge they always tell me that they see my request. In fact, when I checked in this last time the clerk said he saw my request and asked if I had been there before. I told him I used to work at the Lodge, and he said, "I thought so."

Here is the phone number that comes up when you click on Contact Us at the bottom of the reservation form: 888.413.8869 Their office is actually in Arizona. They have always been very helpful in writing down my requests.

And the one thing I left out of my original post about my request is that I also asked for "river side". If you look at the map you will see that the Hemlock, Maple and Alger buildings are pretty much right across the parking area from the Eatery, but some rooms face the parking lot (bad rooms) and some face the river (good rooms...you can barely see the river because of the trees, but you have a lot more privacy and less noise from the parking lot...although there are bikes and people walking by on the bike trail). I should also note that all rooms at the Lodge have balconies (2nd floor...all buildings are 2 story) and the 1st floor rooms have patios (great if you have kids that want to run around, but bad if you don't want people making noise in a room over you). I also ask for a corner room because that way you only have someone on one side of you instead of both sides.

Hope that helps, and enjoy your stay!

Oh, and if you simply Google "Yosemite Valley Lodge Map" you can find the layout. Here is a link to the actual document they give you when you check-in to show you where your room is: https://imgur.com/gallery/roMsFeL

Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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9. Re: Trip report: 2 days in Yosemite Nov. 17-18, 2021
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The TravelYosemite website has a link to the hotel map as well. https://www.travelyosemite.com/media/820990/yosemite-valley-lodge-property-map.pdf

Here is the direct line to the front desk: (209)372-1274

Phoenix
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for Phoenix, Pinetop-Lakeside
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10. Re: Trip report: 2 days in Yosemite Nov. 17-18, 2021
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Thanks for sharing your interesting trip report. We also stayed at the YVL Oct. 2019 and assigned to an upstairs room facing the river BUT it was an adjoining room with loud people. It was convenient for walking across the street to eat and for catching the shuttle. When we checked in the man strongly suggested that we made dinner reservations for the restaurant. Good thing because they called for people with reservations to line up first. We got right in. We paid for a bus tour with a ranger who gave us an excellent overview of Yosemite.

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