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Old 12-13-2015, 04:24 PM   #1
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Best route to Yosemite

Happy Holidays!

We will be going to Yosemite in May, and we are lookong for the best route from Madison, Wisconsin. We will be towing our A-frame.

Thanks in advance!


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Old 12-13-2015, 05:06 PM   #2
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Old 12-13-2015, 05:13 PM   #3
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Better make reservations soon.
We tried to get 3 nights, in May in the Valley.
Started in December and couldn't get even one site.
Had to reserve for April.
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Old 12-13-2015, 05:19 PM   #4
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Most direct/fastest to the west is US-151 to Cedar Rapids, IA, then south on I-380 to I-80, then all the way west. If you want to go into CA and the west entrance, go to Sacramento, then Rte 99 south to Merced. I took this from west to east leaving a summer job near San Francisco to get back to UW-Madison (albeit 35 yrs ago) and grades aren't excessive for the most part. If you wanted to come into the park from the east, it looks like you could head south out of Reno, NV. on Rte 395, but I have no idea what the terrain/grades might be like.
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Old 12-13-2015, 05:45 PM   #5
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Depending on the winter we have in California (we're hoping for a lot of snow to get us out of this severe drought!). Tioga Pass which is the route from the East into the park could be possibly still be closed so keep an eye on the road conditions. They typically close it for winter. In that case, once you get to California, Highway 99 south from Sacramento is a good route. From there, I prefer Highway 140 from Merced to Yosemite because the grades aren't as steep but there was a length restriction on a temporary bridge. I got through it at that time towing a 30 ft. 5th wheel without an issue. Tour buses go that route as well. There is a height restriction from 140 due to a rock tunnel so check with the park. The route from Modesto has a steep grade called Priest Grade but it is doable. Others with more recent experience will chime in.
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Old 12-13-2015, 06:13 PM   #6
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Thank you!
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Old 12-13-2015, 08:01 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by bikendan View Post
Better make reservations soon.
We tried to get 3 nights, in May in the Valley.
Started in December and couldn't get even one site.
Had to reserve for April.
In case you aren't aware, as stated, reservations go fast, especially for the late spring and summer. You will want to get on the reservation web site the day reservations open for your time period and grab one. Last year we made reservations for April of this year and the first 2 campsites we were about to book were gone by the time we decided to click the reservation. The best ones go fast... If you don't know which camp site you want, go and look now for a few that will fit your camper and TV and be ready to reserve on the day it opens. For early May it looks like December 15th for late May it looks like January 15th.

If you want to see some of the camp sites, we used this web site:

Not sure about the route because we always came from west of the Valley and we only had a truck camper at the time.
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Old 12-14-2015, 08:23 PM   #8
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Come south to St. Louis and connect to I-70 West near St. Charles. There is a great RV Park there. Continue West on I-70 to the
Denver area, lots to see there. Then continue West into Utah and don't miss Arches NP and Canyonlands. Once you hit Grand Junction, head north towards Salt Lake City and I-80 West. Pony Express RV Park is top notch near Salt Lake. Continue into Nevada. At Reno, head south on US Rte 395 through some spectacular mountain scenery. At route 120, head West through Tioga Pass into Yosemite. It's tough getting campsites in Yosemite Valley, but try anyway. South of Yosemite on Rte 41 is the town of Oakhurst with a couple of nice RV Parks. Ride the narrow gauge railroad at Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine RR a bit north of Oakhurst. Tell them "Jake" sent you.
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Old 12-14-2015, 11:48 PM   #9
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I would agree that the best way into California, if Yosemite is your goal, is Tioga Pass. I think, however, that it is always best to avoid the Interstates whenever possible. The absolute best route across Nevada is not I-80, but US Hwy 50. I have made the trip both ways, and I can tell you that 50 gives you a much truer view of Nevada. It is uncrowded and gives you a chance to understand the charm of the state. On 80 you are simply fighting for space among the 18wheelers. Hwy 50 intersects with US 395 a bit south of Reno, and you can follow it south to Lee Vining and the road over Tioga. What ever route you choose, I hope you have a great trip. Yosemite in spring (or any other time of the year) is breathtaking.

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Old 12-15-2015, 12:59 AM   #10
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If you take US-50, beware the speed trap at Austin, NV! They MEAN it!!

There's so little traffic through town, and the town cop would just LOVE to have something to do! :-))

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Old 12-16-2015, 01:35 AM   #11
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In a normal snow year Tioga Pass opens around Memorial Day.
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Old 04-30-2016, 05:29 PM   #12
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Of the three ways to get into Yosemite we have taken two of them. The 41 just past Fresno and the 140 through Merced. In our minds the 41 is the nicest scenery wise. It is windier than the 140 though. But we have not had any problems with pulling our last 26 ft tt. Also there are more places to stop along the way if you wanted to. The 120 is out of the way for us and as others have said check if that road is open if you take that route. Jerry

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Old 05-02-2016, 08:05 AM   #13
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We have a 26 foot trailer the Ranger said 140 was too windy to get in the park

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