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  1. #1

    Default Last minute advice on California Road Trip (Sequoia NP specific)

    Any advice from people with experience at Sequoia NP in May would be great.

    I'm flying to LAX this Saturday to start a two-week road trip loop. The itinerary is as follows:

    Arrive at LAX late morning (drive to Exeter)
    Drive Generals Highway through Sequoia to Mariposa
    Yosemite (one full day)
    Santa Barbara
    Santa Barbara
    Anaheim (Disney)

    I decided to be a real tourist and rent a convertible Mustang (or similar of course) for the trip. I've been watching the weather at Sequoia, and up until today, the outlook was sunny for Sunday. Well now they have changed it to possible snow at the higher elevations. Should I cancel my drive up Generals Highway? Should I just change my rental car and get some chains even though I won't be able to use them? Should I get rid of the convertible because the weather is still too chilly on the coast anyway? Should I just go as planned and hope for the best? I'm not staying a night in the park, just spending one day driving through.

    Any quick advice would be greatly appreciated.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Check Carefully and Be Ready

    If everything always went exactly as planned, what a boring world it would be. But a few things are working in your favor even as you worry about things you will have no control over. First, when weather forecasts predict 'snow at higher elevations', they typically mean on the mountain tops and not in the valleys where the roads are. See if you can find an indication of where the snow line will be in terms of elevation. If it's above 7,000 feet you should be fine. Mariposa Grove is at 5,600 feet and that will be fairly close to the highest elevation you'll be at for planning purposes. Yosemite Valley is 'only' 4,000 feet. If chains are required, you're probably better off rerouting or rescheduling, depending on the level of your experience, and should you need them, you can get a set of low-end chains for about $35-40 at a 'local' Walmart-type store. Coastal temperatures are looking to be around 70║F with sunshine for the next week or so, near perfect rag top weather, so I wouldn't worry about that either.

    I think you're in for a great trip!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Check the conditions before leaving.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    There is absolutely no point in getting chains if you can't use them as it is not good enough to just be carrying them. If it got to the point you would need to use them you should really avoid those roads. I would keep an eye on the forecasts and road conditions before travelling, but at present it looks like a 20% chance of rain and snow showers around the Giants forest area which doesn't sound to problematic. As for the car, if you still want to be "A real tourist" then go for it. I would plan on spending another half day at Yosemite before heading to SF even if you juggle your stops on the coast, it's amazing !

  4. #4


    Thanks Buck and Dave. It really is just the area around the Giants that I'm concerned about. I'm not concerned about the elevations or weather at Yosemite. The elevation of the trailhead to General Sherman is at 7100 feet. I was hopeful that if snow was definite, then I could just ride the shuttle and back track a little. However, the shuttle doesn't start running for the season until 4 days after our visit. If the Mariposa Grove was open, then I would just skip Sequoia and book an extra night at Mariposa, and another day in Yosemite. Since that grove is still closed though, I wanted to go to Sequoia. If they let me in the park, there shouldn't be a problem. If the weather is going to be bad up high, then I don't think they will even let me into the park. I guess we shall see.

    Thanks a bunch for the confirmation on the convertible. That makes me feel better. It hasn't stopped raining in DC for almost 3 weeks now, so I'm having a hard time remembering what sunshine is like.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The rental company will most likely not allow you to use chains on their cars, especially convertibles.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    One year in spring, we were chased out of Yosemite by a blizzard. We overnighted near Oakhurst. The next day, we took a chance and drove through Sequoia to the General trees. Only a little bit of snow there.

    You'll probably be fine. Save the money, don't buy any chains that you probably won't be allowed to use anyway. If you're turned away, go to your "Plan B".


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