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  1. Default San Francisco, Carmel, Yosemite & Lake Tahoe

    Hi everyone
    My husband and I are planning to fly into San Francisco in October or the 1st half of November and travel parts of California. This is our proposed itinerary and we would welcome any comments and suggestions on routes to take, places to stay and to visit.
    Also, is early November a bad time to take this trip? Seems from my internet research that there is a lot of rain during this time.

    San Francisco (1 night)
    San Francisco down to Monterey/Carmel via Pacific Highway (2 nights in Monterey/Carmel - any suggestions welcome)
    Carmel - Yosemite (4 nights: would it be a good idea to break the drive from Carmel to Yosemite and stay somewhere en route for the 1st night?)
    Yosemite - Lake Tahoe (3 nights)
    Lake Tahoe - Napa Valley (1 night)
    Napa Valley - San Francisco (3 nights)


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Nice and relaxed.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    First of all, your itinerary is fine and at a very relaxed pace, normally people start out with more listed than is possible to see in the time available. One thing, I would actually spend 1 night in Carmel and head further down the coast towards Cambria for another, before heading to Yosemite. It is the most popular section of one of the worlds most famous and spectacular coastal routes around Big Sur. You will still be able to drive to Yosemite the same day quite comfortably, or you could add Seqouia NP to your list.

    As you know the weather is unpredictable, but I would urge you to travel in October, as come November, Yosemite and Tahoe can start seeing winter weather conditions, especially at high elevations. There would most likely be ice and/or snow at high elevations and areas like Glacier point and the Tioga pass can become inaccessible, this is also possible in October so the earlier you travel in Oct the least risk of disruption. Don't let this put you off, it can be a wonderful Month in which to travel, you can see warm days with blue skies, wonderful Fall colours and the crowds have gone. The nights get cold though, so pack some layered clothing and you can have a wonderful time !

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default I agree, with one suggestion

    San Francisco and Northern California can have some of our best weather in the Fall, or you could hit some rain.

    For that reason, you might want to consider reversing your order somewhat, and hitting Yosemite early in your itinerary rather than later, as your only REAL travel concern will be snow, and Yosemite is the only thing on your list where you could hit snow.

    It would have to be an early season storm, and a cold one, but by moving Yosemite a little earlier you would mitigate that risk somewhat.

    This chart shows you typical precipitation patterns in Northern California.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the pointers! Southwest Dave - Cambria looks like a worthwhile visit, we will check it out. CalOldBlue - are you suggesting that we drive straight to Yosemite from San Fran? Doesn't that mean that we will be doubling back on our tracks, if we do San Fran-Yosemite-the coastal route-Tahoe?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area


    You know, you're right. You're only spending a couple days on the Monterey peninsula so it's not worth jiggering the rest of your trip around just to get to the mountains a day or two early.

    As for the Monterey peninsula, you may also want to consider Pacific Grove, esp. if you prefer B&Bs. PG sits between Monterey and Carmel, and there are a couple B&Bs that sit right across the road from the bay.

  6. Default

    Thank you! Any advice on driving routes which we should take which would be particularly scenic? Especially to Yosemite & Tahoe?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area


    The is conditioned on where you're going to stay in/at Yosemite. If you're staying somewhere in the valley, then the relatively direct route is also a good scenic option.

    From Monterey: CA1 north to CA156 east onto CA152 east to CA99 south to CA145 north to CA41 north into the park. Between the park entrance and the valley you'll pass through the Wawona area, with a stand of Giant Sequoias. Stop and take a short walk through these giants.

    If you are NOT staying in the valley, you'll probably be someone on one of the three gateway roads:

    Southern entrance: CA41, in/around Oakhust. Already discussed.
    Western entrace: CA140, in/around Mariposa. Farther and you probably won't want to go through Wawona due to the backtracking.
    Northern entrance: CA120, in/around Groveland. Same issues as CA140 for those coming from Monterey, only worse.

    If you come at it from Cambria, you'll end up still coming in the south side: CA1 south to CA46 east to CA41 north and into the park. The drive down to Cambria along the Big Sur coast is fantastic, and you can probably afford to trim a day from Yosemite or Tahoe to fit it in.

    As for me, my preference would be to stay in the Yosemite Valley. There are several lodging options, and if you know your dates you can PROBABLY find availability in October/November; but don't wait too long.

    Lastly; there's oodles of information on this site regarding Yosemite and the lodging options around it, poke around a bit and see what you can find.

  8. Default

    Thanks very much CalOldBlue, you have been most helpful :) Will look around this site further.

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by CalOldBlue View Post
    As for the Monterey peninsula, you may also want to consider Pacific Grove, esp. if you prefer B&Bs. PG sits between Monterey and Carmel, and there are a couple B&Bs that sit right across the road from the bay.
    I heartily second this. To me, Pacific Grove has a more relaxed feel than Monterey and a significantly less "tourist"-y feel than Carmel (not to mention being much cheaper).


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