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3 Days in San Francisco: Yosemite, Monterey, Muir Woods


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I'll be visiting my daughter in SF in early June. She'll take off a Friday and my daughter in LA will fly up for a 3-day trip to visit some of the natural beauty close to SF. The original plan was Yosemite, but we found out that Yosemite needs to planned months in advance - no lodging is available inside the park and the permits required for other visitors are all taken. We'll plan soon for next May/June 2022.

Plan B is to drive south to Monterey early Friday  and lodge a couple of nights there, returning to SF Sunday and possibly squeezing in a trip to Muir Woods. In the costal highway thread, there is a recommendation for a quaint town, Pescadero for food and a costal state park to view wildlife (Año Nuevo State Reserve). Things are opening up slowly in California, compared to most of the country, and it's unclear on some of the web-sites what's open and what's closed. For example, many outdoor tours are closed, but self-guided may or may not be open.  What does this mean?:  (Permits to view seals issued 8:30 to 3:30 --( Seal Viewing temporarily closed ).

Any advice or recommendations are appreciated.

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Iirc, there's a redwood forest south of SF in the coastal range...maybe just south of Santa Cruz? You wouldn't have to head across the bridge into Muir woods and squeeze it...you could hit something similar on the way to Monterey.

And if glamping is your thing, Yosemite has the high Sierra camps (iirc, 7 of them) that you can hike between, with simple tent/cot lodging with food and bathrooms- you just need to bring a day pack with clothes, toiletries, etc. We used to do it as a family in the 70s- amazing experience. I think they open it up to a lottery on a specific day...or they used to, pre-internet.

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2 minutes ago, Desert_Power said:

Doesn't the Muir Woods need a reservation too? It did last time I went a couple years ago.

It does.  You need parking reservations.  Had to divert to Muir Beach because of that a few years ago too, though the hiking on the cliffs above Muir Beach was pretty beautiful.

 

43 minutes ago, El Floppo said:

Iirc, there's a redwood forest south of SF in the coastal range...maybe just south of Santa Cruz? You wouldn't have to head across the bridge into Muir woods and squeeze it...you could hit something similar on the way to Monterey.

And if glamping is your thing, Yosemite has the high Sierra camps (iirc, 7 of them) that you can hike between, with simple tent/cot lodging with food and bathrooms- you just need to bring a day pack with clothes, toiletries, etc. We used to do it as a family in the 70s- amazing experience. I think they open it up to a lottery on a specific day...or they used to, pre-internet.

In the Santa Cruz area, there's Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park as well as Big Basin Redwoods State Park.  I haven't been to Henry Cowell, but have been to Big Basin and loved it.  I went during a weekday and it was quiet and beautiful.  

The High Sierra Camps in Yosemite aren't opening this year, unfortunately.

 

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You can also hike into Muir woods from Pan Toll or Mountain Home parking lots on Mt Tam. But then you have to hike out (up). Beautiful if you have the time and capacity.

 

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58 minutes ago, Desert_Power said:

Doesn't the Muir Woods need a reservation too? It did last time I went a couple years ago.

That's new(ish). And probably an improvement. We got there at open, basically, and by the time we were leaving parking was an impossibility. Line of cars backed up the hill, just waiting. People walking from WAY tf out.

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19 minutes ago, wikkidpissah said:

i hear good things about the Meth Museum in Lodi. people can't stop talkin about it....

I spent a week one night in Lodi a lifetime ago.  That museum would have been a highlight.  

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6 hours ago, dkp993 said:

I spent a week one night in Lodi a lifetime ago.  That museum would have been a highlight.  

Such a great line, gb Tom Petty and a girl on lsd. Hey skip the Muir Woods and go see Phil lesh with me...

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16 hours ago, El Floppo said:

Iirc, there's a redwood forest south of SF in the coastal range...maybe just south of Santa Cruz? You wouldn't have to head across the bridge into Muir woods and squeeze it...you could hit something similar on the way to Monterey.

And if glamping is your thing, Yosemite has the high Sierra camps (iirc, 7 of them) that you can hike between, with simple tent/cot lodging with food and bathrooms- you just need to bring a day pack with clothes, toiletries, etc. We used to do it as a family in the 70s- amazing experience. I think they open it up to a lottery on a specific day...or they used to, pre-internet.

Memorial County Park in San Mateo County, near Pescadero and between Monterey and SF. It's beautiful. I've camped there several times and the trees are insane. Stay in Pescadero, day trip for hiking at the park? May be good use of your time, more efficient than folding in a trip to Muir.

Eat the green chile or artichoke soup at Duarte's.

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16 hours ago, Bob Sacamano said:

That's new(ish). And probably an improvement. We got there at open, basically, and by the time we were leaving parking was an impossibility. Line of cars backed up the hill, just waiting. People walking from WAY tf out.

Same. We parked in the lot very close to the visiting station and the big sign. By the time we were leaving, we couldn’t believe how far people had parked to walk to the entrance. 

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Posted (edited)

Pescadero rocks. Love Duarte's. And I know you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a killer Mexi place in CA, but Tres Amigos in Half Moon Bay is a great, convenient spot to hit when passing through. As good as any al pastor that I've had.

Worth noting sunsets on Mt Tam when the marine layer is sitting off the coast can be wild.

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4 hours ago, Apple Jack said:

Worth noting sunsets on Mt Tam when the marine layer is sitting off the coast can be wild.

this was a regular thing for us in HS and beyond. 

there's a spot called Dad O'Rourke's bench just off rock springs that might be my favorite place on earth. views of the ocean all the way to the bay and sf...and lots of very happy memories. 

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10 minutes ago, El Floppo said:

this was a regular thing for us in HS and beyond. 

there's a spot called Dad O'Rourke's bench just off rock springs that might be my favorite place on earth. views of the ocean all the way to the bay and sf...and lots of very happy memories. 

I've been. It's a special place, for sure.

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FootballGuys comes through again with great suggestions. Thank you! 

Unfortunately, Memorial Park in San Mateo is closed due to damage from the CZU Lightning fire. Now I'm wondering if it's better to continue down to Big Sur, since we'll be close. I expect my daughter to be in SF for a few years, Muir Woods (and Yosemite) could be visited on future trips.

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11 minutes ago, SoBeDad said:

FootballGuys comes through again with great suggestions. Thank you! 

Unfortunately, Memorial Park in San Mateo is closed due to damage from the CZU Lightning fire. Now I'm wondering if it's better to continue down to Big Sur, since we'll be close. I expect my daughter to be in SF for a few years, Muir Woods (and Yosemite) could be visited on future trips.

I feel like part of hwy 1 got washed away last rainy season... not sure if it's north or south of big sur, or if they've repaired it since?

but big sur is amazing... even if that's a pretty long trip from sf. 

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17 hours ago, El Floppo said:

I feel like part of hwy 1 got washed away last rainy season... not sure if it's north or south of big sur, or if they've repaired it since?

but big sur is amazing... even if that's a pretty long trip from sf. 

Re-opened April 23.

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19 hours ago, SoBeDad said:

FootballGuys comes through again with great suggestions. Thank you! 

Unfortunately, Memorial Park in San Mateo is closed due to damage from the CZU Lightning fire. Now I'm wondering if it's better to continue down to Big Sur, since we'll be close. I expect my daughter to be in SF for a few years, Muir Woods (and Yosemite) could be visited on future trips.

Dang. Sorry about that amigo. I presumed since we have a camping reservation in September that it's open. 

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On 5/8/2021 at 5:26 AM, belljr said:

I think we did big basin but I don't remember.

It was pretty nice

Big Basin is awesome, but it got hit very hard by the fires last summer.  Not sure what state it's in right now.

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1 hour ago, Dickies said:

Big Basin is awesome, but it got hit very hard by the fires last summer.  Not sure what state it's in right now.

Still in CA, iirc.

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