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Author Topic: Yosemite and Mono in October?  (Read 4923 times)
richarddd
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« on: July 22, 2007, 12:49:04 PM »
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Would a day or two in Mono Lake be a good side trip from an October 5 or so day Yosemite trip?  How much time would you recommend in Mono Lake and where would you stay?
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2007, 03:09:43 PM »
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For Mono Lake, I would stay in Lee Vining.  There is a Best Western and at least one other local motel with reasonable rates.  From Lee Vining, you are 20 minutes from the Tufa parking lot at Mono Lake which is best early AM, but can be good if there are good clouds at sunset.  Lee Vining is 10 minutes from the Lundy Lake & Canyon turn-off and about 10 minutes from the the June Lake Loop turn-off.  And of course Lee Vining Canyon is right there too.  (You can camp in Lee Vining Canyon, on the June Lake loop and at Lundy Lake.)

Obviously you need a few days to do all of those at prime shooting times, but if there is color in the Aspens, then you can shoot virtually all day long.  From the floor of Yosemite Valley, it takes about 2 - 2-1/2 hours driving, assuming no traffic and driving at the park speed limit, to get to Lee Vining.  On this drive you pass through theYosemite high country (incl Tuolumne Meadows) which is very photogenic in itself -- you could easily spend a day or two there.  So if you spent two days in the valley, an early morning in the high country, that afternoon exploring, that evening at Mono and then another day or two actually shooting the other areas I mentioned, you would have a very full trip.  

Of course you are also within a few hours drive of the Alabama Hills to the South and Bodie to the North if you have more time...

,
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NashvilleMike
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« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2007, 12:12:12 AM »
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Would a day or two in Mono Lake be a good side trip from an October 5 or so day Yosemite trip?  How much time would you recommend in Mono Lake and where would you stay?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=129406\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I love Mono Lake. I personally think it's far more of a sunrise location than a sunset one, and if it's your first time, hit the road to the "South Tufa" and get there before the sun comes up and wait it out (bring a sweatshirt and jacket!!). I'd spend at least one sunrise there - perhaps two, adding a trip up to Bodie during the day or something.

As far as places to stay; if you can score a reservation, I *highly* recommend Murphys in Lee Vining - very friendly and very nice rooms. Eat at Bodie Mikes for dinner while you're up there too. I'm not sure whether the Tioga Gas Mart will be serving dinner then - if so, go there as well - gourmet food at a gas station - I kid you not!

Hope this helps!

-m
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David White
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2007, 01:14:33 AM »
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I second Murphey's in Lee Vining.  Great place.  Sunrise at the South Tufa is highly recommended but you can also score in the evening right after the sun has set.

[attachment=2873:attachment]
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David White
Paul Sumi
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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2007, 12:05:10 PM »
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I was up that way last October and will be there again in 2 weeks.  I'm going to try to photograph the South Tufa from a canoe at first light.

Here's more on Bodie State Historic Park, which is definitely worth considering:

http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=509

Paul

ps: Nicely's in Lee Vining is good for breakfast after that early morning Mono Lake shoot.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2007, 02:05:12 PM by PaulS » Logged

oboguev
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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2007, 06:44:55 PM »
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I have not tried more expensive accomodations in Lee Vining, but two of the cheaper motels were... shall I say quite uninviting. I much prefer Motel 6 at Mammoth.

If you have never been to Mono Lake, certainly go there. However as water level keeps rising so tufas get less impressive and not what you can see at the images taken a decade ago. Eventually formations are scheduled to disappear altogether under the water, in the name of allegedly a "preservation".

You want to be in place well before the sunrise, to catch the glow on the mountains. If you have never been there, I'd advise you to scout the location the day before.

Bring rubber boots as some good spots will be in the water, especially if you opt to walk to the far left side.

The place is tempting for pano shooting, so if you have pano gear, take it along as well.

After the light is no longer good for tufa, you can move to nearby voulcanic crater.
It is located along the road towards tufa off the highway.

However the real highlight of Sierra in the first half of September is golden aspens. You can find them in numerous canyons and road turn-off along hwy 395. Personally, I'd rather be in Sierra than Yosemite during this time of a year.

Some other places to have a look at is Devil's Postpile and Minareth's overlook (as you drive towards Devil's Postpile from Mammoth) though the latter of course is so much better in snow.

Alabama Hills is a nice place not to miss, but if you come in September it will leave you wishing to come again in winter, when the mountains in the background are in the snow.

You may like Bodie or not, depending on whether you like ghost towns (I found it quite depressing), but you will need 4WD for the road. In case you do not have experience with washboard roads, drive carefully and not overly fast as the car does not have good traction on the washboard and can loose control or go into a skid if you try to break.

P.S. In case if you are in NYC, you may want to check out Virgin America. They were supposed to start cheap ($284 roundtrip) flights between JFK and SFO.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2007, 06:47:42 PM by oboguev » Logged
pfigen
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« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2007, 04:03:36 PM »
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Pretty much anywhere in the eastern Sierras is the place to be in October. The fall color happens fairly reliably during the second week after the first couple of freezes. Lundy Canyon, Bodie, Tonapah, Nv. Upper Rock Creek Road (highest paved road in Ca.) Onion Vally Rd. out of Independence and Cerro Gordo are all great places to go. It's a photographer's paradise and Pizza Factory in Bishop and especially Lone Pine have the best pizza anywhere and the deli at the Mobil station just south of Lee Vining has better food than any of the restaurants in Lee Vining propoer.  If you're feeling extra adventurous and do have a 4WD, the back road up into the Whites out of Law's Railroad Museum is supposed to be fantasic. BTW, have never needed 4WD to get to Bodie, even with snow on the ground. Both roads are bumpy but 2WD is more than adequate and if you take the northern route, it's only three miles of dirt.
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2007, 03:12:08 PM »
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...the deli at the Mobil station just south of Lee Vining has better food than any of the restaurants in Lee Vining proper.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I'll second that. Prime rib with parmesan mashed pototatos and lobster taquitos with mango salsa at a gas station deli? Yes!

[a href=\"http://www.yosemite.org/newsroom/clips2005/august/081705.htm]http://www.yosemite.org/newsroom/clips2005/august/081705.htm[/url]

The only caveat is that I understand that it is only open while Tioga Pass road is open.  That shouldn't be a problem in early October, though.

Paul

ps: if you're interested to see what the South Tufa looks like from the water, here's a photo I took early one morning last week:

[attachment=3003:attachment]
« Last Edit: August 13, 2007, 04:08:35 PM by PaulS » Logged

DonWeston
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« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2007, 01:10:36 PM »
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Be aware that sometimes if there is an early snow in the Yosemite area, the Tioga Pass Road may be chains only, or closed altogether. NOT always, but can happen. If so you can still get to Bodie and Mono Lake by other longer routes. This happened one year I was there and we took a good part of a day to drive around, in late Sept. Hopefully this won't happen to you. Great shooting though.
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andyfrazer
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« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2007, 11:36:39 AM »
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Would a day or two in Mono Lake be a good side trip from an October 5 or so day Yosemite trip?  How much time would you recommend in Mono Lake and where would you stay?
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I've always stayed at the El Mono motel. It really has character, the owners are wonderful, and they have the only good coffee bar in town. However, there's no air conditioning, and most of the rooms share showers and restrooms down the hall. Would I stay there next time? Maybe.

For meals, the Whoa Nelly Deli at the Tioga Gas Mart is the best food in town (a gourmet restaurant in a gas station??? Yeah, no kidding). For an economical meal, I don't have any complaints about Nicely's, especially for breakfast.

Andy Frazer
[a href=\"http://gorillasites.blogspot.com]http://gorillasites.blogspot.com[/url]
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oboguev
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« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2007, 10:49:51 PM »
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Oops... References in my previous comment to "September" should be read as "October".

4WD is not required on the road to Bodies for high clearance, but is certainly welcome for better suspension and stability on the washboard.
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danmitchell
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« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2007, 10:22:07 AM »
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Would a day or two in Mono Lake be a good side trip from an October 5 or so day Yosemite trip? How much time would you recommend in Mono Lake and where would you stay?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=129406\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I'll add to what has already been said...

Sometime during the first two weeks of October in a typical year, the eastern Sierra aspens light up in spectacular fashion. The timing is a bit different every year (dependent upon the climate, the current weather, and exact location) but the second week of October is often a good bet. (Unless a big, windy storm comes through and blows down all of the leaves a bit early.)

This year may be a bit different since the Sierra (and most of the rest of California) experienced a drought last winter. The northern Sierra got about 50% of normal precipitation and the southern Sierra got only about 20%. I'm not sure what the effect will be on the timing of the aspen leaves, but I suspect that they may change a bit early. (I've been in the Sierra many times already this summer, and the conditions already look like September in many places.)

All of this is my way of saying that if you are in the eastern Sierra in early October you should be alert to aspen conditions and be ready to change your plans to include them.

Mono Lake is a good photographic subject at just about any time of the year, though in very heavy snowfall (extremely unlikely in early October) access could be a problem. If you haven't shot there before and your time is limited, I recommend going to the South Tufa area before first light (say 45-60 minutes before dawn) to shoot the sunrise there.

I find that sunsets at Mono Lake are a bit more problematic - though wonderful when you are in the right place at the right time. Keep in mind that the Mono Basin is east of the very high peaks of the Sierra crest, so the light goes into shadow well before actual sunset, especially along the west shore.

A few comments on other topics that have come up in this thread: In typical conditions the drive to Bodie is nothing difficult at all. The first part is paved and the last three miles are a well graded dirt road - but nothing requiring any sort of special vehicle at all. Regarding October Sierra weather: In my experience early October can bring the most beautiful weather of the year to the Sierra. Typical days are sunny with beautiful warm light and comfortable temperatures; the nights are cold, with high country temperatures getting down into the teens. Snow is possible but less than likely. It is not unusual for a front or two to pass through at this time of the year, but they usually (note the use of the word "usually!") pass relatively quickly, dropping a trace to a few inches of snow that will melt in a few days. But do keep an eye on the forecasts. A couple years ago winter arrived on the second weekend of October with serious snow; Tioga Pass road closed and didn't open again until the following spring.

The park service begins to close things down on Tioga Pass road in late September. Park service campgrounds are closed by October, though forest service campgrounds just outside the park remain available, and some lodges are still open until mid-October, including the Tioga Pass Resort just east of the pass. There is no overnight parking on Tioga Road in the park after about the second weekend of October.

Have a great trip!

Dan
« Last Edit: August 24, 2007, 10:28:03 AM by danmitchell » Logged

rinderart
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« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2007, 02:54:37 PM »
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I'll add to what has already been said...

Sometime during the first two weeks of October in a typical year, the eastern Sierra aspens light up in spectacular fashion. The timing is a bit different every year (dependent upon the climate, the current weather, and exact location) but the second week of October is often a good bet. (Unless a big, windy storm comes through and blows down all of the leaves a bit early.)

This year may be a bit different since the Sierra (and most of the rest of California) experienced a drought last winter. The northern Sierra got about 50% of normal precipitation and the southern Sierra got only about 20%. I'm not sure what the effect will be on the timing of the aspen leaves, but I suspect that they may change a bit early. (I've been in the Sierra many times already this summer, and the conditions already look like September in many places.)

All of this is my way of saying that if you are in the eastern Sierra in early October you should be alert to aspen conditions and be ready to change your plans to include them.

Mono Lake is a good photographic subject at just about any time of the year, though in very heavy snowfall (extremely unlikely in early October) access could be a problem. If you haven't shot there before and your time is limited, I recommend going to the South Tufa area before first light (say 45-60 minutes before dawn) to shoot the sunrise there.

I find that sunsets at Mono Lake are a bit more problematic - though wonderful when you are in the right place at the right time. Keep in mind that the Mono Basin is east of the very high peaks of the Sierra crest, so the light goes into shadow well before actual sunset, especially along the west shore.

A few comments on other topics that have come up in this thread: In typical conditions the drive to Bodie is nothing difficult at all. The first part is paved and the last three miles are a well graded dirt road - but nothing requiring any sort of special vehicle at all. Regarding October Sierra weather: In my experience early October can bring the most beautiful weather of the year to the Sierra. Typical days are sunny with beautiful warm light and comfortable temperatures; the nights are cold, with high country temperatures getting down into the teens. Snow is possible but less than likely. It is not unusual for a front or two to pass through at this time of the year, but they usually (note the use of the word "usually!") pass relatively quickly, dropping a trace to a few inches of snow that will melt in a few days. But do keep an eye on the forecasts. A couple years ago winter arrived on the second weekend of October with serious snow; Tioga Pass road closed and didn't open again until the following spring.

The park service begins to close things down on Tioga Pass road in late September. Park service campgrounds are closed by October, though forest service campgrounds just outside the park remain available, and some lodges are still open until mid-October, including the Tioga Pass Resort just east of the pass. There is no overnight parking on Tioga Road in the park after about the second weekend of October.

Have a great trip!

Dan
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=135272\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
a few miles north of lee vining is the Mono Inn restaurant. Ansel Adams grandaughter owns it.
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