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Author Topic: ~5days in California in March - Advice Required Please  (Read 2974 times)
David Campbell
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« on: January 09, 2013, 05:43:11 AM »
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In March I will travel to Alaska for 2 weeks to hopefully see and photograph Aurora.

After the trip I will visit a friend in Seattle for 2 days with the plan to get out to Olympic National Park.

After this I will have ~5 days in California with my flights landing and departing from San Francisco. Morning of the 26th to Afternoon of 30th.

I am yet to hire a car or book accommodation and I am looking for suggestions.

So far my options are Yosemite & Sequoia National Parks.
Death Valley would be nice, but I think I need to spend a longer trip there in the future.
At this time of year, is 5 days enough for these areas, too much etc?
Any other suggestions?

Suggestions for accommodation/camper van? I am travelling by myself

Thanks in advance.

David
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Ice Nine
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« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2013, 08:03:22 AM »
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California Campers is a good place to rent a VW camper.  Sorry I forget his name, but he's a good guy.  He's in Redwood City, about a half hour south of SF airport.

http://californiacampers.com/

Tom
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PhotoEcosse
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« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2013, 08:34:20 AM »
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Yosemite is very much hit and miss. In "good" weather it is a drab, uninteresting place although you will see plenty of parties of "photography students" being fleeced by "professional" guides and standing like dumbos taking pictures at all the standard viewpoints such as Tunnel View.

What you really need in Yosemite is bad weather. If you look at any of the dramatic photographs by old masters such as Ansel Adams, they have invariably been taken in really shitey weather with great atmosphere and cloud formations to draw attention away from the overwhelming greyness of the place. "Clearing Winter Storm" is the obvious example.
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PhotoEcosse
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« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2013, 08:38:30 AM »
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....but, if the weather is too good for Yosemite, carry on over the Sierra Nevada to Lake Tahoe. Wonderful landscapes all the way.
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HSakols
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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2013, 09:40:48 AM »
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By the end of March the Merced River along HWY 140 just west of Yosemite I imagine will be quite nice with blooming redbuds.  If you choose Yosemite keep in mind that Tioga Pass will be closed. 
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wildlightphoto
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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2013, 11:40:50 AM »
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If you choose Yosemite keep in mind that Tioga Pass will be closed.  

Which means that one cannot simply carry on over the Sierra Nevada (and then north on US 395) to Lake Tahoe.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2013, 05:25:47 PM »
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Some years Tioga Pass isn't open until sometime in July.
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HSakols
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« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2013, 08:21:42 PM »
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Death Valley could be quite hot by the end of March.  I would suggest staying in El Portal (HWY 140 west Entrance) You might look at the Yosemite View Lodge. Another amazing area to look at is the Big Sur Coast and Point Lobos State Reserve. 
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David Campbell
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2013, 05:38:07 AM »
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Thank for the replies so far.

I have read that the pass probably wont be open, so I would have to go the long way around to get to Lake Tahoe.
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Philmar
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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2013, 04:36:39 PM »
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+1 for Yosemite in crap weather and Big Sur if it's good. The Monterrey Aquarium is along the way to Big Sur.
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Rand47
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« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2013, 04:26:42 PM »
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David,

Give some thought to the far north coast California redwoods. Difficult to photograph well, but a truly magical place. 

http://www.aveofthegiants.com/


http://redwoods.info/showrecord.asp?id=476

http://www.gorp.com/parks-guide/travel-ta-sinkyone-wilderness-state-park-northern-california-california-sidwcmdev_054007.html

Rand




In March I will travel to Alaska for 2 weeks to hopefully see and photograph Aurora.

After the trip I will visit a friend in Seattle for 2 days with the plan to get out to Olympic National Park.

After this I will have ~5 days in California with my flights landing and departing from San Francisco. Morning of the 26th to Afternoon of 30th.

I am yet to hire a car or book accommodation and I am looking for suggestions.

So far my options are Yosemite & Sequoia National Parks.
Death Valley would be nice, but I think I need to spend a longer trip there in the future.
At this time of year, is 5 days enough for these areas, too much etc?
Any other suggestions?

Suggestions for accommodation/camper van? I am travelling by myself

Thanks in advance.

David
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Philmar
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« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2013, 09:27:10 AM »
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Great suggestion rand47
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dreed
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« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2013, 06:06:14 AM »
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If I had to choose a month to photograph in California, March would be towards the bottom, if not the bottom of the list. (It and April would be competing for the bottom spot.)

The exception is if there is a snow shower at Yosemite Valley during your 5 day stay - you want to be there for it and the day after. Chains for rental cars can be bought at the usual locations.

Death Valley might not be a bad bet and the quickest way there is across the southern pass over the Sierra Nevadas - driving the Tahoe route is too long in terms of time.

Hmm, it may be worth your while planning a trip to go to Death Valley and work your way up the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas and come back through Tahoe (or vice versa.) The eastern side of the hills is quite dramatic/spectacular in parts, much more so than the common approach from the west. You may even find that you can get into places like Mono Lake. But it is a lot of driving (and $$ for gas.)

The eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas gets very poor coverage, except in fall when the leaves are turning around June Lake, etc.
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Edward Mendes
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« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2013, 05:57:51 PM »
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Just not enough time!  The last week of March will still be too early for Yosemite to start to come alive again, this usually starts to happen the last week or so of April and continues through the first couple weeks of May.  Death Valley can still be somewhat pleasant in March but you never really know, it can be really hot at that time as well.  Death Valley is a long ways from the Bay Area however, about 8 to 9 hours. 

In my opinion your best bet would be to stay around the Bay Area with San Fransisco, Santa Cruz and the Monterey / Big Sur area being the focus of the trip.  The Monterey / Big Sur area is the highlight in my opinion and could be your "base" for most of the trip.  Stay in Monterey and take a day trip to Davenport and Santa Cruz which is about 45 minutes to an hours from Monterey across the bay.

The Big Sur Coast is one of my favorite locations to shoot with Garrapata beach, Garrapata State Park and McWay Falls being among the highlights.  The village of Carmel-by-the-Sea is only a few minutes south of Monterey and Point Lobos state park is just south of Carmel.  If the weather is warm and wildflowers are starting to pop you can check out Carmel Valley and the wonderful Oak Trees that cover some of the rolling foothills.  Again, Davenport and Santa Cruz makes for a great day trip where a number of excellent beaches live.  The thing to remember is that the entire area is filled with more sunset locations because of the way everything faces however beautiful images can also be made during sunrise too.  It just takes a little more hunting.

Enjoy the trip.
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David Campbell
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« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2013, 06:20:28 PM »
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I agree that there is not enough time but I can not get anymore time off work.

I have decided that I will spend a couple of days in both Yosemite and San Francisco.

I guess I will have to return the US to see all the other wonderful places at the right time of year.

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John Rodriguez
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« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2013, 03:20:34 PM »
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My in-laws live in Yosemite so I've wound up shooting there every month of the year.  As someone else mentioned the redbuds should be blooming, and the poppies may be out as well.  Also, the Merced River should be up by then.  So, Hite Cove will be good, as well as all sorts of places along the Merced. 
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matt4626
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« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2013, 04:07:44 PM »
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Big Sur++
Check the weather it's only a few hours from SF to Yosemite...
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mshea
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« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2013, 10:40:36 AM »
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As for accommodations in San Francisco, consider the Hostel at Fort Mason. Best buy in town, less than $30.00 a night with breakfast included. You might be able to grab a private room, if you're lucky (less than $90.00 a night). Fantastic views of the Bay and the Golden Gate. Reserve online or call; they're open 24 hours a day. Cook your own meals in the huge kitchen (Safeway Supermarket five minutes walk). But then who wants to cook with all the great restaurants nearby! I've been staying there for 11 years in a row.

Definitely check out the Redwoods Nat. Park on your way south. If you have the time, take the cutoff from Highway 101 to coastal Rt. 1. No doubt it will be foggy, but a wonderful drive, full of twists and turns all the way to SF. Mt. Tamalpais, just north of the Bridge on Rt. 1, can yield lots of great shots, even when it's totally socked in. And you might get lucky and nab the classic view of the Golden Gate Bridge superstructure peeping out of the fog at sunset (Drive to one of the upper parking areas on Conzelman Rd., first exit off the Bridge).

The Bay Area can keep you busy for weeks!

Merrill
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David Campbell
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« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2013, 03:23:18 PM »
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Thanks everyone.

Due to time constraints I will be flying between Fairbanks, Seattle and San Francisco.
If I was able to get more time off work, I would be driving a lot more and stopping along the way.

Both the International and domestic flights make it hard to decide what gear to leave at home   Undecided
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Rocco Penny
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« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2013, 06:59:18 PM »
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Hi David,
If I had a few nights to spend in San Francisco,
I'd say limit your travels,
Monterey is spectacular.
Nice shooting north of the bay, I just noticed another poster from this area showing some of the beach rocks in the marin/sonoma area.
There is Tomales Bay and Bolinas lagoon
Here closer to Santa Cruz there are many tidepools and sea life to see.
Flowers will be off the hook. Just drive from San Francisco to Santa Cruz or on to Monterey.
I mean if you go to the sierras you might see a redbud, but my guess is nothing much in march up there.
Wildlife in the greater bay area includes so much diversity you'd have to mention an interest for me to say what I'd try shooting with and where.
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