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Old 10-29-2011, 04:54 PM
106 posts, read 80,869 times
Reputation: 122


Hello one and all,

For Thanksgiving we have decided to drive to Yosemite Valley and enjoy our holiday up there. It is certainly going to be somewhat colder in that area than during the Summer season. Possibly even some rain or snow as it is late Nov. My main issue right now is driving conditions in that location and what to expect for driving. I have a rental car booked for that time and the rep at the rental office mentioned that their cars have all weather tires and are not suitable for snow chains.
I have never had any exp with driving in snowy or winty conditions before and am pondering if I do indeed need snow chains or just go with the all weather tires from the rental car company.
Does anybody know for certain how difficult it is to drive in or around Yosemite valley during late Nov and would snow chains be an absolute essential item for the car?
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Old 10-29-2011, 05:39 PM
Location: Oakland, CA
3,927 posts, read 3,788,819 times
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It won't matter much if they close the roads, but yeah, some areas might REQUIRE snow chains...
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Old 10-29-2011, 08:59 PM
Location: San Francisco
1,467 posts, read 2,190,442 times
Reputation: 1522
You should be fine and chances are you'll encounter no snow if you stick to Hwy 140 from Merced/Mariposa. That highway (and Yosemite Valley) are more rainy than snowy in the winter (and it generally doesn't start getting that cold until late December). My family went to the Ahwahnee Hotel several times for Thanksgiving over the years and the weather was always frost at night, cool and sunny during the day. Its still fall after all.
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Old 10-30-2011, 01:03 PM
Location: Mountain Ranch, CA The heart of Calaveras County
6,570 posts, read 14,243,531 times
Reputation: 5606
Whether you use them or not, chains are required to be carried in areas where the possibility exists that they might be required.

If you drive in, take Highway 140 from Mariposa into the park. Highway 140 follows the Merced River into the park and is less likely to present difficult driving conditions. Hiways 120 and 41 have portions of the roadway much more likely to have snow and ice on them.
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Old 10-30-2011, 08:46 PM
Location: A bit further north than before
1,529 posts, read 2,337,683 times
Reputation: 1211
Don't rent a car, a 4-wheel drive SUV - tell the rental agent your concerns and they'll set you in a vehicle that can safely handle any winter conditions you might encounter, no chains necessary.
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:46 AM
112 posts, read 115,225 times
Reputation: 140
Default Driving to Yosemite in Nov

I lived in Mariposa for 24 years and it all depends on the weather at the time you travel. It is possible/likely you can drive right up there with no need for chains. Do take Highway 140 through Mariposa as others have said. It is the most weather friendly route. Check the forecast. If there is a storm predicted with lower snow levels for the Thanksgiving holiday then you might need chains. I have driven up there with a front wheel drive vehicle between storms with no problems. I would make sure you have a front wheel drive vehicle.
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:53 AM
112 posts, read 115,225 times
Reputation: 140
Default Traveling to Yosemite in Nov

Another thought. It might be wise to have chains with you if the weather looks changable. You can rent chains in Mariposa. I think Napa Auto Parts rents them as well as other places.
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Old 11-03-2011, 07:52 AM
24,407 posts, read 19,408,498 times
Reputation: 21372
Get a four wheel drive SUV as another poster recommended. Also as DMenscha stated take the 140 from Merced. For newer cars its actually cables that you want for the tires not chains. Still if there is several inches on the ground you cant beat cables and four wheel drive especially if you have no driving experience in snowy conditions.

That time of the year though you should have no problems. Just checkout the 10 day forecast to get an idea of what your are heading into so you have time to prepare. I really doubt you'll have snow but you never know. I would be more worried about patches of black ice on the road.
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