Everyone has their favorite place. The place they go to in their minds when they are worried, stressed out, or just plain fed up with work and responsibilities. For me, that place is Yosemite National Park.
We have been to Yosemite many times over the years. We have camped in the campgrounds, stayed in the tent cabins in Curry Village, and relaxed in the condos in the Yosemite West development. As a family, and later as couple, we have hiked the Mist Trail and Four Mile trail, sunned ourselves on the rocks at Yosemite Falls, swam in the river, and ridden horses to Mirror Lake. Stargazing at Glacier Point and sitting in the meadow with binoculars at the foot of El Capitan watching the rock climbers are favorite parts of our trips.
When my husband and I bought our first tour bike, he brought up taking it to Yosemite. At the time we bought it, I never thought that I would ever be ready for the freeway…. much less take it longer distances. My husband has ridden a motorcycle since he was a teenager, but it was all new to me.
After a couple months of riding locally around Sacramento, we started talking about going further. First, we took the bike to Auburn. When I didn’t have a meltdown on the freeway, we made runs to Foresthill, Grass Valley, and Reno. Then, we went even further and spent the weekend in Monterey. About that time, my husband brought up Yosemite. “Wouldn’t it be great to cruise the valley floor on the bike?”, he said. At this point, I was enjoying the rides, and was realizing that I wanted to go further as well.
What I didn’t realize was this ride would end up being my favorite so far, and one we would talk about for months after.
Here’s the route breakdown:
Day 1 ~~ Rocklin, California to Walker, California 210 miles
Interstate 80 from Rocklin (Sacramento area) to Highway 89 past Squaw Valley to Lake Tahoe.
Around the East Shore of Lake Tahoe to Stateline. What can you say about Lake Tahoe that hasn’t already been said? This was an absolutely beautiful ride, on a gorgeous fall day.
Over the Kingsbury Grade to Highway 88/89.
Highway 88/89 over Monitor Pass to Interstate 395. Monitor Pass was a fantastic ride, and we cannot wait to go again.
Interstate 395 to Walker, California.
Overnight at Andruss Motel. This was a great little roadside motel. They were all ready for us, the room was spotless, the bed was comfortable, and we could park right outside the room. The best part was the table and chairs outside the room. We spent about an hour chatting with our neighbors. They were over from Europe, and traveling up thru California/Nevada and into Oregon to visit friends and family.
Day 2 ~~ Walker to Yosemite National Park 148 miles
Walker, California to Yosemite National Park
Tioga Pass into the park. Ok, so this part of the trip was a highlight for me. Approaching the pass I was a little nervous. I had been over it in a car, but never on a bike. It was so amazing, that I completely forgot about being nervous and just marveled at the views. The absolute best part was what happened about halfway up. As we were going up the pass, there were many bikes coming down. As we cruised along people are waving and pointing…. then there was this one woman on the back of a Harley…. and she is waving both arms at us and grinning ear to ear. It was just one moment in a great trip, but that one moment really personified the whole idea of being on a bike. You don’t get moments like that closed up in a car. I guess it’s that “biker connection” that my husband has talked about for years, but that I had never experienced.
Oh, and let me just say that 9,943 feet (summit of Tioga Pass) in late September is very cold….
After Tioga Pass, we cruised thru Tuolumne Meadows where a bald eagle flew directly over us! I’m a little bald eagle crazy, so having one fly over me was another one of those “wow” moments. Again, it’s something that I probably would never have noticed in a car, and another reason why I enjoy traveling on the bike so much. After my bald eagle close encounter, we cruised down and ended up in the Yosemite Valley. We circled the valley floor several times, and it was everything I was hoping for. Lots of pictures, lots of video, and lots of knee squeezes and pointing at all the sights. Of course, it was crowded, but you won’t get any complaints from me. Yosemite in September is nothing compared to Yosemite in July, as far as crowds go.
Overnight at Curry Village tent cabins, which I love. It’s the only reasonably priced place to stay in the Valley, unless you are able to camp. And, I’m the first one to admit that after all day on the bike, the last thing I want to do is sleep on the ground.
Day 3 ~~ Yosemite National Park to Rocklin (by way of Glacier Point) 272 miles
Valley floor to Glacier Point. We got so lucky this trip in regards to Glacier Point. There were many fires that fall, and a big one had been burning in parts of Yosemite (you can tell in some of the hazy pictures). They were stopping traffic going up to the Point, and controlling how many were going in/out. But, because we were on the bike they let us thru, and we never sat in line.
Glacier Point is kind of a religious experience for me every time (and I’m not that religious). The views from there are unmatched by anything else I’ve seen in our travels. Going in and out on a bike was the ultimate, and the selfie I got with Half Dome on the way out topped off the trip!
Glacier Point to Highway 140 out of the Park
Highway 140 to Highway 49.
Highway 49 to Folsom, California and back roads home.
Well, to those of you who made it this far, congratulations! I freely admit that I am a tad travel crazy, and you can expect more of the same in this blog.
If any of you live in California, you could jump onto this loop at any point, and enjoy the same ride we did. Who knows, if you plan for this September, we may be chatting over chips/salsa in the chairs at the Andruss Motel or waving to each other on Tioga Pass.