To answer some of the questions I'm receiving, I'm sharing my 2011 Central California photography trip itinerary below.
I planned my trip for this time of the year for a few reasons. First, I wanted to be in Yosemite before schools let out for the summer - so that the crowds would be light. I also wanted the Yosemite waterfalls to still be flowing strongly. And, I wanted Glacier Point and Tioga roads to be opened.
I was very successful with all but the last goal. While Glacier Point Rd opened the day we arrived, a 200% of normal snowpack (most in 70 years I was told) meant that Tioga Rd over Tioga Pass did not open until mid-July or so. Wed 5/25: Big Sur
Flew into San Francisco. I planned to arrive in time to shoot the sunset from the Monterey area, but a late flight meant that I drove into Big Sur around midnight. We stayed in a small cottage at Ripplewood Resort
. Thu 5/26: Big Sur
Explored the Big Sur area south to a road slide-out below Gorda. Fri 5/27: Big Sur
Explored the Big Sur area north including Monterey and Carmel. Arrived at the Holiday Inn Express in Paso Robles
around midnight. The original plan was to explore the southern Big Sur area on day two, making Paso Robles a nice stop-over point on the way to Sequoia National Park. With RT 1 being closed, I adjusted the schedule. Flexibility is always important when traveling. Sat 5/28: Sequoia National Park
Drove from Paso Robles (after having the front license plate on the rental SUV "reinstalled" at the local GMC dealer), through the Central CA valley (sampled the excellent fruit growing there), through Visalia and into Sequoia National Park on RT 198. Note that RT 189 entering Sequoia National Park is an amazing road. Spent the rest of the daylight hours exploring Sequoia National Park and drove to Kings Canyon National Park after dark. We stayed in the John Muir Lodge
for two nights. Sun 5/29: Kings Canyon National Park
Explored Grant Grove and the entire Kings Canyon. Mon 5/30: Yosemite National Park
Left Kings Canyon National Park. Drove to Fresno - did laundry, got food (including more fresh fruit such as oranges). Drove to Yosemite National Park. Checked into Yosemite View Lodge
. Yosemite View Lodge is located just outside of the Yosemite National Park entrance - it is at an ideal location for photographers concentrating on the Yosemite Valley. Tue 5/31 through Sat 6/4: Yosemite National Park
Lots of driving and hiking around Yosemite National Park. On Sat, drove to Cavallo Point
in Sausalito, CA. Cavallo Point is a few notches above the lodging quality I'm used to, but a winter deal made this ideal location for photography available to me. Sun 6/5 - Tue 6/7: San Francisco, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods, Point Reyes National Seashore
Explored these areas until flying out of San Francisco at 11:20 PM Tue night. List of Central California Photo Galleries: Big Sur, California PicturesSequoia National Park PicturesKings Canyon National Park PicturesYosemite National Park PicturesGolden Gate National Recreation Area PicturesPoint Reyes National Seashore Pictures
Hopefully you find some of these pictures inspiring. I intended to give you somewhat of a tour of the photographic potential of these areas.
Weather does not always cooperate with those of us with only a short amount of time to spend in an area. More time in an area increases the chances for great images, but the competent, passionate locals will always get the best shots.