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sonora - yosemite drive

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
93 posts
64 reviews
sonora - yosemite drive

we are travelling to yosemite for just one night from the napa valley

we thought it would be good to overnight in sonora and then get an early start to the park

i have read some-where the road is really windy and could take a while to get there

so should i just go the more direct route to yosemite and forgo sonora

it would be a shame its a really pretty place by the looks

7 replies to this topic
Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
71,258 posts
132 reviews
1. Re: sonora - yosemite drive

Yes, Hwy 49 is winding and curvy. Yes, it can be "worth it" to some folks to visit the California Gold Rush country and foothills around Sonora. Yes, driving directly to Yosemite Valley is a better way to maximize your tourism in Yosemite NP since Sonora is about 2 hours away.

If you are visiting Yosemite for one night, then I recommend staying in Yosemite or as close as possible. The Top Questions on the Yosemite NP forum page have some lodging & activity ideas.

Nevada
Level Contributor
2,031 posts
2. Re: sonora - yosemite drive

Hi There,

I lived in Sonora for 14 years where I had a fast-paced B&B. Many folks stay in Sonora before or after visiting Yosemite -- not all of course, but many -- at least from my experience in hospitality and in talking with colleagues, visitor's bureau, etc.

From Sonora it is 55 minutes to the entrance of Yosemite via Hwy 120. It is then another 24 miles to Yosemite Valley which I always told guests to plan on 45 minutes. Take note that you could spend some time in the queue at the entrance gate if you hit it at rush time.

Hwy 49 is curvy and windy between Moccasin, CA and Coulterville, CA -- however, coming from Sonora to Yosemite you would not drive that far south on Hwy 49 because Hwy 120 intersects Hwy 49 at or near Moccasin so you're fine because you take Hwy 120 then to get to Yosemite. Are there curves? Yes, there are some but I would call them wide curves where you can still go 45-50 mph on the curves. Once you are inside Yosemite National Park, the maximum speed limit is 45 mph and even then, the posted speed limit can be much lower but that is the beauty of it all.

Sonora itself has a very cute downtown in an authentic historic gold rush mining kind of way, which is cute -- you know, old pot belly stoves turned into planters in front of some stores, etc. Many of the merchants have fled the big cities and their corporate America jobs and have come to Sonora to show off their craft -- Talulah's owner is from Santa Monica, CA -- Union Hill Inn owners are from Marin County -- The Gunn House owners are from Palo Alto -- the marketing and events director at City Hall did the same thing for the city of Monterey, CA. I could go on but I think you get the idea.

In historic downtown there are lots of shops such as antiques and clothing (Banyan Tree, Backspace, etc) The Candy Vault is in an historic bank building. There are a few art galleries, etc and there are great places to eat (Legends with a creek trickling through the basement -- cute!, El Jardin, Sonora Thai, Talulah's, Emberz, The Diamondback, Sonora Joe's).

There is the museum which is in the original jail and the jail-keeper's private home on Bradford Street 2 blocks west of Washington (the main street). Also, a few beautiful historic churches right there in downtown -- St Patrick's Catholic, Methodist and St James Episcopal) and some Victorian homes. Ask for the walking tour map when you visit the Tuolumne County Museum on Bradford.

Here is the web link to the museum and historical society --

http://www.tchistory.org/

Here is the web link to Visit Sonora --

http://www.sonoraca.com/visitsonora/ There are several other web links at the bottom of that web page.

The county courthouse is also quite impressive in downtown. You can't miss it.

Have fun!

* * * * *

P.S. There is also a newer part of Sonora with 3 Starbuck's, a 10-screen theatre, WalMart, Lowe's, and 3 or 4 major supermarkets including a Safeway, etc.

Edited: 30 March 2014, 16:04
Nevada
Level Contributor
2,031 posts
3. Re: sonora - yosemite drive

I forgot to mention there are three theatre stages (professional cast from LA, SF and NYC) with 11-month production schedules. Here are the web links --

https://www.stage3.org/ (1 stage)

http://www.sierrarep.org/ (2 stages)

And also of interest --

http://www.tuolumnecountyarts.org/

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
93 posts
64 reviews
4. Re: sonora - yosemite drive

thanks so much for your detailed answer , I think we would prefer the scenic route via Sonora

sounds great

Napa, CA
Destination Expert
for Napa
Level Contributor
8,432 posts
20 reviews
5. Re: sonora - yosemite drive

" I think we would prefer the scenic route via Sonora"

If you are driving to Yosemite form Napa, you will be taking the same route whether you go to Sonora or not. Sonora is a short detour off of Hwy 120 which leads to Yosemite. Sonora is before the winding part of Hwy 120. Depending on the time of year you will be going, Sonora can be quite hot in the summer.

Another town to consider would be Groveland which you will be driving through before reaching Yosemite. There's a few nice lodging choices there. Do you have reservations for staying in Yosemite Valley?

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
93 posts
64 reviews
6. Re: sonora - yosemite drive

Hi I have booked curry lodge for sat night we are going in the first week of may

what do you think ?

is it worth the detour for sonora

Napa, CA
Destination Expert
for Napa
Level Contributor
8,432 posts
20 reviews
7. Re: sonora - yosemite drive

Sonora is just a 15 minute detour. May is lovely in the Gold Country. Go for it!

Edited: 31 March 2014, 02:38
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