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Author Topic: Mariposa CA
sojourner
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What is Mariposa CA like?
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Gilbert B Norman
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Well, it could be a place to stay if you have visions of 'Yosemite on the cheap'.

There is bus service operated by a regional agency that is designated as 'Amtrak Thruway'. That bus service serves both the Merced station to connect with 'San Joaquins', and Mariposa itself. The bus also serves Yosemite from Mariposa.

From a review of hotels displayed by Mr. Google, your requirement of 'inexpensive, clean, and safe' could better be met there than on the park grounds.

But then, why not just stay at The Ahwahnee?

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RR4me
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Sojourner, I do not know why you ask, but Mariposa is a small "gold country" town that serves some tourists and is home to mostly retirees looking for cheaper, semi-mountain homes before they get old enough to have to move to a city with good health care. (I live relatively close). There are some antique shops, cafe's etc. I don't consider it close enough to Yosemite for in and out visits; you'd definitley need a car to get to Yosemite and enjoy your own schedule. One can do a day trip, but it'll be a long tiring day. It's in what I call the higher foothills of the Sierra, not really high enough for classic mountain vistas, and most of the flora is manzanita and scrub oak, with some scraggly digger pine trees.

If you decide to spring for Yosemite lodgings, a cheaper alternative to the Ahwahnee is the Yosemite Lodge. But if you go don't miss a chance to visit and read a book or look at scenery in the Great room of the Ahwahnee, and if you can't afford to eat there, have a drink in the bar. It's one of the greatest hotel common areas anywhere, in my opinion.

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sojourner
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I'd certainly spring for Yosemite Lodge, but it's BOOKED! And that is even kind of off season!!! And Ahwahnee is close to $500 a night, cannot afford that. . . .

What I thought is I could go stay in Mariposa and take that Yosemite bus, which stops there, to Yosemite in the morning and back in the evening. I'm not gonna do any hiking so I just probably would see the valley, take the ranger tour there. . . .I would take Amtrak from Davis to Mariposa (train plus bus) the morning before, get to Mairposa in afternoon and stay there, then do the long day in Yosemite the next day, stay in Mariposa again, then leave next morning on a Cap Corridors train for SF area. I chose Mariposa because (a) it's a town, so can get food without a car and (b) both Amtrak bus and that Yosemite bus stop there. There are other motel/hotels closer to Yosemite, and Yosemite bus might stop at them, but I don't think the Amtrak bus does, based on the schedule online . . . plus without a car not sure where one would eat at those.

There are tours from San Franscisco that apparently buy up the hotel rooms in the park and one could get into them that way, but they are above my budget.

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Gilbert B Norman
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OK Ms. Sojourner, I'll certainly respect your decision to forego the Ahwahnee as at those rates I'd even think twice. My all time high, incidentally, was last March at a Miami Marriott - $480/ni. Prior to that, it was an Intercontinental in Berlin during 1990; US$ 435/ni. I'm sure, inflation adjusted, the latter still remains the champ.

Now it appears that Yosemite Lodge is a 'middle class Holiday Inn' type of property and very easily its rooms can be 'blocked' by various tour operators (so might The Ahwahnee, but it would be with operators like Abercrombie & Kent). Have your arrangements made at properties such as those in Mariposa noting carefully their CANX policies. Then 'keep checking' the Lodge's site for a release of rooms - they happen. The tour operators represent so much bread and butter that the hotels will bend to their needs - and if they have overbooked, there is always someone ready to pick up the room last minute (I doubt if in high season they need go near the consolidators and auction sites).

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smitty195
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RR4me summed up Mariposa quite well. I have been there numerous times, as I have a friend who is a deputy sheriff there. Both the town and county of Mariposa are "dead" as far as crime or excitement go. NOTHING happens in Mariposa. The main street through Mariposa (which is actually a highway, but with stop signs) is where you will find pretty much everything. If you like antique shops and quaint little shops owned by locals, then you will enjoy downtown Mariposa.

As far as hotels in Mariposa, there are only a few to choose from and they are all within a stone's throw from each other. Here is the list:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g32685-Mariposa_California-Hotels.html

I will gladly recommend and endorse the property that is rated #2 on TripAdisor (Miner's Inn). I have stayed there several times, and I can assure you that the photos of the rooms don't do it justice. It is a super clean, very nice motel to stay in. I am VERY picky when it comes to hotels (especially the bathrooms), and I have no issues at all with the Miner's Inn. I *would NOT* recommend the #3 rated property (Best Western Plus Yosemite Way Station). IT IS A DUMP!!! Trust me---you don't want to stay there. Stick with the Miner's Inn.

As far as bus transportation in and out of the park, etc, I don't know anything about that. All I know is that I see an Amtrak Thruway Bus in Mariposa all the time. I don't know where they stop in town (if they stop in town), but an Amtrak bus seems to go through daily. You'll have to do the research to figure that out.

By the way, the Yosemite Lodge is nothing to write home about. If I was given a choice between staying at Yosemite Lodge or Miner's Inn and taking a bus into Yosemite, I'd stay at the Miner's Inn. The only advantage to the Yosemite Lodge is location. But that's it----they know that they've "got you" because there is no other game in town---they are it. Enjoy walking around Mariposa and stay there, and just bus in and out of Yosemite---it's a piece of cake.

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smitty195
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By the way, there is one more hotel that is closer to the park than Mariposa is, but I don't know if you'd want to stay there because of the price (but who knows, maybe there is an online deal somewhere!). I'm talking about the Tenaya lodge. Here it is:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g32385-d76944-Reviews-Tenaya_Lodge_at_Yosemite-Fish_Camp_California.html

It is GORGEOUS. It started life as, "Marriott's Tenaya Lodge". And Marriott built a really beautiful hotel. For whatever reason, Marriott sold it and it's now run by some other company. But it's still just as nice. It would be a real treat to stay there, but I have not checked their rates.

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smitty195
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One more note: The Ahwahnee. You ain't missing much! That's just my opinion. Sure, it's nice to LOOK at. Go inside, walk around, take pictures. But don't stay there----even if you get a "deal". It's not a nice hotel. It's a far stretch from being "nice". It's pretty Motel 6'ish (or lower) as far as their rooms go. They are old, tired, and badly in need of some TLC. I don't know what the big deal is about The Ahwahnee. My brother proposed to his (then) girlfriend in the dining room one evening at the hotel, so it is a special place for them----but that's just the dining room. They wouldn't dare stay at the place. Yuck! Plus, people who live in the Bay Area often do day trips to Yosemite (when planned correctly) and don't need lodging as we're back home that same night. It's one of the great advantages to living here----we can go almost anywhere in one day (Yosemite, The Sierra, the beach and ocean, the giant redwood trees, etc, etc....Bay Area cities are constantly rated as the #1 place to live, and that's why). We are very fortunate.
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RR4me
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I'll chime in once more to add to Smitty's comments. If you are up to the bus ride into Yosemite, a long day, and bus ride back, that IS a viable option. Just walking in the valley, or riding the circuit buses, is spectaclular, and you can rest at the little village patio. I agree with his comment re: the Ahwahnee rooms and Lodge. While I think the Great Room and restaurant and bar are excellent for their views and ambiance, the rooms are small and cramped. The Lodge is as he said - badly in need of updating, but they know they don't have to. I don't know about the Amtrak buses to Mariposa - I do know they get to the park from the Merced Amtrak station; you can look to see if they stop in Mariposa.

The Tenaya Lodge is very nice; we've stayed there on a work "retreat" a few years ago. It's actually just outside Oakhurst (they may call it Fish Camp), and I do not know about tranport to and from. You would be taking a different route into the park from there, passing the Wawona Lodge. I suspect you might need a rental car for tha option, but then the Wawona would be another hotel to stay at, actually in the park. But it's pretty bare bones too.

Let us know about your trip!

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palmland
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My wife and I love the old and rustic NP lodges. Sure, the rooms are outdated, but that's not why you go there. Catching 8 hours of sleep is all we need in a room. But give me those huge walk in fireplaces blazing away in the lobby, the endless activities just outside the door, that iconic architecture, and beautiful scenery from most any window. This past summer we were in three of them in Glacier and it was a wonderful experience.

Certainly Marriott type hotels have their place for us: a quick overnight on a road trip or, as was the case this past weekend, a much needed 'crash' at a Residence Inn in Charlottesville after a very busy few days.

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smitty195
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sojourner: Okay, I've got some info for you that should be very helpful. I've been using Amtrak's website, and found the following information for you:

YES, Amtrak Thruway Bus Service does indeed serve both Mariposa and Yosemite National park. There are TWO bus stops in Mariposa, and EIGHT bus stops in the park. Here are the pertinent codes:

MARIPOSA:

MRM: Midtown Bus Stop (shared with "YARTS", Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System), Hwy 140 at 7th Street. The San Joaquin is the train to serve this area, and you would get off at MERCED and then take a 47 minute Thruway ride to downtown Mariposa.

MRP: Mariposa Park and Ride, 4974 Joe Howard Street, Mariposa

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK:

There are EIGHT stops. I'll just list the three biggees, but you can check Amtrak's webpage for the rest of them:

YOV: Yosemite Visitor's Center
YOA: Ahwahnee Hotel
YOC: Curry Village

The same train serves this area (San Joaquin), and you still would get off at Merced. From Merced to the Visitor's Center is 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Just now, I was able to book a San Joaquin train from Oakland to both Mariposa or Yosemite, and for both destinations it gave me multiple options as far as time. So there are several trains/buses per day that will get you there.

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sojourner
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Thank you all SO MUCH for the info! It certainly looks do-able, if I can make it, and it looks like I picked the right spot to stay. Will report back if I do!
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smitty195
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I'm glad we were able to help! Hopefully you'll make it out here. I love living here---I really should visit these places more often since they're so close. But it's funny----people who live in tourist destinations rarely go and check out what's in their own backyard. Its' so common isn't it? I lived in the SF Bay Area for over 15 years before I visited San Francisco! It took me 20 years of living here before I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge. Unbelievable. Especially when, now, I will visit there and see Asian tourists (and others) from half a world away who traveled 20 hours on a plane just to come HERE to vacation---and I'm minutes away and don't ever take advantage of it. That is a "resolution" of sorts for the new year that a friend and I have.....we decided that we're just going to DO things and stop talking about doing them. We have both seen friends die totally unexpectedly in the last four months and it has totally blown us away. I don't want it to happen to me, and still have all of these "to do" things on my checklist, so now I'll just do it (within financial reason, of course). I've never taken a tour of Alcatraz nor have I ever stepped foot on Alcatraz. Why??? I live right here!!! So I'll be doing that soon too.
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Vincent206
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I've lived in Seattle since before the Space Needle was built and I've only been to the top twice. Once as a little kid and a few years ago with some tourist friends. The view is nice but there are better views from other viewpoints.
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RRRICH
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While living in the Orlando area for almosst 20 years, I believe I went to Disney's Magic Kingdom twice, Animal Kingdom once, and maybe twice maximum to Epcot.
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DonNadeau
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@ sojourner

If traveling during spring, summer, or fall, consider Curry Village, as mentioned above a stop on Amtrak's Thruway service.

I loved Curry. I used its tent accommodation option--but tents unlike any we have experienced, with hotel quality double beds, etc. Curry offers the cheapest accommodation in the valley other than putting up your own tent.

Super convenient location. Easy to get around Yosemite Valley and during the season public transport to other areas of the park such as the Mariposa redwood grove (the trees, not the town).

Re. the Ahwahnee, definitely have the buffet breakfast in its grand dining room. Because haven't been there for four or so years, can't guarantee the food will be a good as I enjoyed, but the setting will be very special.

Enjoy your time.

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Vincent206
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If you are thinking of visiting Yosemite and hoping to avoid the hordes of tourists, you will have to go early in the season. Once summer hits, Yosemite will be packed until the last days of autumn. Curry Village is a cheap overnight option and I was fine in the tents, but they certainly aren't for everyone. There are a limited number of cabins in CV that are more comfortable than the tents, but they will sell out early for the summer season. Because Yosemite is at about 7000' in elevation, even the summer nights can be chilly.
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DonNadeau
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Add Yosemite's famous waterfalls to Vincent's excellent advice as they are another reason to visit early in the season.

These depend largely on snow melting and either dry up after that or have their flows greatly reduced--sometimes quite early in the peak season.

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@DonNadeau

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sojourner
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Sorry to be offline so long and not get back to you all, but I wanted to let you all know that I stayed in Mariposa and it worked out great. Mariposa is a nice little town with some restaurants--better than staying in a motel on the road closer to Yosemite but without a car--and it has some things to see in its own right--a small museum, courthouse, jail (from the outside), a little "arts park." Yosemite itself was fabulous--how right you are, Don, about going in spring when the waterfalls are in full flourish!

What we did was take the CA Zephyr--marvelous marvelous scenic trip--and overnight in Davis (since have been to Sacramento enough). Then, next day, we took Amtrak bus-and-train combo via SAC, Stockton, and Merced that ended with the YARTS bus to Mariposa, bookable through AMTRAK. That bus stops in 3 locations in Mariposa, so anyone doing this, be sure to choose a motel near one--and not the Best Western, which, though close enough to Mariposa Midtown bus stop, is down (or worse, up) a very steep hill! (mining towns are like that)

The YARTS bus is the same one that goes in to and out of Yosemite. It's very inexpensive and you can pay right on the bus. I think RT was $16, $8 for seniors. For environmental and congestion reasons, there's actually been a fair amount of encouragement for using it instead of driving to Yosemite, even if you have a car! Once in Yosemite, you can get off at the Visitor's Center for info, take the open-air tram tour of the valley (leaves from Yosemite Lodge, I think it's called--near Yosemite Falls--it goes to many many places you'll want to see), and have early or late lunch at the Ahwahnee (in the main restaurant; there's a bar too but prices are the same!). You can get back on the YARTS bus in many of these locations.

Leaving, there is a chance the YARTS bus will be late to Merced and miss the San Joaquin connection--this didn't happen the day we left, but I suspect it could, for I don't imagine the train would wait for the handful of connecting passengers, since YARTS is not a true Amtrak Thruway bus. For this reason, you may want to consider finding a driver (thru your hotel in Mariposa) to take you to Merced when you leave, or using the local taxi (more pricey--and can be hard to book in advance, there's just one guy!). OR just be prepared for the possibility of missing the train and a longish wait till the next one (I imagine the Merced agent would keep your luggage while you do a walkabout near the train station--seemed to be some nice little streets with houses--and the downtown with restaurants did not seem far--but I'm not sure).

OTOH, do NOT do any walkabouts in Stockton. As Bette Davis (I think) said in All About Eve (I think) "What a dump!" (at least, the area near the train station . . . though the station itself was fine. . . )

When I have a chance, I'll try to answer some other subjects I've missed while I was gone!

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DonNadeau
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@sojourner

So very glad the trip went well and that you could easily experience Yosemite at its best.

Yosemite is such a special place.

These parks have been so threatened at times. Many years ago, San Francisco dammed a portion of Yosemite for its water supply. There was serious talk of damming a large portion of the Grand Canyon, and on and on. The original coastal redwood forests in California have been reduced by 95%, leaving old growth groves totaling the size of the city of San Jose.

Am getting way off topic here, so will shut down this rant!

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@DonNadeau

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MargaretSPfan
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sojourner --
SO glad everything worked out for you and that you had a great time! Yosemite IS gorgeous, any time of year.

Note to all:
Due to the extreme drought the US West is suffering from, there has been very little snowfall in the Sierra, so there was not much snow to melt that supplies water for those awesome waterfalls. And there was a very bad, very large fire a couple of months ago within the Yosemite Park boundary, but not,in the valley itself.

The dam that Don Nadeau is referring to is the O'Shaughnessy Dam, which was completed in 1923. Damming that valley --which was almost as beautiful as Yosemite Valley -- broke John Muir's heart, and led to the formation of the Sierra Club. I wish it had never been built, but, then, I have to admit to conflicted feelings about it, as not only does it supply my drinking water, but also electric power for San Francisco. Mandatory RR content: SF Muni;s streetcars -- including those pretty historic PCCs, etc. -- get their power from that dam. Sigh..... More info about that dam can be found by Googling "Hetch Hetchy" and "O'Shaughnessy Dam"

And, yes, there really was a serious, concerted effort to to build a dam in the Grand Canyon. I so SOOOO glad that did NOT happen!

For more info about the US West and water issues, including facts about dams, please read "Cadillac Desert", by Marc Reisner (pub. 1986). It is a very good read, and will help you ton understand the water issues that are so important here in the western US. More info about this excellent book can be found by Googling "Cadillac Desert".

I like to learn things -- it is one of my main passions in life, and this book is but one of many from which I have learned fascinating things.

And, speaking of the Golden Gate Bridge, there is a super and very interesting book about its construction. Michael O'Shaughnessy, as the Chief Engineer for the City and County of San Franciso, was very involved in the planning for that beautiful bridge. Moreninfo about this fascinating book:

http://articles.latimes.com/1987-03-29/books/bk-965_1_golden-gate-bridge

Yosemite is a gorgeous place. And California has many beautiful places to visit, and a lot if very interesting things going on -- and great restaurants.

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Vincent206
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Glad to hear that the YARTS bus works well. Sorry to hear that Stockton is still Stockton. I've been putting off some family business that requires a visit to Stockton, maybe I can combine it with a quick trip to Yosemite.
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smitty195
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Excellent---I hope my info was at least somewhat helpful to you. Mariposa is indeed a neat little town.

Good to know that the Yarts connection bookable through Amtrak is NOT a guaranteed Thruway connection---I did not know this.

BTW, Stockton.....whew! Glad you didn't walk around there. It's much worse than a dump. It is very, very dangerous. Police officers do not respond to calls alone any more---two cars get sent to EVERY call. Extremely dangerous town. I like going to see the Stockton Thunder (ice hockey, AAA league for New York) at the Stockton Arena. I am armed to the teeth when I drive there, as well as when I'm inside the arena. It's a hassle to have to go in a separate entrance and report myself so that they know who is armed in their building, but it's worth it. That place has just gotten so out of hand. Poor Stockton---used to be a real decent town.

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sojourner
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Smitty, I'm not sure if it's a guaranteed connection or not--it just didn't seem like it would be to me. I guess you have to check with Amtrak to find out. I doubt the bus is usually SUPER late, but whether the San Joaquin train would wait for it--I just don't know. There were not other people making the connection when we went back--but maybe more in summer (there were people making the connection from SJ to YARTS when we went to Mariposa, though).

It's sure sad about Stockton--wasn't that the town in the Big Valley?

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smitty195
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Okay, gotcha on the bus connection thing.

As for Big Valley, that's before my time. [Smile]

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sojourner
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The Barkley ranch was in Calaveras County--the valley was the Central Valley, and the town nearby that the characters went into fairly often was Stockton. Here's a link to the first episode--not only features a race with a train and villainous train folk (after the credits) but even shows what purports to be the Stockton train station!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7j_G1IiqOiE

Posts: 2630 | From: upstate New York | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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