Backpacking (10) Gear (10) Camping (8) How to (2) Locations (2) Clothing (1) Food (1)

Sunday, June 19, 2011


How To: Get to and from Yosemite.

The best pit stop between SFO and Yosemite is the town of Manteca! A bangin' beast of a breakfast, a burrito compiled with love and a Bass Pro Shop all less than 100 miles from Yosemite.  This is a backpackers dream town!

If you fly into SFO from very far away you'll probably want to stay in a hotel the first night before heading into Yosemite. This will provide an opportunity to sort your gear, perform last minute prep work, buy propane, fishing licenses, groceries and other supplies accidentally left behind and eat a serious power-dinner and super-breakfast. We've found no better place to do this than Manteca, CA. Here's why:

Highway 120 runs right through Manteca making it a natural choice for our stay before our Yosemite Adventure. Stockton and Modesto may also be good choices.

Got Specs:
Capacity    ~50,000
Size            ~115 miles from Yosemite Valley

What Wins:
  1. Gear! Manteca has a Bass Pro Shops, a Wal~Mart Supercenter (which was disappointingly NOT like PeopleOfWalMart) and host other shops where we purchased food, fishing licenses and an assortment of last minute (forgotten) gear. The nearby town of Stockton has an REI as well. 
  2. Dinner! I cannot say enough good things about the awesome food and great service we enjoyed in this town. The proprietor of Taqueria La Estrella will greet you at the door with a salutation you may not soon forget, take your order then serve you a  cerveza followed by a delicious Mexican dish. This is one man who truly LOVES his job. He probably goes to work for his vacation. Make sure you sit close enough so you can hear the interesting things he says to everyone who walks in (he apparently knows everyone in town!).
  3. Breakfast! Go to The Mangy Moose Cafe and carb up before your Yosemite adventure! You will not regret it! As you might have guessed from the name this is NOT a franchise.  The Mangy Moose is a family run breakfast-only establishment that serves up a big, meaty breakfast prepared directly in front of you for under $7 (see photo). 
  4. Location! Manteca passes the Goldilocks test. Towns that are closer to San Francisco are too far for an early AM arrival in Yosemite (and can be more expensive). Towns closer to Yosemite are not as well equipped. Manteca is just right. Close enough to be close. Far enough to have lots of options.

What Fails:
  1. Accommodations! Somebody screwed up their flight and we arrived in Modesto at 2AM without a hotel reservation so we end up staying at the No-Tell-Motel (aka Travelers Inn) for $72 (I think we woke the proprietor up). It was hotly debated whether No Country For Old Men was filmed here.  Ben slept on the floor in fear of the bed sheets. I slept on the bed in fear the critters would carry me away (but I did use protection - not the kind people normally associate with these types of motels)! The motel isn't normally a fear-inspiring part of our adventure.
  2. Backhoe-cathole! After all the hefty servings of delicious food a spade may not be sufficient...

Other notes:
  1. I'm sure we would have had a better hotel had we arrived earlier or made reservations.

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