Yosemite National Park Location And How To Reach It?

Sierra and Stanislaus national forests, respectively, border Yosemite National Park to the south and north. The National Parks Service manages 75 million acres of the park, which includes Tuolumne and Mariposa counties, as well as Mono and Madera counties. With a few exceptions, the majority of the park has been designated as wilderness. The High Sierra is a temple to human forethought, the strength of granite, the force of glaciers, and the tenacity of life. Yosemite National Park was designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, and it is best known for its waterfalls, but it also has deep valleys, wide meadows, old massive sequoias, a large wilderness area, and much more.

Yosemite National Park is easily accessible from anywhere in the world with a little planning. If you fly to California, you can rent a car in San Francisco or Sacramento. Except for the eastern entrance on Tioga Road, the public roads are maintained all year. From October to April, tyre chains may be required.

Entrances and how to reach Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is massive, so decide which parts of the park you want to visit before deciding how to get there.

Driving is the best way to get around Yosemite. There’s no point in throwing away your rental car and taking Yosemite’s shuttles around the park, especially after a long hike, unless you’re taking a private car or public transportation from one of the park’s nearby airports. During the park’s peak season, however, these shuttles will be your best friend. Summer traffic is notorious for causing major delays, and trailhead parking lots can fill up quickly. If you don’t want to get up early to visit popular spots or hike the trails (which park officials recommend to avoid crowds), the park’s shuttles can save you a lot of time.

All visitors head to Yosemite Valley, entering the park via Highway 120 or 140 from the west. There’s also a south entrance at Wawona, a northwest entrance into the Hetch Hetchy Valley, and a summer-only eastern entrance at the Tioga Pass.

The nearest airport to the park with reasonable commercial service is in Fresno, California. The Fresno-Yosemite Airport (FAT) is about a 1.5-hour drive to the southern entrance at Wawona or a 2.5-hour drive into Yosemite Valley.

Yosemite National Park may be accessed from anywhere in the world with a little forethought. Many visitors who arrive by plane choose to fly into one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s airports, which provide more airlift and typically lower fares. Oakland International (OAK) is the closest airport to the valley, at 3.5 hours, but San Francisco International (SFO) and Mineta San Jose International (SJC) are both viable options at approximately 4 hours. You may hire a vehicle in either San Francisco or Sacramento, both of which are around four hours distant by plane. Except for the eastern entrance on Tioga Road, all public roads are maintained year-round (Highway 120 through the park). A tire chain may be necessary from October through April.

Getting to Yosemite from the North and West

Bay Area/San Francisco
Distance: 195 miles (314 kilometres).
Time required: 4-5 hours
To enter Yosemite National Park, take I-580 east to I-205 east to Highway 120 east (Manteca) or Highway 140 east (Merced).

Distance: 176 miles / 283 kilometres Time: 4 hours
To enter Yosemite National Park, take Highway 99 south to Highway 120 east (Manteca) or Highway 140 east (Merced).

Lake Tahoe and Reno
Conditions permitting, from approximately June to October.
218 miles (351 kilometres) (Reno)
Time required: 5 hours
Travel south on US 395 to Lee Vining, then west on Highway 120 into Yosemite National Park

Distance: 315 miles / 507 kilometers all year (Reno)
Time required: 5.5 hours
I-80 or I-50 west to Sacramento; Highway 99 south to Highway 120 east (Manteca) or Highway 140 east (Merced) to Yosemite National Park.

Getting to Yosemite from the South

San Diego area
Distance: 441 miles/710 kilometres Time: 8 hours
I-5 north to Highway 99 north to Highway 41 north (Fresno) to Yosemite National Park.

Los Angeles area
Distance: 313 miles / 504 kilometres Time: 6 hours
To get to Yosemite National Park, take I-5 north (or I-405 north to I-5) to Highway 99 north to Highway 41 north (Fresno).

Las Vegas
Conditions permitting, from June to October.
Distance: 642 km / 400 mi
Time required: 8 hours
North on US-95 to Tonopah, then west on US-95/US-6 to Highway 120. Take Highway 120 west into Yosemite National Park

From November to May
Distance: 495 miles/797 kilometers Time: 8-10 hours
Take I-15 south to Barstow, then Highway 58 west to Bakersfield, and finally Highway 99 north to Fresno. Take Highway 41 north from Fresno into Yosemite National Park.

Driving Times in and Around Yosemite

Wawona Road from Yosemite Valley (continuation of Highway 41)
Glacier Point: approximately one hour
South Entrance/Mariposa Grove: approximately one hour
Wawona: approximately one hour

El Portal Boulevard (continuation of Highway 140)
Entrance to Arch Rock: approximately 25 minutes
El Portal: approximately 30 minutes

Tioga and Big Oak Flat Roads (continuation of Highway 120 through the park)
Crane Flat: approximately 30 minutes
Big Oak Flat/Hodgdon Meadow: approximately 45 minutes
Hetch Hetchy approximately one hour and thirty minutes
White Wolf: approximately one hour
Tuolumne Meadows: approximately one hour and thirty minutes
Tioga Pass: approximately one hour and 45 minutes
Lee Vining: approximately two hours

By Bus

  • Bus service to Yosemite National Park is provided by Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS). Call 877.989.2787 for more information.
  • Greyhound doesn’t offer bus services to the park. But buses from Merced may be paired with YARTS service from Yosemite to get there. 800.531.5332 (in Spanish) or 800.229.9424 (in English)
  • Consider using the Yosemite Rapid Transit System (YARTS) to avoid traffic and parking headaches during the summer months in Yosemite Valley.

By Plane

  • Fresno/Yosemite International Airport (FAT) – 1.25 hours to the southern entrance via Highway CA-41; 1.25 hours to the northern entrance via Highway CA-120. The core of Yosemite Valley may be reached in 2.5 hours by car or bus. To get to Tuolumne Meadows, it takes around three and a half hours. The Yosemite Area Regional Transit System provides public transportation from Fresno to Yosemite (YARTS).
  • It takes about two and a half hours from San Francisco International Airport to the Big Oak Flat entrance via CA 120, and 3 and a half hours to reach the center of Yosemite Valley via CA 1. Tuolumne Meadows is around 4-5 hours away. Yosemite is accessible via public transportation.
  • Yosemite Valley is a six-hour drive from Los Angeles International Airport. Travel time to Tuolumne Meadows is an additional 1.5 hours.
  • It takes about 3 and a half hours to the center of Yosemite Valley from Oakland via Highway CA 120. Tuolumne Meadows is around 4-5 hours away. Yosemite is accessible via public transportation.
  • If you’re flying in from Sacramento, you’ll be at the park in 2.5 hrs, 3.5 hrs, and 4 hrs respectively. Yosemite is accessible via public transportation.
  • When Tioga Road Highway CA 120 is open in the summer and autumn, visitors from the Eastern Sierra may fly into Mammoth Lakes, Las Vegas, or Reno to reach Yosemite National Park. During the winter, Tioga Road is closed depending on the weather. For further information, check out the National Park Service Road Conditions.
  • It takes about 2.5 hours to go to Yosemite Valley from Mammoth Airport via Highway 395 and Tioga Road. Tuolumne Meadows is 1.5 hours away. During June through October. Roads may be closed in advance. Getting to Yosemite Valley from Reno International Airport is a four-hour drive via Highway CA 395 and Tioga Road. For June through October Roads may be closed in advance.

By Train

From San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Jose, Sacramento, and Merced/Riverbank, the AMTRAK Trains link with YARTS bus routes providing direct bus service into Yosemite Valley from Merced. 

By Car

Visitors to Yosemite National Park are required to pay an admission fee of $30 in the summer and $25 in the winter, depending on when they arrive. Limited free parking is available at Yosemite National Park. If you want to secure one of these spaces, you’ll need to come in advance. They will take care of your transportation needs while at the park, as they have an efficient shuttle bus system that will bring you to and from all of your destinations.

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