Yosemite National Park, an amazing natural wonder, is easily accessible from Los Angeles. Visitors arriving by car, bus, train, or plane can access the park with over 1,200 square miles of a vast wilderness. Although it’s simple to drive from LA, visitors should be aware that the YARTS system in the area makes it very simple to get around the area and find parking without a car. Even regional airports, bus stops, and train stations in cities like Merced and Fresno are accessible via the system. Drivers must be aware that traffic can be quite bad and parking can be difficult during the busy summer months, especially in July and August. Some roads are closed during the winter season, and others need tire chains and/or a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
There are two main options if you want to drive from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park: you can take the direct route or opt for a longer, more picturesque drive. The most scenic route will take about 10 hours, not including stops, while the direct route will take slightly more than five hours.
You might need to change your route depending on the season because many roads and areas of the park are closed during the winter, from November through May, due to snow.
The quickest route from LA is to travel north on the I-5 freeway for about two hours, where you will then merge with CA-99 north just after crossing the Grapevine. All the way to Fresno, take CA-99. After an hour of driving, you’ll arrive at the park after joining CA-41 there. The majority of the drive is on interstate highways, and it passes primarily through the agricultural heartland of California.
Starting in Los Angeles and travelling up the coast, the scenic route to Yosemite begins with the Pacific Coast Highway. You pass through Malibu, Oxnard, Ventura, and Santa Barbara before arriving there. After that, it’s up through Pismo Beach, the Santa Maria Valley, and Lompoc. Perhaps this is a good place for a side trip to Hearst Castle.
The next stop on the itinerary is some intense coastline exploration as you travel through Monterey, Carmel, and the breathtaking 17-Mile Drive. Before taking the CA-152 east towards Yosemite, proceed to Gilroy, the world’s capital of garlic. You eventually meet up with CA-41, which will take you directly to the park, after about an hour.
Taking the bus is an easy way to get from LA to Yosemite. Greyhound doesn’t have a direct bus from LA to Yosemite, but you can easily get there with just one transfer. Only one bus change is necessary during the nine to ten-hour journey. You must board an early bus that leaves the Greyhound station in downtown Los Angeles at around 6am in order to complete the journey in one day. Your journey on that bus will take you to Bakersfield, Fresno, and ultimately Merced, where you will arrive at around 12:30 p.m. Every few hours, the Greyhound bus will stop for rest and meal breaks. The buses are equipped with restrooms and free Wi-Fi.
After two to three hours of travel, you change to a YARTS bus in Merced, which will take you directly to the Yosemite National Park visitor centre. FlixBus, which provides service from Los Angeles to Fresno, is a new option for the summer. The San Fernando Valley or Hollywood are the LA pick-up locations, and they drop you off at Cal State Fresno. Because YARTS only operates a Fresno-Yosemite bus from May through September, this is a seasonal option. Additionally, in order to catch the YARTS bus to Yosemite from CSU Fresno to the Fresno airport, you must take a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle.
Flying is the quickest and most convenient way to travel from LA to Yosemite National Park. Yosemite visitors can now choose between three airports. From LAX, you can take a seasonal flight operated by United to Bishop’s Eastern Sierra Regional Airport. Yosemite is about a 90-minute drive from this airport, and YARTS has a bus stop there to take you there.
Another choice is to fly with Alaska Airlines into Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT) from Los Angeles International Airport and then transfer to the YARTS bus to get to the park. From the airport to the Yosemite Visitor’s Center, the bus service operates from May through September and travel time is four hours. Along with stopping at various hotels and locations near the park. From LAX to FAT, Alaska Airlines provides year-round, direct and connecting service. If arriving at FAT in the winter, getting to Yosemite would require a rental car, ride-sharing service, or other private transportation. Depending on where you’re going, the drive can take anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours.
Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH), which is located about 45 minutes from the park, is the other nearby airport. Advanced Air, a small airline with semi-private jet and turbo-prop service to MMH, is a new option for getting to Yosemite from Los Angeles. They operate direct flights from the nearby Hawthorne Municipal Airport (HHR) and Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR) during the winter ski season.
Yosemite National Park is simple to access once you get to FAT or BIH. Really, you don’t need a car. The Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) bus runs directly from the airport to the park. Recall that the YARTS bus from Fresno only runs during the summer. When you arrive in Yosemite, you are joined to a system of YARTS shuttles that run throughout the park. Your YARTS ticket covers both park admission and shuttle service inside the park.
Amtrak makes it possible for travellers to travel from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park by train. The majority of the journey is spent travelling by Amtrak bus, but you can also take the train from Bakersfield to Merced. The journey (from LA) will take roughly ten hours in total. The journey begins at Union Station in Los Angeles, where you first board an Amtrak bus bound for Bakersfield. The bus departs at one in the morning, and the journey lasts about three hours. The San Joaquins train departs from Bakersfield and travels for about three hours to Merced.
The YARTS bus will then take you directly to the park visitor centre after departing from Merced. You will depart LA at 1am and reach Yosemite at around 11:30am. You could also take the Pacific Surfliner train from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo, followed by the San Joaquins train from San Francisco to Merced, for a more picturesque journey. The Emeryville station in San Francisco can be reached by bus, and the park can be reached by the YARTS bus from the Merced station. The YARTS park shuttles and even park admission are included in the fare if you reserve your trip to Yosemite through Amtrak.
How far is Yosemite from Los Angeles?
The traditional CA-99 route is 279 miles long and takes about 5 hours to travel from Los Angeles to Yosemite. The distance along US-395 N is 334 miles, in contrast. The additional miles increase the driving time from Los Angeles to Yosemite to almost six hours.
With a few short stops at some of the most interesting locations, this drive can be completed in a single day, or it can take longer if more time is spent exploring some of the National Forests and other attractions that dot the eastern route. No matter how much time you spend on the drive, be sure to stop at some of our favorite locations.
Best stops from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park
Descanso Gardens is home to 150 acres of vibrant plant life, including local Southern California flora and exotic plants that have been bred to thrive in this environment. When you want to escape the Hollywood glitz and glamour for a restorative experience in nature, it’s a must-visit location in LA.
A prospering collection of Camellia flowers, Japanese gardens, a wishing tree, rose gardens, an old forest, and an oak forest are just a few of the sections of Descanso Gardens that have been expertly pruned and dedicated to reflecting the beauty of nature. Animals can be seen wandering through many areas of this domesticated wilderness.
Angeles National Forest
The San Gabriel and Sierra Pelona Mountains, primarily in Los Angeles County in southern California, are home to the Angeles National Forest (ANF) of the U.S. Forest Service. The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument is mostly under the control of the ANF.
The first San Bernardino National Forest and a portion of the previous Santa Barbara and San Gabriel National Forests were included in the creation of the national forest in 1908. The main office of the Angeles National Forest is in Arcadia, California.
Fishing, boating, water sports, camping, and picnicking are all available at the Isabella reservoir. This lake is a well-liked year-round vacation destination for residents of southern California due to its close proximity to Bakersfield and Los Angeles. The lake is one of the most well-liked windsurfing spots in the state, and the consistent afternoon winds, which range from 35 to 50 miles per hour, offer the best conditions for intermediate to advanced windsurfers.
With the purchase of a Southern Sierra Pass or another Interagency Pass, take advantage of shoreline camping and day use activities at Auxiliary Dam, Old Isabella Road, or South Fork Recreation Area. Fishing, hunting, canoeing, and hiking are all possible in the South Fork Wildlife Area, one of the largest remaining riparian woodlands in California; there are no built-up recreation facilities nearby.
Every boat, personal watercraft, and sailboard operating on the lake must bear a permit issued by Kern County. These licences can be acquired at any marina on a lake or at various places around the Kern River Valley. Make sure to look for any necessary safety gear.
Charlie Brown Farms
Charlie Brown Farms was just a little fruit stand on the old highway in 1929. Eighty years later, it now occupies 6 acres, with 1 of those acres being used only for parking. The fruit stand’s three buildings, two patios, and over 1,000 different candy and item varieties.
The Central Valley’s numerous farm stands are one benefit of travelling up CA-99. The experience at the farm stand is not required if you take the eastern route.
You’ll arrive in a small town called Vincent after about two hours of driving. You can get to Charlie Brown Farms from there with just a short detour of ten minutes. Beginning in 1929 as a fruit stand, this old-western landmark has expanded to include a vintage candy and toy store, fudge, soda pop, barbeque, and a miniature dinosaur park. You’ll have the chance to shop for regional fruits and vegetables as well as experience that classic Central California aesthetic. And trust me when I say that until you purchase an avocado directly from the farm, you haven’t had a true California avocado.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley is a land of extremes in this basin below sea level because of the ongoing drought and the extreme summer heat. Each extreme, however, has a startling contrast. Winter snow has covered the high peaks. Rare rainstorms bring colossal wildflower fields. Rich gardens provide a haven for animals and people, as well as tiny fish. Death Valley is home to a wide variety of life despite its ominous name.
At the base of the angular Sierra Nevada peaks are the Alabama Hills, a formation of rounded rocks and eroded hills. Both geologic features were shaped by the same uplift that took place 100 million years ago.
Touring movie locations, taking pictures, climbing rocks, discovering natural arches, and taking in the springtime wildflower displays are all popular activities for visitors. Popular pastimes include riding horses and mountain biking.
At the easternmost point of the Sierra Nevada in California, there is a historic saltwater lake called Mono Lake. Its tributary streams also provide water to Los Angeles, which is located nearly 350 miles to the south and is home to trillions of brine shrimp, millions of birds, and famous tufa towers. Continuous advocacy has shown that balanced solutions mean enough water for both people and the environment after a successful legal battle stopped excessive diversions.
The Mono Lake Committee has been working to safeguard Mono Lake, restore its tributary streams and surrounding lands, and instruct the next generation about responsible water use ever since it was founded in 1978.