San Francisco to Yosemite National Park

One of the most scenic drives in the country, the four-hour trip from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park features curving mountain roads lined with ancient redwood trees. From San Francisco, take a day trip to Yosemite National Park. When you arrive at the most well-known national park in the state, you can either have lunch or go straight there to start exploring.

It takes some preparation to travel from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park, but the results are worth it. We advise against using Uber or Lyft since the distance is too good for either ride-sharing or a taxi service. Yosemite can be reached from San Francisco by public transportation, but the journey takes a while and requires a lot of endurance. We advise travelling to Yosemite in one of two ways for the best experience: either renting a car or taking a bus tour to Yosemite from San Francisco.

How to go from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park?

San Francisco to Yosemite road trip

By using a rental car, you can divide the distance however you like! The beautiful drive to Yosemite can also be enjoyed in the privacy and comfort of a rental car. Yosemite is about 170 miles and a 4-hour drive from San Francisco. To fully enjoy the park, we advise beginning your day as early as 5 AM or 6 AM. You can easily reserve a hotel if you prefer to sleep in while on vacation—something we’re all guilty of. A fantastic choice is the storied Awhanhee hotel in Yosemite Valley. By doing this, you can divide the 2- or 3-day trip from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park into smaller segments.

If you have the time, we always advise visiting Yosemite for at least two days. On account of this, you won’t need to worry about returning to San Francisco the same day after visiting Yosemite National Park. You can also reserve a rental car that you can return close to Yosemite with a number of rental car companies. You can then board the Grayline bus from Yosemite to San Francisco when you’re prepared to return to the city.

You can choose from an infinite number of distinctive Yosemite tours once you get there. Yosemite private guided hikes will give you a better understanding of the park so you can return and independently explore your favourite parts. Even a brief course in digital photography is available in Yosemite Valley. You can better capture your once-in-a-lifetime experience of Yosemite National Park in this way. There are also Yosemite zipline tours, which thrill-seekers will be happy to hear, just south of the park!

Yosemite in a Day Tour from San Francisco

For anyone interested in taking a one-day bus tour from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park, Best Bay Area Tours is our top recommendation. Their comfortable minibuses and small groups produce an intimate experience that larger bus tours simply cannot match.

These Yosemite tours start in the centre of San Francisco, close to Fisherman’s Wharf and Union Square. Once you get to the park, your local driver-guide will take you around to the most well-known Yosemite locations so you can take pictures before stopping for lunch. Before departing from Yosemite and returning to San Francisco after lunch, you’ll have some free time to explore on your own.

San Francisco to Yosemite Camping for 3 days

We truly believe that tourists should take into account this 3-day camping trip as a distinctive way to experience Yosemite. This Yosemite bus shuttles visitors to Yosemite and stops close to many hotels in Union Square. Except for sleeping bags, all necessary camping supplies and tent rental fees are included.

If you didn’t want to bring your own sleeping bag, you could rent one for $20. Two nights will be spent at your campsite, where you’ll also have free time and guided hikes in Yosemite.

Yosemite and Glacier Point tour from San Francisco by Train

Your overnight lodging is secured and your San Francisco to Yosemite train reservation is assisted by Cross Roads Tours & Limos. The Amtrak Transbay Terminal in the SOMA district serves as the starting point for this multi-day Yosemite tour. You can take a beautiful train ride through the Central Valley of California. As the Yosemite train lumbers past Glacier Point, the additional windows in the Observation Car will provide stunning views.

In Fresno, you will disembark, and a shuttle will take you to a place to stay. You’ll board a small shuttle bus the following morning to visit areas of Yosemite that are typically off-limits to larger tour buses. After your bus tour of Yosemite, there will be a lunch break and free time for you to go hiking on your own. You’ll be dropped off to catch your train back to San Francisco at the end of the second day.


Embark on the journey to Yosemite National Park in your luxurious vehicle. Travel across the Bay Bridge, through the Central Valley, and into the Sierra foothills.
Take a guided bus tour of Yosemite Valley after arriving at Yosemite. Enjoy some time alone to explore after that. To explore the valley floor and the Ansel Adams Gallery, rent a bike (at your expense).

Financial District

Start your tour in the downtown area of San Francisco, where there are many Fortune 500 companies and tech companies, as well as skyscrapers that dominate the skyline.

San Francisco Bay Bridge

It consists of several bridges that cross San Francisco Bay. This double-decker bridge, which is a part of Interstate 80, connects the cities of San Francisco and Oakland and carries an estimated 260,000 vehicles each day.

Oakland– The Central Valley, which produces more than half of the fruits and vegetables grown in the US, will be passed through as you travel through California. We’ll stop briefly in Oakdale to pick up your supplies for the day, including water, snacks, food for the hike, or your entire picnic.

Yosemite National Park– As soon as you enter the park, your guide will start the hour-long bus tour of Yosemite, which will take you through one of the world’s most breath taking landscapes. El Capitan, Half Dome, Tunnel View, Bridalveil Falls, and Yosemite Valley are among the stops on your tour.

Tunnel View– A photo taken from the Tunnel View is a must-have for any Yosemite visit. Yosemite National Park’s State Route 41 has a beautiful viewpoint there. Views of Yosemite Valley from the east include nearby landmarks like Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls, and the southwest face of El Capitan.

Bridalveil Falls– Bridalveil Fall, one of Yosemite Valley’s most well-known waterfalls, is where you’ll stop next. The 617-foot-tall waterfall flows continuously. You will have 15 minutes to walk close to the falls and take memorably beautiful pictures.

Yosemite Valley– You’ll have roughly three hours to yourself to explore the park after we arrive at the drop-off location in the Yosemite Valley. Ask our guide where the best places are nearby. You can choose to explore more of the area by renting a bike, hiking the paved trails, visiting the visitor centre to see international exhibits, or visiting the Ansel Adams Gallery to see the famous artist’s works. Even if you spend days exploring the park, the three hours you have to yourself are sufficient to help you comprehend why Yosemite is a World Heritage Site.

Ansel Adams Gallery– You may choose to visit the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite Valley during your free time to view the works of the renowned artist.

  • Lower Yosemite Fall Trail- Enjoy breathtaking panoramas of Yosemite Falls, with the option to hike to the base of the lower fall, which roars in the spring before going silent in the late summer. The Lower Yosemite Fall trail is accessible all year long. You can anticipate getting a little wet in the spring and early summer when the water is at its highest.
  • Valley Visitor Center- If you’re looking for Yosemite-related books, postcards, or maps, you must go to the Valley Visitor Center in the Yosemite Valley. It is always open, and the staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
  • Sentinel bridge- Accessible from shuttle stop 11, which is situated on Sentinel Drive close to Cook’s Meadow on the eastern side of Yosemite Valley. Particularly during the alpenglow, this location is renowned for offering an incredible view of Half Dome and its mirrored reflection in the Merced River.

Yosemite Falls– Make sure to set aside some time during our Yosemite Valley stop to bike or hike around the base of Yosemite Falls. The stunning views you will be rewarded with at the bottom are well worth the effort; you will be in front of the fourth-tallest waterfall in the world!

El Captain– We’ll stop by the grasslands in front of El Capitan after lunch and you have some free time so you can look for climbers on the granite wall and capture one last photo to remember this unforgettable day in Yosemite.

About the tour

Take a full-day guided tour to Yosemite National Park to get away from San Francisco’s crowds. Highlights to see include Inspiration Point and Yosemite Falls. Ride in a bio-powered mini-coach with ease. Great views of the San Francisco skyline, Alcatraz Island, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Golden Gate Bridge can be had by crossing the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to the east. The Central Valley is traversed on the tour’s way to the park, and you’ll stop at a fruit stand to pick up some regional fare.

The Central Valley is the country’s largest agricultural region and is renowned for its rich volcanic soil. The specialty fruits and nuts found in the region the tour travels through, like almonds, walnuts, cherries, and strawberries, are its best-known products. You will enter the gently rolling foothills of the Sierra Nevadas after this brief rest stop.

Before the tour makes its way into Yosemite National Park, continuing into the mountains takes you to California’s gold country and the gold rush town of Groveland. You will see well-known waterfalls and rock formations, including Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America, during your 1.5-hour narrated coach tour of Yosemite’s glaciated valley.

Continue past Sentinel Dome, Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, and a lot more. You will have several fantastic vantage points to see Yosemite Valley during the tour, with Inspiration Point possibly offering the best views. Following the tour, you’ll make an afternoon stop close to Yosemite Falls. There are many options for getting lunch in the park if you haven’t already purchased your picnic supplies. You will have 3 to 4 hours of free time to spend however you like exploring the valley.

Yosemite Falls’ base can be reached on foot, as can the visitor centre, the Ansel Adams Gallery, the Ahwahnee Hotel, cruiser bike rentals, and trails that lead out of the valley. Yosemite is one of America’s most visited national parks, but even though you could easily spend three weeks there, the three hours you have to yourself are more than enough.

Parks along the route

  • Koshland Community Park and Learning Garden
  • Sergeant John Macaulay Park
  • Duboce Park
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Patricia’s Green in Hayes Valley
  • Kidpower Park
  • Stockmen’s Park
  • East Bay Regional Park District- Public Safety
  • East Bay Regional Park District
  • City of Sacramento Parks
  • Tucson Parks and Recreation
  • Colovore LLC

Museums along the route

  • Tenderloin Museum
  • Graffiti Museum
  • Asian Art Museum
  • The American Bookbinders Museum
  • Treasure Island Museum
  • San Leandro History Museum
  • Oakland Aviation Museum
  • Computer History Museum
  • Hiller Aviation Museum
  • Crocker Art Museum
  • Museum of Jewelry

Things to know before you go

  • Due to low turnout, vehicle problems, adverse weather or road conditions, and other factors, the local operator reserves the right to alter or cancel tours.
  • If you want to purchase food and beverages in the park, please bring cash as they are not included in the tour.
  • In order to receive your precise pickup time, your tour must be reconfirmed at least 48 hours beforehand.
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