How to Get to Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is famous for the iconic Tunnel View, its tumbling waterfalls, the attractions of Yosemite Village and much more. If you’ve always wanted to visit this part of California, then the question of how to go to Yosemite National Park might be one you really want to find the answer to.

Yosemite is one of the most popular national parks in the US, but it isn’t the easiest park to plan a trip to. One of the first things you need to figure out is the best way to travel to Yosemite National Park.

This guide addresses how to get to Yosemite Park by all possible means of transport, so you can make an informed choice about the best way to get there for your own trip. Whether you’re wondering how to get to Yosemite National Park from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Merced or another US city, we’ve got you covered. 

Read on so you can work out the best way to visit Yosemite National Park!

TOP TOUR: Book a one-day trip from local towns to Yosemite National Park now
TOP HOTEL PICK: Check availability now
FIND THE CHEAPEST CAR RENTAL: Search Discover Cars for the best deals
FIND THE CHEAPEST FLIGHTS: Search Skyscanner for the best deals
GET TRAVEL INSURANCE: Get insured with Travelex before you go

No time right now to discover how to get to Yosemite National Park? Pin It and save it for later:

Please note this post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at zero cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full Disclosure for more information. If you have any questions, please contact me.

Subscribe to regular updates with tips for planning, travel inspiration and trip ideas and get instant access to the free PDF of this guide to
How To Get To Yosemite National Park

Where is Yosemite National Park?

log and merced river with granite peaks in yosemite national park

Before working out how do you get to Yosemite National Park, you’ll need to know the answer to a simpler question. Which concerns the location of Yosemite National Park. 

Where is Yosemite located?

Yosemite National Park can be found in California’s central Sierra Nevada mountains. If you want to reach the nearest city to Yosemite National Park, you can choose between Sacramento and San Francisco. The latter is around 140 miles to the west, while the former is about 100 miles northwest of the park. 

Yosemite National Park has been a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site since 1984. The closest other national park is Kings Canyon, around 40 miles southeast of Yosemite. 

National Forest lands enclose the park on all sides, and Yosemite lies at the heart of the Sierra Nevada.  Many of the park’s peaks are over 10,000 feet tall. Due to the elevation, Yosemite tends to have chilly, snowy winters and warm, stormy summers. 

Yosemite National Park Entrances 

There are four entrances to Yosemite National Park, as follows. 

Western side:

  1. Big Oak Flat Entrance on Highway 120
  2. Arch Rock Entrance on Highway 140
  3. South Entrance on Highway 41

Eastern side:

  1. Tioga Pass Entrance on Highway 120 (closed November to April, though the exact dates depend on the snowfall for the year).

What is the closest city to Yosemite National Park?

The gateway to the Yosemite Valley is Merced in California. You can reach this city by plane, Amtrak train or Greyhound bus. The park’s local transport service – YART – will then take you on the one hour and 50 minute journey to the valley. Or you can rent a car there and drive into and around the park.

Another option is Oakhurst. This is only around 15 miles from the South Entrance on Highway 41, though it typically takes over an hour to reach the valley floor. 

Other Towns and Cities Near Yosemite National Park 

More towns and cities within easy reach of Yosemite include Wawona, Yosemite West, Mariposa, El Portal, Groveland, Bass Lake, Sonora and Lee Vining. 

  1. Yosemite West is only about 20 miles from the park. It offers limited amenities, but there are some accommodation options. 
  2. Wawona is around 30 miles from the park. It has good amenities, plus is home to the famous giant sequoias at Mariposa Grove.
  3. El Portal is a small town about 30 miles from Yosemite. It offers a couple of accommodation options, shopping, a gas station and a picnic area. 
  4. Mariposa is about 45 miles from the park. It has a rich Gold Rush and Wild West history, plus plenty of shops, services and other facilities. 
  5. Bass Lake, aka little Lake Tahoe, is about 50 miles from the valley. There’s a store and places to eat, plus great hikes, fishing and water sports.
  6. Groveland is also about 50 miles from the park. It’s got Gold Rush history, grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations.  
  7. Sonora is bout 70 miles north of Yosemite, but offers good facilities including shops, places to eat, places to stay and even breweries. 
  8. Lee Vining is the nearest town on the park’s eastern side. It’s about two hours’ drive from the valley, and has accommodations, grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants.

Taking a Tour to Yosemite National Park

Taking an organized tour to Yosemite can save time, stress, and even money. You won’t have to rent a car to get there, nor worry about finding your way or paying for gas. If you don’t have much time, this can also be a very efficient means of seeing the park.

San Francisco to Yosemite Day Trip with Giant Sequoias Hike

This small group tour allows you to see the highlights of Yosemite in one day. It also includes a hike to the area’s well-known giant sequoia trees (weather permitting). After being picked up at your San Francisco hotel, you’ll visit Tunnel View, Bridalveil Falls, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, Valley View and Tuolumne Grove to see the1500-year-old giant sequoias.



Yosemite Highlights Small Group Tour from Local Towns

With pick-up from Oakhurst, Bass Lake and other nearby locations, this small group tour lasts for nine hours. It includes a picnic lunch and luxury transport, and you’ll visit a list of key sites. These may include waterfalls, valley views, rock formations, giant Sequoias and more. 



Yosemite Valley 3 Day Camping Tour from San Francisco

For a longer and more immersive Yosemite Valley experience, why not book a three day, two night camping tour from San Francisco? It includes two overnight stays plus hikes at May Lake and Mount Hoffmann. Home cooked meals and all the park highlights are also covered. 



Yosemite Valley Private Hiking Tour from Curry Village

If you want to support Yosemite youth summer camp programs, then all profits from this hiking tour do just that. You’ll visit sites like Mirror Lake, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, North Dome, Spider Caves, Tuolumne Meadows and the Mist Trail. Guides carry all the water purification and forest aid equipment you may need. 



Jeep 4 x 4 Yosemite National Park Tour 

There’s no need to concern yourself with parking or vehicle passes when you take this tour. The itinerary is also flexible, and can be tailored to suit your group. Whether you’re into photography, wildlife, climbing or ecosystems, this all-inclusive tour with lunch and hotel pick-up takes you on all the park’s rugged roads. 


Flying to Yosemite National Park

If you’re interested in booking flights to Yosemite National Park, then you need to know which airport for Yosemite National Park might work best for you. The closest airport to Yosemite National Park is Merced Yosemite Regional Airport. 

Merced Yosemite Airport

This is small, but offers connections between the area and Los Angeles or Las Vegas International Airports. Driving time to Big Oak Flat Entrance is about one hour and 25 minutes, and you can rent a car from Enterprise or Hertz at the airport. The Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS), plus Amtrak and Greyhound services can also be accessed from Merced. 

Fresno Yosemite Airport

Fresno Yosemite is another option for Sequoia, Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks. If you’re traveling from Fresno to Yosemite, the Arch Rock entrance is only a little over an hour from here. Some major airlines serve this airport, and it’s ideal if you’re also visiting Kings Canyon or Sequoia.

Mammoth Yosemite Airport

Mammoth Yosemite airport is another airport near Yosemite National Park that’s convenient for the Tioga Pass entrance in summer. You can access YARTS transport, or rent a car from Enterprise here. Only semi-private charter flights via Advanced Airlines operate here. 

Reno-Tahoe Airport

Another option offering access to the Tioga Pass entrance is Reno-Tahoe. Eastern Sierra Transit and YARTS transport is available between June and September. You can also rent a car, or use Amtrak or Greyhound. It takes about two hours and 50 minutes to reach the Tioga Pass entrance from here. 

Oakland International Airport

Another option for anyone considering Yosemite and how to get there is Oakland International Airport. This is about 10 miles south of downtown San Francisco. You can connect from here to the national park by car, Greyhound bus, train or YARTS. 

Sacramento International Airport

Sacramento International Airport is also around 10 miles from the city. Arch Rock entrance is the closest, and you can drive here in just over two hours. Numerous major airlines serve this airport. 

San Jose International Airport

San Jose is another option about two hours’ drive from Arch Rock entrance. You can fly here from international destinations as well as across the UK and Mexico, including the UK and Japan. Car rental, Greyhound and Amtrak services can again connect you to Yosemite.

San Francisco International Airport

The biggest airport near Yosemite is San Francisco International. The Arch Rock entrance is again a little over two hours by car from here. As you might expect, many carriers and car rental companies serve San Francisco airport and the Bay Area. 

Los Angeles International Airport

You might also wonder about traveling from LAX to Yosemite National Park. The distance from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park means a drive of almost seven hours. Many LAX passengers for Yosemite thus take a connecting flight to a closer airport. 

For more information about flying into Yosemite, read my guide to the best airports for Yosemite National Park.  

Rent a car at a Californian airport here.

Check prices on flights to Yosemite here 

Taking the Amtrak Train to Yosemite National Park

Can you take Amtrak to Yosemite National Park?  Yes.   While there is no Yosemite train right into the park, you can travel to Yosemite by train plus a connecting Amtrak bus service. 

The train station near Yosemite National Park is Merced. Merced is on the San Joaquins line that connects San Francisco Bay and Sacramento with Bakersfield and California’s National Parks. 

When taking Amtrak to Yosemite National Park, you need to complete the trip from Merced Station into the park itself by bus or rental car.  

So, to travel from San Francisco to Yosemite by train, you take the San Joaquins train to Merced and then connect with the route 15 Amtrak Thruway Bus (operated by YARTS) to Yosemite Valley. If you buy tickets to reach Yosemite by train from San Francisco, this journey by bus is included in the fare.  The cost of admission to the park is also included in the fare. 

If you prefer to drive into the park, the major car rental companies like Avis, Budget and Hertz all have agencies in Merced a short taxi or Uber ride away. 

The other station with a YARTS bus connection is Fresno.  This is also on the San Joaquins line, but is further from San Francisco, so only makes sense if you’re coming from the Bakersfield direction. 

Fresno also has several car rental companies a short taxi ride from the train station.

There is no direct LA to Yosemite train, so if you want to travel from Los Angeles to Yosemite by train, you’ll need to get a train from LA to San Francisco and then connect with the San Francisco to Yosemite train. Depending on when you travel, the trip time between LA and SF is about 10 hours. 

Amtrak San Francisco to Yosemite FAQS

Does Amtrak stop in Yosemite?

Amtrak’s San Joaquin Route allows visitors to travel to Yosemite National Park from the San Francisco Bay area, Fresno, Sacramento and Bakersfield. After traveling from San Francisco to Yosemite by Amtrak, YART buses then take passengers from Merced or Fresno to the Yosemite Valley. 

After visiting the park, visitors can take the YART then the Yosemite to San Francisco train to return to the Bay Area.

How much is an Amtrak ticket to Yosemite National Park?

If you don’t want to drive and worry about car rental or Yosemite directions, then you could take the Amtrak train to Merced. The local YART bus service will then transport you to the Yosemite Valley. Check the YART website for current prices.

Getting to Yosemite National Park from the Train Station

The Yosemite bus service operated by YART provides a smooth, seamless way to reach the Valley from Merced Amtrak station. Tickets to Yosemite National Park include this sector of the journey as well as train travel via the San Joaquins line. 

Rent a car here.

Taking a Bus to Yosemite National Park

Yosemite buses provide passengers with a simple and efficient way to reach Yosemite National Park. These are operated by Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (known as YARTS or YART). YARTS services connect Amtrak passengers with the park. 

If you want to take the bus to Yosemite from San Francisco, take a Greyhound bus (or an Amtrak train) to the town of Merced or Fresno before transferring to the YARTS system.

Is a Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park bus an option? Yes – the journey by Greyhound via Merced will take around 10 hours. Again, buses to Yosemite National Park from Merced are then operated by YARTS. 

If you want to take a Reno to Yosemite bus, the same applies. After covering the distance from Yosemite to Reno, you then need to connect with the YART service in Merced, California.

The Yosemite Shuttle Bus 

stone bus shelter with snow on it one of the stops on the yosemite national park shuttle

Once you reach the Yosemite Valley, the Yosemite National Park shuttle can whisk you around the park. These shuttles in Yosemite are supplied free of charge, and the Yosemite Valley Shuttle System operates two main routes. 

The main Yosemite Park shuttle is the Valleywide Shuttle. There’s also a Yosemite National Park shuttle bus that operates across the East Valley. 

Valleywide Shuttle

This shuttle bus in Yosemite Park covers every stop in Yosemite Valley. Stops include campgrounds, lodges, food services and hiking trailheads. Buses operate between 7am and 10pm, and arrive every 12 to 22 minutes.

East Valley Shuttle

This route connects Yosemite Village, Pines campgrounds, Curry Village and the trailheads in the park’s eastern valley. Again serves operate between 7am and 10pm, and arrive every 8 to 12 minutes. 

How to Drive to Yosemite National Park

Covering around 1,200 square miles, driving to Yosemite National Park varies depending on your destination. In addition to where you’re coming from. The US National Park Service doesn’t recommend using a SatNav to reach the park. 

Between November and May, parts of Yosemite are generally inaccessible by car due to snow. Which is worth factoring into the equation when you’re wondering how to get from San Francisco, Sacramento or Fresno CA to Yosemite National Park. Don’t forget that the Tioga Road is closed in winter too. You may also need snow chains in other areas. 

Directions to Yosemite National Park

Here are some directions for your Yosemite drive from various US cities.

San Francisco to Yosemite National Park

If you’re wondering how to get to Yosemite from San Francisco and want to take a car, you’ll cover about 190 miles. You can drive via Ca-120 E. How long is the drive from San Francisco to Yosemite? The trip takes around four hours.

Fresno to Yosemite National Park 

Should you want to reach Yosemite from Fresno, then the journey time by car is around three hours. The distance covered is about 120 miles, via CA-41 N. 

LA to Yosemite National Park 

The trip by car from Los Angeles to Yosemite takes about six-and-a-half hours, and covers around 340 miles. You’ll drive via CA-110 N and N Eagle Rock Boulevard if taking the fastest route. 

Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park 

It takes around 7.5 hours to drive to Yosemite from Las Vegas – a distance of about 370 miles. You can travel via I-15 S and CA-58 W. 

Sacramento to Yosemite National Park

To reach Yosemite from Sacramento you can travel via CA-99 S and CA-120 E. The distance from Sacramento CA to Yosemite National Park is about 165 miles, and the trip takes around 3.5 hours.  

Reno to Yosemite National Park

The distance from Reno to Yosemite National Park is about 180 miles. Allow around four hours to complete the journey, and you can drive via CA-4 W.

Mariposa to Yosemite National Park

At only around an hour’s drive, the distance from Mariposa to Yosemite is comparatively short. The 40-mile trip is via CA-140 E. 

Phoenix to Yosemite National Park 

It’s a pretty long way from Phoenix, AZ to Yosemite National Park. The trip will take about 11 or 12 hours, and is via I-10 W. 

Merced (CA) to Yosemite National Park

The distance from Merced to Yosemite National Park is about 80 miles via CA-140 E. The drive takes about two to two-and-a-half hours. 

Chicago to Yosemite National Park

If you want to take an epic road trip across the states, the drive takes about 32 to 33 hours from Chicago to Yosemite, and covers over 2,000 miles via I-80 W. 

Check my Road Trip Essentials Packing List before setting out!

Fremont to Yosemite National Park 

Fremont is about a four-hour drive from Yosemite. You can travel via CA-152 E and CA-140 E and the destinations are over 200 miles apart. 

Denver to Yosemite National Park 

Again, Denver is a long way from Yosemite. The trip by car takes about 19 hours, and covers well over 1,000 miles via I-70 W and I-15 S. 

Atlanta to Yosemite National Park 

To drive from Atlanta to Yosemite will take 36 hours or more. The journey covers close to 2,400 miles, via I-40 W. 

Portland to Yosemite National Park 

It’s about 745 miles from Portland to Yosemite. The drive takes about 13 hours, and is via I-5 S.  

Rent a car at a Californian airport here. Check out my guide to saving money on rental cars before you book.

How to Get to Yosemite National Park Without a Car

If you don’t want to take a car and are trying to figure how to travel to Yosemite National Park, well, the good news is that this is one of the few national parks where it’s possible to get there and around by public transportation. 

You can take an Amtrak train or Greyhound bus to Merced or Fresno. From there, YARTS bus services will take you to the Yosemite Valley. 

Once you reach the park, the free shuttle service can transport you between various points such as accommodations, food services and trailheads.  

The other option so to take a tour.  See my top pick above.

FAQs about Getting to Yosemite National Park

What is the closest major city to Yosemite National Park?

Merced in California is the closest town to Yosemite National Park, and something of a gateway. The bus trip from Merced to the Yosemite Visitor Center, operated by the local YART transport service, takes around an hour and 50 minutes. You can catch an Amtrak train or Greyhound bus to Merced.

How far apart are Sequoia and Yosemite?

Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks are around 140 miles apart. The drive between them takes about two-and-a-half hours. This will of course depend on which parts of the large parks you’re traveling between. 

What airport do you fly into to get to Yosemite National Park?

The National Park Service recommends flying into Fresno-Yosemite International to reach Yosemite. There are plenty of other options, though. You could also fly into Merced, Mammoth, Reno-Tahoe, Oakland, Sacramento, San Jose, San Francisco or even LA.

What is the easiest way to get to Yosemite?

By car, the simplest route to Yosemite from San Francisco is via the Oakland-Bay Bridge (or Highway 80 East), Highway 205 and Highway 120. 

You can also get to Yosemite by Amtrak train or Greyhound bus to Merced. The park’s YART buses will then take you on the hour and 50-minute trip to the Yosemite Valley.

Travel Insurance for Yosemite National Park

In addition to figuring out best way to go to Yosemite, you should definitely have travel insurance when you travel to Yosemite.

Good travel insurance will cover you for trip cancellation, theft or damage of your property when traveling, medical help if you have an accident in or while visiting Yosemite National Park, or medical repatriation if you need to get medi-vaced out.

A great insurance option is Travelex.  It has coverage for all you’ll need. You can choose the best travel insurance plan for your trip here or get a quote right now:

728x90 Get Quote

You might also like to read:

Subscribe to regular updates with tips for planning, travel inspiration and trip ideas and get instant access to the free PDF of this guide to
How To Get To Yosemite National Park

Enjoy Yosemite National Park!

Did you decide how to visit Yosemite National Park? Join my private Facebook group National Parks Collectors and comment and let me know (you can also pick up extra planning tips, share your photos and stories with other national park lovers and more).

If you liked this post about the best way to get to Yosemite National Park, please share the love and Pin It to your Yosemite National Park board!


Are you just starting to think about taking a national parks trip? Get Inspiration
Are you starting to plan a trip to Yosemite National Park? Read my Guide to Yosemite National Park
Are you looking for a place to stay near Yosemite National Park? Find a vacation rental near Yosemite National Park
Are you ready to book your trip? Use these Planning and Booking Resources
Do you want to read a book about Yellowstone National Park? Check out my Recommended Reading List for Yellowstone National Park

About the Author

James Ian Yosemite

James Ian is a national park, camping and hiking expert.

He has dedicated his life to travel, visiting more than 80 countries, all 7 continents and all of the main national parks in the United States. With over 35 years experience in the travel industry, James has worked on cruise ships, at resorts and hotels, and as a travel planner who’s helped hundreds of people plan successful trips to US national parks. 

Based on his experience visiting our national parks multiple times, in-depth research and expertise as a travel planner, James has published detailed itineraries for most of the major national parks in the US. These itineraries, as well as in-depth park guides, comprehensive camping and hiking gear reviews and buying guides, and helpful packing lists and gift guides will help you have your own incredible trip to US national parks without stress and hassle.

As a national park expert, James has contributed to many publications, including Time Business News, Savoteur, Best Trip, and Wired.

Read more…

Parks Collecting is a participant in the Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.