Directions to Yosemite National Park

LocMap Yosemite

LocMap Yosemite (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yosemite National Park is a big place, around 1200 square miles big and it never closes. Some of the roads, however, are not accessible by car between November through to May, it’s all because of the snow!  Wanna’ find out how to get there? Okay, here goes . . .

Driving to Yosemite National Park

When you’re driving to place as big as Yosemite National Park you’ve gotta’ remember that there are lots of options – don’t rely on your GPS because 1200 square miles doesn’t have one particular address.

Incidentally, before we start – you can fill up your gas tank at Crane Flat, Wawona and El Portal at any time of the night or day if you have a credit card. You can also get gas in the summertime at Tuolumne Meadows but not anywhere in Yosemite valley. You’ve gotta be organized and keep one eye on your gas tank.

Driving to Yosemite National Park from the North or West

  • Sacramento – is 176 miles or 283 km from Yosemite National Park, the drive should take around 4 hours. Head on Highway 99 south then you’ve got a choice of taking Hwy 120 east (Manteca) to the park, or Hwy 140 east (Merced) to Yosemite National Park.
  • San Francisco – this 195 mile trip (214 km) will take around 4 or 5 hours. Head out on I-580 east to Hwy 120 east (Manteca) or Hwy 140 east (Merced) to Yosemite National Park.
  • Lake Tahoe & Reno – there are two options when driving to Yosemite National Park from this area, well, there are in the summer time anyway. The shortest route is around 218 miles (351 km) from Reno and will take around 5 hours. Head on the US 395 south as far as Lee Vining then take Hwy west to Yosemite National Park – this route is only open between the end of May and October depending upon the weather conditions. For the rest of the year the longer route of 315 miles (507 km) will take around 8 hours. Take I-80 or I-50 west towards Sacramento then Hwy 99 south to Hway 120 east (Manteca) or Hwy 140 east (Merced) to Yosemite National Park.

Driving to Yosemite National Park from the South

  • Los Angeles and area – the 313 mile (504 km) trip will take around 6 hours. Take the I-5 north to Hwy 99 north to Hwy 41 north (Fresno) and on to Yosemite National Park.
  • San Diego and area – this 441 mile (710 km) trip will take a driving time of approximately 8 hours. Head on the I-5 north to Hwy 99 north to Hwy 41 north (Fresno) and on to Yosemite National Park.
  • Las Vegas area – again there are two choices – weather permitting. During the summer time (June through to October) just so long as the weather allows there is a 400 mile (642 km) route which will take around 8 hours driving time. This starts out on the US-95 north as far as Tonopah then taking the US-95/US-6 west to Hwy 120. Head west along the Hwy 120 to Yosemite National Park – check road conditions before leaving home if you plan on taking this route. Alternatively November through May there is a route of 495 miles (797 km) which may take anywhere between 8 and 10 hours driving time. Head out on the I-15 south as far as Barstow then take Hwy 58 west to Bakersfield, Hwy 99 north to Fresno. Once you’ve reached Fresno take Hwy 41 north to each Yosemite National Park.
  • From Death Valley National Park – during the summer time (June through to October weather permitting) there is a 270 mile (435 km) route which takes around 5 hours driving time. Head out on Hwy 190 west towards US 395 north to Lee Vining then Hwy 120 east to the park. For the rest of the year when the weather does not permit access the alternative route is 450 miles (720 km) and will take approximately 9 hours of driving time. Head out on Hwy 190 west as far as US 395 then head south along that road to the junction with Hwy 14. Head south along Hwy 14 to Mojave where you need to take Hwy 58 to Bakersfield before heading north on Hwy 99 to Fresno and last but not least Hwy 41 north to Yosemite National Park.

Okay, that was speeded up a bit for arts sake, it is certainly not safe to drive that fast to or through Yosemite National Park.

Driving within Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a big place (you’ve probably noticed that by now) so here are some of the driving times and distances for visitors as they drive within or close to the park.

Driving from Yosemite Valley to Wawona Road (Hwy 41)

  • Wawona will take just less than an hours driving time
  • Glacier Point will take just less than an hours driving time
  • The South Entrance at Mariposa Grove is a little more than an hours drive

Driving from Yosemite Valley to El Portal Road (Hwy 140)

  • El Portal itself is about a 30 minutes drive
  • Arch Rock Entrance is around 25 minutes drive

Driving from Yosemite Valley to Big Oak Flat and Tioga Roads (Hwy 120)

  • Crane Flat is about a half hours drive
  • White Wolf is approximately one hour
  • Big Oak Flat Entrance and Hodgon Meadow is around 45 minutes drive from Yosemite Valley
  • Tuolumne Meadows is about an hour and a half
  • Tioga Pass is approximately one hour and 45 minutes away
  • Lee Vining is around a two hours drive


I know what you’re thinking but no, Yosemite National Park is not a race track, this is just another video which is being played on “fast forward” . . .

Traveling to Yosemite National Park by Plane

If Yosemite National Park is just too far for you to drive then there are a few options when it comes to airports within the vicinity of the park. Once you arrive at an airport you have the option of taking a rental car or using some of the public transportation which is regularly available to the park. Anyway, first you’ve gotta’ choose an airport;

  • Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT) is around 1.5 hours from the South Entrance to Yosemite National Park or 2.5 hours from Yosemite Valley.
  • Merced Airport (MCE) is a couple of hours from Yosemite Valley.
  • Modesto City-County Airport (MOD) will get you within and hour and a half of the Arch Rock or Big Oak Flat entrance and a couple of hours from Yosemite Valley.
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) – is approximately four hours from Arch Rock or Big Oak Flat entrance and five hours from Yosemite Valley.
  • Oakland International Airport (OAK) – is around four hours from Arch Rock or Big Oak Flat entrance and five hours from Yosemite Valley.
  • San Jose International Airport (SJC) – is again four hours from Arch Rock or Big Oak Flat entrance and five hours from Yosemite Valley.
  • Sacramento International Airport (SMF) – will get you within four hours of Yosemite Valley.
  • Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH) – is located around an hour from the entrance at Tioga Pass or two and a half hours from Yosemite Valley weather permitting. During the winter months an alternative route will take seven hours to Yosemite Valley.
  • Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO) – is around 3 and a half hours to the entrance at Tioga Pass and five hours to Yosemite Valley weather permitting, an alternative winter route will take around eight hours to Yosemite Valley.

Yosemite National Park offers a free shuttle service in some areas and there are regular public transport options to the park from many cities around California.

 

 

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