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How to Get from San Francisco to Yosemite

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This post explains how to get to Yosemite National Park from San Francisco by car, by taking a bus tour, or by using public transportation.

 

Disclosure: While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.

WHERE IS YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Yosemite National Park is approximately 167 miles east of San Francisco. Depending on how you choose to get there, travel time will take an average of 3 ½ - 4 ½ hours. Driving map to Yosemite

Use this link to Google Maps for specific directions and routes that you can take from your point of departure anywhere in San Francisco.


BUS TOURS TO YOSEMITE

Several tour companies offer day trips from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park. 

Ticket prices typically range from about $140-$150 for a full-day outing and services are usually limited during the winter.

Muir Woods Tour City Sightseeing

Tours typically include round-trip bus service between San Francisco and Yosemite, park entrance fee, and a live guide and/or audio guide.

You will have a few hours of free time inside the park for you to explore. See our post on things to do at Yosemite National Park to plan your free time.

Below we go into detail about two companies, City Sightseeing and Extranomical Tours.

See our post on Yosemite bus tours from San Francisco to find out about other tour options.


City Sightseeing

This is one of the most well-known bus tour companies in the world and they offer an excellent day trip to Yosemite National Park. 

This tour operates every day between April and October, and Thursday - Sunday in the winter months.

The tour price includes round-trip transportation with hotel pick-up/drop-off, the park entrance fee and live commentary from a professional guide during the bus trip.

This tour includes a visit to several notable sites such as Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. 

Once at the park, you will have a few hours on your own to explore. If you like, you can purchase food and beverages inside the park.

Tour Information:

 Tickets: $189.99/Adults | $164.99/Children 

  • Save $10 when you order online 
  • Tour Start Time: 6 am
  • Duration: 15 hours (including travel time)
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

NOTE: City Sightseeing also offers day trips to the Muir Woods, Sausalito, Sonoma Valley, and other locations. See their full selection of services.


Extranomical Tours

Extranomical Tours runs several bus tours to Yosemite, including a highly rated one-day tour from San Francisco.

This tour includes round-trip transportation to the park with pick-up/drop-off service from most hotels in Downtown San Francisco and Fisherman's Wharf.

You will have a live guide providing commentary in English. Once at Yosemite, you have 5- 6 hours of free time to explore the park. 

You will be given a free map and an audio tour of the park offered in several languages.

You’ll be able to visit Inspiration Point, Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite Falls, and other notable spots. Weather-permitting, you will be able to take a one-mile Giant Sequoia Walk.

Tour information:

  • Tickets: $189/Adults | $175/Children *Discounts in winter months
  • Tour departs at 6:30 am
  • Duration: 14 hours
  • Yosemite entrance fee included
  • Yosemite audio guide and map included
  • Food and beverages are not included
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

Extranomical offers an array of services, including San Francisco bus tours, wine tasting tours, and more. See their full selection of tours.

TIP: See our post on things to do at Yosemite National Park to plan your free time.

 


BY CAR

There are a few ways to drive to Yosemite National Park. The two routes we suggest below are a scenic route via Highway 140 or a faster route via Highway 120.

Use this link to Google Maps for directions from your exact point of departure in San Francisco.

Note that some roads may be closed during certain times of the year, so before you depart for Yosemite, check the National Park Service’s Current Conditions page.


Scenic Route

If you want to enjoy the best views on your way to Yosemite National Park, this is the best option.

  • Drive east on I-80 and merge onto I-580
  • Keep driving on I-580 and merge onto I-205
  • Continue on I-205 and merge onto I-5 for a short while
  • From I-5, merge onto Hwy 120
  • Drive past Manteca on Hwy 120 and merge onto Hwy 99
  • Drive on Hwy 99 until you reach Merced
  • After driving past Merced, merge onto Hwy 140
  • Take Hwy 140 all the way to Yosemite National Park

The main scenic part of this drive starts once you reach Hwy 140. This road will take you directly to Yosemite, and there are a lot of historic sites along the way. 

You may want to consider a stop in Mariposa, an old mining town with a classic old-fashioned main street and several interesting shops to see. 

This is a great place to stop and stretch your legs either before or after a trip to Yosemite National Park.


Quick Route

This is usually the route that most GPS services will suggest. The main concern with taking Hwy 120 is that landslides can occur and this means frequent road closures. 

  • Drive east on I-880 and merge onto I-580
  • Keep driving on I-580 and merge onto I-205
  • Continue on I-205 and merge onto I-5 for a short while
  • From I-5, merge onto Hwy 120
  • Take Hwy 120 all the way to Yosemite National Park

Driving map to Yosemite


Entry Fee for Vehicles

Here are the basic prices you can expect to pay:

  • Car/Pickup Truck/RV/Van (up to 15 seats)
    • $35 per vehicle | No per-person fee
  • Motorcycle
    • $30 per vehicle | No per-person fee

Where to Get Gas?

Gas is pretty pricey in and around San Francisco, and the price may rise the closer you get to Yosemite National Park. 

Your best bet is to fill your tank at gas stations outside of the city and before you get too close to the park.

If you take Hwy 120, consider stopping at Oakdale, which is a bit more than halfway between the city and the park. 

If you take the scenic route, Merced or Mariposa are good places to stop for gas.

 


BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

By Train or Bus

Unfortunately, there isn’t any public transport that goes the entire way to Yosemite from San Francisco. But you can take either an Amtrak train or a Greyhound bus to the town of Merced. 

From Merced, you transfer to the YARTS system to get to Yosemite. See below where we explain YARTS.


YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System)

Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System offers public transport to and from locations such as Groveland, Mariposa, and Merced. 

If you’re trying to save some money on hotels, consider staying in one of those towns and using YARTS to travel to Yosemite National Park. 

See the YARTS website for information.


Yosemite Valley Shuttle System

Once inside Yosemite, you can use this free shuttle service to get around the park.

Read more about this shuttle service in our post on things to do in Yosemite National Park.

 


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About The Author

Britt

Britt is a San Francisco Bay Area native, and has spent 25 years in this magical city. He has traveled to over 30 countries, and has never found a place he loves as much as this one! If you come to San Francisco, you might join one of Britt's tours of the city. A graduate of the University of Maryland and University of Southern California, he has been leading tours for Free Tours by Foot since 2015.
Updated: September 27th, 2021
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