One of the United States’ most popular national parks, Yosemite National Park is packed with natural beauty and views that never cease to amaze. From the majestic mountain peaks to the green meadows on the valley floor (plus all the waterfalls and groves of tall Sequoia trees in between), there’s no shortage of outdoor and leisure activities set against the park’s epic views. And whether you spend a single day or stay for a multi-day camping trip, you’ll feel a deeper appreciation for the nature at this national treasure.
Yosemite is one of the most popular day trip destinations from San Francisco, often visited on full-day and multi-day excursions from the city. Visit with roundtrip transportation to explore the park independently, or choose a guided experience to see much of the park in a short amount of time. Sightseeing bus tours, valley floor tours, and Glacier Point tours are available, while small-group and private options are offered.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The park features a number of walking and biking trails that vary in difficulty and length. The Visitor Center is the best place to find information on the trails.
- Yosemite day hikes, adventure tours, and hiking tours offer opportunities for active days out in nature, all with the help of a guide. Choose from hiking tours, yoga tours, photography tours, and more.
How to Get There
Yosemite National Park is best accessed via car ($20 fee per vehicle). From San Francisco, it’s about a four-hour drive—you’ll cross the Bay Bridge and travel through the Great Central Valley into the Sierra foothills. Following the beautiful Merced River to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, you'll enter Yosemite Valley. Most tours from the Bay Area include roundtrip transportation.
When to Get There
Yosemite is accessible year-round, though snow chains may be required in winter. The park is beautiful in every season, but be aware that access to some hiking trails is weather-permitting. Many consider spring the best time to visit—expect crowds in summer and snow activities such as snowshoeing and skiing in winter.
What Not To Miss in Yosemite National Park
It’s hard to go too wrong, but where to start? The majestic profile of Half Dome is perhaps the most iconic sight in the park. You can also view the mighty mecca that is El Capitan, or hike into Tuolumne Meadows, where giant sequoias surround you. As for waterfalls, Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, and Vernal Falls are all must-sees, and when it comes to viewpoints, be sure to check out Glacier Point and Tunnel View.