Known for its steep granite cliffs, waterfalls, towering sequoia groves and diversity of wildlife, Yosemite National Park is something you don’t want to miss. With this day trip limited to just 20 people, you can leave the logistics to a tour guide so all you have to do is enjoy a small-group experience in the great outdoors. You’ll have both guided sightseeing and free time, ensuring you see the UNESCO World Heritage site’s major attractions, like Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Valley, with the chance to explore more of the park however you wish.
Yosemite National Park day trip from San Francisco
Travel through the Central Valley farmlands, historical Gold Country and the Sierra Nevada foothills
Spend five hours snapping photos of Yosemite’s stunning forests, rock formations and waterfalls
Visit Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Falls and El Capitan on a guided van tour
Enjoy free time to explore Yosemite’s other natural wonders by foot or bike
Take in a breathtaking panorama from theTunnel View overlook for an expansive view of the Yosemite Valley
Small-group tour limited to 20 ensures a more personalized experience
You may think you don’t have time for a Yosemite trip during your stay in San Francisco, but this 20-hour tour by luxury biodiesel van provides a stress-free way to do so. Your day trip starts with early morning hotel pickup for the drive across the Bay Bridge toward California’s Central Valley, one of the country’s largest farming regions. Total driving time is about 4.5 hours, and you’ll stop briefly at a roadside fruit stand to purchase some local nuts or fruit (own expense). Continue the drive past horse and cattle ranches as you make your way into the foothills of the Sierras and Gold County, where ambitious pioneers panned for gold during the 1849 Gold Rush. When you arrive at Yosemite National Park, you’ll start your visit with a 1.5-hour driving tour of the park’s main natural attraction, Yosemite Valley. Stop often for photo ops of this glacial valley known for its rock formations and waterfalls, and enjoy access to some areas that big-bus tours can’t reach. See Half Dome, Yosemite’s most iconic feature, and observe daring rock climbers ascend the 3,000-foot (914-meter) sheer granite face of El Capitan. Visit Bridalveil Falls, check out the Tunnel View overlook for an expansive view of the Yosemite Valley, and head to Yosemite Falls, North America’s tallest waterfall. You have time to buy lunch here at one of the various eatery options, and then enjoy three hours of free time to experience the park however you wish. Perhaps go for a hike, or rent a bike to cover more ground. If you’re not feeling active, make your way to the visitor’s center for informational exhibits, head to the Ansel Adams Gallery to see works by the legendary photographer, or visit the Ahwahnee Hotel for some Yosemite history. In the late afternoon, meet back up with your group for the return drive to San Francisco, which includes one short rest stop. You’ll arrive in the city in the evening, enjoying a twinkling view of the downtown skyline and the bay before hotel drop-off.
Viator Traveler's Reviews
, May 2019
Three of us took this tour. First, this was NOT a tour. It was nothing more than transportation to Yosemite. I would NOT recommend this at all. We had barely three hours in Yosemite and then waited just over an hour for two people in our group to show up to leave while the rest of us waited on a hot bus. There was no information and we had to share maps of the park. Just unacceptable and was in no way a tour. We got duped off in Yosemite and did not see out "guide" until it was time to board the bus. Do not take this. I would rent a car and drive out if I were to suggest something.
I take this trip on December 18. This tour provides excellent service, especially Ned, he is awesome guided tour. He is knowledgeable and makes a nice trip to Yosemite. I feel very enjoy when he tell the story about this park. We have a small group and take a small van that are very convenient and easy to get in and get off. Ned stopes the van at the incredible view for us for taking a photo. He give a time for us for 3 hours for exploring Yosemite Park. I think it is enough time to walk along the trail. I get many beautiful pictures, especially taking the pictures at Mirror lake. Trip stop by a local grocery, it has a lot of food to buy. Personally, I think it's worth every penny. Thanks very much Ned!!
On booking we were concerned about the length of this tour, but it had been scheduled through the day with plenty of rest stops. Our tour guide Lily was very knowledgeable and approachable. Highly recommended.
Unfortunately the nearby forest fires meant views in the park weren't great, but it was still amazing scenery and worth exploring, despite the long drive. En-route you stop off midway after about two-hours at Oakdale, where there is a supermarket with cafe and deli counter and you are advised to get sandwiches here for lunch to maximise time in the park. You also stop here on the way back. Our guide pointed out sites along the journey and told us about wildlife and geology of the park. The journey there is long with some steep windy, roads, but the mini-bus is comfortable and air conditioned. The park is huge and in a few hours you only have chance to walk around Yosemite Valley but there are some great views from the bus en-route. You have about 3 hours in the Valley as free time to explore. This gave us chance to take the free shuttle bus between sites there are 20 stops in a loop and the bus comes round every 10mins and it takes 50mins to do the entire loop as well as walks to lower yosemite falls, the swinging bridge and the visitor centre. There is no time for longer hikes. Your guide gives you a couple of maps I didn't find signage in the park that easy to follow, but the shuttle bus was good if quite crowded. You can hire bikes in the area. We then drove on to the base of El Capitan with our guide for photo stop and then onto Bridalveil Falls for photos, which were amazing despite the smoke from the fires. Temperatures were warmer in the park then at the coast so I would advise wearing layers.
great trip and visit!! it is really worth the drive (8h). there is 3h of free time in the park which we really appreciated rather that group visits which are too slow. use it well
Sequoias not possible / to note
It's a 4.5 hour drive there and back but it is well worth it. The guide talks during the drive so you learn a lot and the time flies by. We had 3.5 hours there, which was enough time to do some trekking. The waterfall is still decent very tall even in winter with the snow around.