Yosemite Travel – Day Trips To This Magnificent National Park

Yosemite travel — always a good idea when you're in San Francisco. Yosemite is the Taj Mahal of US National Parks…the cathedral, the Versailles. The national park packs in acres of breathtaking beauty, with more at every turn of the trail. You can't help but marvel at the majestic profile of Half Dome, or as you climb the mighty El Capitan (the largest granite monolith in the world), or hike through Tuolumne Grove where Sequoias have survived for thousands of years.

"No temple made with human hands can compare with Yosemite."
– John Muir

Famous for its valleys, lakes, waterfalls (including the 5 of the highest in the world), and the Sierra Mountain Range, the park lies in the heart of Northern California and is easily reached from San Francisco on a day trip. Even better is to spend two or three days! We always recommend booking a guided day trip so you can relax and let someone else do all the work while you take in the wonders of Yosemite. (It's how we do it.) Travel time is short, only a few hours. Here we present our favorite tours that take you from the city to what is possibly the most beautiful national park on the continent.

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Yosemite – Travel from San Francisco on a Day Trip

Yosemite National Park Day Trip from San Francisco

Leave the city for a breath of fresh air! Cross the Bay Bridge and venture through the Great Central Valley into the Sierra foothills, where Forty-Niners panned for gold. Drive along the Merced River to the Sierra Nevada Mountains to see where glaciers cut to form granite monuments.

Fuel up with lunch at the Yosemite Hotel Dining Room before hiking to Yosemite Falls, the highest waterfall in North America. On the way back to the city see more natural wonders, including the Stanislaus National Forest.

Yosemite + the Giant Sequoias

Yosemite National Park + the Giant Sequoias

Discover the natural beauty of Yosemite National Park. See San Joaquin Valley, the Sierra Nevadas and giant sequoia groves, with stops along the way for panoramic views of the valley.

You get the chance to relax among the giant sequoia trees for a picnic lunch. Then choose to hike to the falls, cycle, or swim in the river pools. Or maybe visit the Ansel Adams Gallery. This delightful day trip includes pick-up and delivery at your hotel and all entrance fees.

Private Yosemite Travel – A VIP Guided Visit

Private Yosemite National Park Guided Visit

Experience the majestic park on a private, guided full-day trip. Once again, you pass through California's Central Valley and the Gold Country before entering Yosemite. Explore the beauty, then lunch in the grand dining room of the Ahwahnee Hotel. Skip the crowded buses on this intimate, informative private tour. Luxury round trip transportation is part of the package.

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2-Day Yosemite National Park Excursion

2-Day Yosemite National Park Excursion

Escape from the city and travel to the mountains for two full days of hiking, sightseeing and exploring. On this overnight tour, trek through Yosemite Valley, explore the high country and marvel at the giant sequoias.

Hike to Yosemite Falls (as we said, it's the tallest waterfall in North America), see El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls and Inspiration Point. At the end of the day, stay the night at Cedar Lodge or Yosemite Lodge. Available April to October.

3-Day Yosemite Camping Adventure

3-Day Yosemite Camping Adventure

Or… Take three days to explore the wonders of Yosemite on a camping trip from San Francisco that takes you off the beaten path to trails and sights unseen by most visitors.

Never camped before? No problem! All the necessary camping gear is provided for you, by your trusty guide. You'll see all the biggies — Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Tunnel View — plus hidden beauties that most tourists never see. There's also a gentle hike to May Lake and Mount Hoffman to take in the sweeping 360-degree views. Three days and two nights of camping, hiking, and swimming. Transportation is in a biodiesel van. Available May to October.

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Yosemite Travel Fun Facts

Yosemite Fun Facts

• The park was first protected in 1864, with Abraham Lincoln's signature on the Yosemite Grant. It was designated a World Heritage Site in 1984.

• John Muir, a Scottish-born naturalist helped to establish a larger national park encompassing the valley, mountains and forests, paving the way for the birth of the US national park system.

• The park covers 1,200 square miles and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains, valleys, meadows, ancient sequoia groves.

• The park is managed by the National Park Service (established in 1916), and 95% is designated wilderness.

• Almost 4 million people visit each year, most spend the majority of their time in the 7 square miles of Yosemite Valley.

• The Yosemite Valley has been inhabited for nearly 3,000 years by Ahwaneechee Native Americans.

• There are 800 miles of hiking trails, 350 miles of roads, and 2 designated Wild and Scenic Rivers — the Merced and the Tuolumne.

• Yosemite has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters, and long, hot summers.

• The Yosemite Valley is open all year, with downhill skiing at the Badger Pass Ski Area, the oldest downhill skiing park in California.

• The oldest giant sequoia trees are more than 3,000 years old!

• Yosemite is home to five of the world's highest waterfalls!

Not-to-Miss at Yosemite

El Capitan — the largest granite monolith in the world, it rises 3,000 feet above the valley floor.

• Yosemite Falls — the tallest waterfall in North America.

• Bridalveil Falls — the 620-foot waterfall is found near the entrance of Yosemite Valley.

• Mirror Lake — more pond than lake, in springtime see reflections of Half Dome and Mount Watkins.

• Meadows — Cook, Sentential, Stoneman and Leidig are the most popular due to their boardwalks and trails.

• Giant Sequoias and Mariposa Grove — hike or take a tram to see mature giant sequoias, some as old as 3,000 years.

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