The 4 hour drive from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park is one of the most scenic in the country, with winding mountain roads that are lined with ancient redwoods. Check out some of our favorite ways of visiting Yosemite!
Getting from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park requires a little bit of planning, but it has a big pay off.
The drive is too long for any ride share or taxi service, so we would recommend nixing Uber or Lyft right off the bat. In terms of Public transportation to Yosemite from San Francisco, it’s definitely possible but takes a long time and requires a whole lot of patience.
For the most enjoyable experience of Yosemite we suggest getting there by one of two ways: renting a car or catching a Yosemite bus tour from San Francisco. Let’s take a look a both!
Once you get back from Yosemite, hop on our A Day in the Bay Tour to visit the most popular national park sites in the Bay Area — Muir Woods & Alcatraz!
HOW TO GET FROM SAN FRANCISCO TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
San Francisco to Yosemite Road Trip
Taking a rented vehicle means you can break up the drive however you like! You can also enjoy the scenic drive to Yosemite from the comfort and privacy of a rental car.
Yosemite is about 170 miles away from San Francisco and about a 4 hour drive. So, we recommend starting your day as early as 5am or 6am to have a full experience in the park.
If you prefer to sleep in while on vacation, something we’re all guilty of, you can easily book a hotel. The historic Awhanhee hotel in Yosemite Valley is a fantastic option! This way you can spread your trip from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park over 2 or 3 days.
We always suggest spending at least two days in Yosemite, if you can swing it.
That way you don’t have to worry about rushing back from Yosemite National Park to San Francisco in the same day.
With several rental car services, you’ll also have the option to reserve a car rental that you can drop off near Yosemite. Then once you’re ready to head back to the city, you can catch the Grayline bus from Yosemite to San Francisco.
Once you arrive in Yosemite, you’ll have an endless amount of unique Yosemite tours to choose from.
Private guided hikes of Yosemite will help you get better acquainted with the area so you can go back and explore your favorite parts on your own.
You can even take a quick digital photography class in Yosemite Valley. This way you’ll be able to better document your once-in-a-lifetime experience of Yosemite National Park.
Thrill-seekers will be happy to know there are also Yosemite zipline tours, just south of the park!
San Francisco to Yosemite Bus Tours
BEST BAY AREA TOURS
Yosemite in a Day Tour From San Francisco
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Best Bay Area Tours is our top pick for anyone looking to do a one day bus tour from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park.
Their minibuses are comfortable and the small groups create an intimate experience that bigger bus tours just can’t recreate.
These Yosemite tours begin in the heart of San Francisco, near Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf.
Once you arrive at the park, your local driver-guide will shuttle you through Yosemite’s popular sites for photos before stopping for lunch.
During lunch you’ll have free time to explore on your own before driving back to San Francisco from Yosemite.
3 Day Yosemite Camping Adventure from San Francisco
We’ve previously ranked Incredible Adventures Small-Group Yosemite Tour from San Francisco as one of the best Yosemite tours.
As fun as that one day tour is, we definitely think travelers should consider this 3 day camping trip as a unique way of seeing Yosemite.
This Yosemite bus picks up near many Union Square hotels and shuttles guests to Yosemite. Camping equipment and fees for tents are included, except for sleeping bags. However, if you weren’t planning on traveling with a sleeping bag, one can be rented for $20.
You’ll spend two nights at your campsite and will have Yosemite guided hikes and free time during your stay.
CROSS ROADS TOURS & LIMOS
Yosemite and Glacier Point Tour from San Francisco by Train
Cross Roads Tours & Limos helps arrange your San Francisco to Yosemite train and reserves your overnight lodging.
This multi day Yosemite tour begins from the Amtrak Transbay Terminal in the SOMA neighborhood.
You’ll enjoy a scenic train ride through California’s Central Valley. All of the extra windows on the Observation Car will offer incredible views as the Yosemite train chugs along past Glacier Point.
You’ll disembark in Fresno, where you will be shuttled to sleeping accommodations.
The next morning you’ll join a small shuttle bus to explore parts of Yosemite normally closed off to bigger tour buses. After your Yosemite bus tour you’ll break for lunch and have free time to hike on your own.
At the end of the second day you’ll be dropped off to meet your train back to San Francisco.
Muir Woods and Alcatraz are also stunning California national park sites! Once you get back from Yosemite, be sure to check out our A Day in the Bay tour to discover these amazing sites at their best.
Looking for some fun things to do in San Francisco?