US Road Trip: San Francisco to Yosemite

Yosemite is undoubtedly one of the most popular national parks in the US and it draws millions of visitors every year. Of course it had to be included in our roadtrip. Was it as nice as everyone says? I’ll let the pictures do the talking in this post!

How to Get There

Yosemite National Park is a three to four hour (depending on traffic) drive from San Francisco. I always thought it would be super boring to drive for long distances, but the start of that drive already was beautiful as we left over the Golden Gate Bridge and quickly found ourselves surrounded by nothing but fields.

Where to Stay

I’m usually not the type to plan much ahead when travelling, but I very quickly realised that staying inside Yosemite would be very expensive since everything books out really quickly. Especially if like us, you’re travelling in high season. There are very few places inside Yosemite Valley and the ones that we’re still available were charging USD 200 or more a night. The Valley has quite a few campgrounds where you can sometimes be lucky when a spot opens up!

We therefore decided to stay in the quirky town of Mariposa, around an hour away from the Valley. We choose the Miners Inn, which is a typical US motel. The room was nice and breakfast was decent. What I really like about US motels is that you can park right in front of your room which was super handy!

What to See

Well, where do I even start? There’s so much to see and do in Yosemite, I could have spent a week there! Sadly we really only had 1.5 days and didn’t get to do much hiking but I am hoping to go back one day to hike there.

One of the most popular sights in the park is Tunnel View. You drive up a hill and are presented with this insane view:

Tunnel View

In the very back you can see Half Dome, which is another popular sight in the park. There are countless waterfalls in the park. With some of them you have to be lucky as they don’t have much water in the dry season but we got to see the stunning Bridalveil Falls in full force! (Even though it doesn’t look like it in the picture.

Bridalveil Falls

As I mentioned before, the park has a great number of hiking trails that range from being easy and short to longer and more strenuous hikes. The website of the park has a lot of information on the trails here.

Yosemite Valley

One of my favourite parts of the park was driving the Tioga Pass through the entire width of the park. The pass closes in winter, so make sure you check if it’s open if like us, you want to go to Death Valley because if it’s closed, you basically have to drive all around the park which is a 4 hour detour!

Can you spot the face in the rock?

The Tioga Pass first takes you up to the rim of the mountains surrounding the valley which gives you an incredible view.

It then leads you into thick forests and to glistening lakes…

Tenaya Lake

…before you find yourself at the serene Tuolumne Meadows.

Tuolumne Meadows

Soon you’ll reach Lee Vining where you’ll be happy to see the Whoa Nellie Deli as you’ll likely be starving by now, but you’ll miss that view:

Yosemite National Park was definitely one of my highlights of this trip and I am looking forward to going back at some point and do more hiking and maybe even camp out! It does get really busy on the weekends so try to avoid those.

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