Can I Drive in Yosemite Valley?

Yosemite Valley is home to many renowned cliffs, waterfalls, and scenic views that put Yosemite National Park on the map. Luckily, The valley is open via car and other modes of transport for the entire year. However, if you plan to visit Yosemite but aren’t sure whether you can drive in Yosemite valley, this article will surely help you out.

To answer whether you can drive in Yosemite valley, It’s yes, you can drive your car into and around Yosemite. However, few streets are shut down from around November through May/June, and tire chains might be needed on open roads from around October through April, depending on road and weather conditions.

In addition, Yosemite valley is only one part of the 1,200 square miles of ensured wilderness that makes up Yosemite National Park. As mentioned, guests can explore a large part of the park by driving along with one of its six primary streets. Yet colder time of year closures and summer traffic might hinder access.

Keep reading If you’re interested to know about some related information about driving in Yosemite valley.

Can you see Yosemite by car?

Of course, Venture to every part of the Yosemite roads in and around Yosemite National Park to experience the most rousing drives and to see the amazing vistas of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In addition, Yosemite driving tours are various. You can enjoy the magnificence of the locale in and around Yosemite valley from the solace of your vehicle. Here are some major views to anticipate in Yosemite valley.

Yosemite Valley Loop Drive

Of all the drives, the Yosemite Valley loop is the most famous. The amazing scenes show you why this park is so popular for its perspectives. Although the valley is typically packed with tourists, it’s a must to visit when you go to Yosemite.

Tioga Road

You can take your pick of any of the Yosemite National Park roads, yet don’t leave out the Tioga Road. Going over Tioga Pass is a must experience, and you’ll likewise find a considerable number of opportunities for some outdoor fun along the way.

Wawona Road

When venturing to every part of the Wawona Road, you need to stop at the Mariposa Grove to see the Giant Sequoias and Wawona, an Old West town with a climbing trail. Moreover, you can find Pioneer History Center there.

Glacier Point

Glacier Point is one of the Yosemite Park roads that will take you to some of the most stunning views of the valley. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of trails for an extra workout.

Big Oak Flat Road

Want to see the best place for nature and experience? Then head to Big Oak Flat Road and stop off at Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias. You will find a beautiful grove of sequoias and other trees there, and you can witness them in their natural environment.

El Portal Road

You can’t run out of outdoor activities to enjoy along El Portal Drive, between the Yosemite Valley and El Portal, California. You can raft the Merced River, hike through the canyon or enjoy other outdoor activities like camping.

Hetch Hetchy Road

Hetch Hetchy Road is a beautiful route through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Hike over the O’Shaughnessy Dam. Consider taking a tour of the 200-year-old O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, where you can jump in for a short swim.

Sierra Vista Byway

The Byway is a scenic road through meadows and forests, past towering peaks and huge granite outcroppings. You can enjoy this Byway along the way to your next destination.

State Route 108

This course offers stunning landscapes that are worth the trip by offering beautiful scenery. You will visit the Columns of the Giants in the Stanislaus National Forest and travel over Sonora Pass.

State Route 120

Start at Chinese Camp and travel through the Sierra Nevada district, partaking in the sights as you go. It’s a drive the entire family will appreciate and one you should make when visiting Yosemite National Park.

Highway 140

Along this tourist detour, you can stop in the town of El Portal, discovering exciting whitewater rafting, climbing, and considerably more. Visit Mariposa, California, to see some fascinating history contained in its two exhibition halls.

Highway 4

This sloping highway takes you across Ebbetts Pass and gives you access to various outdoor activities.

Highway 41

From Yosemite to Oakhurst, California is a short yet motivating drive with a lot to do along the journey. Ride the Sugar Pine Railroad, fish in Bass Lake. The fun won’t ever end.

Highway 49

Here you will find 100 miles of beautiful excellence as you venture to every part of the 49ers of Gold Rush Days course. Mining towns and notable towns thrive along the way you’ll take from Oakhurst south of Yosemite to Vinton close to Frenchman Lake.

Is it recommended to drive in Yosemite?

Yes, it is recommended to drive in Yosemite. Indeed, various views of the park can be accessed by car. The most well-known scenic drive is along Tioga Road. Visitors will appreciate the lakes, waterfalls, large sequoia trees, and all-encompassing views along the 39-mile stretch between Crane Flat and Tioga Pass. 

The drive to Glacier Point additionally is extremely well known. Excursion ordinarily requires 60 minutes, yet during occupied mid-year months, traffic jams can endure as long as two hours. 

Although, the parking garage at Glacier Point regularly tops off during vacation, usually end of the week mornings.

How long is the drive-through Yosemite?

Wondering how long it takes to drive through Yosemite? Well, it depends on where your starting point is. Moreover, the road and weather conditions will most likely affect your driving time.

Now, if you’re planning to visit Yosemite valley but you don’t have your car. In that case, there are a few airports to browse that require under 6 hours of driving (in ideal conditions) to get to Yosemite Valley. 

Picking a city/airport includes balancing accessibility of flights, cost of flights, driving time, pressure, and different interfacing destinations in your get-away schedule.

Cities and Airports to Yosemite

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

While San Francisco might be the longest drive to Yosemite out of all air terminals on this rundown, it would take about 4-6 hours in ideal traffic conditions. However, it is probably the cheapest direct trip to Yosemite.

Oakland International Airport (OAK)

Oakland is situated on the east side of San Francisco Bay and is a slightly shorter drive to Yosemite.

Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)

Situated on the south side of the bay, San Jose Airport is a more available and less busy airport with a slightly shorter drive to Yosemite, particularly from the south side of Yosemite (Mariposa, Oakhurst, and so on).

Sacramento International Airport (SMF)

Sacramento is around 90 miles east of San Francisco, and like SJC, the air terminal is more available and less feverish. A drive to Yosemite is around 4 hours (in ideal traffic conditions) and is generally helpful in case you are gone to the northwestern pieces of Yosemite (Groveland, Buck Meadows, and so on)

Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT)

Fresno is likely the most convenient city to fly into if you need a straight shot into Yosemite from the south. It is located just 45 miles south of Oakhurst and would take around a 2.5-hour drive to Yosemite Valley (in ideal traffic conditions). However, the drawback is that not all airlines give reasonable trips to this more modest airport without excessive delays.

Are there other options for traveling around Yosemite valley?

An ideal way of getting around Yosemite is via car. Except if you’re taking a private vehicle or public transportation from one of the parks’ nearby airports.

If you have a car, there’s no real reason to obtain a costly rental vehicle or take Yosemite’s shuttle, particularly after a long climb. Nonetheless, during the park’s pinnacle travel season, a shuttle is a top pick. 

Road traffic throughout the mid-year is known to create significant setbacks, and trailhead parking garages can top off quickly. In case you’re not keen to start your day too early, the shuttles can save you some time.

However, due to the prevailing pandemic, the free shuttles on Yosemite do not currently operate, which would mean that more people than usual may be driving.

Final Thoughts

With all the breathtaking views the Yosemite valley could offer, it is undeniably the most get-away tourist destination. Moreover, it is important to choose the practical route and mode of transportation to avoid inconvenience. 

As mentioned, shuttles are not operating in Yosemite; thus, driving through a private car is necessary and a proper way to keep yourself and everyone around safe from getting infected from the COVID-19 virus.  
Likewise, before your trip to Yosemite, it is good to study road maps and have at least a copy of the National Geographic Yosemite National Park Map to get oriented and guided along your journey. Lastly, remember to travel responsibly and always leave no trace in any area you’re visiting as a part of being a responsible citizen.

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