Is Driving to Yosemite Safe?

Is Driving to Yosemite Safe?

There are numerous driving tours in Yosemite. Due to this, you can enjoy the region’s beauty in and around Yosemite National Park from the comfort of your vehicle. Nonetheless, If you’re wondering, is it safe to drive to Yosemite? This article would have all your questions answered! 

When driving to Yosemite, the roads are generally in good condition. So driving in here is unquestionably safe. However, the worst thing you will encounter is being stuck behind a super slow vacation recreational vehicle). 

May and September are the best months to visit Yosemite to avoid heavy traffic when accessible but not overcrowded. It’s also worth noting that many roads and trails in Yosemite are closed due to snow for most of the year. 

Browse through this article to get viable information if you’re planning to visit Yosemite Valley and what route should be avoided or chosen. Let’s get started!

Is Wawona Road scary?

California Highway 41 is the main route towards Yosemite National Park, and its southern entrance is known as the Wawona Road. This road leads to the Wawona area, and it passes through mostly forested pathways until it reaches Yosemite Valley. For this reason, a lot of people find the road haunted. 

Nonetheless,  Wawona road is not scary. Instead, it offers a rewarding journey due to its scenic views. Here are some places to stop by when driving to Wawona Road:

Mile 0.1 – Mariposa Grove Road

Mariposa Grove in California’s Yosemite National Park is located immediately beyond the entrance station at a T intersection. In here, you will find the biggest sequoia grove in Yosemite. So, if you’re looking for a place to unwind, Mariposa Grove is a must to experience!

Mile 4.6 – Wawona Hotel

If you’re looking for a place to stay, the Wawona Hotel is located on the right side of the road. This historic structure is one of the Park’s few places for overnight lodging.

Mile 4.9 – Chilnualna Falls Road

This road returns to some private residences before reaching the trailhead for Chilnualna Falls. This way is a moderate 4-mile one-way hike. However, summers can be extremely hot here due to the low elevation. If you visit Yosemite while the higher country is still snowbound, hiking here may be accessible.

Mile 5.7 – Wawona Campground

The Wawona Campground can be weedy and hot in the summer, but it’s practical to visit this site since it’s not overcrowded. More so, this campground is an ideal area to hike and enjoy the Earth’s largest trees in the Mariposa Grove. 

Mile 16.7 – Yosemite West

Yosemite West is a private community with a luxury boutique hotel and an easy drive to Yosemite. Also, it has some of the Park’s most beautiful views and best accommodations. 

Mile 17.2 – Glacier Point Road

Glacier Point has commanding views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Yosemite’s high country. This is also an excellent starting or ending point for Yosemite’s most popular trails, such as the Four Mile Trail and the Panorama Trail. 

Mile 24.0 – Wawona Tunnel

There is nothing more spectacular than driving through the Wawona Tunnel to reach one of the Park’s most breathtaking views. This tunnel offers a panoramic view of Yosemite Valley, including Half Dome, El Capitan, and Bridalveil Falls.

Mile 24.8 – Tunnel View

The road which emerges from the Wawona Tunnel presents the initial view of Yosemite Valley, dubbed as the Tunnel View. If the air is clear, this is almost as impressive as the view from Glacier Point. Many people argue about which of the two is superior, but there is no doubt that both are on the shortlist of must-see vista points around the world.

Mile 26.5 – Bridalveil Fall

This waterfall is one of the valley’s crown jewels. Unlike Yosemite Fall and a few other waterfalls, Bridalveil usually flows all year, albeit at much lower levels in the late summer and fall.

Mile 26.6 – Yosemite Valley Area

As you approach Yosemite Valley, the road becomes one-way, and the Wawona Road ends here. This area is confusing, so your best bet is to follow the signs to your destination.

Is driving to Glacier Point scary?

Glacier Point Road can be a terrifying drive for someone who hasn’t driven at roads with switchbacks and drop-offs. Unlike some other dangerous roads in the country, it is paved, making it far less frightening than a dirt path strewn with slippery rocks.

Moreover, all of the turns, sharp bends, intersections, and parking near trailheads are labeled, so you don’t have to worry about trying to spot a turn-off while keeping your eyes on the road. They’re simple to locate.

You also don’t have to worry about becoming stranded on a road that is no longer passable. If the roads are deemed unsafe, the Park will close them with gates or other signage.

Glacier Point Road is not difficult to drive. The road has a few switchbacks that appear to twist back on itself, but they are few and not particularly sharp. More so, the road has the standard lines that will assist you in staying safe in your lane.

Is Tioga Pass scary to drive?

Tioga Pass, located at the eastern end of Highway 120, is another entrance to Yosemite National Park. Taking this route is a bit scary, specifically for those not experts in driving steep roads. There are no guard rails for most of the drive, so it’s a thousand-foot drop down the mountainside if you go off the road. 

Nonetheless, you will be fascinated by its view as it will take you through the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. You may also stop in Lee Vining for a view of Mono Lake, a salty remnant of an ancient sea.

What is the easiest drive into Yosemite?

If you’re coming from the big cities of San Francisco or Sacramento, as well as their major airports, Highway 120 is the best way to get to Yosemite. On the other hand, Tioga Pass is a convenient route through one of California’s most difficult terrains. Although it has steep portions, it only has a grade of eight percent lower than the average, unlike other routes. 

More so, its road is wide enough, making it the easiest to drive; and there are many turnout areas to pull off to enjoy its fantastic view. This scenic route follows the northern border of Mariposa County, passing through the charming towns of Buck Meadows and Groveland.

Can you drive through Yosemite without a day pass?

Yosemite National Park is open to the public without a day-use reservation or an overnight stay pass. Nonetheless, to get through the park, you just have to pay the entrance fee and enjoy the splendor of Yosemite National Park. 

Today, all users with annual and lifetime pass holders will need to make day-use reservations with a three-day validity period. You can make a reservation at recreation.gov

Additionally, all visitors staying overnight in the Park are entitled to day-use reservations. Thus, reservations for The Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite Valley Lodge, Curry Village, Wawona Hotel, Housekeeping Camp, NPS-managed campgrounds, and in-park vacation rentals Wawona, Foresta, and Yosemite West are also available. 

Drive Through Yosemite!

Driving through Yosemite can be an amazing experience. However, the scenic routes may not be a peaceful drive in heavy traffic. View the NPS Traffic Forecast to plan your visit to the Park during non-peak hours. It is also advisable to drive before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. because it is the best time to drive through the Park, specifically during the busy summer months.

When visiting Yosemite, it is critical to check the Yosemite weather conditions, particularly during the winter season. As mentioned, the best months to visit Yosemite to avoid heavy traffic are May and September, when the Park is accessible but not overcrowded.