Guide To Getting Around Yosemite National Park: Yosemite Shuttle Bus

The shuttle bus in Yosemite is very useful and quite popular among the tourists as well as residents from the nearby villages. What’s great about the Yosemite Shuttle bus is that it’s free. This is one of the perks of not using your car here. The other benefits include mixing up with people – local residents and visitors from across the United States and beyond. There is a touristic vibe that you will miss unless you use the shuttle bus in Yosemite National Park.

However, during the summer which happens to be the peak tourist season, there are many other free shuttle bus services. They take you to important tourist attractions in the Yosemite Valley.

That’s about free shuttle bus services. There are other bus services such as YARTS that connect Yosemite Valley to nearby cities and airports such as Merced. These cities are connected by Amtrak rail networks with other important cities.

Let’s have a more detailed look at the transportation services available in and around Yosemite National Park. 

Transportation Facilities At The Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a great outing for people from nearby cities and the rest of North America. More than 4 million visitors come to the park every year. The park occupies a large expanse of wilderness measuring over 3000 square km. Many of the roads leading to the park are closed during the winter months as there is heavy snowfall. The park is practically closed because of road blockades due to heavy snowfall during the winter that lasts from November to March.

So, how do you move around when you happen to be inside or close to the Yosemite National Park?

It’s not very difficult as it may sound. Yosemite National Park is a part of the National Park Service (NPS), which operates a free eco-friendly shuttle bus service to provide easy transportation to the visitors of this iconic national park.

A majority of the people come to the park in their own vehicles. Moving around the park and its many attractions in your car is comfortable and easy. But, you may also choose to go a more eco-friendly way. You can park your car and hop on to a shuttle bus that connects many of the important landmarks throughout the Yosemite Valley. This is a complimentary bus shuttle service from the National Park Service. You can download the Route Map of the Yosemite Valley Shuttle Bus Service.

Are There Shuttle Buses In Yosemite? The Best Way Of Getting Around Yosemite

Free Shuttle Bus: Shuttle Bus Map

The Shuttle bus in Yosemite provides convenient transportation solutions to access the nearby locations. The Yosemite Shuttle bus service offers connectivity to the eastern part of the Yosemite Valley. It has stops at most major vistas, stores, and overnight accommodations.

When: Year-round

Timing: 7 am – 10 pm

El Capitan Shuttle

The National Park Service offers a free El Capitan shuttle during the season. It has stops at Four Mile trailhead as well as Valley Visitor Center.

When: Mid-June to Early October

Mariposa Grove Shuttle

This free shuttle bus service connects Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza to the Mariposa Grove. This is the primary route to access Mariposa Grove. The schedule for this free shuttle bus service is March 15 to November 30 but the exact dates depend on snow conditions on the roads. 

** For visitors staying overnight at Wawona Hotel, a limited shuttle bus service is available.

When: Mid-June to Early September (9 am to 5 pm) 

Free Shuttle Bus for Badger Pass Ski Area

This free shuttle runs between Yosemite Valley and Badger Pass when the facilities at the Badger Pass are open.

When: Mid-December to March  

Glacier Point Tour

Glacier Point Tour is available between Yosemite Valley Lodge and Glacier point. Many people prefer to buy a one-way ticket to Glacier Point. After a visit to the place, they like to hike back to the Yosemite Valley. This bus service does not have stops at other trailheads. This service is available as long as Glacier Point Road is open.

When: Mid-May to October.

Tuolumne Meadows Shuttle: Mid-June through Early September

The Tuolumne Meadows shuttle provides connectivity to most areas in Tuolumne Meadows including Tioga Pass, Tenaya Lake, and Olmsted Point.

When: Mid-June to Early September

Hikers’ Bus: Yosemite Valley – Tuolumne Meadows

There is a bus service called Hikers’ Bus between Yosemite Valley and Visitor Center Tuolumne Meadows. It has stops at many trailheads along the Tioga Road.

When: Mid-June through Early September

Need for Efficient Transportation

In and around Yosemite Valley, there are many campgrounds, lodges, and hotels. There are about 500 new hotel projects under implementation. There are restaurants and other facilities. The number of tourists that come to Yosemite National Park every year is about 4 million. Looking at these numbers, it is not difficult to understand that the place needs efficient transportation facilities to help people move around easily.

Besides tourists, Yosemite Valley has regular transportation needs for residents in nearby villages and those who come here for longer stays on work. There seems to be a well-planned transportation facility that caters to all kinds of needs. This means you can get to and from any place here. To have a car can certainly help you. But if you have arrived here in an expensive rental car, you can ditch it after reaching here. You can easily get around the Yosemite Valley by the transportations already available here – shuttle bus is just one of them.

Yes, it’s a bit slower without your car. But once you are at the Yosemite Valley, the more time you take to reach a place, the more you enjoy the beauty of the place – the reason why you chose to come here in the first place. 

Yart Bus In Yosemite National Park: YARTS Bus System Information

Apart from the shuttle bus service, there are other transportation networks to ease your stay in the Yosemite wilderness. The YARTS bus system is one of them. This can help you if you are going out to the neighboring cities and returning from there. For example, while coming to Yosemite Valley, you may come to Merced or Fresno by a flight or an Amtrak ride. From there, you can take a bus ride on the YARTS network to reach the park. But during the winter some of the routes can be closed. So, read the schedule closely and plan your trips accordingly. Here are some of its routes relevant to Yosemite Valley residents.

In addition to shuttles provided by National Park Service (NPS), intercity buses are run by Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS). These buses connect to the park at convenient locations for the tourists to take a ride to nearby cities and return to the park. YARTS buses connect to the park from nearby cities such as Sonora, Fresno, Merced, and Mammoth Lakes.

When you get inside the park, you can take the free shuttle to reach other places of interest such as Half Dome Village or Tuolumne Meadows. Fares are applicable as per distance and destination. The YARTS bus with a blue line that runs between Merced and Yosemite Valley are the only ones that operate year-round.

Highway 120: YARTS East Bus

YARTS runs a bus service that connects Yosemite Village to Mammoth Lakes. You can take this bus to get off at White Wolf, Crane Flat, and Tuolumne Meadows.

When

July and August (daily)

June and September (weekends)

Highway 120: YARTS North Bus

The North Bus connects Yosemite Village and Sonora and has stops at Big Oak Flat, Crane Flat, Buck Meadows area, Groveland, and Jamestown/Sonora.

When: Daily service from Mid-May to September

Holidays and weekends: Service to Jamestown/Sonora is not available

Highway 41: YARTS Bus

YARTS Bus connectivity is available between Yosemite Valley and Fresno. It stops at Wawona.

When: Daily service from summer

When Is Driving Through Yosemite Useful

If you are coming to Yosemite National Park by your car in the summer, it can be quite a pain. The parking lots are crowded at important places of interest. Roads are also facing traffic congestion in many places. The park officials advise tourists to hit popular attractions early in the day. But if you are here in winter, you possibly have no option but to have your car if you want to access more locations than the only Shuttle bus Yosemite national park has in operation.

Rental Cars

Near the park, not many rental car services are available. To have a rental car on a reliable note, you should book at the airport or the city you arrive in. The car rentals at international airports can be more expensive than at the close-by regional airports. From the airport, you can also take the Amtrak ride to Merced from where you can find the YARTS blueline that can take you to the Yosemite Valley. 

Hitchhiking

One of the options you can try at Yosemite Valley to get around is hitchhiking. People who have used this option claim it works pretty well. You can use hiking to get to remote climbing locations or trailheads. The road opposite Camp 4 often has many hitchhikers. So, this is one of the places you can try hitchhiking. But you can try just about anywhere in Yosemite Valley as people with vehicles understand your situation and do not mind helping you.

Final Thoughts

Yosemite National Park is iconic in all respects and National Park Service through many of its initiatives has made it easily accessible. In this direction, the free shuttle bus services that it runs to connect important tourist attractions in and around the park are praiseworthy and worth a ride.

So next time you are at Yosemite Valley, don’t miss the experience, take a few rides in the shuttle buses.