Where is Yosemite National Park and how to get there?
The Yosemite National Park is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in central California. It is managed by the US National Park Service and is a World Heritage Site. It’s home to numerous species of mammals, unique trees and breathtaking waterfalls.
The best way to reach the National Park is to fly into the airports of San Fransisco (SFO), Oakland (OAK) or Fresno (FAT). From San Fransisco or Oakland you can either rent a car (around 4 hour ride) or take the public transportation such as Amtrak from the Bay Area. From Fresno it will take you around 2.5 hours to the entrance of the Park.
The most famous area of the park is Yosemite Valley. It is the main attraction and is well known for its stunning waterfalls, majestic rock formations and beautiful forests and lakes. Along the road you will see various different locations that are worth visiting and exploring.
The main entrances to the park are from the West and South as you pass by the famous Tunnel View. Once you pass this view point you follow the main road which will lead you past the Bridalveil Falls. The one-way road will then take you all the way to the end of the valley, leaving you at the feet of Glacier Point, passing by the Half Dome Village and various hiking routes. One of the nicest routes is the trailhead leading to Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. From here you can see various waterfalls, the Merced River and also get a nice view of the Half Dome.
One of the most photogenic spots in the valley definitely is Mirror Lake. Its a rough 20-minute walk away from the Trailhead parking lot and leads you to a rather small but beautiful lake. The reason behind its name is that the lake is so still that the surrounding mountains are reflected in it – making it a great setting for some nice pictures.
Returning back you will also find the Yosemite Village where you can do some shopping and eat in one of the restaurants. Don’t forget to have a closer look at the Yosemite Falls – the highest waterfall in North America!
Hotels near Yosemite National Park
When deciding on where to stay while exploring the park you will need to find an accommodation close-by the Valley. There are several hotels near Yosemite that you can consider staying at.
The most common hotels near Yosemite are located either directly in the valley such as the Majestic Yosemite Hotel or the Yosemite Valley Lodge. These are nice hotels that are very close to the major attractions but are also a bit more pricey.
Alternatively, the next option for hotels near Yosemite are located in the towns of Mariposa and Oakhurst. Both provide a variety of different hotels & lodges in all price categories. From both towns it will take you around 30-50 minutes to reach the valley. We stayed in the Miners Hotel in Mariposa and enjoyed a fantastic stay here.
Things to know before you go
There a few things you should know before proceeding to your Yosemite adventure, here a small list:
- Consider when to go: Depending on when you want to go to the park you will experience it differently depending on the weather. March – October: Summer month, great for hiking and swimming & rafting but also the most packed time of the year. November – March: winter months, can get very snowy and icy, not the best time for hiking and driving around unless you have the proper equipment. Feb – April: Spring time, great to explore especially because of the melting ice which leads to amazing time for seeing the waterfalls!
- Entrance fee: USD 30 per vehicle between April and October and USD 25 from November till March.
- Camping: If you want to camp inside one of the campgrounds in the valley please visit recreation.gov or call 877-444-6777 to reserve your spot.
- Transportation: Once you are inside the park there are free shuttle buses that transport you to all the best spots.