Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park might not be one of the seven wonders of the natural world, but its accessibility and beauty make it one of the most visited places in California.
Ansel Adams’ elegant black-and-white photographs turned Yosemite’s stunning natural features—cascading waterfalls, striking granite cliffs, grand vistas—into international icons.
The whole point of coming to Yosemite is to get outside and enjoy it. If you’re craving more than just endless hiking, why not try horseback riding, bicycling, climbing or even skiing or snowshoeing in the winter months. The park offers plenty of different outdoor activities suited to all ages and fitness levels.
Almost all the most popular sights, attractions, and trailheads are accessible by road. The Arch Rock entrance to the west of the park is accessed via Highway 140. The Big Oak Flat entrance is accessed via Highway 120 from the north; it’s about another 45 minutes to Yosemite Valley from there. Both entrances provide access to Tioga Pass Road via Big Oak Flat Road.
Tioga Pass reconnects to Highway 120 at the Tioga Pass Entrance on the east side of the park. Tioga Pass closes in November or December each year and reopens in the spring, usually in May.
Yosemite’s south entrance is accessed via Highway 41 from Oakhurst. Wawona Road leads from the south entrance, through Wawona, and into Yosemite Valley. Glacier Point Road is reached from Wawona Road and allows access to the Badger Pass Ski Area. In winter, chains can be required on any road at any time, so check the website (www.nps.gov/yose) for current road conditions.
Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) services Merced, an hour away from the park. From Merced, bus service is available on VIA Bus Lines (209/384-1314, www.via-adventures.com); call for reservations. The YARTS (877/989-2787, www.yarts.com) bus system services Mariposa and Merced.
Yosemite runs an extensive network of shuttles in different areas of the park. One of the most-used travels through Yosemite Valley (daily 7 a.m.–10 p.m., year-round, free). The El Capitan Shuttle (mid-June to early Sept, daily 9 a.m.–6 p.m., free) also runs around certain parts of Yosemite Valley during the summer season.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition