To reach Yosemite from the Visitors Bureau: From our parking lot turn right and go northbound on Hwy 41. The Yosemite Park south entrance is 14 miles straight ahead. Continue on Highway 41, which becomes Wawona Road inside the park, all the way to Yosemite Valley (about 1 hour from the south entrance).
- April 1 through October 31 - $30 per vehicle, good for up to 7 days
- November 1 through March 31 - $25 per vehicle, good for up to 7 days
- For those 62 and older and U S citizens or permanent residents, a Senior Pass is available for $10, good for life.
- An America the Beautiful pass is available for $80, good for 1 year for all National Parks and federal fee areas.
The drive from the South Entrance to the stop at Tunnel View is doable in 1 hour, traveling safely at a speed of 35 mph. Be considerate of others by pulling over at turnouts to let vehicles go by. (The law: You must pull over at the first opportunity if there are four or more vehicles behind you.) Watch for animals darting into the roadway.
From the Visitors Bureau, below is the “logical progression” of stops. If the traffic is heavy, or if you get a late start, consider reversing the order.
Viewpoint 1: WAWONA - HISTORICAL CENTER OF PARK
Things to see and do:
- Visit the Wawona Hotel and walk among it's history
- See the Pioneer History Center – great place for children to run off some energy
- Walk the Meadow Loop (easy, 3.5 mile loop, flat) – only trail in the park where dogs are allowed
Hike Chilnualna Falls (moderate to first cascade – 2 mile round trip. A strenuous to upper cascades, 8 mi round trip, 2,400 ft. elevation gain)
Have dinner in the Wawona Hotel and listen to Tom Bopp (long-time Yosemite musician and historian) Tuesday through Saturday. 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Note: The Wawona closes in winter after Thanksgiving, reopens for the Christmas holidays and then closes again until early spring.
Viewpoint 2: GLACIER POINT – Seasonal
Glacier Point Road closes for the winter after the first significant snowfall. Badger Pass Ski Area opens when there is sufficient snow for winter activities.
- Hike McGurk Meadow – spectacular wildflowers in late summer – easy 2 miles round-trip
- Hike to Dewey Point – moderate, 8 miles round trip
- Hike to Sentinel Dome – moderate, 2.2 miles round trip, best 360 degree views of valley and high country.
- Continue the Sentinel Dome Hike on a 5-mile loop to include Taft Point and the Fissures
- View Nevada, Vernal and Illilouette Fall from Washburn Point and Glacier Point
- Birds’-eye view of Yosemite Valley and Yosemite Falls from 3,200 ft. above valley floor
- Views of Mt Hoffman (approximate geographical center of the park), Cathedral Peak, Mt Starr King, Mt Clark and other landmarks of the Yosemite high country
- Glacier Point is well known for the beauty of its sunsets and full moons.
Viewpoint 3: TUNNEL VIEW
- from Glacier Point, turn right on Wawona Road; continue down to Yosemite Valley. You will go through a mile-long tunnel.
- Tunnel View – immediately after exiting tunnel, park on right or left. Watch for traffic! Spectacular view of Bridalveil Fall, Half Dome, Clouds Rest, El Capitan.
- Bridalveil Fall – Walk ¼ miles one-way to base of waterfall.
Viewpoint 4: YOSEMITE CHAPEL
- Oldest building still in continuous use in Yosemite Valley, dates from 1879, a spectacular view of Yosemite Falls from outside the chapel.
Viewpoint 5: SENTINEL BRIDGE
From Yosemite Chapel continue to Sentinel Bridge (the first stop sign you’ll come to in Yosemite Valley). Turn left over Sentinel Bridge and park at Shuttle Stop 11. Walk back to middle of bridge.This is a quintessential PHOTO OPP of Half Dome over the Merced River.
Hop on the Shuttle
DAY PARKING: Continue to next stop sign, turn right and follow signs to the Day Parking area or the new parking area west of Yosemite Lodge. Leave your car for the rest of your visit to Yosemite Valley, until you’re ready to depart. Take the free Yosemite Valley shuttle to all the major spots in the valley. The shuttle runs every 10 to 20 minutes from 7 am to 10 pm.
Start your adventure at Shuttle Stop 1
(makes it easy to remember where you parked). The Yosemite Lodge Day Use parking is Shuttle Stop 7.
Shuttle Stop 6
- Yosemite Falls – ½ mile (one-way) walk to base of Yosemite Falls
Shuttle Stop 5/9
- Valley Visitor Center
- Visitor Center & Bookstore – watch “Spirit of Yosemite” and “A Gathering of Spirit” film in Yosemite Valley Theatre
- Ansel Adams Gallery
- Indian Museum and Village - be sure to observe cultural demonstrations in the museum
- Evening presentations in Yosemite Valley Theatre; 7 pm night
Shuttle Stop 3
- Ahwahnee Hotel – great for LUNCH – 209/372-1489 for dinner reservations. Allow about 2 hours for lunch. (Less expensive, no dress code for lunch, great views out of the 34-foot-high windows)
Shuttle Stop 8
- Yosemite Lodge – Bike rentals here, in season. Guided tours depart from here – info and reservations for Yosemite tours, call 209/372-4386
Shuttle Stop 13a
- Curry Village Bike rentals in summer and fall, ice skating rentals in winter.
Shuttle Stop 14
- Curry Village dining, shops and lodging. (Some are seasonal.)
Shuttle Stop 16
- Happy Isles - See the Fen and the Happy Isles Nature Center – great for kids!
- Hike to Vernal Falls Footbridge - .8 mile uphill “both ways”
- Hike to Nevada Falls - 1 mile to top of Vernal Falls (very steep stone steps, you will get quite wet in spring/early summer) - another 2 miles to top of Nevada Fall.
Shuttle Stop 17
- Mirror Lake – walk out about 1 mile to Mirror Lake for an up-close view of the face of Half Dome. It’s an easy walk for a big payoff.
Those are just a few of the adventures you can have in Yosemite Valley.
Viewpoint 6: VALLEY VIEW
- Watch for the big pullout on the left as you approach the Pohono Bridge. You’ll often find tour buses there. This view from here is a panorama of Yosemite Valley from a different perspective.
If you turn left over Pohono Bridge (going back to Oakhurst/Fresno), you will pass the smallest waterfall in Yosemite at Fern Springs.
Viewpoint 7: FERN SPRINGS
If you have the time and the road is still open, don’t miss the opportunity to view the Yosemite high country up-close-and-personal by traversing Tioga Road, which goes across the park to the east side of the Sierra Nevada. For some of us, this is the most beautiful, most spectacular part of the park. This road closes with the first major snowfall and remains closed through winter and early spring.