The Ultimate Guide to Yosemite National Park: Distance from Los Angeles and Everything You Need to Know

How far is Yosemite National Park from Los Angeles?

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Yosemite National Park is approximately 279 miles away from Los Angeles. The driving distance may vary slightly depending on the specific route you take. The shortest route is approximately 279 miles and takes about 4 hours and 42 minutes via CA-99 South. If you choose to take CA-99 South and I-5 South, the distance is slightly longer at 281 miles, and it will take about 4 hours and 44 minutes. Another option, which is a bit longer, is to take CA-99 South and CA-14 South, which covers a distance of 329 miles and takes approximately 5 hours and 39 minutes.

Yosemite national park features outstanding scenery, including peaks, canyons, cliffs, domes, rivers, lakes, immense waterfalls, lush green meadows, wildlife, and forests. There are massive granite domes and glacial features from a rich geologic history. Knowing the distance from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park helps you plan your trip and budget. We have collected this article to help you have an incredible trip to Yosemite.

Getting to Yosemite National Park

Transportation options from Los Angeles include a car, bus, or by air. Take the bus from Los Angeles to Bakersfield, a train from Bakersfield to Merced, then a bus from Merced Amtrak to Hwy 140 Autocamp. Drive from Hwy 140 Autocamp to Yosemite National Park. That is if you are using public transport. If you want to fly, fly to Yosemite using local airports and airlines. You can ride the YARTS Bus to Yosemite National Park or take Yosemite Shuttles and Regional Buses.

Driving to Yosemite

Best routes and highways

Looking at your maps, helps you take the CA-99 route to reach Yosemite National Park. That is the most direct route to the park if you drive non-stop, but less scenic. The drive from Los Angeles to Yosemite via CA-99N is 279 miles. The Pacific Coast Highway route is 693 miles of driving time to reach Yosemite National Park. CA-99N takes the shortest to Yosemite. If you prefer scenic vistas and gorgeous mountain terrain, take time to drive a longer route for this road trip.

Scenic stops along the way

  • The Pacific Coast Highway
  • Yosemite Valley Loop 
  • Tioga Road 
  • Wawona Road 
  • Glacier Point Road 
  • Big Oak Flat Road 
  • El Portal Road 
  • Madera Wine Trail

Taking a Bus to Yosemite

Pros of bus travel

  • Easy
  • Save costs
  • Useful
  • Convenient
  • Less stressful


  • No flexibility

Recommended bus services

  • Valleywide shuttle
  • East Valley shuttle

Flying to Yosemite

Nearest airports to Yosemite National Park

  • Fresno Yosemite International Airport
  • San Francisco International Airport
  • San Jose Mineta International Airport
  • Oakland International Airport

Ground transportation options from the airport

  • Crossroads Tours & Limo
  • Big Trees Transit
  • California State University, Fresno
  • Naval Air Station Lemoore – Fleet Readiness Center West
  • Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System 

Understanding the Distance

The direct drive from Yosemite National Park to Los Angeles is 340 mi (547 km). Expect drive time of 6 hrs 27 mins in less traffic. The longer the route, the more scenic it becomes. Travelling from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park takes 10h 46m on average, but you can get there quickly. In 9h 46m, you can be there depending on your transportation.

Factors Affecting Travel Time

Seasonal variations

Snow, floods, and wildlife affect travel time from Yosemite National Park to Los Angeles. Winter can bring storms that may leave the city covered in snow. That chases away visitors from the iconic scenery. A snowy city means slow driving. 

Traffic conditions

Heavy traffic means more time. Traffic on a drive from Los Angeles to Yosemite can be tough to navigate, especially during the summer.

Planning Your Trip

The ideal time to visit Yosemite from Los Angeles

The best time of year to drive from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park is from June to September. It is during this year when the weather is excellent, and there is no need to worry about trail closures due to poor conditions.

Length of stay recommendations

Plan on spending two to four days in Yosemite, so you get enough time to see all the sights. You have enough time to see Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Glacier Point, and enjoy some hiking trails.

Accommodations in Yosemite

Types of lodging available

In Yosemite, you can find Yosemite Valley Lodge, The Ahwahnee, Wawona Hotel, and Tenaya at Yosemite. There is also The Majestic Yosemite Hotel known as The Ahwahnee. The Ahwahnee is Yosemite National Park’s distinctive upscale hotel, with stunning views and exceptional architecture.

Camping options and reservations

Yosemite National Park has 13 popular campgrounds, all on a reservation system from April through October. During winter, Camp 4, Wawona, and Hodgdon Meadow are first-come, first-served campgrounds, but can fill during holidays and weekends.

Must-See Attractions in Yosemite

Iconic landmarks and viewpoints

  • Olmsted Point
  • Tioga Pass
  • Valley View
  • Ahwahnee Historic Building
  • Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias
  • Yosemite Village
  • Ansel Adams Gallery
  • Pioneer Yosemite History Center

Popular hiking trails

  • Half Dome
  • Yosemite Falls Trail
  • Mist Trail
  • Bridalveil Fall

Experiencing the Wildlife

Native species in Yosemite

Yosemite National Park consists of marmots, bobcats, songbirds, squirrels, rabbits, and numerous species of butterflies. There is also a mule deer, also called black-tailed deer.

Wildlife watching tips and guidelines

Stay quiet to spot large and small animals. These animals stay clear of loud noises or rapid movements. Avoid large groups of people. Wild animals are scarce near crowds. Look for animal tracks as a clue that they may be nearby. Do not disturb the animals’ habitats so that you do not cause harm to them or yourself. Check-in with a National Park Service ranger for information and tips for wildlife viewing.

Exploring Yosemite’s Waterfalls

Famous waterfalls in the park

  • Yosemite Falls
  • Vernal Falls
  • Bridalveil Fall
  • Horsetail Fall
  • Nevada Fall
  • Sentinel Fall
  • Chilnualna Falls

Best viewing spots and photography tips

  • Glacier Point
  • Tunnel View
  • Half Dome
  • Bridalveil Fall

Outdoor Activities in Yosemite

Rock climbing and bouldering

Yosemite is one of the world’s greatest climbing areas where one can enjoy a variety of challenges. These range from the sustained crack climbs of the Merced River Canyon to pinching crystals on sun-drenched Tuolumne Meadows domes to multi-day aid climbs on the big walls of the Valley. 

Rafting and kayaking opportunities

You can enjoy kayaking in Yosemite. Visitors can bring their kayaks and enjoy the Merced River and Tenaya Lake. Merced River is the most popular place to go kayaking in Yosemite. Spend the afternoon rafting in Yosemite, while cooling off and taking in some views. There is a 3-mile float down the Merced River in a raft that holds 2-4 people.

Discovering Yosemite’s History

Indigenous heritage and culture

The indigenous natives of Yosemite are known as the Ahwahneechee, the only tribe that lived within the park boundaries. Yosemite is the sacred ancestral homeland of several American Indian tribes and groups. The landscape reflects their cultural and spiritual ties to the area. 

Historical sites in the park

  1. Yosemite National Park
  2. Yosemite Valley
  3. The Ahwahnee
  4. Yosemite Museum
  5. Tuolumne Meadows
  6. Sierra Nevada
  7. Wawona Hotel
  8. Tunnel View

Staying Safe in Yosemite

Stay away from rocks adjacent to rivers and do not approach or enter the water above waterfalls to avoid drowning. Stay safe from bears by scaring away the bear by yelling aggressively until the bear leaves. Always carry snow chains in your car. Check on the latest road conditions, closures, or snow chain restrictions, by calling 209-372-0200. Bear-proof your car and campsite. 

Packing Essentials for Your Trip

  • Hiking boots
  • Water shoes
  • Raincoat
  • Warm and cold clothing layers
  • Sunglasses, sun hat, and sunscreen
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Binoculars
  • Snacks
  • Water

Weather and Climate in Yosemite

Yosemite has a Mediterranean climate. Most precipitation falls during the mild winter, and the other seasons are almost dry. Keep light and rain gear when it is raining. Prepare for any weather with layered clothing and waterproof outerwear. Wear long underwear, fleece outerwear, a parka or shell, and waterproof hiking boots. Do not forget a warm hat, gloves, and extra socks.

Capturing Yosemite’s Beauty

Re-create Ansel Adams’ photo of a tunnel view and enjoy Nevada Fall’s mist. Stay safe by not getting close to the mist. Take rock climbing photos at Cathedral Peak and enjoy the mirror lake. Take photos at Glacier Point. Obey all posted speed limits and properly store your food, trash, and other scented items. Keep your distance from animals. 


In summation, travelling from Yosemite national park to Los Angeles can be shorter or longer depending on your days. The distance from Los Angeles to Yosemite features countless scenery, places, wildlife, and different accommodation options. Do not forget to pack snacks, water, warm clothes, and all the stuff for your trip. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How far is Yosemite National Park from Los Angeles?

Yosemite National Park is approximately 279 miles from Los Angeles, with the exact driving distance subject to your chosen route and park entrance. The most common route leads through California State Route 99 (CA-99) and California State Route 41 (CA-41), traversing the San Joaquin Valley before entering the park.

The travel time to Yosemite can fluctuate due to variables like traffic, road conditions, and stops en route. On average, the drive from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park takes about 5 to 6 hours.

It’s worth noting that Yosemite’s boundaries are extensive, so distances within the park can vary considerably. Additionally, be aware that road conditions may change seasonally, particularly during winter. Checking for road closures and weather advisories before your trip, especially for winter visits, is advisable.

For those who prefer not to drive, alternatives such as bus and train transportation from Los Angeles to Yosemite are available, offering a more leisurely travel experience.

What is the best way to get to Yosemite from Los Angeles?

The best way to reach Yosemite National Park from Los Angeles depends on your preferences:

By Car:

  • Route 1 (Pacific Coast Highway): A scenic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) offers breathtaking views. Take PCH to California Route 1 North and transition to various highways. It takes about 6-7 hours.
  • Route 99: For a faster route, take Interstate 5 North (I-5 N) to California State Route 99 North (CA-99 N). This route is generally quicker, taking around 5-6 hours.

By Bus: Several bus companies offer transportation, although it may take longer than driving.

By Plane: Fly from Los Angeles to Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT), about 65 miles from the park’s southern entrance. Rent a car or take a shuttle to the park.

By Train: Amtrak provides train service from Los Angeles to Merced, roughly 80 miles from Yosemite. Arrange transportation to the park from Merced.

By Tour: Consider joining a guided tour from Los Angeles. Tour companies provide transportation, accommodations, and guided experiences.

Choose based on your schedule, budget, and preferences, considering whether you want a scenic drive or a quicker journey to Yosemite from Los Angeles.

What are the must-see attractions in Yosemite?

Yosemite National Park offers a range of iconic attractions:

  • Glacier Point: Provides panoramic views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and the High Sierra peaks. Accessible by car in summer and cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in winter.
  • Yosemite Falls: Tallest waterfall in North America, with Upper Fall dropping 1,430 feet. Best in spring with snowmelt.
  • Tunnel View: At Yosemite Valley’s eastern entrance, frames El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, and Half Dome. Ideal at sunrise and sunset.
  • Half Dome: Iconic rock formation, challenging hike. Permits required for cable ascent; plan ahead.
  • El Capitan: Massive granite monolith, a rock climbing mecca. Spectacular views from El Capitan Meadow.
  • Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias: Home to 500+ mature giant sequoias, including Grizzly Giant and California Tunnel Tree. Explore via boardwalks and trails.
  • Bridalveil Fall: Easy walk to elegant 620-foot waterfall, a Yosemite Valley must-see.
  • Tuolumne Meadows: Serene alpine landscape in the park’s high country, perfect for hiking, picnicking, and stargazing.

Yosemite’s natural beauty appeals to nature lovers, hikers, photographers, and anyone seeking inspiration.

Is it safe to encounter wildlife in the park?

Encountering wildlife in Yosemite National Park can be safe by following these guidelines:

  • Maintain Distance: Stay at least 25 yards from most animals and 100 yards from larger ones, like bears.
  • Don’t Feed: Feeding wildlife is harmful and illegal; it can lead to dangerous encounters.
  • Use Binoculars: Observe from a distance using binoculars or a telephoto lens.
  • Stay in Vehicle: If wildlife appears while driving, watch from your vehicle, avoiding feeding or approaching.
  • Respect Space: Hiking? Give animals space to move away, especially mothers with young.
  • Secure Food: Use bear-resistant containers for food when camping and dispose of trash properly.
  • Follow Rangers: Abide by ranger instructions during wildlife programs for safety and learning.
  • Check Alerts: Be aware of park alerts about wildlife activity in your area; some areas may be temporarily closed for safety.

Enjoy wildlife from a safe distance to protect both you and the animals, preserving their natural behaviors and habitats.

What outdoor activities are available in Yosemite?

Yosemite National Park offers a wide range of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts and adventurers. Here are some of the activities you can enjoy in the park:

  • Hiking: Yosemite is renowned for its extensive network of hiking trails suitable for all levels of hikers. Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll or a challenging backcountry trek, there’s a trail for you. Some iconic hikes include the Half Dome Trail, Mist Trail, and the John Muir Trail.
  • Biking: Bicycling is a fantastic way to explore Yosemite Valley. While mountain biking is not allowed on most trails, you can rent bikes and ride designated paths, such as the Yosemite Valley Bike Path, which offers scenic views of waterfalls and meadows.
  • Horseback Riding: Discover the park’s beauty on horseback. Guided trail rides are available in Yosemite Valley and Wawona, allowing you to experience the park from a unique perspective.
  • Rock Climbing: Yosemite is a world-famous rock climbing destination, known for its challenging granite cliffs like El Capitan and Half Dome. Climbers from around the globe visit to tackle these iconic walls.
  • Rafting and Kayaking: If you’re a water enthusiast, consider rafting or kayaking on the Merced River. You can enjoy a leisurely float or more challenging rapids, depending on your skill level.
  • Fishing: Yosemite offers excellent fishing opportunities in its rivers and lakes. Be sure to obtain the necessary permits and follow regulations for catch and release in certain areas.
  • Camping: Yosemite has numerous campgrounds, from developed sites to backcountry camping. Spend a night under the stars and immerse yourself in the park’s natural beauty.
  • Stargazing: With minimal light pollution, Yosemite is a designated International Dark Sky Park. On clear nights, you can enjoy incredible stargazing opportunities. Attend ranger-led astronomy programs for a deeper understanding of the night sky.
  • Photography: Capture the park’s breathtaking landscapes, waterfalls, and wildlife through photography. Don’t forget your camera to document your Yosemite experience.
  • Winter Activities: In the winter months, Yosemite transforms into a snowy wonderland. Visitors can enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and even ice skating at Curry Village.

Remember to check with the park’s visitor center for up-to-date information, trail conditions, and any necessary permits or reservations to make the most of your outdoor adventures in Yosemite National Park.

When is the best time to visit Yosemite National Park?

The best time to visit Yosemite National Park is generally May through September. Here’s why:

  • Mild Weather: Yosemite enjoys pleasant weather during these months, perfect for outdoor activities and camping.
  • Waterfalls: Late spring and early summer bring peak waterfall flows thanks to Sierra Nevada snowmelt. Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Fall are especially impressive.
  • Wildflowers: Late spring and early summer also bring vibrant wildflower displays, enhancing the park’s beauty.
  • Hiking and Exploration: Accessible trails and roads allow you to explore the park’s stunning landscapes, including alpine meadows and high-country lakes.
  • Outdoor Activities: Enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, like rock climbing, fishing, horseback riding, and stargazing, thanks to warmer weather.
  • Visitor Services: Visitor centers, campgrounds, and shuttle buses are fully operational during this period.

While May through September is ideal, note that Yosemite can get crowded. To avoid crowds, visit on weekdays, book accommodations early, and consider winter visits for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, though some facilities may be closed due to snow.

Are there any photography guidelines within the park?

No permit is required for general photography in Yosemite National Park. However, it’s important to follow these guidelines to protect the park:

  • Respect Wildlife: Keep a safe distance from animals; don’t disturb them. Use telephoto lenses for wildlife photos.
  • Stay on Trails: Stick to designated paths and viewpoints to avoid harming fragile ecosystems.
  • Drone Use: Drones are generally prohibited; check for updated rules.
  • Leave No Trace: Pack out all trash and avoid damaging the environment.
  • Commercial Photography: For commercial work, inquire about permits and fees.
  • Lighting: Be mindful of lighting equipment; avoid startling wildlife with flash.
  • Safety: Prioritize safety, obey signs, and stay aware of surroundings.

Yosemite’s main goal is preserving its beauty and ecosystem. Follow these guidelines for responsible photography while capturing its splendor.

What should I pack for my Yosemite trip?

For Yosemite trip essentials:

  • Hiking Boots: Necessary for comfortable and safe exploration of Yosemite’s trails.
  • Water Shoes: Ideal for stream crossings, water activities, and better traction.
  • Hiking Pants: Lightweight, moisture-wicking for trail comfort and quick drying.
  • Raincoat: Essential for unpredictable Yosemite weather, doubles as extra layer.
  • Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from intense mountain sun, polarized lenses reduce glare.
  • Sun Hat: Shields face and neck from sun rays, UPF-rated for added protection.
  • Sunscreen: High SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen for intense sun exposure.
  • Reusable Water Bottle: Keep hydrated while reducing waste.
  • Quick-Dry Towel: Compact, lightweight, and efficient for various uses.

Consider these additions:

  • Backpack: Comfortable daypack or backpack with adjustable straps.
  • Insect Repellent: Useful to avoid insect bites in Yosemite’s diverse ecosystem.
  • First Aid Kit: Basic kit for minor injuries, including bandages and pain relievers.
  • Trail Map/Guidebook: Helpful for planning hikes and exploring Yosemite.
  • Bear-Resistant Food Containers: Required for camping to protect both you and bears.
  • Camera: Capture Yosemite’s stunning landscapes and wildlife.

Don’t forget to check Yosemite’s weather forecast and adjust your packing list accordingly for a safe and enjoyable trip.

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