The remoteness that makes Yosemite a national treasure is awe-inspiring and beautiful, but can make it difficult to arrive. There are no airports inside the park, and the closest ones are a couple hours drive away.
Most visitors arrive through a combination of travel methods. Some fly into an airport and then rent a car to head up and experience the park independently. Others take a train and then use the park shuttle system to get around.
Here is some information on the various forms of transportation to get visitors into and around the park.
There are four primary entrances to Yosemite National Park:
- Big Oak Flat Entrance is on Highway 120 coming directly from San Francisco and connecting to I-5 and I-580. Big Oak Flat Rd. connects to the Tioga Pass and leads directly into the Yosemite Valley.
- The Arch Rock Entrance is used by visitors coming from Merced along Highway 140. The route is only two hours long, making this a popular connection to the area via El Portal Road.
- The South Entrance is kept open year-round, although chains can be required in inclement weather. This entrance passes by Mariposa Grove and the Wawona Information Station, coming directly from Fresno along Highway 41.
- The Tioga Pass Entrance is closed from November to May, but is the only access from the east side of the park along US-395. The entrance is the closest access to Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center.
Commercial airlines fly to a number of airports in the area:
- Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT) is the closest major airport to the park at 2.5 hours, being served by Delta, American, United, US Airways and others.
- As the closest regional airport to Yosemite Valley, the Merced Airport (MCE) is serviced daily by Great Lakes Airlines.
- Modesto City Airport (MOD) is about 2 hours from Yosemite, offering service from United Express.
Yosemite is connected to the Amtrak network of rails through Merced on the San Joaquim Route. This route has six daily trains that run both north and south, connecting San Francisco, Sacramento and Fresno.
If your group is arriving in a plane, all the airports have car rental facilities. If arriving by train or bus, car rentals are generally available, but must be confirmed at the specific arrival station.
Yosemite has worked consistently to create a practical bus and shuttle system. The shuttles inside the park are free, and there are plenty of commercial bus and shuttle options to get into the park. The best part is that riding a bus or shuttle allows everyone to enjoy the views outside the window.