Nestled among California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, Yosemite National Park is one of America’s great natural wonders. It distinctive granite cliff, ancient sequoia trees and dramatic waterfalls draw travellers from across the world who come to marvel at such awe-inspiring beauty.
Many of these visitors use San Francisco as their base, with a large number of organised tours to the Yosemites available starting in the hilly city. We scoured around to find four of the best.
FROM $139 PER PERSON
Providing round-trip transportation from a number of San Francisco hotels, this day-long tour offers visitors the chance to explore the incredible Yosemite National Park either independently or with a guide. After collection at your hotel, you’ll board a luxury bus before crossing the Bay Bridge, traversing the Central Valley into the foothills of the Sierra before arriving at Yosemite where you’ll get a leisurely 4 hours to explore. You can start by grabbing some lunch (at your own expense) at the renowned Ahwahnee Dining Room, or, if you prefer, delve straight into the park’s magical wonders. Rent a bike (for an extra charge) to navigate the valley floor, visit the Ansel Adams Gallery, or pop along to the rangers’ station to listen to lectures. Peruse the Indian Village of Ahwahnee or stroll along the banks of the Merced River before returning to your bus at 4pm to begin your journey home.
FROM $208 PER PERSON
This 2-day tour invites guests to take in some of Yosemite National Park’s most famous sites and landmarks, as well as the imposing Hearst Castle. On day one, after arriving by bus from San Francisco, you’ll get to enjoy dramatic vistas from the Tunnel View outlook, before moving on to Bridal Veil Falls, one of Yosemite’s most famous geological formations. The rest of the day will see you stop off at El Capitan, the world’s largest granite monolith, hike along Merced River and Half Dome, and of course the piece de resistance, the stunning system of waterfall known as Yosemite Falls. After an overnight stay at a reputable, mid-range hotel you’ll visit Hearst Castle in the town of San Simeon, once home to the media mogul William Randolph Hearst, before your return journey to San Francisco.
FROM $149 PER PERSON
The giant ancient sequoia trees of Yosemite are one of the iconic national park’s most popular attractions and this full one-day tour ensures visitors the chance to witness them in all their glory. Organised and run by Extranomical Tours, the time you get to spend in Yosemite National Park is maximized by starting early and traveling efficiently in a 15-passenger van or 36-passenger minibus, allowing you to cover both Yosemite Valley & the Giant Sequoias in one day. You’ll be picked up from a choice of departure points in San Francisco and transported through historic Gold Rush towns before reaching the park. Here you’ll get to see the granite cliffs of Half Doome and El Capitan before taking a guided hike among the incredible sequoia trees, some of which date back more than 4,600 years. Crane your neck to see the top of the giant trees, including a tunneled-out tree large enough to drive a car through. Be sure to bring weather-proof clothing and your camera!
FROM $479 PER PERSON
Camp like a Californian on this wonderful three-day tour, organised and run by Incredible Adventures. Departing three times a week from May to October, all camping gear is provided and sleeping bags are available for rent. All you need to remember are suitable clothing and footwear, a reliable camera, and while five fresh meals are provided, some of your favourite pocket snacks for when you get peckish. Experienced and knowledgeable guides will accompany you on an unforgettable journey through the trails and sights of this incredible national park, including dramatic waterfalls, the soaring Sequoia trees, and rugged cliffs rising some 4,000 feet from the valley floor. Your guides will regale you with stories of lore and fascinating factoids about the park and its remarkable history, sparking the imagination for when you camp under the stars for two nights. This is a fabulous experience that captivates guests, whether you’re a camping novice or veteran.