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 $818 PER PERSON
This private 13-hour scenic tour of Yosemite National Park is ideal for those seeking a more intimate, personalised experience. Avoiding the hassle of an organised bus tour, you’ll be picked up from your hotel by private car before being whisked off to see some of the Yosemite’s most famous attractions, including Yosemite Falls, Glacier Point, El Capitán, and the distinctive ancient sequoia trees that adorn so many postcards. One of the main benefits of this tour is that you and your party can tailor the itinerary to your own tastes and time demands, so if you want to see particular sites – or avoid any – you can. On your return to San Francisco you’ll also get a chance to see the impressive Bay Bridge Lights art installation.
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.
FROM $351 PER PERSON
This 2-day small group tour starts in San Francisco and finishes in the magical glaciated landscape of Yosemite National Park. Boarding an Amtrak train, your first stop will be the historic city of Fresno, now home to contemporary attractions including casinos and top class restaurants, where you’ll spend the night before departing for Yosemite the next morning. Once there, you’ll get the chance to see stunning natural sites such as Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, Half Dome and plenty more. One of the highlights will be walking to Glacier Point to get a commanding view of Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls and the Merced River. You’ll take a break for lunch before continuing on your adventure, exploring enchanting Yosemite Valley, the meadows below El Capitan and the historic Wawona Hotel. Later, you’ll head back Fresno before catching your return train to San Francisco.